Don’t Believe the Hype

Feb 182004
Authors: Chris Hess

Every once in a while, a film is released that stirs the daily

hubbub of the media into a wild frenzy.

Movies like “Titanic,” “The Lord of the Rings” and 1989’s epic

“The Wizard,” in which we were given a glimpse of Super Mario Bros.

3 and the Powerglove, come to mind.

On Feb. 25, another such movie will be released, one that has

generated more hype prior to its release than any film I can

remember. On Wednesday, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of Christ”

finally hits the big screen.

Quick side note: Gibson is not in the film. He directed it.

The hype surrounding the film, which depicts the last 12 hours

of the life of Jesus Christ, has been unbelievable and mostly

negative. The Anti-Defamation League worries that it will fuel

anti-Semitism, some people feel that Gibson’s portrayal of the

crucifixion is too graphic and others feel that the film is

historically irresponsible.

I am a Christian, but I have yet to see the movie. To sit here

and tell you that it is perfect and that everyone who doubted it

was wrong would be irresponsible. But what I can do is tell you

about the story behind the movie and urge you to go and see it

before you form an opinion.

In my mind, the common description of Jesus was best put by Dave

Matthews. On DMB’s “Live In Chicago,” he introduces “The Christmas

Song” as, “Written about the story of an amazing man, who got


Yes, Jesus was an amazing man, but he was also so much more than

that. And he didn’t really get screwed, as he chose to be up on

that cross.

One thing that needs to be made clear is that the Jewish priests

and Roman officials who arrested Jesus didn’t just decide one day

to crucify this guy for the fun of it. The message that Jesus was

spreading and the acts he had been performing were disruptive to

the culture and sometimes against the law. That is what made Jesus

so rad, and those who arrested him had been conspiring to do so for

some time.

If you want to read about the 33 years of Jesus’ life leading up

to his arrest, I would recommend reading the book of John. You can

read it on-line at

For all the negative press Gibson’s film has received, there has

been some positive, mostly from people who have seen advanced

screenings of the movie.

Radio personality and devout follower of the Jewish faith Mike

Drudge recently told MSNBC that as a Jew, he thought it was a

magical film that showed the perils of life on earth.

A favorite radio voice, Paul Harvey, who grew up in a Jewish

town and has a strong aversion to anything anti-Semitic, said in a

column recently that, “‘The Passion’ evoked more deep reflection,

sorrow and emotional reaction in me than anything since my wedding,

my ordination or the birth of my children.”

In a recent article in “Relevant Magazine,” Gibson himself was

quoted as saying, “I want people to have an experience, to feel and

understand the reality of the story.”

History has stories to tell. I urge you to go to this movie with

an open mind. I don’t expect everyone to run out of the theater

afterward in repentance, hands in the air, screaming “Hallelujah.”

But if you go into it looking for the bad, then that’s all you are

going to see.

In the words of hip-hop legends Public Enemy, don’t believe the

hype. Weigh the arguments for yourself and then decide what you


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