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Will The Passion Movie Have Political As Well As Spiritual Consequences?
Vanity | 2-20-2004 | John Fields

Posted on 02/20/2004 9:30:22 AM PST by jonboy

Several months back we began hearing the drumbeat of disapproval from the media and Hollywood elites about Mel Gibson's soon to be released The Passion of the Christ. He had a TERRIBLE time finding a distributor, he had to self-finance the movie, his original title, simply, The Passion was denied him because Miramax declared that they had the rights to that title. He was told that the movie would be a flop and that religious movies don't make money. As support for this claim, they mentioned the terrible controversy surrounding another Jesus movie, The Last Temptation of Christ. More than twenty-five thousand people protested against it, death threats were supposedly received, and to top it off, it only took in a little more than eight million dollars. Of course, it couldn't have had anything to do with the fact that it was an anti-religious allegorical interpretation of a Christ who was weak, implied gay, and was shown on the cross fantasizing about having sex with Mary Magdalene. The Judas character also being depicted as a sympathetic character.

It was an absolutely blasphemous hateful hit piece. The Devil himself couldn't have written a worse script. Yet, the Hollywood elites had no problem with this movie, the Anti-defamation League had no problem with this movie, the leftist elites had no problem with this movie. This movie was them personified, holding to a form of Jesus (if at all) that humanized Him and made Him one of the sinners rather than showing a Jesus who would hold them accountable and culpable for sin.

The usual characters couldn't say enough good things about this piece of trash. It was gutsy, it was artsy, it was inspiring, yada, yada, yada. The actors also were the usual liberal elites, Harvey Keitel, William Dafoe, Barbara Hershey, and David Bowie among others. Despite the fact that the movie earned a miserable eight million dollars, Martin Scorcese was nominated for Best Director at the Oscars. Barbara Hershey was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and Peter Gabriel for Best Original Score at the Golden Globes. How many people are holding their breath about The Passion of the Christ winning critical acclaim from this group?

Obviously Hollywood and their ilk don't get it. I've never seen a phenomenon like is occurring with this movie. The forces of evil are arrayed against it in spectacular fashion, hoping to stop it from making its way to the screen. When the predictions of failure didn't work then came the efforts at intimidation. Hit pieces from the New York Times became a regular thing, claims from all sides about anti-Semitism abounded (many to most from people who had never seen the movie), Mel Gibson's father was suddenly of interest (why, he didn't make the movie), people who never batted an eye about Hollywood violence before were now suddenly "concerned" about the effects of this "violent movie" upon our children. The hypocrisy and double standards have been staggering and extremely transparent. All we need to remember is this. This is us against them. No I don't mean us against the Jews. We are obviously ALL culpable in His death. He died for the combined sins of every person. I put Him there, you Him there, we all did. Real Christians understand this. Many Jews understand this as well. The movie has gotten very favorable reviews from a number of prominent Jewish people. Notably, they are almost all of a conservative ilk.

This movie is being challenged because of its attempted faithfulness to the script and because it is now perceived that it will be widely seen. It has been very faithful to the Gospels. THAT IS THE PROBLEM! The detractors including many liberal, politically correct and noodle spined "theologians" claim that the movie didn't happen according to what Mel has said. Let me state the obvious, IF THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST IS ANTI-SEMITIC THE GOSPELS ARE AS WELL. This is an attack on a literal rather than liberal interpretation of the Bible, it is an attack on Christians who are walking the walk and talking the talk. It isn't Judeaism vs. Christianity nearly so much as it is Liberalism vs. Christianity. These things are risky to the ones doing the attacking.

Can you feel the tension in the air? It's a good tension, a polarizing tension. It will help more clearly define the left and the right, the evil and the good for what they are. Are the left aware? Some are. The Tsunami is quickly building and is approaching. I feel certain that the Christian community is more stoked to see this movie than any in my memory. People LONG for a spiritual experience, they long to see what the suffering Christ did for them, even as they are frightened of what they will see. People who have screened it have sat in mute, stunned silence after the movie or are sobbing out loud.

The screens, which were initially going to be on the short side of 2,000, are now going to be as many as 4,000 (which would be a record for ANY film let alone an independent one). This movie, I believe will set the all time record for box-office take. The current one day total for sales is just under $44 million, weekend is just under $115 million (both the Spiderman movie). The all time record is Titanic, with just under $601 million dollars total at the box office.

Poor Mel, his detractors said, he'll be out so much money, between $25-$50 million by the time you count distribution costs. I predict that once the dust settles Mel will be a billionaire from this venture. Not only will this movie be seen by Christians, but detractors and curiosity seekers will see it as well. Plus the HUGE Catholic audience worldwide will want to see it. Also consider how many people will be seeing this movie multiple times to send a message. We haven't even looked at DVDs and videos which will be purchased later for evangelism tools and for personal collections. I wouldn't think of not owning this movie. Also consider the other merchandising.

I expect, at least initially, for the left to try to explain away Mel and The Passion's success and to make excuses for why they've done so well. Eventually, I think dissent will start to melt in the same way that it was stifled after 911. People will not want to be seen to be against this movie, I expect the media to start asking people what they think about the movie. The movie will become the story for a long time. I believe it will define our times culturally. Hollywood, who has until now despised this movie, will be under HUGE pressure to critically recognize this movie, yet would be forced to be going against everything it holds dear in order to do so. Hollywood loves their liberal agenda, but they love our dollars even more.

And what will happen politically for the candidates for various offices? The candidates will be asked "Have you seen the movie?" and "What did you think about the movie?" I expect our side to do well with this. Our President will have seen and will have embraced the movie. At the same time I expect the Democratic candidates to stumble on this as they attempt to both embrace the movie and distance themselves from it at the same time. The left is anti to only marginally religious while the independents and conservatives are MUCH MORE SO. I see one side benefiting from this, our side. Whereas a massive patriotic fervor swept our country after 911, I expect this phenomenon will be an unparalleled religious fervor. Just as 911 changed the world for a significant period of time and silenced the left, I believe there will be a post Passion period that very well may last until the election in which the left is effectively silenced, offering only grudging praise, as though through a mouth squeezed tight from lemons. The problem is though, they can't afford to be silenced. At the same time, moderate to conservative voters will be energized for a candidate by something far deeper than just politics. Although I think this film is MUCH BIGGER than politics, I think it will very much define this election. And again, that can only help one side, ours.


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To: jonboy
What exactly do you mean coming in contact with god's blood of our Lord?
51 posted on 02/20/2004 7:53:09 PM PST by The Cuban
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To: discostu
It may be a perennial in the movie theaters every Easter. So it will be a tidy annuity for Gibson, making money every year the way that the Disney animated movies do.
52 posted on 02/20/2004 7:53:17 PM PST by maro
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To: jonboy
The news shows seem to be attacking it. I have seen a lot of churches with signs up that they will be discussing this movie.
53 posted on 02/20/2004 7:53:42 PM PST by Brimack34
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To: HitmanNY
I'm sure you'll allow me to think the same. One can't prove opinions until the facts are in. We'll see in fairly short order who is right and who isn't. By the way, they have 4,000 prints of the movie, IF that corresponds to theatre count, which I'm not sure of at all, it would mean that The Passion would have the greatest rollout of all time even over X-Men United and LOTR Return of the King. I think that there will be a lot of people like me who will see the movie more than once in order to stick it to Hollywood, painful as it will be to see again.
54 posted on 02/20/2004 7:54:42 PM PST by jonboy
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To: jonboy
Like "Braveheart"???
55 posted on 02/20/2004 7:59:19 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: jonboy
Roll out is currently at 2800 theaters with 4500 copies of the movie being sent out. Many theaters are showing it on multiple screens.

original roll out was 2700 copies to 2000 theaters, but was upped last week due to demand, and could be upward of 3000 theaters by Wednesday.

56 posted on 02/20/2004 8:02:37 PM PST by commish (Freedom Tastes Sweetest to Those Who Have Fought to Preserve It)
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To: The Cuban
I mean a person who has been baptized into Christ. His blood cleanses us from our transgressions when we are baptized. It is then when we come into relationship with Him. When we stay faithful to Him and stay open to His leading, He never stops interceding on our behalf with God. That's the short answer.
57 posted on 02/20/2004 8:09:14 PM PST by jonboy
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
What's your main point about Braveheart?
58 posted on 02/20/2004 8:11:23 PM PST by jonboy
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To: jonboy
The movie "Braveheart" resulted in Scotland demanding their own Parliament from the UK. And now they have it.
59 posted on 02/20/2004 8:15:10 PM PST by <1/1,000,000th%
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To: <1/1,000,000th%
Interesting.
60 posted on 02/20/2004 8:19:31 PM PST by jonboy
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To: Borderline44
Welcome Borderline44 02/20/04
61 posted on 02/20/2004 8:20:18 PM PST by ARA
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To: The Cuban
PLease don't use the terms Christian and Catholic in contradistinction. The terms are Protestant and Catholic. Thanks. We are ALL Christians.

Um, ACTUALLY: Protestant, ROMAN Catholic (or 'RC' or 'CoR' - Church of Rome, if you like), Greek Orthodox Catholic, et.al. The term 'catholic', contrary to popular belief, is an adjective and not 'owned', as such, by a religious organization in a little borough in the middle of Rome...

62 posted on 02/20/2004 8:29:57 PM PST by solitas (sometimes I lay awake at night, looking up at the stars, wondering wherethehell did the ceiling go?)
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To: Borderline44
In all honesty, I couldn't tell you aside from all of the people that Gibson approached and was told thanks but no thanks. I've read countless stories about this movie and don't recall much more in some cases than impressions. But do you think he'll be winning any Oscars unless he gets a few modern day miracles going for him? The left HATES this movie and there's no lefter bunch of people than in Hollywood.

Sorry, Calcat, I posted this to you earlier by mistake.
63 posted on 02/20/2004 8:31:58 PM PST by jonboy
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To: solitas
Urbi et Orbi
64 posted on 02/20/2004 8:35:51 PM PST by The Cuban
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To: jonboy
I agree with you. The film industry has been my hobby since like age 7 or 8 (along with WWF wrestling, so what does that tell you about me?)

The 4000 prints is the first I have heard. The Numbers movie website reports 2800 screens, as big a February rollout as I am aware. Still, its a long film, means fewer shows per day in the very important first days and weekend.

I think this will be a hard film to watch multiple times. That being said, I am predicting it will do very well, and I don't doubt it's very well made and powerful.
65 posted on 02/20/2004 8:38:11 PM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: commish
4500 instead of 4,000? You can correct me ANYTIME you want. Thanks!
66 posted on 02/20/2004 8:42:08 PM PST by jonboy
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To: HitmanNY
I was corrected earlier, the number of prints was actually 4500. As to the length, I just looked around and discovered that it is approximately 2 hours long. While long, it shouldn't TOO adversely affect the number of showings.
67 posted on 02/20/2004 8:49:45 PM PST by jonboy
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To: jonboy
Well.....jonboy, after having read your piece I can only say this.

That was truly inspiring and I will have a Wonderful Weekend and Wonderful upcoming week because I was lucky enough to read your post!

I really think you hit the nail on the head.

I will be thinking about what you said when I sit in church on Sunday with my three wonderful children & my lovely wife.

Have a Wonderful Day!
68 posted on 02/20/2004 9:33:53 PM PST by TheCause (How many people have died because of Liberals?)
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To: jonboy
The 4500 print figure may not be for the USA - I had heard 2000 screens for a while, and recently that was bumped up to 2800. Of course, it could be bumped up again, I can't say. My source for the 2800 screens is:

http://www.the-numbers.com/features/TCountAll.html

Which is estimated but I have never seen them be that far off for an opening screens estimate. I hope it's 4500, though - for pete's sake, 50 First Dates is at over 3600 screens! Sheesh! There is no justice!

As for the run time, I could have sworn I read it would approach 3 hours but I was wrong. I checked quickly and there seems to be agreement on running time, but the consensus has it at around 2 hours or so, so it should be able to play plenty of times in any given day, and the time won't be a negative.
69 posted on 02/20/2004 9:59:48 PM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: discostu
The movie is in the same languages the Bible was originally written in,

--
The Bible was written in Hebrew, and GREEK.
70 posted on 02/20/2004 10:32:16 PM PST by Gal.5:1
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To: Sans-Culotte
The 2001 study, the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS), by Barry A. Kosmin, Egon Mayer, and Ariela Keysar at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, indicates that 76% of Americans identify themselves as "Christian."

The current population is around 285,000,000, indicating approximately 216,000,000 Christian-Americans.

At an average of $8.00 a ticket, if 25% of the Christians see the movie once that comes to roughly $433,000,000.

My guess is this movie will go into the mega-blockbuster category.

71 posted on 02/20/2004 10:59:50 PM PST by Positive
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To: Liberty Tree Surgeon
"The left may be disarmed, but to the rabid Islamist, a sold-out screening may present a tempting target."

I predict that if something of this nature were to occur, it would mark the beginning of the end of "Islamists" in America.

72 posted on 02/20/2004 11:02:55 PM PST by Positive
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To: HitmanNY
Your anlysis on the financial impact sounds rational. I regretted using the word "severe" after posting my piece. But, I still think that The Passion has the potential to be watched many times over because it (potentially) helps one contemplate a mystery of faith. I can't make a firm judgement until I see actually see the movie. Thanks.
73 posted on 02/21/2004 7:04:23 AM PST by reed_inthe_wind (Vienna said the middlemen come from Ger, Nether,Belg, S Af, Jap,Dub, Mal,USA,Rus,Chin,and Pak.)
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To: reed_inthe_wind
Friend,

I agree with you and I expect it to be watched many many times, just not in theaters. It's a safe bet that this will be one of the biggest DVD releases of all time, maybe the biggest DVD release of all time. Many folks who take religion seriously will buy it, as will fans of Gibson and cinema.

The Passion has made the jump from movie event, to media event, to cultural event. That's very rare. It will be handicapped by the brutality, I think, something that will be more subdued on the small tv screen, rather than .

The trick is, this film will attract people to the movies that don't often go. It will be bought on DVD by people who don't often buy DVDs. It will make records, no doubt - it's full impact remains to be seen.

As for me, I am a practicing catholic and I am a huge fan of cinema. That being said, I rarely go to the movies anymore (though I am 'only' 36, haha!) since hollywood's output is so bad. I have a huge DVD collection, 1200+ discs, skewing heavily to older films (1975 and earlier), since that's where my taste skews. I was more excited about the release of 'Once Upon A Time in the West' than I was over the Special Edition of 'XXX' - hahah! The best DVD I will get in 2004 is the 8-film 'Best of Abbott & Costello, vol 1, for only 20 buks! So I am 'oldschool!'

But I'll see the Passion next Saturday, and I will also buy the DVD. This isn't a movie it's an event. That's whats ticking off religionphobes the most.
74 posted on 02/21/2004 7:27:06 AM PST by HitmanLV (I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.)
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To: maro
I doubt that, not because of the movie but because of technology. The re-release to theaters is pretty much dead in the VHS/ DVD age. Unless they're doing something to the movie (like adding new scenes or effects, or like with Fantasia super cleaning the prints) there's no longer a market to go into a theater to watch a two year-old movie, given the accelerated release rates (Hollywood makes about 10 times as many movies a year now as they did in the early 80s) I'm sure the hard part is convincing theaters to find room in their schedule.
75 posted on 02/21/2004 7:34:49 AM PST by discostu (but this one has 11)
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To: jonboy
you think that a Hollywood production of the sort that Last Temptation of Christ was had an innocent kiss on the mouth that wasn't intimating something else I've got a sea-side resort in Arizona to sell you

I wouldn't recommend LAST TEMPTATION to anyone, but I think you need to see the scene in its context before you say it was meant to convey anything sexual at all. The film is based on Kazantakis' book, and the book has a very Mediterranean flavor; emotions and affection are expressed differently in other cultures than they are in America. Here in the States, any affection between men at all is suspect. In other cultures, it's very natural.

76 posted on 02/21/2004 7:39:24 AM PST by Clintons a commie
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To: jonboy
AMEN! AMEN! AMEN!

FOR SURE. WELL SAID.

BTTT
77 posted on 02/21/2004 9:03:57 AM PST by Quix (Choose this day whom U will serve: Shrillery & demonic goons or The King of Kings and Lord of Lords)
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To: The Cuban
Urbi et Orbi
[from the] city to [the] world? So, what's _that_ supposed to mean?
78 posted on 02/21/2004 9:06:24 AM PST by solitas (sometimes I lay awake at night, looking up at the stars, wondering wherethehell did the ceiling go?)
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To: jonboy
Poor Mel, his detractors said, he'll be out so much money, between $25-$50 million by the time you count distribution costs. I predict that once the dust settles Mel will be a billionaire from this venture. Not only will this movie be seen by Christians, but detractors and curiosity seekers will see it as well. Plus the HUGE Catholic audience worldwide will want to see it. Also consider how many people will be seeing this movie multiple times to send a message. We haven't even looked at DVDs and videos which will be purchased later for evangelism tools and for personal collections. I wouldn't think of not owning this movie. Also consider the other merchandising.

Gibson's no fool: the pocketbooks of the pious are just as deep as those of the lemmings who have to be the first in line for the latest "blockbuster". Considering all the free publicity he's been given (this website just being a minor example), by his dealings and interviews and private screenings, and who _was_ and who _wasn't_ invited to a screening, everything goes to show he knew what he was doing and is going to make a lot more than if he just kept his mouth shut, made the film, and put it out with only the regular showing of advertising. Posit a religious belief, or in some way demonstrate your faith or expound upon it and not only will you have your detractors and conscientious defenders but also unintentional detractors and defenders caught along in the undertow.

There are those who only want to be entertained with another "blood and mud" movie, there are those who will attend hoping for some kind of divine experience (not saying that they won't think they'll have one), plain old curiosity seekers, malcontents looking for another device to be insulted/offended/scandalized by, aforementioned lemmings, and the regular crowd wanting to see another crucifixion movie. Six months from now all the conflict will be blown over; and then in a year the DVD will come out and I'll bet it'll be presented with a nicely merchandising "own the movie everyone's been talking about today or you won't go to heaven" spiel. Sad.
< /my interest in the topic>

79 posted on 02/21/2004 9:31:30 AM PST by solitas (sometimes I lay awake at night, looking up at the stars, wondering wherethehell did the ceiling go?)
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To: solitas
I think you absolutely nailed the audience make-up. This movie would have done well enough WITHOUT the religious crowd. By the time you throw in the factors of controversy, free interviews, ALL of the media people such as Paul Harvey, Rush Limbaugh, Matt Drudge, and others singing its praises while at the same time its detractors are downing it (creating curiosity), I think it's safe to say this will do just fine at the boxoffice.
80 posted on 02/21/2004 10:06:53 AM PST by jonboy
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To: Clintons a commie
I acknowledge your point, it could be that I am just skeptical of MOST things Hollywood. However, I'll save my benefit of the doubt for something more worthy than the film in question. But you are absolutely correct about your point contrasting the differences between our culture and others regarding how we show affection.
81 posted on 02/21/2004 10:10:01 AM PST by jonboy
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To: TheCause
Thanks for the extremely kind words. I'm glad that I was able to encourage someone!
82 posted on 02/21/2004 10:53:06 AM PST by jonboy
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To: jonboy
good analysis. I think the movie will do very well. I won't make predictions, but I think Gibson will do fine. As others have said, this movie is a cultural event. They were just discussing it on Capital Gang on CNN. Capital Gang. A movie. And Gibson was on the Front page of the USA Today last week. On Capital gang one of the libs said he'll see it, but went on about Gibson's father...This is about the movie. And I think a lot of libs/and hollywood is scared about this movie. Christ's word is a two edged sword, which divides people. Some like to claim Christ as a moral teacher or prophet, or they like his Sermon on the Mount, but Christ is fully human, fully divine and he died for our sins. That is Christianity and that is what scares so many about this movie!

May God use this movie for His glory!
83 posted on 02/21/2004 5:14:25 PM PST by votelife (Elect a Filibuster Proof Majority)
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To: jonboy
bumping
84 posted on 02/21/2004 11:42:38 PM PST by Salvation (†With God all things are possible.†)
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To: jonboy
bumpbumpbump!

Thank you so much for this article.

I found my way to it by the link you posted on this other fine treatment of The Passion of the Christ.

85 posted on 02/22/2004 6:30:01 AM PST by .30Carbine (eyes to see and ears to hear, these too are a gift from God)
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To: jonboy
In his interview with EWTN, Mel strongly hinted that he's considering creating more Bible-based movies. These should be almost as successful as "The Passion." Success will breed imitation. I'm hoping that new, independent, Christian-friendly movie studios will spring up.
86 posted on 02/22/2004 6:49:55 AM PST by Aquinasfan (Isaiah 22:22, Rev 3:7, Mat 16:19)
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To: jonboy
if the this movie won't win because the left hates it, then why didn't Last Temptation win anything? the left loved it!
87 posted on 02/29/2004 5:03:45 PM PST by Borderline44
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To: jonboy
I've been thinking about all the negative reviews from the critics. Don't you all think we (i.e. Christians) have a legitimate gripe about the movie critics not being representative of the general population? Affirmative action anyone? How about a class action lawsuit? Just a teensy eensy bitty thought for the evening to lighten up the mood.
88 posted on 02/29/2004 5:11:56 PM PST by Gumdrop
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To: jonboy
I've been thinking about all the negative reviews from the critics. Don't you all think we (i.e. Christians) have a legitimate gripe about the movie critics not being representative of the general population? Affirmative action anyone? How about a class action lawsuit? Just a teensy eensy bitty thought for the evening to lighten up the mood.
89 posted on 02/29/2004 5:12:53 PM PST by Gumdrop
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