It's been almost a month since Film Forum included any updates on media coverage of The Passion of The Christ. But we had to call attention to Peter Bart's article in Variety, in which he points out the obvious—that The New York Times' coverage of the days prior to The Passion's release, their reviews of the film, and their stunned observance of its success were examples of severely biased reporting, a parade of outrageous and unjustified attacks on Mel Gibson and his movie. The paper might have changed its slogan temporarily to "All the character assassination and inflammatory speculation that's fit to print."
Bart recounts the Times' early declaration that The Passion was "an outrage and threat to social harmony."
He reminds us how the paper highlighted "the predictions of unnamed power brokers in Hollywood that Gibson would be blackballed by the film community, his career ruined."
He responds that readers deserve a major "correction" from the paper. "Despite the fact that Frank Rich compared it to 'a porn movie,' by the end of its run The Passion could rank second only to Titanic as the highest-grossing movie ever made. Further, there have been no signs of anti-Semitic outbreaks tied to the film's release—not even in places like France and Argentina. As for Gibson, there's no indication that his viability as an actor or filmmaker has been compromised. The Passion [is] a movie, not a political tract. It represents Gibson's vision, not his rhetoric. As such, it deserves to be judged as art, not prejudged as ideology."
Hear hear. And let's not stop at The New York Times. As years go by, people will look back at what the majority of the critical elite in America had to say upon the release of Gibson's film and shake ...1
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