Another of my posts got Passion of the Christ spam. No gruesome graphics, this time, though. Awww. No matter. I can see those any time I turn on the television. Scourging! This particular aspect of the movie seems to be drawing a lot of attention. Joe Beltake, reviewer for The Sacramento Bee, said that it ". . . comes precariously close to being a religious snuff movie." And he gave the movie three (of four possible) stars! Heh.
Among other things that Gibson's apparent obsession with the bloodier aspects of the story has brought to my mind is the fact that, following the massive destruction wrought on Europe by the black plague which brought to an end the vibrant and largely optimistic culture of the High Middle Ages, the religious art of the time shifted its emphasis away from the idea of salvation and redemption and began to concentrate primarily on suffering and violence. The serene and usually blood-free (maybe just a hint of stigmata in some of them) Jesus icons of the earlier era were replaced by a tortured and agonized Jesus, writhing on the cross, dripping with gore. The medieval transformation of religious art was understandable in the context of the near destruction of European society at the time, but, despite some serious threats to our well being, modern Christendom has undergone nothing that would justify such a change of aesthetics. Perhaps it is merely another example of the histrionic nature of modern western culture, with its penchant for exaggerating even the slightest problem into something of epic significance. If a hand on a thigh twenty years ago is worthy of such dramatic attention as it has recently received, then why shouldn't a contretemps with the nearly powerless Muslim world, for example, cause Mel Gibson to dive head first into the sort of gory religious symbolism which, a few centuries ago, could be brought about only by the sudden death of half the population of a continent? I mean, we're all so damned important, now, aren't we? At least Mel is, I'm sure.