Art and Culture 30: The Passion of the Christ and the Macrocosm of Cancel Culture

29 Mar

-For the Uncensored!

I guess readers are wondering why I would choose this film as part of an Art and Culture instead of Ancient Culture, because in terms of Jesus’s Last Supper all the way to the Resurrection, What better way than to tackle the 30th Art and Culture column than with such a topic as this. Mel Gibson’s film captured the grace and love of Jesus when his entire life was leading up to the moment of Salvation for the human race. Now, there are a few things to discuss. The film’s impact, its controversy, but also how the film represents the rise of Cancel Culture. 

-The Film

            Released on February 25th, 2004, by second time director Mel Gibson, and the screenplay written by Benedict Fitzgerald (his father Robert Fitzgerald adapted the Odyssey into its most well known poetic verse read today). The film stars Jim Caviezel (Thin Red Line and Person of Interest fame) Maia Morgenstern (as Mary, Mother of Jesus, in her only film role ever) and Monica Belluci as Mary Magdalene (Matrix sequels, The Apartment, Tears of the Sun, and even appearing in a small role in Bram Stoker’s Dracula). Now, let’s get the film and plot out of the way first. It As Mel Gibson said, “He knew this film would divide people” and I think no one was prepared for the way society would see the film. According to IMDB, the budget was “30,000,000” and in the first weekend of Mel Gibson’s Passion debuted at # 1 at the box office making over “83,848,082” and in the United States alone grossed “$ 370,782,930” and worldwide box office “$ 612,054,428.” It was a financial success, while critically it divided critics and the fans, while on IMDB it holds a “7.2” out of 10, which was not great, but it did prove that there was a market for religious films but also making sure it could captivate an audience or create discussion/word of mouth at the same time. (https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0335345/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2) That’s why you saw Darren Aronofsky’s Noah, and Ridley Scott’s underappreciated Exodus story, too. It helped raise awareness of religious films, and how you could show violence in religious films to create a strong purpose for the violence. And Entertainment Weekly, in 2006, June 16th issue, called The Passion of the Christ, the most controversial film of all time, at there number 1 spot. But why did this happen?

Mel Gibson faced unmanageable hurdles trying to make the film. No one wanted to distribute the film and studios thought it was “blasphemous” when in everyone’s mind, whoever has read the New Testament, knows this story backwards and forwards. With Icon Productions, Gibson’s company, he produced the film himself and set up distribution deals with theaters, himself. 

            What Mel Gibson did was shock the world. Many films focused on Jesus wouldn’t have taken such a bold direction in where Gibson showed us. He not only showed the horror of ancient culture, but how brutal it was, in film. It’s the film that proves, even with one viewing a year, you get more than you think. I watch it every year on Passion Friday, as I think it’s a film that serves as Jesus’s last will and testament to the people of the world who are suffering, and you would think, in the film, it serves as a time capsule to Mel’s devotion to Jesus’s Passion.

            What Gibson did is show the brutality and the sacrifice Jesus took upon, as it used the oldest trick of film and literary knowledge, In Medias Res, as it did portray not only a spiritual Jesus, but focused on the human side. It details Judas’s betrayal and suicide, as well as Peter betraying Jesus three times. It even shows Lucifer, who was tempting Jesus, to give up on his cross. What this film does different is play into the horror movie side of the Passion, as even Judas, is haunted by devils. There’s a moment in the film where Mary sees Satan in the crowd, and Lucifer’s smile is almost mocking Mary. 

            Even Pontius Pilate is given far more depth than any Passion play could produce. The scourging is one of the most criticized moments of the film. While many would say, “if the violence was not in the film, it wouldn’t highlight Jesus’s commitment to save humanity” and the other would say “it’s too violent.” But they give no reason as to why it’s too violent. It’s probably because those watching can’t face there sin, as even one of the Rabbi’s is disgusted by the violence and walks away. It’s probably what a lot of people did who weren’t prepared for it, but if you didn’t think scourging was bad, then you didn’t think to look up the term Passion. Passion, or Pati in Latin, means to suffer. 

            Satan, in the film, is bald, and is played by a woman. I think it’s interesting to say that Mel, casting Satan as a woman, and bald, plays apart of how Satan can be androgynous to most people. 

            With excellent cinematography by Caleb Deschanel and Gibsons Directing, and acting by all the players in the film, as we probably get one of the most intense falls in a passion play ever made. As she remembers a time when Jesus fell as a child, she runs to him, and he says the words, “I will make everything new.”

            To religious scholars, those words are not said in any of the gospels in the Passion Play, but spoken in Revelation, as Jesus sits on his throne in Heaven. It’s a scene that works every single time I watch it. I sit there, and I think “this is a debt I can’t pay.” 

            I think it’s impossible to understate the way the scene plays out. Everybody who watches it is affected by it. It confirms something deep and cerebral that Christians don’t talk about. At the second when all should feel hopeless, it even ties in the soldier who is to pierce Jesus in the side, as he says, “Who is that?” The scene plays out like someone watching it in real time, as the soldier then becomes a convert later on. 

            It’s hard to talk about this film without feeling emotional. It’s a film that doesn’t work on intellectual conversation, but showing through action of Jesus’s faith in what he must do in order to achieve his goal. 

            But even Mel Gibson shows what’s in front of him as he’s on the Via Delarosa. In Latin, it means the road of suffering. Even Veronica, who washes Jesus’s face, makes an appearance. It’s amazing how even I know that they didn’t pierce Jim Caviezel’s hand, it still works, every time. I get this feeling that I can’t owe the debt to which Jesus paid. 

            Jim Caviezel was in his peak physical shape to play Jesus. Another scene that people talk of is the end, after he is taken down from the cross, and Mary looks into the camera. It’s probably one of the most haunting stares in all of cinema. As Mary almost looks at us as we are to blame for what happened to Jesus. And in a sense, it’s right. But the Resurrection scene, as he walks up out of the grave, with a hole in his hand, and begins his journey into the underworld.

            And as the Rapper The Game said, on My Life, “hate it so much Passion of Christ need a sequel.” Reportedly, Mel is making a sequel to the Passion, as of today, the IMDB page, as of writing, is set for 2022 release.

-Themes of Cancel Culture in the Passion of the Christ

With the film out of the way, this s where much of the Cancel Culture aspect plays into life, not just the film. Consider being Jesus, when you are the Son of God, and nobody wants to believe it. Scorned, beaten, and crucified, and for being the Son of God. Even Pontius Pilate, when he’s asked the crowd of Rabbi’s and Jews to pick between Barabbas and Jesus, they choose Barabbas. It’s hard to consider this scene without thinking about how Cancel Culture is very much the same way.

            Peter and Judas are part of a larger scheme when it comes to Cancel Culture. Judas betrays Jesus, and he can’t take it back. When he tries to return the money, he knows that he can’t stop it. Peter denies Jesus three times, as Jesus told him he would do. Sometimes, we don’t even think about these things. 

            We turn on each other all the time, and at least Peter asked Mary for forgiveness. Cancel Culture today is not a physical death. It’s not a death that people face physically, but emotionally. Families are torn apart and they deny each other. With these two examples of Peter and Judas, they represent the gamut of how Jesus’s death represents a way of Cancel Culture, at its most ancient form. 

            Peter denied Jesus because of fear of being attacked by a mob. It’s no different when friends turn on each other today on social media. Cancel Culture plays a part of mob hysteria, and it’s no different when Jesus was betrayed. 

            Friends, and the disciples, except John, Mary, and even Mary Magdalene are the only three who follow Jesus to the end. 

            Ancient Cancel Culture meant far worse. If Jesus had just escaped and lived a happy life, it wouldn’t mean much. Much of suffering is created by a mob who want vindication and to be told what to think and feel. 

            It’s no different when the mob turned on Jesus. Social Media is no different. We praise the worst people over the innocent. It’s in human nature to turn against each other, but is it worse when you die a physical death, like Jesus. But today, the idea of praising someone like Barabbas is why Cancel Culture has always played apart of the human psyche. We chide what’s wrong and praise what’s right. 

-The Controversy and Society as a Whole

Yes, yes, I know, detractors always bring up Mel Gibson’s drunken rant to a cop, but to me, he didn’t break a law. He didn’t shoot someone. Now, for people out there who want to call Mel Gibson an “ant-semite” are the same people who never learned what it was like to forgive. Hollywood and the elitists canceled Mel Gibson, as to some imaginary reason that this film promoted anti-Semitism (which it doesn’t and you’ll probably find more anti-Semitism in a Phillip Roth novel than Mel Gibson’s film. Besides if Mel was drunk, he gets a free pass, but even I doubt the situation even happened). The media tormented Mel for years, and while he was exiled, this is when Mel faced more than enough harassment from the media. They didn’t care about the film in the end, but Gibson exile is apart of grand scheme of Cancel Culture, too. 

            Who made the media judge, jury, and executioner? This is when I saw what Hollywood really was. They exiled there most talented to promote people like an untalented sow like Lena Dunham. It’s easier to pretend why the controversy should matter, but it’s when Mel was treated worse than any movie star ever was. Brando made similar comments during the 90’s, about how “Jews controlled the business” and he went away for a long time, and then Hollywood accepted him again. 

            Today, it’s much different. Good thing Mel got in trouble when he did, but now, in America, we are facing persecution from liberal biased media that will go out of there way to ruin lives, but praise Cardi B for “WAP” instead of Dr. Seuss. Even Gina Carano’s exile from the hit Disney + show the Mandalorian, as it’s rumored she is coming back to the hit Star Wars show, but we’ll find out later.

            From 2016-2020, persecution in America by social media mobs, overrated dead celebrities with a career one foot in the ground, and musicians thinking they can go back to playing imaginary characters, need to be reminded of how if the American public can be cancelled, so can celebrities too. 

            But if you have followed Jesus, you know what it’s like to be persecuted. But to be cancelled, to be constantly reminded of your sin, and not letting you be able to recover, is part of a larger problem than just being whipped and crucified. Plus, the way the media attacked Mel over and over for 10 years was when I stopped paying attention to the media, and started following my own path. As persecution still exist, and cancel culture is accepted by the liberal media, 

Final Analysis:

            If Cancel Culture is not rejected by most of the world, then persecution will not only happen at a mental level, but physical as well. With this being the week of Jesus’s Passion, let’s all take time to reflect on how we should treat each other. If you didn’t learn anything from the Passion of the Christ, it was to treat each other fairly and not be judge, jury, and executioner. No one knows what we really go through, not from a Tweet, and people shouldn’t be exiled for what they say either.      

-Louis Bruno is the author of more than 15 books, including, The Michael Project, The Michael Project: Book 2: The Lost Children of Eve, Thy Kingdom Come, The Disintegrating Bloodline, Apocalypse Soldier, Hierarchy of Dwindling Sheep. His books can be found on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Lulu. He can be found on Gab, https://gab.com/thereallouistbruno, Minds https://www.minds.com/lbruno8063/, and Parlerhttps://parler.com/profile/therealLouistbruno/posts. Instagram @lbrruno8063 and @louisbrunoofficialbook. He has written for the Intellectual Conservative and Ephemere. Also, he writes on https://louisbruno.substack.com, where you can support him directly. His latest, Come Home, Young One, a dark fantasy novel is out now at Lulu.com. Link is here: https://www.lulu.com/en/us/shop/louis-bruno/come-home-young-one/hardcover/product-pw8q7z.html?page=1&pageSize=4.  His next series, City of Sand, will be available sometime this year.

Note from Louis: Thanks so much for reading my articles and being such a constant reader, and listening to my podcasts. I usually write two to three articles a day during the week, but one to two on the weekends. Also, if you haven’t already, please subscribe, share the articles. All help is appreciated. If you do subscribe, you can have access to top tier articles and reviews, and also grow my page to help keep stay corporations mad all day. The war for freedom of speech starts with us.

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