Former WashPost Reporter Writes Op-Ed Demanding Mel Apologize For 'The Passion'

It was only a matter of time, perhaps, and here it is: an op-ed in the Washington Post by former WashPost reporter (and current Hollywood screenwriter) Tom Grubisich demanding that Gibson and the U.S. Catholic hierarchy apologize for the anti-Semitism of the movie  "The Passion of the Christ", not just the drunken-driving slurs.

The movie exhumed and restaged some of the ugliest features of the pre-1980, notoriously anti-Semitic Passion play of Oberammergau, Germany. The movie was internationally distributed and continues to be marketed today as a DVD and used as a spiritual teaching tool. Just as in the old Oberammergau play, Gibson's Pilate was a civilized, even sensitive, soul -- in contrast to the moviemaker's stereotyped Jewish priests, among whom a personified Devil comfortably moved with a smile of satisfaction, as if among friends.

Gibson's Caiphas and other anti-Jesus priests paraded around in getups that Ming the Merciless and Lothar -- world-class villains whom Flash Gordon had to confront and subdue -- would have envied.

If we're going to rehash this thing, some rebuttal, then, from Brent Bozell two years ago, and take that, Mr. Hollywood Screenwriter:

For many months, media outlets have promoted controversy over this film, suggesting it may be anti-Semitic, and even if it isn’t anti-Semitic in intention, it could have an anti-Semitic effect. One might argue all this controversy has been good for the film, but that doesn’t mean the entertainment press has been fair or accurate in its coverage of it. Our cultural elites are worried not about how the film is "anti," but how the film is "pro." They know how this film has the potential to light a fire under traditional Christianity in America and around the world.

They are worried because millions of Americans are enthusiastic. As the media boomlet picks up this growing phenomenon, it seems to overflow with secular alienation and dread that some might be using this film to evangelize, that the filmmakers are "marketing Jesus." To the bad-taste specialists that dominate our culture, there is no dirtier word than "proselytize." That, to them, is a very "divisive" act. To the secularists, it is offensive to believe that one creed, one faith is absolutely correct, and therefore the others must be in error.

But why is it not offensive to suggest, as Hollywood so often suggests, that all religions are basically fairy tales for creepy, superstitious people who need the "crutch" of faith to deal with the natural world? And why it is not offensive for Hollywood to serve the country as a sort of 24-hour Temptation Channel for exotic sex, and filthy language, and pornographic violence? The entertainment factories are proselytizers -- for the lowest in human behavior. They are evangelists -- for empty sensationalism.

Brent's fierce take on the film critics at the time is here.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis