MORE ON MEL AND THE PASSION
: I had noticed this New York Times
article, "Mel Gibson's Martyrdom Complex,"
a couple of days ago but never got around to posting it. I was reminded today when I looked at Mystical Politics
. Frank Rich does not like Mr. Gibson or his movie and some of his quotes, if they are accurate and in context, do sound pretty unsavory. I still think that the nature of Hollywood movies is to be inaccurate and irresponsible and am keeping my expectations and view of their importance correspondingly low.
UPDATE: This article and others quote the following exchange:
Asked by Bill O'Reilly in January if his movie might upset "any Jewish people," Mr. Gibson responded: "It may. It's not meant to. I think it's meant to just tell the truth. . . . Anybody who transgresses has to look at their own part or look at their own culpability."
As it stands, this quote makes Gibson sound as if he could be saying that the Jewish people were culpable for the death of Jesus and they need to face up to it. If so, this is scuzzy. But note those suspicious ellipses. What's been deleted from the quote and how might it change the sense? Does anyone know where the quotation came from and how it read in full? What did Mel actually say?
Also, Cal Thomas saw the rough cut of the film and liked it a lot
. And - an interesting aside - it seems that it contains a "unique portrayal of the resurrection."
UPDATE: I found the full transcript [sorry, not full, but without the ellipses] of O'Reilly's interview of Gibson here
The full exchange was as follows (material omitted in the ellipses above is italicized):
O'REILLY: Is it going to upset any Jewish people?
GIBSON: It may. It's not meant to.
I think it's meant to just tell the truth. I want to be as truthful as possible. But, when you look at the reasons behind why Christ came, why he was crucified, he died for all mankind and he suffered for all mankind, so that, really, anybody who transgresses has to look at their own part or look at their own culpability.
As I suspected, Gibson was saying that according to Christian theology Jesus suffered and died for everyone and so therefore everyone is responsible in some sense for his death and needs to look at their own failings as a result. Even if you find this theological notion distasteful, it's right there in the center of Christianity and it was fair game for Mel to use it. By deleting the italicized material, those who have used the quotation have left the reader with the impression that Gibson was talking in particular about Jews and thus making an anti-Semitic remark. He wasn't doing either. This is another case of "Dowdification."
I don't know who doctored the quote in the first place, but it took me about five minutes of research to find the full version. The abbreviated version appeared in the New York Times
(above), the Guardian
, the Sydney Morning Herald
and the International Herald Tribune
. Who knows where it's going to spread from there? Are these major newspapers really all so sloppy that no one in any of them bothered to check the original quotation? I think Frank Rich and quite a few other people owe Mel Gibson an apology.
Which is not to say that my view of Hollywood movies, including this one, has changed any. Unfortunately, the press frequently does no better.
UPDATE: Note also that O'Reilly's question is a follow-up to this immediately preceding exchange, which further nuances what Mel said above: he was talking about people in general, not just Jews. Read the whole transcript!
O'REILLY: Is it going to upset some people to see the person they believe is God brutalized in this manner?
GIBSON: Well, I think anybody that is in the know about Jesus as God and they believe in that realize that he was brutalized and that I'm exploring it this way, I think, to show the extent of the sacrifice willingly taken. I think it's going to be hard to take, but I don't necessarily know that people are going to be upset by it.
UPDATE: Welcome, Instapundit readers. For more information about this blog, have a look at the "About PaleoJudaica.com" link to the right. If you are interested in ancient history, please do visit again.
UPDATE (6 August): Protocols
notes that Bill O'Reilly trashes Rich's essay
without even noticing the dowdified quote from his own interview! Also, I should point out that O'Reilly misspells Barbara Theiring's name. Her theories are very idiosyncratic and are not accepted by any other Dead Sea Scrolls scholar I know (and there aren't many I don't know), but if you want to find out about them you'll have to enter the correct spelling of her name in his search link. These media guys are careless
UPDATE (6 August): In his blog Along the Tracks
, Paul A. Miller pointed out Rich's misuse of the Gibson quotation a day before I did.