Feb 28, 2004

There's no story here.

I know I said I wasn't going to continue flogging this horse, but I was watching Real Time with Bill Maher tonight, and The Passion of the Christ was one of the topics. Sir Ian McKellen pointed out the problem that I also saw: the complete absence of the story. Good old Gandalf reminded the panel that, for those who aren't Christian, the details of the story are missing. He didn't know who Herod Jr. was. He didn't know who Mary Magdalene was. "That's the problem with the movie. It isn't made for people who don't know the story. And if you're not a Christian you're probably not going to be able to respond to it...On the whole, you know, movies are meant to tell stories, and you have to tell people what's going on...You see, this is a movie, before everyone gets het up about it, not for atheists -- it's for Christians. And frankly, if you were really going to make a movie about Jesus Christ, wouldn't you want to tell us a little about what he believed in? -- and what he did?" Then he pointed out that the scourging we saw would have killed poor Jesus long before he got to the cross. Bill closed the discussion point by saying, "I think what's dangerous is the idea that someone can wash away your sins. You know, I think that you are the only person who can cleanse your sins." And then Ian said calmly, "You know, you have to be a Christian before you believe that you've sinned." And he's the most charming deliverer of a refutation I have ever seen. Sigh. I wish he was my friend.

Later, when an anti-gay lady with a crooked nose finished her diatribe on the decadence of our society, Ian McKellen quoted Thomas Jefferson, saying:

I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also to keep pace with the times. We might as well require a man to wear still the coat which fitted him when a boy as civilized society to remain ever under the regimen of their barbarous ancestors.

I'm with him. And I have to say that I can't understand the tolerance of the American voting public for the focus being placed on this topic by the sitting executive. I suppose I'm glad that conservatives are making this a table issue, because it can only force the hand of civil progress, and that's for the best. But at the same time, with everything that is splintering and faltering in our country today, the idea that Americans would tolerate any resources being wasted on the legalized persecution of a portion of our citizenry before we do everything in our power to keep our economy from spiralling itself down the crimson-rimmed galactic toilet is a mystery to me. Do we really want to write this guy a check so that he can give us the finger from his new summer home on Mars -- one that will probably be decorated with lampshades made from well cared for gay skin? I, for one, would rather live in a country where I can get a job again. And if I have to marry a lesbian to do it, so be it. I realize that no one is asking me to do that, but I'm just saying.

One of the New Rules on the show was that gay marriage won't lead to dog marriage, captioning a photo of a demonstrator carrying a handmade sign that read, "I want to marry my dog." Bill Maher pointed out that when women got the right to vote, it didn't lead to hamsters voting. And that made me laugh. And also to think that hamsters, if they could vote, would probably vote Democrat.

So this started out on the Passion topic and veered off into politics, thanks to Bill Maher, for whom I have had a longstanding heap of pulsating affection. I know some people hate him, but they are wrong.

Oh, and Conan's bit about the Oscars tonight was blindingly brill. Night after night, I continue to wish Conan O'Brien had married me before I turned into the spinster I currently am.

posted by Mary Forrest at 1:38 AM | Back to Monoblog


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