I’m not on Passion patrol here. I didn’t mind that negative New York Times review so much. I thought it was wrongheaded in a few respects, but also was a matter of registering some subjective reactions that differed from my own. But there’s another class of negative review, and Gregg Easterbrook gives an example of it today.
He says that Gibson’s decision to emphasize gore is a way to maximize profits, not just a different artistic choice than Easterbrook would prefer. It was a “cynical” choice, he says, but he provides no evidence for this claim. He writes that the movie departs from Christian orthodoxy on the question of the universal responsibility of sinful human beings for Christ’s suffering and death. It “seems to urge its audience to turn away from the universal spiritual message of Jesus and toward base political anger.” More cynicism, says Easterbrook. He provides no evidence for this claim either, and there is some fairly strong counter-evidence: notably, the opening scene in which Satan talks to Jesus about his taking on the burden of all the sins of mankind, and Gibson’s pounding of the first nail. More to the point, who is this “base political anger” supposed to be against? If Easterbrook wants to accuse the movie of being anti-Semitic, he should just come out and say so. Enough other people have.