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By Geoff Metcalf

March 2, 2004

A year ago Mel Gibson was viewed like the guy in the brothel who couldn't score with a fist full of fifties.

He had a movie he had personally funded with 25-million Mel bucks and nobody wanted it. Hey, it was a movie based on the last twelve hours of the life of Jesus�and the actors were speaking in two (count 'em) dead languages. Had he taken too many hits to the head in 'Braveheart', 'The Patriot', and all those 'Lethal Weapon' sequels?

Gibson had broken at least two cardinal rules of movie making:

1. NEVER use your own money. Other people's money is not just the name of another movie but also the credo of movie making.
2. NEVER program to your personal wants. Research departments and focus groups will tell us what the audiences want to see.

Besides, the project was personal to him AND (forgive the pun)�God Forbid�'spiritual'. Mel, wake up and smell the Starbucks�religious movies haven't sold since Cecil B. DeMille!


Sunday box office estimates were that five days into the release that wasn't going to happen, 'The Passion of the Christ' are in the neighborhood of $118,000,000. Not too shabby a neighborhood for a 'religious' flick in two dead languages.

Those Armani clad nay saying distributors and presumptuous 'in the know' movie execs have to be kicking themselves in the wake of an epic tragic flaw that makes Shakespeare read like Sesame Street.

Frankly, the fact that critics and supporters of the Gibson movie cover such a broad spectrum and the films obvious success ignores the effete sniping pretensions of film critics, kinda/sorta demonstrates a humongous potential audience.

Even the refusal of, that antithesis of conventional wisdom, France, to show the film cannot deny audiences that once upon a time were only available to Speilbergs.

First the movie "had to fail":

  • Because of the two dead language thing.
  • Because it was TOO religious.
  • Because it was anti-semetic (hey, weren't Jesus and all his disciples Jewish?)
  • Because (now) it is too violence?

There is something counterintuitive for critics to claim that "Kill Bill" (an orgy of slow motion, extreme close up sado-masochistic hyperbole) is cutting edge�yet somehow, if an artist who admits to the unforgivable sin of religious faith graphically films a horrific historical tragedy he becomes creatively anathema.

Man, you talk about disingenuous, duplicitous equine excrement�THAT's it! Unless they were talking about cutting "edges" when lauding 'Kill Bill'.

One has to wonder, if instead of 'The Passion of the Christ', Gibson called his film 'Kill Jesus', and updated and revised the story to be the victimhood of a gay rights/anti-gun/PETA/Mexican illegal immigrant, his critics wouldn't be singing his praise.

Gibson says the message of 'The Passion of the Christ' is one of tolerance. Obviously his mean spirited, petty, detractors lack the intellectual capacity (or honesty) to see, hear, or comprehend the message.

Reasonable people should be able to reasonably agree to disagree. However, too much of the debate over this film fails the 'reasonable' test. Both extreme sides of the debate of 'The Passion' are visceral, prejudiced, and flat out refuse to be confused with any facts that contradict their preconceived opinions or prejudices.

The New York Times and NewsMax have reported that Hollywood bosses vow to destroy Gibson. The chairman of a major studio was quoted as saying "I won't hire him. I won't support anything he's part of."

'Hollywood's' trinity of Spielberg, Katzenberg and Geffen reportedly are torqued about the film and anonymous, gutless (which is synonymous with cowardly, craven, spineless, spiritless, weak and timid) chairmen of a couple of other big studios claim they won't work with Gibson.

As Edward Albee once wrote, "�what is gained is loss." Of course if these anonymous detractors see a way to cash in the financial success of Gibson all will no doubt be forgiven.

Mel Gibson should be praised by all (regardless of whether you love or hate the film). He should be praised because of his inimitable ability to demonstrate to the world something that is good.

No, not his willingness to suffer slings and arrows and professional assaults for his faith�but for his remarkable strength of character and commitment to principles.

In a world, and certainly an industry, where principles are transient disposable accoutrements, Mel Gibson has displayed remarkable courage rivaling his on screen portrayals of William Wallace and Benjamin Martin.

� 2004 Geoff Metcalf - All Rights Reserved

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"Geoff Metcalf is a nationally syndicated radio talk show host for TALK AMERICA and a veteran media performer. He has had an eclectic professional background covering a wide spectrum of radio, television, magazine, and newspapers. A former Green Beret and retired Army officer he is in great demand as a speaker. Visit Geoff's Web Site: While you're at it - pick up a copy of Geoff's latest book!  E-mail:








"Mel Gibson should be praised by all (regardless of whether you love or hate the film). He should be praised because of his inimitable ability to demonstrate to the world something that is good."