Can You Say Double Standard?
Hollywood's Version of the Truth: The Hypocrisy of Hollywood drips like acid on the celluloid critics
Those who are ripping Mel Gibson are the very ones who promote tolerance of sin
"Given the attacks on accuracy thrown at Mel's film, one would expect very high standards in Hollywood for accuracy, for fairness, for historical truth. One would also expect high praise for such accuracy and high protest for any inaccuracy and bias."
We have all heard the attacks on Mel Gibson and his magnificent movie 'The Passion of The Christ.' The motion picture has been accused of being historically inaccurate, biased, based on Gospels more myth than reality, and nothing more than a glorified vision of Mel Gibson's own personal, mysterious, unique perspective on Christ's death. In view of these attacks, one might ask, "What is Hollywood's version of truth?"
Ancient versus Recent Accusations
In order to get a feeling of how Hollywood sees truth in film, why don't we compare The Passion of The Christ with a very popular and greatly awarded documentary, Capturing The Friedmans? While we all know what Gibson's movie was about, let us briefly describe the Friedman film. Capturing The Friedmans recounts how a Jewish family in Great Neck, Long Island, was torn apart by accusations of child molestation leveled by a number of allegedly abused boys 16 years ago. These boys claimed that they were molested during computer classes at the home of Arnold and Jesse Friedman in Great Neck. The Friedmans eventually pleaded guilty to molesting 13 boys. The documentary's director, Andrew Jerecki, interweaves home movies, photos, reports, and accounts of what happened to create a sense of doubt as to the veracity of the boys' molestation claims. The film presents Arnold and Jesse Friedman as victims of an overly zealous prosecution and public hysteria concerning child molestation.
According to critics, this documentary presents an intriguing view of the relationship between fact, truth, perception, and memory, and grips the audience in a powerful, compelling, memorable voyage. Sounds like a tremendous work of art, right?
Certainly worthy of Oscar consideration, no doubt. Well, The Academy of Arts and Sciences agreed, for Capturing The Friedmans has been nominated for an Oscar as Best Documentary, and is a solid favorite. In short, a 16-year-old accusation is presented as questionable by a Hollywood Oscar contender. The film presents the facts surrounding the case in its own way, creating the impression that an injustice and great tragedy has befallen a typical American family, the Friedmans. For this portrayal, that film has been extensively praised and honored by scores of critics.
What of Mel's film? We all know that many of those same critics have attacked The Passion of The Christ as a selective, biased, inaccurate rendering of the events leading up to and including the murder of Jesus. These critics cite so-called eminent Bible scholars as shedding a new, more enlightened, version of what happened two thousand years ago.
This version treats The Gospels as nothing more than propaganda devices by salesmen trying to sell a new religion. This version asserts that movies like The DaVinci Code and The Last Temptation of Christ are more accurate, more realistic portrayals of the events and people involved in Christ's life, death, and the subsequent progression of Christianity over the ages. Please, spare us such nonsense. These critics and scholars paint Mel Gibson as a crazy man with a crazy version, or perhaps vision, of what happened. They mock that The Passion of The Christ is nothing more than the insane views of a very powerful and rich man with connections in the film industry. Finally, they accuse Mel and his movie of being Anti-Semitic, of inspiring hate, and of promoting violence and division.
These critics and those who have opposed or been lukewarm to Mel's film, are
ignorant of the foundations of true Catholicism. This includes the Bishops' review at the national website. Because of this they ask why we should focus on Christ's death rather than His life and works. They ask why we do not just focus on a smiling, loving Jesus instead of becoming "obsessed" with a moaning, suffering Jesus. They ask these things because they do not know, and likely will never know, that the Cross, that suffering, that sacrifice, that redemption, that forgiveness, and that love are found in the cries, the blood, the pain of Good Friday. They do not know or understand these things because when they watch The Passion of The Christ they are seeing a movie in the language of God, which for them is a dead language, replaced by the language of man's version of God.
There are no subtitles for these critics and scholars because they do not want to read them even if they were there, so they see what they want to see and go on accusing Mel and his movie of being a myth, a concoction, a biased, prejudiced lie pretending to be reality.
Given the attacks on accuracy thrown at Mel's film, one would expect very high standards in Hollywood for accuracy, for fairness, for historical truth. One would also expect high praise for such accuracy and high protest for any inaccuracy and bias.
However, my friends, Hollywood is the land of makeovers, many of them indeed extreme, and suited to the tastes and prejudices of the director. Yes, they accuse Mel of putting the story his way and adding and subtracting as he sees fit to suit his agenda, but their accusations, their praise, and their standards are hypocritical and unfair, and they are about to be revealed for all to see.
You see two victims of the abuse have come forward anonymously, and written a letter to The Academy asking that Capturing The Friedmans not be given an Oscar for its biased, inaccurate, unfair, and very harmful portrayal of what happened just 16 years ago.
These young men, now adults, argue that to award this documentary is to reward lies and inaccuracy and ignore the suffering of the very real victims who, despite the false and biased portrayal of the film, told the truth and were abused. The Friedmans, presented as victims and heroes, were indeed victimizers and evil, and yet this film lies about that, sheds doubt on that, and is now being honored by the industry which questions Gibson's accuracy. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!
These two boys and their supporters argue that Capturing The Friedmans perpetuates many myths about child abuse such as 1. Abused children immediately tell parents, 2. Abused children always show physical evidence of abuse, 3. Child molesters molest indiscriminately, 4. Children exaggerate and false accuse often in child molestation cases, and 5. Hundred of innocent men and women have been falsely accused of abuse and are in prison unjustly. These two victims argue that The Friedmans ultimately steers the audience toward doubting the credibility of the alleged victims and questions the guilt of two confessed pedophiles. They cite that the film conveniently distorts the truth and omits the most damning evidence to push across its biased agenda. They add that the film is even being used to raise money to promote the release of convicted sex offenders all over the country! One example of these omissions is a tearful admission by Jesse Friedman during a 1989 Geraldo Rivera Show.
In the end, these two poor victims contend that this documentary is doing much more harm than good by promoting those myths and stereotypes which encourage abusers to abuse, discourage victims to accuse, and sways society to ignore the evil and the victims. Maybe, as the report just released reveals a staggering number of victims covered up by the bishops, maybe, just maybe that's where the bishops got the idea. Maybe they've taken a page from the moguls and liberal media of Hollywood. Figures. So much for accuracy, truth, and high praise from Hollywood!
Critics Lead The Hypocrisy
At the head of the Hypocrisy Army are those ignorant, biased critics who have ripped Mel Gibson for inaccuracy and bias while honoring Capturing The Friedmans with high praise. David Denby of The New Yorker brutalized The Passion as a "grisly, unilluminating, procession of treachery, beatings, blood, and agony…a sickening death trip." He questions the accuracy of The Gospels and therefore Gibson's movie and laments that Gibson will ultimately alter Jesus' message of love into one of hate.
He asks how Christians can be better Christians (sound familiar?) if they are filled with hate. He cites modern Biblical scholars who feel that the Gospels were not written by the disciples but much later and are filled with distortion, bias, inaccuracy, and personal agendas not linked to accuracy and truth. Denby presents blasphemer Martin Scorsese as a great modern artist whose Last Temptation of Christ presented a more realistic, less gruesome, more thoughtful message. In the final idiotic note, Denby expresses pity for the children who will see The Passion and wonders how many years of pain, suffering, and therapy they will endure! We all know the ramblings of Frank Rich of The New York Times and I have read similar attacks by Jarni Bernard of The New York Daily News. Both of these critics also heap attacks and accusations of inaccuracy, Anti-Semitism, and historical tinkering on Gibson. Denby, Rich, and Bernard treat Mel's film as inaccurate, biased, mythic, violent, gory, insane, trash with no connection to reality and truth.
Pray, tell, how do these three ignorant so-called journalists feel about Capturing The Friedmans? Take a guess. Denby calls The Friedmans a "masterpiece" and "one of the most heartbreaking films ever made about an American family". He praises Jerecki as audacious, evenhanded, and having a great sense of detail and structural power. Interesting, isn't it that Denby recounts in his book American Sucker, how he spiraled downward in a vortex of greed, marital infidelity, despair, loss of his wife, and disaster playing Wall Street he called his god during that decline? Now I ask, who is the one with the "sickening death trip"? Mel underwent similar demons and turned to the True God and returned to his roots to find peace and truth. Poor Denby is looking in the wrong places for his whole attitide towards a man he should have compassion on instead of attacking only plunges the knife of irony and hypocrisy deeper into his own credibility.
What does our friend Mr. Rich think of The Friedmans? He calls it "The Most Compelling American Movie I've seen in ages." Really? Guess he doesn't get out and about as much as we thought. Lastly, Ms. Bernard calls The Friedmans "an extraordinary film…a tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions…full of sacrifice and betrayal". Apparently Bernard could not see the sacrifice and betrayal in The Passion because she was too busy attacking it. Out, out brief candle of hypocrisy. Ann Hornaday of The Washington Post called The Friedmans "one of the most honest reality shows ever"! It may be reality but the truth is the story spun by the makers of this film is pure fantasy!
Yet these attackers, by and large mostly of the Jewish persuasion, will go to great lengths to defend the guilty because the Friedmans are Jewish, but will go to even greater lengths to castigate the innocent. Did not Christ tell us this would happen? Is it not interesting that three of the most powerful Jewish movie moguls in town David Geffen, Jeffrey Kattsenbach, and Steven Spielberg - who, of course, did 'Schindler's List' as if that were not brutal, violent and shocking - have all made it known to journalists indirectly that Gibson is persona non grata in Hollywood from henceforth. Translated: "You'll never work in this town again!" Can you say blacklist! By the way these three were some of the most vocal opponents in retrospect of such heavy-handed blacklistings of Hollywood principals during the Hearings on UnAmerican Activities in the 50's.
So, you see, my friends, the irony and topsy-turvy mentality of these fools. They who accuse The Passion as being inaccurate, biased, distorted, disturbing, historically false, violent, unfair, and harmful to children have heaped praise on a film already an Oscar favorite which paints convicted child molesters as victims when two victims themselves argue that the film is inaccurate, biased, distorts reality, is disturbing, historically false, tragic, unfair and definitely harmful to children of past and future abuse. Now we see how stupid, biased, and hypocritical these critics, and perhaps most of Hollywood, can be. Praise should be given, in all fairness, to those like Jack Valenti, Michael Medved, and Roger Ebert, a former altar boy by the way, who have given just praise to Mel's work ignoring the bias, lies, and distortions of the hypocrites. Even though Ebert also liked The Friedmans, at least he gave The Passion the praise it deserves.
Now that we have presented the truth, Hollywood style, we can lament the sad reality that while there may be many winners on Oscar nights, the big loser is often Truth.
Editor's Note: We are pleased to announce Gabriel Garnica will be contributing many articles in 2004. Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, will submit regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes will be music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.