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Mel's Bloody Passion
posted March 3, 2004

"And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission." Hebrews 9:22

According to fundamentalist Christian doctrine without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins (What can wash away my sins, nothing but the blood of Jesus.) Hollywood producers have slightly revised this dictum: Without the shedding of blood there is no box office gold.

Blood sells. Blood entices. Blood enthralls. Blood beckons. Blood seduces. Commuters turn their necks to ogle a bloody traffic accident and they hand over their hard earned dollars to be mesmerized by a bloody movie.

Movie trailers feature car crashes, explosions, fisticuffs, gun fights and buckets of blood. Ever seen a coming attraction that featured intelligent and nuanced dialogue? Even the trailer for "My dinner with Andre" probably depicted Andre and his dinner companion coming to bloody blows after disagreeing on what to order for dinner.

Mel Gibson the star of the bloody Lethal Weapon franchise and the director of the even bloodier Braveheart knows that celluloid that is not drenched in blood will not appeal to the masses.

The Catholic thespian's "The Passion of the Christ" is saturated in blood. This bloody epic is not an exercise in filmmaking, but an unrelenting exhibition of bloodletting. It should be screened in a slaughterhouse and not in your friendly neighborhood multiplex.

The leading star in Gibson's production is not Jesus, but blood. It should have received top billing. The crimson fluid is everywhere. It dribbles, it oozes, it trickles, it splatters, it permeates every frame. It's on the faces, arms, and legs of almost every character. In fact, one of the few characters who is blood free is the androgynous looking Satan. The Prince of Darkness seems to be the only one that is not fascinated by blood.

Judas was so stricken with remorse for betraying Jesus that he returned the thirty pieces of silver and killed himself. I can only hope that Gibson will be so stricken with pangs of guilt that he will donate his blood money to a worthwhile charity.

It's ironic that evangelicals who are quick to denounce Hollywood blood and gore have embraced a cinematic enterprise whose violence is pornographic, unrelenting and gratuitous. It's a "Christian" picture they reason, so let's load up the minivan and take the kids to see a bloody epos that would make the Marquis de Sade cringe in horror.

Oh, but soldiers of the cross explain, Mel's labor of love was inherently bloody because he wanted to show an unbelieving world the tremendous sacrifice that Christ made. The Australian hunk was only "keeping it real." That's the same excuse that producers of slasher flicks make, "Hey, I made a motion picture based on a real crime, I had to show the villain slice a young girl in half with an electric chainsaw to keep it authentic."

Gibson's bloody extravaganza should have had more flashbacks to present a more rounded picture of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. The most influential individual in world history was much more than just a bloody punching bag, he was a caring social worker, a profound teacher, an eloquent orator, a courageous revolutionary and a man who treasured peace and harmony. The Jesus of the Gospels would have been sickened by Gibson's snuff film.

The crazy idea that "The Passion" is a "Christian" film and thereby viewing it is a spiritually uplifting experience is very horrifying. The viewing of Gibson's bloody vision is a profoundly disturbing, brutalizing, and soul-damaging experience. I left the theater feeling like I had just survived a 12-round bloody brawl with Mike Tyson.

Gibson's belief that blood has cleansing properties is not that much different from bin Ladin's belief that making the Great Satan bleed is pleasing to Allah. True spirituality is not an Islamic martyr blowing himself and his victims up in an orgy of blood or a Christian fanatic with blood dripping from his self-inflicted stigmata; true spirituality is feeding the poor, ministering to the sick, standing up for the disenfranchised and sheltering the homeless.

I'm repulsed and sickened by Hollywood producers, Christian preachers and Islamic terrorists who make a fetish out of blood. know that I'm a voice crying in the wilderness; we live in a society that is immersed in blood. When TV news producers live by the motto, "If it bleeds it leads," I know that I am going against the grain of American culture. "The Passion of the Christ made over a 100 million dollars in its first week, but if this essay dissuades even one person from watching this pornographic travesty I will be content.

If you want to know what it's like to watch "The Passion of the Christ," save yourself nine bucks, fill your bathtub with water, add some red dye and totally immerse yourself. If you can stay underwater for more than two minutes, that's longer than the average person can watch Gibson's bloody spectacle without wanting to throw up.

Robert Paul Reyes
Lynchburg, VA 24501

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