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Only in the Movies - (Oscars ignore Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ)
BREAKPOINT.COM ^ | FEBRUARY 24, 2005 | GINA R. DALFONZO

Posted on 02/26/2005 4:53:32 PM PST by CHARLITE

Raise your hand if you’re shocked that The Passion of the Christ wasn’t nominated for any major Academy Awards.

Yep, that’s what I thought.

Of course, you could make the argument that The Aviator, Ray, Million Dollar Baby, Finding Neverland, and Sideways were all so great that they deserved to be nominated for Best Picture, so there just wasn’t any room for The Passion. It might even be true. In any case, I wouldn’t be able to argue back, because I haven’t seen any of them. (At least I’m not alone in that. A recent headline in USA Today read, “ Oscars lack blockbuster to lure TV viewers .” Good candidate for the Understatement of the Year Award.)

What bothers me is not that my own personal pick for best movie of the year didn’t get an Oscar nomination. That happens all the time. What bothers me—and a lot of others as well, I believe—is that about 95 percent of the population would have been deeply shocked if the film had received a nomination. And that prediction had absolutely nothing to do with its artistic value.

(Of course, I’m sure it didn’t help the movie’s chances that Mel Gibson refused to campaign for it. But I think many of us found his attitude a rather satisfying rejoinder to all the people who hated the movie but nevertheless felt it their duty to tell him how he should spend the profits from it.)

The truth is, the prevalent attitude in most criticism of The Passion that I read—and I read quite a lot of it—seemed to follow this line of thinking: “I hated the philosophy behind it, therefore it had no artistic value.” It’s strange that this attitude is growing among mainstream media critics at the same time that so many Christian critics are moving in the other direction: learning to value films for their aesthetic value, not just their moral content.

New York Press critic Armond White picked up on this trend in an online conversation with some fellow critics:

“I have found the discussion [of The Passion] too oppressively lopsided, if not totalitarian. I can only ‘discuss’ this movie on home turf. And that enrages me, because I have not read a single mainstream review that sought to appreciate Gibson’s basic, powerful imagery on its own terms. . . . Does blindness rule criticism? . . . [Readers] aren’t getting from criticism what they want/need to know about art, mythology, spirituality. They’re only getting objections, recriminations, and remonstrations.”

White thinks that a major part of the problem is that the mainstream media won’t hire more Christian critics. Although he’s got a point there, I think the bigger problem is that the critics who are getting hired are unable to see past their own prejudices and make an honest artistic assessment of the films they’re supposed to review.

I’m not saying that the moral content of a film should be ignored. If the attitude I just described is disturbing, the reaction of many writers to films like Fahrenheit 9/11 and Kinsey was downright unnerving. Some of the same critics who had been scandalized over the perceived sins of The Passion suddenly found the world a much less black-and-white place when dealing with subjects like deceit and adultery.

The general consensus went something like this: Okay, Michael Moore fabricated much of his “documentary,” and yes, the evidence shows that Alfred Kinsey may have had a little problem with incessant cheating on his wife and with self-mutilation (and then there was that other little problem with unethical research, including sexual experiments on infants). But aren’t those just the kind of men we need to help shake things up in this hopelessly prudish country, especially after an election in which voters seemed determined to take us all back to the Stone Age?

Think I’m exaggerating? See for yourself:

David Edelstein , Slate: “When it comes to politics in a time of war, I think that relativism is, well, relative. . . . [Michael] might be a demagogue, but never—not even during Watergate—has a U.S.administration left itself so open to this kind of savaging. . . . Fahrenheit 9/11 is not a documentary for the ages, it is an act of counterpropaganda that has a boorish, bullying force. It is, all in all, a legitimate abuse of power.”

Joe McGovern , Slant: “In a post-November 2nd world, perhaps Kinsey is just what we need. . . . A scene where Kinsey confesses his infidelity with a male assistant (Peter Sarsgaard) establishes [his wife] as the audience surrogate, an emotional victim of his hurtful philosophy that not all sex has to be sanctioned by love. . . . But her acceptance of her husband’s behavior slyly foreshadows the sexual revolution.”

Frank Rich , New York Times, in an article hysterically titled “The Plot against Sex in America”: “The film is a straightforward telling of its subject’s story, his thorniness and bisexuality included, conforming in broad outline to the facts as laid out by Kinsey’s most recent biographers. But . . . this movie, however unintentionally, taps into anxieties that feel entirely contemporary. That Channel 13 would even fleetingly balk at [advertising] ‘Kinsey’ as The Times long ago did at the actual Kinsey is not a coincidence. . . . As for the right-wing groups that have targeted the movie (with or without seeing it), they are the usual suspects, many of them determined to recycle false accusations that Kinsey was a pedophile, as if that might somehow make the actual pedophilia scandal in one church go away.” (Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Frank Rich, undisputed master of the non sequitur.)

Another post-election piece, at Salon.com, didn’t mention Kinsey and only referred to Fahrenheit 9/11 in passing, but it did urge its readers, in all seriousness, to go watch the filthiest movies they could find, as one way to react against the “values voters.” Even if some things are wrong, it is to some better to advocate them than to be seen as too morally or politically conservative.

Come to think of it, maybe the two trends I’ve been talking about are really one and the same. Whether they’re shunning a movie or hyping it, seeing immorality where it doesn’t exist or ignoring the immorality that’s blatantly obvious, most of these mainstream critics can see a film only through the lens of their own personal philosophies. What movie critic could take seriously a maker of dishonest “documentaries”—a repudiation of everything a documentary is supposed to be—unless the critic has decided that pushing a certain point of view is so important that no artistic principles should stand in the way?

At that point, the critic is no longer judging art. He’s applauding propaganda.

And besides that, he’s cutting himself off from his readers. Who could seriously argue that a nation with such high rates of cohabitation, teen sex, divorce, and Desperate Housewives addictions is an “ increasingly puritanical culture ,” as Edelstein has it? Yes, traditional values are important in this country, but they’re by no means monolithic. If you can’t see your audience for who they are, you can’t very well write for them—any more than you can make movies for them.

Perhaps Armond White is right. Perhaps it is the Christians who will revolutionize film criticism—maybe even the film industry as a whole. A colleague who has attended several press screenings of recent films tells me that the Christian critics are gaining a reputation as the ones asking all the serious questions about the movies—as opposed to the secular criticsm most of whom spend their time asking which actress is currently dating which actor. Which makes sense, considering our cultural mandate to appreciate “whatever things are true . . . . whatever things are lovely.” And believe it or not, the members of the film industry were enjoying those serious conversations. They may not be ready to hand out Oscars to a movie about Christ’s suffering just yet, but some of them are finding out that there’s a lot more to Christianity—and Christians—than they’d realized.

A love affair between the moviemakers and the Christians? Now there’s one Hollywood surprise ending I’d love to see.

Gina R. Dalfonzo is a writer for BreakPoint. She has a blog athttp://ginarenee.blogspot.com.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; US: California
KEYWORDS: academyawards; aviator; baby; bestpicture; breakpoint; findingneverland; melgibson; milliondollar; nominees; oscars; passionof; political; politics; thechrist; thepassion

1 posted on 02/26/2005 4:53:33 PM PST by CHARLITE
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To: nothingnew
Ping!

Char :)

2 posted on 02/26/2005 4:54:37 PM PST by CHARLITE (glad to see lib Dem rats on sinking ship, unable to disembark)
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To: CHARLITE
(Of course, I’m sure it didn’t help the movie’s chances that Mel Gibson refused to campaign for it. But I think many of us found his attitude a rather satisfying rejoinder to all the people who hated the movie but nevertheless felt it their duty to tell him how he should spend the profits from it.)

This is spin, and an extremely important point which pretty much squashes the argument. In Hollywood, if you don't campaign for an Oscar, you ain't getting one. Look at Michael Moore--no one can tell me he is not loved by Hollywood, yet he deliberately avoided the Best Doc category (and put the movie on TV before the allowed date) to get Best Pic. He failed because of the politics of wanting to give those noms to movies with directors and producers who could give the Academy members work (and hwo are the voters friends).

I didn't know Gibson didn't campaign; this puts a whole other reality on the table. Not campaigning is a snub of the process, and is flipping them the bird. No wonder they didn't nominate the movie.

3 posted on 02/26/2005 5:01:56 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Condi Rice: Yeaaahhh, baybee! http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1350654/posts)
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To: CHARLITE

The Passion was the last movie I saw in theaters. I don't care if I see another movie or not at the theater.


4 posted on 02/26/2005 5:02:31 PM PST by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I didn't see it in my rearview mirror.)
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To: CHARLITE
"A scene where Kinsey confesses his infidelity with a male assistant (Peter Sarsgaard) establishes [his wife] as the audience surrogate, an emotional victim of his hurtful philosophy that not all sex has to be sanctioned by love. . . . But her acceptance of her husband’s behavior slyly foreshadows the sexual revolution.”

YECH! Thanks for the warning.

Doesn't Luara Linney play the wife? There's something hot about her...

5 posted on 02/26/2005 5:03:11 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Condi Rice: Yeaaahhh, baybee! http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1350654/posts)
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To: CHARLITE

I'm a subscriber to Premiere (a movie magazine). When the Premiere magazine critic gave "The Passion" a 0 star rating, I canceled my subscription.
If they are too blind to see past their prejudices, then I want nothing to do with them.


6 posted on 02/26/2005 5:05:54 PM PST by mowkeka
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To: CHARLITE
I didn't see it, I don't go to movies.
I heard it was very moving, though.

Also I hear that there will be a released "tamed" version...

7 posted on 02/26/2005 5:07:26 PM PST by humblegunner
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To: CHARLITE
When I went to see The Passion, the theater was about half full. At the end of the movie, even after the credits were done, all most everyone remained in their seats, most crying.

I truly doubt there has ever been another movie in the history of Hollywood that has had this effect.

This snub is glaring bigotry from the left.

8 posted on 02/26/2005 5:08:31 PM PST by lizma
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To: CHARLITE

Part of it is political, of course. Another part of it is that in the postmodern age there are hardly any sensible critics left: of literature, of art, of drama, of movies. The critics who dominate the academy and the media today wouldn't know good art from bad art if they saw it.

"There's no accounting for taste" is an old saying. It sure is true today.


9 posted on 02/26/2005 5:09:01 PM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: CHARLITE

The Passion has three mentions -cinematography, makeup and score.

USA Today writes: "Drug addiction, mercy killing, mental illness, genocide, abortion, ill young mothers and borderline alcoholism — these are a few of Oscar's favorite things this year".


10 posted on 02/26/2005 5:16:39 PM PST by fight_truth_decay
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To: CHARLITE

Bottom line........Mel laughed all the way to the bank. It is also the last movie I saw on the screen. Most actors are not worth a penny, because of their attitudes.


11 posted on 02/26/2005 5:19:57 PM PST by marmar (Even though I may look different then you...my blood runs red, white and blue.....)
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To: Darkwolf377
I didn't know Gibson didn't campaign; this puts a whole other reality on the table. Not campaigning is a snub of the process, and is flipping them the bird. No wonder they didn't nominate the movie.

Nonsense.

12 posted on 02/26/2005 5:30:17 PM PST by GhostSoldier
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To: CHARLITE

Who cares?
You can't claim to despise Hollywood values and then clamor for their approval. Being left out is a GOOD thing.


13 posted on 02/26/2005 6:07:23 PM PST by SJSAMPLE
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To: GhostSoldier

Great argument.


14 posted on 02/26/2005 6:13:27 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Condi Rice: Yeaaahhh, baybee! http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1350654/posts)
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To: Darkwolf377

hehehe...that brought tears to my eyes, I laughed so hard. I must be slap-happy tonight. Something that simple shouldn't be so funny to me...unngh


15 posted on 02/26/2005 6:31:50 PM PST by sam_whiskey (Peace through Strength)
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To: sam_whiskey

It's one of the joys in life to find humor in simple things, such as Howard Dean or Terry McAuliffe. I mean, I just mentioned their names and I bet you're laughing just as I am!


16 posted on 02/26/2005 7:01:38 PM PST by Darkwolf377 (Condi Rice: Yeaaahhh, baybee! http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1350654/posts)
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To: lizma

Most of the theater stayed through the credits when I saw it too...I remember the same kind of feeling in the audience for Platoon in 1986.


17 posted on 02/26/2005 7:40:34 PM PST by Joey Silvera
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To: CHARLITE; xzins; P-Marlowe; Revelation 911; connectthedots; fortheDeclaration; HairOfTheDog; ...

You know, "The Passion" is an incredible movie. I would have loved to see it win the top honors.

But something within me just tells me that Jesus isn't all that worried about Oscar. He's more concerned that we're still not getting His message.


18 posted on 02/26/2005 7:45:41 PM PST by Corin Stormhands (One Iraqi purple finger took more courage than John Kerry's three purple hearts.)
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To: fight_truth_decay
The Passion has three mentions -cinematography, makeup and score.

Photographically, the Passion was gorgeous. The textures of the backdrop surfaces worked almost as powerfully as black and white.

19 posted on 02/26/2005 10:06:27 PM PST by Carry_Okie (The fourth estate is the fifth column.)
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To: CHARLITE
A scene where Kinsey confesses his infidelity with a male assistant (Peter Sarsgaard) establishes [his wife] as the audience surrogate, an emotional victim of his hurtful philosophy that not all sex has to be sanctioned by love. . . . But her acceptance of her husband’s behavior slyly foreshadows the sexual revolution.”

Did anyone see this? It sounds like a cheaply made porn movie.

20 posted on 02/27/2005 12:30:31 AM PST by Caipirabob (Democrats.. Socialists..Commies..Traitors...Who can tell the difference?)
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To: marmar

Gibson is editing his film...taking out some of the more violent scenes or shortening them to get rid of the R rating.


21 posted on 02/27/2005 7:14:14 AM PST by fight_truth_decay
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