INSITEVIEW- - tom shugart's weblog

Monday, February 23, 2004

The Gospel According To Ebert and Roeper

Ebert and Roeper are almost gospel to me when it comes to film criticism. I find myself in agreement with them about 95% of the time. So it was with the utmost interest that I listened carefully to their review last night of the much-argued Mel Gibson flick, "The Passion of the Christ."

With my wife's Judaism together with my Unitarian-like leanings and long, long-ago lapsed Christian beliefs, Gibson's coming movie is a hot-potato subject around here.

Everybody's been putting the flick down before the movie has even appeared. This makes me somewhat uncomfortable, even though I fully accept the Jewish anger and mistrust surrounding this event.

Anyway, Roger and Richard gave the flick two thumbs "way up." They said it was a brilliant and powerful piece of cinema. They also were quite clear in stating that the anti-Semitic rap is completely undeserved. I won't bother to go into their argument. It's rather lengthy and complex. You can catch it at their website.

I am now, much to my surprise, somewhat tempted to go see it. I'd like to judge it for myself and be able to form my own opinion.

Jill says, "I don't care how good it is, or how non-anti-Semitic it is. I won't go. I won't support anything that fundamentalist asshole Gibson does."

She never liked Gibson in the first place. "Braveheart," for example, was one of our major disagreements on a film. I thought it was brilliant., but Gibson just gives her the willies. This new film, for her, is just throwing fuel on the fire.

Still, I may not go. Gibson's in-your-face evangelicalism does indeed give me pause. But it also gives me pause to rule out any artistic endeavor simply because I happen not to like the views of the artist. Such knee-jerk rejectionism can be a slippery slope. I'm truly conflicted about whether or not to be a paying customer to this movie.

On reflection, I think I know what's really bothering me. Because I so detest the way that evangelicals have injected their religious fanaticism into our political life, I'm leery of this flick because I have the fear that it's just going to inflame the righteousness of these people--during a crucial election year.

That's what's actually giving me the willies--not Mel Gibson--who happens to be an excellent filmmaker--whatever his beliefs. I'm going to have to sleep on this for a while.

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