Forgive and don’t forget
Frank Rich is uneilling to bury the hatchet with Pope Mel the Semi-Pious:
Thank God â€” I think. Mel Gibson has granted me absolution for my sins. As “The Passion of the Christ” approached the $100 million mark, the star appeared on “The Tonight Show,” where Jay Leno asked if he would forgive me. “Absolutely,” he responded, adding that his dispute with me was “not personal.” Then he waxed philosophical: “You try to perform an act of love even for those who persecute you, and I think that’s the message of the film.”
Thus we see the gospel according to Mel. If you criticize his film and the Jew-baiting by which he promoted it, you are persecuting him â€” all the way to the bank. If he says that he wants you killed, he wants your intestines “on a stick” and he wants to kill your dog â€” such was his fatwa against me in September â€” not only is there nothing personal about it but it’s an act of love. And that is indeed the message of his film. “The Passion” is far more in love with putting Jesus’ intestines on a stick than with dramatizing his godly teachings, which are relegated to a few brief, cryptic flashbacks.
With its laborious build-up to its orgasmic spurtings of blood and other bodily fluids, Mr. Gibson’s film is constructed like nothing so much as a porn movie, replete with slo-mo climaxes and pounding music for the money shots. Of all the “Passion” critics, no one has nailed its artistic vision more precisely than Christopher Hitchens, who on “Hardball” called it a homoerotic “exercise in lurid sadomasochism” for those who “like seeing handsome young men stripped and flayed alive over a long period of time.”
If “The Passion” is a joy ride for sadomasochists, conveniently cloaked in the plain-brown wrapping of religiosity, does that make it bad for the Jews? Not necessarily. As a director, Mr. Gibson is no Leni Riefenstahl. His movie is just too ponderous to spark a pogrom on its own â€” in America anyway.
I’m not sure which will bug Gibson more; the fact that Rich won’t let him off the hook, or the fact that Rich doesn’t rank him with Riefenstahl…