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Old 05-22-2006, 07:53 PM   #76
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Another great example. While I've not watched Desperate Housewives, I get the impression that there are many villians through the storylines - yet only certain ones are deemed unacceptable. The goes to the essence of political correctness. A white female villian - no one blinks an eye. A black male villian - its racist.

I'm no fan of political correctness, and as I said in my reply to Deep, I have no issue with blacks being "bad guys."

It's just you'd have to be blind not to recognize the power of certain negative stereotypes. Think of how Goebbel's propaganda machine in Nazi Germany portrayed Jews. Jews were always pictured in certain, stereotypical "Shylockian" ways because such depictions resonated with a generally anti-semitic population at a very visceral level.

The same is true of the volatile mix of race and sex in the United States.
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Old 05-23-2006, 10:06 AM   #77
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The issue is NOT that blacks are portrayed negatively--it's the one specific portrayal that bothers me. I know free expression and all that so I'm not arguing it shouldn't be allowed. . .I'm just saying when less than fifty years ago a black man could be lynched for being accused of looking at a white woman, when even today when I drive south from Ohio to Florida with my wife (who is white) we encounter occasional dirty looks and middle fingers, when the fear of the dark, dangerous black man preying on the pure white woman is part of our national subconscious, it is irresponsible on the part of the artist to play into those fears.


absolutely.

i'd also like to add that i'd like to see one movie featuring a gay protaganist who hasn't achieved his sympathetic status by either being an AIDS victim or having been gay bashed.

it is very clear that Gibson has used the Shylock stereotype to make his "bad Jews" really bad, and this is further highlighted by the fact that his "good Jews" are very nearly Aryan/European. it's the use of racism/anti-Semitism to draw lines between good and bad that i object to, and i'm pretty sure Gibson knows this which is why he gives a willing audience a means to have their cake an eat it to by pointing out that Jesus was Jewish ... even though he's not "Jewish" at all in the visual language of the film.

it reminds me, a bit, of my problems with "Dances With Wolves" and even "Schindler's List." what both these films do is they give a majority white Christian audience a character to identify with who goes against the genocides of the time. it gives the white audience the luxury of saying, "see, not all cowboys/war profiteers were bad," as well as enabling you to think, "if i were a cowboy/war profiteer, that's what i would have done, lived with the Sioux/sheltered Jews from the Nazis." what this does, in effect, is absolve the audience of any notion of collective guilt or historical responsibility so that the film becomes more pallatable (and makes more $$$).
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Old 05-23-2006, 10:57 AM   #78
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so you undestand, then, when traditionaly marganalized, stereotyped groups get irritated when they see traditional stereotypes that have been used to deny them rights (i.e., black men want to rape white women; gay men are pedophiles; Jews conspire and control money) and further their social stigmitizaion?

and especially when these stereotypes are called upon by a director in order to increase the "bad-ness" level of the antagonists? that the more stereotypically they are drawn in the traditional caricature, the more the director is wielding racism/homophobia/anti-Semitism as a dramatic device in order to emotionally blackmail an audience?

do you understand the nervousness such groups might feel when they see these stereotypes -- which they tend to be very adept at sniffing out because they have to constantly battle these stereotypes and are continually put in the position of having to "educate" the majority -- manipulated for easy drama?
That is a long jump from "traditionally marginalized groups" to a director who's beliefs are at odds with your own to the physical portrayal of the antagonists in a movie.

How should the antagonists appear? Is it even remotely possible for this film to be made without similar charges being made? Why is no reference made to the protagonists of the same group? Could there be another reason for the criticism?
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Old 05-23-2006, 11:20 AM   #79
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That is a long jump from "traditionally marginalized groups" to a director who's beliefs are at odds with your own to the physical portrayal of the antagonists in a movie.

How should the antagonists appear? Is it even remotely possible for this film to be made without similar charges being made? Why is no reference made to the protagonists of the same group? Could there be another reason for the criticism?


what beliefs are at odds? i am talking about the visual language of the film -- why did Gibson choose to give the evil Jewish priests Shylock features and the Jewish protaganists European features? this is what is at issue here, and it has nothing to do with worldviews or theology.

if Gibson believes that it is acceptable to use anti-Semitic stereotypes in order to draw lines between "good" Jews and "bad" Jews, then yes, i suppose my "beliefs" are at odds, in that i don't "believe" it's at all acceptable for someone to utilize anti-Semitism for cheap drama and it lowers my estimation of the film even farther.

correct me if i'm wrong, but aren't Jews a "traditionally marginalized group"? aren't Jews the world's most scapegoated group of people? weren't, you know, 6 million of them exterminated in Europe only 60 some odd years ago?

you do bring up a good point about whether or not it would be possible for a Passion Play (especially one that focuses solely on violence and torture and sadism at the expense of any sort of context or meditation on the actual life and teachings of Jesus) that isn't inherently anti-Semetic. the history of Passion Plays in Europe shows such stagings to be directly correlated with an upswing in anti-Semetic violence

let's let another director try.

and i'm confused as to what you mean by "why is there no reference to the protaganists." to continually reference the protaganists as some sort of antidote to the charges of anti-Semitism in the film makes my point that much more strongly. it's because the protaganists (the good guys) aren't at all "Jewish" in the visual langauge of the film that underscores and highlights the "bad" Shylocks.

film is a visual medium, and we are talking about visual language and visual grammar.
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Old 05-23-2006, 12:14 PM   #80
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We are dancing around the critical point of the analysis. In the visual language of film making, how do you visually portray protagonists and antagonists? Is there an "acceptable" way to do this without

The criticism of the film started well before its release. Was this part of a visual analysis of the film, or were perceptions carried into the viewing to make such neat catagorical divisions between the "Shylock" antagonists Jews and the "Aryan/European" protagonists Jews?

I think you argument suffers when you refer to Jewish characters as "not Jewish" in appearence. Tell me, how should Jews appear? Again, I think self-perceptions should be analyized. It may be a useful tool when we ask ourselve "what Jews should look like?"

If this is a visual language issue - perhaps it would be helpful to point out a more accurate portrayal (and there may very well be better visuals - none have been offered throughout the criticism of the film).
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Old 05-23-2006, 12:41 PM   #81
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Originally posted by nbcrusader
We are dancing around the critical point of the analysis. In the visual language of film making, how do you visually portray protagonists and antagonists? Is there an "acceptable" way to do this without



are you asking me how i portray antagonists? or how they should be portrayed? i'm a little confused on this point, so i'll reiterate what i've been saying all along -- Gibson uses anti-Semetic images, the traditional Shylock-stereotype, in his depiction of the "bad" Jews (those that hand him over to the Romans). the fact that his "good" Jewish protaganists have none of these features (and we're talking about more than just facial features ... we're talking about the hissing, the plotting, the arguing over money) further illustrates this point. as such, we are presented with characters that are all historically Jewish; however, in the visual language of the film, some are more "Jewish" (and by this we mean easily identifiable via caricature) than others, and the more "Jewish" a Jewish character is, the more evil he is.


[q]The criticism of the film started well before its release. Was this part of a visual analysis of the film, or were perceptions carried into the viewing to make such neat catagorical divisions between the "Shylock" antagonists Jews and the "Aryan/European" protagonists Jews?[/q]


anyone doing a Passion Play is going to put themselves under a sort of anti-Semetic microscope due to the history of Passion Plays in Europe. however, as to your question, my understanding fo the film prior to my watching it was that it wasn't anti-Semetic, that it was really just obscenely violent, and that's what made it so repellant. i was personally shocked to see all the Shylock-imagery that i thought Gibson would have been so careful to avoid. i expected a gore-fest; i did not expect to see such obvious Jewish caricatures. i thought Gibson, who's not a dumb guy, and is a fairly talented director, would have been too smart to give anyone any ammunition. i was wrong.


[q]I think you argument suffers when you refer to Jewish characters as "not Jewish" in appearence. Tell me, how should Jews appear? Again, I think self-perceptions should be analyized. It may be a useful tool when we ask ourselve "what Jews should look like?"[/q]


and this is the big assumption you're making that's leading to your misunderstanding of how visual language works in film. it doesn't matter what i think Jews "look like." (as an aside, i am from the northeast and attended nearly half a dozen bar mitzvahs in 7th grade). what matters is what the film thinks Jews look like and how the film thinks Jews should appear.

i've said this over and over, but it bears repeating: when i say that some Jews in the film look more "Jewish" than others, i am not saying that there is a way that Jews should look. what i am saying is that there is a historical basis for the visual creation of Jewish caricatures that the film uses to make some Jews more "Jewish" than other Jews. the quotes matter. it's not as if i think that there's some kind of authentic Jewish physical archetype. but there absolutely is, in the mind of the anti-Semite, and we can see this replecated from Shakespeare to Goebbels to Gibson, a stereotypical "Jewish" physical archetype. and it is this archetype that Gibson employes in his visual depiction of the Jewish elite in the film.


[q]If this is a visual language issue - perhaps it would be helpful to point out a more accurate portrayal (and there may very well be better visuals - none have been offered throughout the criticism of the film).
[/q]


if we're talking about the language of a Passion Play, i don't think we have a comparison because, to my knowledge, no one has done a film like this before

as for other sources ... i dunno, check out "Europa, Europa" or pretty much any other film that might focus upon Jewishness but that doesn't resort to Shylockian stereotypes to make its point.
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Old 05-23-2006, 02:01 PM   #82
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Perhaps we are looking at two sides of the same coin. You've stated the film is responsible for the connections draw, while I've suggested that the individual viewer brings in those perceptions and draws the connections as the view the film.

Also, some of the points drawn regarding the characterization (the hissing, the plotting, the arguing over money) are story points from the Gospel.

As visual medium, protagonists and antagonists appear differently. If a film has only one Jewish character, and it is done in a "Shylock" style with the intent to convey jewishness, I'd agree with the analysis. To contrast two groups, and to maintain story points from the Gospel, the argument that the film is anti-semetic fades.
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Old 05-23-2006, 02:26 PM   #83
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[q]Originally posted by nbcrusader
[B]Perhaps we are looking at two sides of the same coin. You've stated the film is responsible for the connections draw, while I've suggested that the individual viewer brings in those perceptions and draws the connections as the view the film.[/q]

i really can't agree with you here. the visual language of the film is so clear, in my eyes, that it leaves little doubt in my mind that it's little more than an adroit evocation of centuries old anti-Semetic caricatures.



[q]Also, some of the points drawn regarding the characterization (the hissing, the plotting, the arguing over money) are story points from the Gospel.[/q]

interesting. it seems, then, that if these caricatures have their basis in the Gospel, then that simply furthers it's reputation as an inherently anti-Semetic text, or at least it is the founding text of anti-Semitism.


[q]As visual medium, protagonists and antagonists appear differently. If a film has only one Jewish character, and it is done in a "Shylock" style with the intent to convey jewishness, I'd agree with the analysis. To contrast two groups, and to maintain story points from the Gospel, the argument that the film is anti-semetic fades. [/q]


and here is where i don't think you have an argument at all, for it is the contrasting of the "good" Jews with the "bad" Jews that reinforces both the caricatures as well as the fundamental tenant of anti-Semitism: the Jews are bad because they killed Jesus, and the "good" Jews became Christians.
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Old 05-23-2006, 02:27 PM   #84
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double post.
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Old 05-23-2006, 04:06 PM   #85
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i really can't agree with you here. the visual language of the film is so clear, in my eyes, that it leaves little doubt in my mind that it's little more than an adroit evocation of centuries old anti-Semetic caricatures.
Well, your position begins to make sense based on your following statements.

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
interesting. it seems, then, that if these caricatures have their basis in the Gospel, then that simply furthers it's reputation as an inherently anti-Semetic text, or at least it is the founding text of anti-Semitism.
Are you kidding me? Text that is two thousand years old is inherently anti-semetic due to certain non-Scriptural representations of Jews occurring centuries later. At a minimum, you have the tail wagging the dog here. In the large context of the claims of anti-semetism, we've got another case of "make the charge, prove me wrong". Perhaps the history of these claims is also driven by a desire to dilute or distract from the core message of the Gospels.

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
and here is where i don't think you have an argument at all, for it is the contrasting of the "good" Jews with the "bad" Jews that reinforces both the caricatures as well as the fundamental tenant of anti-Semitism: the Jews are bad because they killed Jesus, and the "good" Jews became Christians.
You've gone from the visual medium back to the story again - you've got to understand the story and then examine the visuals separately for your "Shylock" claims to hold true.
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Old 05-23-2006, 04:26 PM   #86
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[q]Originally posted by nbcrusader
[B]

Well, your position begins to make sense based on your following statements.



Are you kidding me? Text that is two thousand years old is inherently anti-semetic due to certain non-Scriptural representations of Jews occurring centuries later. At a minimum, you have the tail wagging the dog here. In the large context of the claims of anti-semetism, we've got another case of "make the charge, prove me wrong". Perhaps the history of these claims is also driven by a desire to dilute or distract from the core message of the Gospels.[/q]


oh well. i had hoped this wasn't where you wanted to go, but it does seem as if you're conflating defending the film with defending the Gospels. i think you do a disservice to the Gospels by intertwining them with a lurid snuff film, but i can understand the impulse to do so.

i also object to your insinuation that i have some sort of problem with the "core message" of the Gospels -- the "core message" is as unimportant here as it is to Gibson's film.

you'll also note that i posited "inherently" as more of a conjecture than a statement, though i do think that we're kidding ourselves if we're going to sit here and pretend that anti-Semities don't consult the gospels to justify their anti-Semitism in the way that racists have consulted the bible and homophobes have consulted the Bible. this, of course, speaks more about the readers than what the text actually says, but it does not deny the fact that the Gospels are manipulated for the cause of anti-Semitism, fairly or not.

i've made the charge and defended it, repeatedly. you've yet to prove me wrong. it's a pretty airtight charge -- Gibson utilizes anti-Semetic imagery to make the Jewish elite that much more evil in the eyes of his audience in order to create that much more sympathy for his protaganist. i've pointed to specific visuals that underscore this point, and i've pointed to the deliberate contrasts-via-casting of those Jews intended to be "good" (the Euros) and those Jews intended to be "bad" (the Shylocks). i can't make it any more clear than that.


[q]You've gone from the visual medium back to the story again - you've got to understand the story and then examine the visuals separately for your "Shylock" claims to hold true. [/q]


i'm sorry, but you've really confused yourself at this point. the visual medium is the mechanism through which a story is told, so it's rather impossible, when we take the film "the passion of the christ," to examine the "story" -- and what do you mean by this? the plot? the script? -- separately from the visuals.

i've had a hefty amount of film criticism classes and written endless papers on visual storytelling, and i feel quite qualified to comment and quite confident in my assertions.
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Old 05-23-2006, 05:40 PM   #87
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I am not "defending" the film - just questioning the basis for the anti-semetic claims. You've repreated your argument about a dozen times here. Realize that you have pulled in everything from a history of marginalized peoples to a whole assortment of misuses of the Bible to justify the claim to the suggestion that the Gospels are inherently anti-semetic to criticize the film.

It seems clear that in a visual medium, depictions of protagonists and antagonists will differ. To claim such a difference clearly is anti-semetic in this film based on a use in another case strikes me as the creation of a no-win senario for the director.
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Old 05-23-2006, 06:24 PM   #88
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I am not "defending" the film - just questioning the basis for the anti-semetic claims. You've repreated your argument about a dozen times here. Realize that you have pulled in everything from a history of marginalized peoples to a whole assortment of misuses of the Bible to justify the claim to the suggestion that the Gospels are inherently anti-semetic to criticize the film.

It seems clear that in a visual medium, depictions of protagonists and antagonists will differ. To claim such a difference clearly is anti-semetic in this film based on a use in another case strikes me as the creation of a no-win senario for the director.


yes, depictions of protagonists and antagonists will differ.

when you choose to use historically based, widely understood anti-Semetic iconography to distinguish between who is good and who is not, then charges of anti-Semitism are well founded.

pulling from a "history of marginalized people" was to give you some background as to how iconography -- be it racist, sexist, homophobic, or anti-Semetic -- functions in a film and how it functions on the audience in order to amp up the level of drama and sympathy for the protagonist.

let's take a look:



vs.



and



you've got to get past the Gospels -- again, i suggested that it might be inherently anti-Semetic, but the only thing i have said is that it is one of the foundations of anti-Semitism. your defense of the Gospels does nothing to alleviate the charges against Gibson.
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Old 05-23-2006, 06:36 PM   #89
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If you look at a depiction of old Pharisees (after researching who they were and what they stood for) and the first thought is "anti-Semetic," I guess we'll remain at this impasse.
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Old 05-23-2006, 06:42 PM   #90
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If you look at a depiction of old Pharisees (after researching who they were and what they stood for) and the first thought is "anti-Semetic," I guess we'll remain at this impasse.


what does this have to do with Gibson's artistic choices?
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