Let the hunt begin: The best and worst of Passion coverage

A confession from Tmatt: I am recieving so many URLs today about “The Passion of the Christ” that I do not even have time to read half of the stories. The other irony is that I am trying to read them while trying to get my own mind clear enough to write my own column for this week — about one angle (among 1,000s) about this story.

Doug and I have avoided simply opening the floodgates and hitting you with every single media piece on which we can click our mice.

So in the next few days we will strive to only spotlight the very best articles in the mainstream press and what we believe are the worst. While the reviews and editorials flood in, we ask you to help us in spotting unusually good (or bad) examples of actual news coverage of this media-driven event.

But this much we know: It will be almost impossible for anyone to defeat James Carroll, when it comes to slamming the film for every possible offense against humanity and divinity.

This is, for me, the ultimate example of a little-covered trend in this story: The Catholic left is just as angry about this movie as the Jewish left, if not more so. Quite frankly, I have found a wide variety of thoughtful Jewish commentaries on the film — from all across the spectrum.

Then there is Carroll, writing in the Boston Globe:

“THE PASSION of The Christ” by Mel Gibson is an obscene movie. It will incite contempt for Jews. It is a blasphemous insult to the memory of Jesus Christ. It is an icon of religious violence. Like many others, I anticipated the Gibson film warily, especially because an uncritical rendition of problematic Gospel texts which unfairly blame “the Jews” for the death of Jesus threatened to resuscitate the old “Christ-killer” myth.

But seeing Gibson’s film convinces me that it does far worse than that. His highly literal representation of the Passion narratives, his visual presentation of material that, in the tradition, is meant to be read and heard, together with his prejudiced selection of details and his invention of dialogue and incidents, cause one serious problem, very much at the expense of Jews.

Me thinks the key words are “uncritical” and “literal.” These are, of course, code words for the dreaded word “fundamentalist.”

Let the nominations begin. We will pull some of the best comments out onto the main site for several days.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • steve h

    Is there some way we can get those varied Jewish opinions shouted from the rooftops?

    or at least set alongside of these other opinions in mainstream news?

    At any rate, I’d like to see more of the best. And possibly more of the worst, if any worse comes down the pike.

  • James Freeman

    The contemporary notion of Jesus Christ as some sort of First Century fop is going to die a slow, agonizing, caterwauling death. But die it will.

    Probably at some point after the last Have a Nice Day sticker is pried out of the cold, dead fingers of some rainbow-chasubled Jesuit somewhere in America.

  • http://obhouse.blogspot.com Ellyn von Huben

    It was typical of the Chicago Sun-Times to run Ebert’s “most violent film” quote as a front page headline. If you were to make an assumption about the movie from the front page, you would think Ebert hated it.

    David Denby in the New Yorker just didn’t get it. Religiously semi-literate. But I don’t really read the New Yorker for theology. Or movie reviews, for that matter.

  • http://clientandserver.com dw

    Moira McDonald and William Arnold in the Seattle Times and P-I (respectively) may have the middle point in all the reviews. Arnold doesn’t seem to completely get it (and makes the “fundamentalist” mistake), but he’s pretty measured and clear about what he didn’t like, adds something to the conversation, and disagrees with some of the comments about Mel Gibson having a “torture fetish.” McDonald’s is more straightforward, but like Arnold you can tell she actually watched the film.

    The Stranger, the alternative weekly, drops tonight. Their take should be interesting… and a “worst review” contender.

  • Karen B

    I can’t say it’s the best as I haven’t read very many reviews, but I sure thought Kenneth Woodward’s piece in the NYT was excellent and insightful.