What Would Mel Do?
The concentration of media under an increasingly small number of different banners has turned the business of media, including the news, into an orgy of synergy. A movie is advertised on stations, plugged on the same stations, in magazines and newspapers, and on the internet (www.this-movie.com). The money it makes is reported as actual news, the stars are interviewed, the social impact of the film is discussed. Las Vegas takes Oscar bets, the movie’s trailer is tailored to a different crowd in its third week of release to generate more interest, reviewers become poets and sages. It is released on DVD with trailers for the sequel, shown on the same TV networks that originally promoted it, censored and further advertised. What is it? Certainly not art. Entertainment or a device for manipulation? A product, by definition.
The movie discussed could be any of a number of films, or it could be The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson’s runaway blockbuster of a hit, that happens to dramatize the last bloody hours of the life of Jesus Christ. If you didn’t know, the film is indeed doing gangbusters at the box office (hooray!), driven largely by the well-discussed controversy surrounding its release. Between devout Christians, interested skeptics, critical Jews, and people who were intrigued by Gibson’s television interview with Diane Sawyer, people are continuing to turn out in droves to see what is, by all accounts, an incredibly violent and intense interpretation of scripture. Theatres are silent during showings.
What is really ironic is that Gibson had to pay for the whole thing out-of-pocket, since none of Hollywood’s major studios would touch it. Man, that would be risk. They might lose money. Good Lord. Talk about a lack of faith, in any number of ways. Now that the financial viability of the project is no longer at all in question, coverage is huge, the money is coming in and people are taking notice. What now?
The website Ornery American offers a solution. Instead of embracing what will surely be a shower of nominations and accolades, Gibson should keep the movie outside. He should remove it from consideration and hold it up literally to the highest standards. In the opinion of many, this is a perfect film that needs nothing more than honour, and its own place in history. Continuing, the authors suggest that Gibson please not donate the proceeds, but take them and produce more films of this sort: creative interpretations of the Bible’s scripture, for which people obviously crave. Taking the high road would be an incredibly noble move. But, considering what has happened so far, will it happen?