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The Passion of the Christ and Mel Gibson's Death Blow to the Hollywood Oligopoly
copyright 2004 Joan Holman
If you believe in a battle between the forces of darkness and the forces of light, where do you think the major battlegrounds would be to wage such a war in our modern society? You might naturally look to areas that allow the greatest possibility to influence and control the masses. Of course, one of those areas would be the entertainment industry.
MOVIE THEATERS ARE SECULAR TEMPLES
Today, American movies dominate the world with their images and messages. Movie theaters are secular temples with rituals of sight and sound where we view images larger than life. In fact, theater grew out of religious festivals in ancient Greece and its first purpose was religious and moral. The great dramatic tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripedes were created to purge the soul.
MOVIES CAN CAUSE CHANGES IN CONSCIOUSNESS
The power of the theatrical ritual is heightened by lulling the mind and making it receptive, hence a darkened movie theater with no other distractions. During this experience, a movie has the ability to produce a profound psychological effect on those in the audience, touching the deepest level of consciousness. In fact, a movie can cause changes in consciousness in accordance with the goals of those producing that movie. Even some movies that may seen like they have no particular message on the surface may have an underlying agenda to lead people in a specific direction.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE SUBCONSCIOUS MIND
The subconscious mind is the driver of our lives, as denoted by the old maxim that the hand follows the eyes, i.e., you will steer in the direction in which you are looking. Movies talk to people through the pictorial imagination, which is the only language the subconscious mind understands. Just think about the dreaming process. We dream in images and these images are symbols full of meaning. Dream analysts will say that some dream symbols are universal, part of the collective unconscious of the race and some dream symbols are personal, derived from our own lives and experiences. A savvy moviemaker will know how to use those symbols that collectively tie into the subconscious minds of his or her target audiences.
THE POWER OF VISUAL IMAGES
In today's world of psychology, it is understood that visualization is an important tool to help us manifest our goals. Visualization is used by sports psychologists to enhance athletic performance. And visualization has been incorporated into the practices of many psychologists and those involved in body-mind medicine, for a variety of purposes.
THE KEY TO MANIFESTATION
The key to manifestation is to combine images with strong emotions, and by the use of conditioned symbols, we can generate intense emotional reactions. Through ritual, we create a mood that can be used to exalt us to higher levels of consciousness or to lower us to the depths of degradation.
THE SECRET POWER OF MUSIC
Music is an integral part of the movie experience. There has been discussion and research about the power of music in the process of creation and transformation. See (The Secret Power of Music: The Transformation of Self and Society through Musical Energy by David Tame.) Japanese researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto has scientifically demonstrated the power of sound to transform matter. Sound plays an important role on the direction civilization takes, and Dr. Emoto states that beautiful words (i.e. sounds) create beautiful nature, whereas ugly words (ugly sounds) create ugly nature. He uses a Magnetic Resonance Analyzer to measure the impact of words on water and his "Messages from Water" books and Web site at www.hado.net illustrate this with his photographs of water crystals.
MOVIES MAGNETIZE US TO LIGHT OR DARKNESS
Movies have awesome power and the potential to magnetize us to light or to darkness. The most potent movies are those created with the greatest artistry and those that evoke the greatest emotion. The greater the artistry, the greater the moviemaking skill and the greater the emotion evoked, the greater the ability of the production to imprint images and messages into our consciousness. The most effective way to imprint images and messages into the subconscious is to pair them with something traumatic and shocking. Shock and trauma create a heightened emotional state and in this state, the human psyche is hugely susceptible. Successful producers have always understood the importance of stirring the emotions in order to engage the audience.
HOLLYWOOD'S DOWNWARD SPIRAL
Unfortunately, those who control the motion picture industry today have not, for the most part, created uplifting movies that exalt the noble purpose of man. They have not produced movies that have raised consciousness and lead men and women away from hedonism, selfishness, and self-indulgence. Instead they have inundated the world with images of nudity, crude and unnecessary displays of sex, sensuality, depravity, horror, fear, murder and those things that lower the consciousness of the entire world. Statistics show that movies that assault the values of the viewing audience generally do not do well at the box office. For example, a recent study of box office earnings in the United States demonstrated that movies containing explicit sex or nudity do much worse - earning nearly 40 percent less on average - than more wholesome films. And in 2003, the last year of the study, the gap was wider, with movies without
sex earning more than double those with explicit material. And yet Hollywood has continued to create a preponderance of movies that challenge conventional notions of decency and that glorify violent and promiscuous behavior.
LEADING PEOPLE TO VIOLENCE
There is much concern that those with a predisposing neurosis or psychosis can be influenced to re-enact violent images they view on the screen. When violence, brutality and promiscuity are glorified, the audience becomes desensitized to the potentially painful and destructive consequences of such behaviors. And when images in such a context of glorification are shown to children in their early development it can result in behavioral tendencies to act out these images.
CHANGING THE TREND
So why are we constantly exposing ourselves to the wrong kinds of images? Some would say it is because we have little choice because these images are ubiquitous in our entertainment fare. So how do we change the negative messages and images prevalent in the entertainment industry and instead use the entertainment industry to raise our world to a higher spiritual level, or has been said, to bring heaven to earth. How do we do this when a tight-knit Hollywood establishment exerts powerful control over the production and distribution of films? This exclusive club is an oligopoly of a small number of companies. Most films are produced by these companies or by companies that have distribution deals with these companies.
MEL GIBSON TURNS THE TIDE
Enter Mel Gibson. One lone man. A popular, successful and accomplished actor and director, he decides to take a huge risk and use his own money, said to be $30 million dollars, to produce a film that many are saying has turned the tide in the entertainment industry. Even before it was finished, his film The Passion of the Christ, brought on a firestorm of opposition. His movie marks a turning point in what has been a huge disconnect between the Hollywood establishment and a large segment of the world community desiring entertainment that respects and reflects their values.
UNIFYING THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY
The remarkable feat of Mel Gibson and his Passion of the Christ has been its ability to unify millions of Christians and top Christian leaders behind it, no small task when one considers that although Christians number two billion in the world, they are fragmented into tens of thousands different denominations and groups, many at doctrinal war with eachother.
OVERCOMING RELIGIOUS SCHISM AND ARGUMENTATION
In fact, 34,000 separate Christian groups have been identified in the world and religious schism and argumentation, rather than being the exception, has been the rule down throughout the history of Christianity. People, steeped with bigotry and intolerance, have been set at cross-purposes with one another through careful manipulation by those in seats of power. This has too often resulted in wholesale bloodbaths. Race hatred, religious competition and class struggle have overridden the teachings of the great teachers and prophets of the world, who have been shut down, shut up, murdered and reviled.
HISTORICAL SCRIPTURAL CONFLICTS
Down through history, scriptures have been banned, tampered with, and rewritten by those with political and other motives to suit themselves and their goals. Scholars and theologians debate even now about lost books of the Bible, the Nag Hammadi texts and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Many of them have concluded that there were conflicting interpretations about the teachings of Jesus in the early centuries of Christianity. There were a number of early ideas that were either suppressed or which did not make it into the mainstream. Early Church Fathers banned certain doctrines that had been recorded as teachings of Jesus but which were not politically suitable for their purposes. And foremost of their purposes was the retaining of their authority and power, just like those in power in the time of Jesus. Books like the popular Da Vinci Code deal with such ideas.
PERSONAL FILTER OF CONSCIOUSNESS
It has been said that individuals can wrest from scripture support for almost any of their personal points of view. Everything we experience in life, in fact, is filtered through our own belief system, our own consciousness. And, since people are at all different levels of consciousness, it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to unite them around a common set of spiritual beliefs.
THE DIRECT ROUTE TO THE MASTER
The ideal would be to give people direct contact with Jesus and give them the opportunity to have their own understanding of his life and teachings. However, even the disciples who had this experience still did not fully understand him and his mission. Mel Gibson has used his art to try to create such a direct route to Jesus through the original story of his passion. In actuality, no one knows for sure exactly what transpired. And, as an artist, Gibson has presented a film through his own artistic sensibilities. The question is, was he truly inspired by the Holy Spirit as he believes, and if he was, what is it that Jesus would try to communicate with those who view this film.
JESUS CHALLENGED POWERFUL LEADERS OF HIS DAY
Scholars have concluded that the Gospelers wrote between thirty and seventy years after the crucifixion and that the Gospels were based upon a diverse body of oral sources as well as written source documents. Despite different interpretations of the Gospels, it is very clear that Jesus did challenge orthodox religious leaders of his times and did try to restore the true teachings of the prophets of Israel. He overturned the moneychangers in the temple and warned about wolves in sheep's clothing. And with compassion, kindness, humility and brilliance of mind, he conducted himself with the highest standard and became an exemplar for all time.
A LIVING RECORD OF JESUS?
By trying to get as closely as possible to the actual original events as reported in the Gospels, Mel Gibson tries to bring the audience into a direct contact with the living record of Jesus.
THE ORIGINAL REVELATION OF CHRIST
The power of The Passion of the Christ may be in its ability to bring us back to the original revelation of the life and path of Jesus. If it were successful in doing this, Christians would have the opportunity to access the original source of their faith instead of having to rely on interpretations by others.
GOAL OF RELIGION TO BIND SOUL TO SPIRT
The goal of religion is to bind the soul to the spirit. Personally, I believe that this film represents an emerging trend of individuals going directly to God and relying less on a priesthood to act as intermediaries to God.
FOR CHRISTIANS THE MESSIAH, FOR OTHERS A UNIVERSAL PROPHET
Although Christians have made up the bulk of the audience for The Passion of the Christ and they see Jesus as the Messiah, Jesus has been embraced as a universal prophet and teacher by many and his doctrines have been considered applicable within the context of several religions.
GIBSON'S GRASSROOTS CAMPAIGN
No one before Mel Gibson had been able to organize and lead such a major grassroots campaign independent of the monolithic power of a Hollywood establishment that has controlled the global film industry. The implications of this are huge, not only for Christians but for any other independent producers who can tap into the formula for success implemented by Gibson. In fact, The Passion of the Christ will probably become a case study for film schools for years to come.
A WATERSHED EVENT
The Passion of the Christ is not only a success; it is a watershed event. Tens of millions, perhaps a hundred million people or more, will proclaim this film to be the most spiritually exalting experience of their lifetime. According to polls, 45% of Americans plan to see the film. And 70% of those who have attended the film rated it highly.
POTENTIAL AS BIGGEST GROSSING FILM IN HISTORY
The Hollywood establishment is in shock over the overwhelming success of The Passion of the Christ. It did not expect this film to get widespread distribution or become any kind of a moneymaker, in this case, one of the biggest moneymakers in movie history. In fact, The Passion of the Christ has the potential to become the highest grossing film ever based upon the cumulative gross from multiple releases of the film.
THE PASSION - A STUNNING WORK OF ART
I have seen The Passion of the Christ and recognize it as a stunning piece of art. For me, it was profoundly spiritual and moving. I consider it a masterpiece. The producing, directing, casting, cinematography, acting, costume design, editing and sound are extraordinary.
YES, THE IMAGES ARE SHOCKING
Some have severely criticized Gibson for the level of violence and the shocking images in The Passion of the Christ. I do not have a problem with the violence because the violence is not gratuitous. For me, by showing the tremendous personal pain and suffering of the mother of Jesus, I was drawn into a completely empathetic feeling of sorrow for this horrendous, sadistic and horrible violence put upon one for whom I could especially feel a deep love and connection through the heart of the mother.
HOW TO PREVENT VIOLENCE
Most of the mainstream Hollywood films I have viewed contain gratuitous and senseless violence. Such films are dangerous because they desensitize people to violence, and desensitized people become those who are then able to tolerate and/or commit violence. I believe that sensitivity to life through opening our hearts to human suffering can help prevent the acceptance and practice of violence. Truly, the movie The Passion of Christ opened my heart and made me feel emotional pain for violence committed against human life.
JESUS, THE POLITICAL REVOLUTIONARY
Jesus warned about embodied evil and satanic forces. He taught the parable of the tares and the wheat. He challenged those in authority - the chief priests and scribes, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. He did this publicly and vocally and without reserve. There are those who believe that Jesus, as the Messiah, carried a deeply political message which was a serious threat to the established ecclesiastical and secular powers of his time and which lead to his judgment, public humiliation, ridicule, torture and sadistic murder by those powers.
A POWERFUL POLITICAL MESSAGE TO THIS DAY
If, in fact, the true life and teachings of Jesus continue to carry a powerful political message that threatens those who hold the power, wouldn't you expect that whomever tries to present the original revelations and path of Jesus to also be crucified for daring to challenge these same forces of darkness and their authority. Although the methods of executing these goals have changed with the times, the goals of forces of darkness that hold the power have remained the same.
AN OPPORTUNITY FOR MYSTICAL COMMUNION WITH CHRIST
For me, raised as a Catholic, the film awakened vivid memories of my deep contemplation of the passion going back to early childhood. My path in life has taken me more into the mystical and less into the literal interpretation of scripture, so I approached the film as an opportunity for a mystical communion with Jesus. I did not seek to intellectually dissect the fine points of scripture as presented through the film. I did not analyze. Instead I allowed myself to go fully into the actual experience of the passion. I allowed myself to feel the pain. I put myself there with Jesus for the scourging, for the carrying of the cross, for the crucifixion. For me, the experience of the film was an inner walk with God and a bonding to Christ.
THE MYSTERY OF THE PASSION
I have had many feelings and experiences after viewing The Passion of the Christ several times. One of the strongest feelings I have is that the passion experienced by Jesus is truly a mystery. It is not something we can fully understand or grasp at the level of our human minds. Underlying the passion is a spiritual truth and reality that transcends the intellect.
JIM CAVIEZEL - A TRANSPARENT PANE OF GLASS
I have seen interviews with Jim Caviezel, the actor who played Jesus in the Passion of the Christ. He is a devout Catholic and prayed every day for Christ to enter him and use him as an actor in this role. And I do feel that Caviezel was successful in allowing himself to be a transparent pane of glass to allow Christ to step through the veil. I did not see Jim Caviezel the actor. I saw Jesus the Christ. Coincidentally (or perhaps not so coincidentally) the name Caviezel contains the letters that spell the word "veil."
GOOD PEOPLE IN ALL RELIGIONS
Now, my friends are of all faiths, all cultures and from all backgrounds and include those who even question the reality of God. These are good and sincere people, and good people can be found in all races, all cultures and all religions. I have no desire to impose my beliefs upon my friends and others in the world and I respect an individual's right to his or her own beliefs.
THE GIFT OF FREEDOM
I think that it is tragic when people discount or persecute others because of their belief systems, and I am so grateful to live in the United States of America where there is freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and freedom of the press enshrined in our Constitution.
AN EXAMPLE FOR ALL TIMES AND ALL PEOPLES
Whatever one's belief, the life of Jesus, as portrayed in The Passion of the Christ, is an example for all of humanity, an example that can guide people to a higher way of living. Jesus was a Master of himself. He was tolerant and forgiving. He embodied love, mercy, goodness and truth. And he had the courage to defy convention and challenge those who were in positions of authority and power.
JESUS ALLOWED THE PASSION THROUGH HIS FREE WILL
Jesus committed himself to the sequence of events of the passion. He used his free will to surrender to the will of God for his life. In the opening of the film, we see a Satanic figure's attempt to get Jesus to walk away from the horrible ordeal he is going to have to face. Jesus calls out to God to let this cup pass from him, but he also says, "Nevertheless not my will but thine be done." From that moment on, Jesus walks without doubt or fear the whole path to the crucifixion and the resurrection.
THE JEWS DID NOT KILL JESUS, THEIR LEADERS DID
I know that there have been charges of anti-Semitism against the film and Mel Gibson. The film, for me, was not anti-Semitic. It was clear to me that those who crucified Jesus were the leaders of the Jews, not the Jews themselves. The crowd was manipulated by these leaders to accept upon itself a curse of self-condemnation for the death of Jesus. And I believe this curse, unfortunately, has continued in the subconscious mind of the Jewish people. The guilt for the death of Jesus has been perpetually projected upon them by those same forces of darkness that were responsible for murdering Jesus. These princes of darkness have cleverly used divide and conquer tactics to set group against group for their own political ends. These vipers, as Jesus called them, have been with us throughout history using religion for purposes of political manipulation and scapegoating.
FORUMS FOR INTER-FAITH UNDERSTANDING
I believe that the debate and discussion being stimulated by The Passion of the Christ can have a positive impact. It is important to have inter-faith dialogue and forums of understanding and appreciation of the cause of sensitivities to this film. On the positive side of this controversy, Christians can become more aware of the historical wholesale pogroms against Jews that make many of them so sensitive to the images in The Passion of the Christ. I also believe it is time for Christians to express their sensitivity about the assault they see upon Christians present in today's modern entertainment industry.
About Joan Holman -- Joan Holman is the founder and Director of the Spiritual Cinema Alliance. Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, this nonprofit organization is dedicated to developing and promoting spiritually-focused films and media projects.
Ms. Holman is also the creator and producer of the award-winning PBS television program The Legacy of AchievementTM featuring the lives and lessons of great achievers. Her Legacy of Achievement Foundation is creating a living library of outstanding individuals of all races, cultures and backgrounds who exemplify positive characteristics and accomplishments.
Ms. Holman has a multidimensional background as an author, speaker, producer, business consultant and former psychotherapist. She was Director of Tourism for the city of Minneapolis and was instrumental in making Minnesota a popular location for feature film production. As part of these efforts, she worked on feature film productions, including locations, casting, and involvement of community resources for production and promotion.
Ms. Holman is a book development consultant for "Career Wisdom: Success Advice from Outstanding Women Achievers," a book that will feature success advice from a multiicultural group of women history makers, Nobel prize winners, CEOs, University Presidents, and leaders in business and the arts. Career Wisdom is being developed through the assistance of Dr. Camille Cosby. Both Dr. Cosby and her husband Bill Cosby have been involved in numerous philanthrophic endeavors that help improve lives and communities.
Ms. Holman authored the book Hands That Touch, Hands That Heal: The True Story of Sister Rosalind Gefre and Her Pioneering Work in Healing Touch." She also plans to produce a film about the amazing life and achievements of Sister Rosalind, considered by many to be a living saint.
The Spiritual Cinema Alliance serves under the umbrella of the National Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., which has been helping individuals, corporations and communities express themselves in the charitable, educational, scientific and religious sector since 1968. The National Heritage Foundation has 7,000 foundations under its umbrella.
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About Joan Holman / Legacy of Achievement Television Program
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