Feb 27, 2004 - 12:58 am
Surfing the news last night I was struck by the concomitant coverage of the opening of Mel Gibson's new movie. The many-headed Hydra that is the media was in high dudgeon as it reported on the public hysteria surrounding the premiere of "The Passion of the Christ." The real story was the frenzied reporters fanning out over the country looking for something to bolster their veiw of this movie as a cataclysmic event. They struck paydirt in Wichita when a woman suffered a fatal heart attack during the crucifixion scene. Commentators seized this show stopper, drawing paralells to His suffering and implicated the intensity of the on screen torment in the demise of this unfortunate movie-goer.
The last time I saw someone die during a movie was back in the fifties when my sister and I went to a matinee of "The Shaggy Dog." A man collapsed in the lobby as the audience was leaving and we learned that he had suffered a heart attack. I cannot believe that Fred Mac Murray's performance was so powerful that it in any way contributed to this grim ending. We arrived home upset and my father averred, "Well, at least he died laughing."
Since Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the 40-day Lenten period of penance, I propose a media fast to temper the usual glut of shameless sensationalism. Perhaps I shall purchase one of those nails proffered by the makers of "The Passion" as a movie tie-in. I could palm it to dig into my flesh the way Michael Caine did in "The Ipcress File" when he was being brainwashed. It acted as a counter-irritant to the propaganda flooding his senses as his tortureres tried to break him down. Now that was a rivetting movie.
Aspaysia sent this letter to the culprits; the local paper and a couple of TV news shows.