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Why 'The Passion of the Christ' Is Being Ignored
January 18, 2005

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

In lemming-like fashion, SAG, DGA, WGA and other would-be kingmakers of the cinematic world have chosen to give their royal nods of approval to the exact same batch of films.

Why such lockstep behavior? The explanation has to do with three Tinseltown myths.

Myth #1 is that the Golden Globes non-recognition was an equal opportunity snub, with an even-handed skipping over of both Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" and Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ."

The truth is that Moore's film was never in the running because the rules of the approximately 90-member Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) render documentaries ineligible for consideration. There is no separate category for Best Documentary, so regardless of whether or not one considers Moore's movie a documentary, for Globes purposes, it was classified as one.

Quite the opposite with regard to "The Passion of the Christ." The HFPA had wrongfully tagged Gibson's movie as a foreign film based on its use of Aramaic and Latin dialogue. But as Gibson informed me, the movie is not a foreign film. It's a dead-language film.

What the HFPA essentially did was lump an American-made movie together with Chinese, Spanish, French and other obscure and low-budget foreign-produced films. Many award watchers speculated that this would make it easier for Gibson's film to snag a Globe.

But you can't win if you can't participate. And the HFPA made sure "The Passion of the Christ" would be barred from the get-go. It was never even nominated.

Reasonable people came to one conclusion: Hollywood bias.

But what is the nature of the prejudice?

Myth #2 is that Hollywood's bias regarding "The Passion" has to do with politics.

Red states/blue states. Hollywood's embracing of all things Democrat. These are the typical ways the rebuff of "The Passion of the Christ" is explained.

However, an analysis of the Golden Globe winners shows that the slight of Gibson's movie is not about Tinseltown's political groupthink mentality. It's about content.

Take the case of Clint Eastwood. Eastwood took the Golden Globe for Best Directing for "Million Dollar Baby." Eastwood is known for having libertarian and conservative beliefs. The New York Post recently described him as "Republican-leaning." But Eastwood's film content of late has not exactly been in keeping with his aforementioned reputation. In fact, his material of choice has been more of the P.C. variety, and, of course, Hollywood adores that.

"Million Dollar Baby" certainly has some praiseworthy elements. But watching the last 20 minutes of the film is like watching a different movie, with the culture-of-death agenda readily transparent.

In looking at the film content of other Golden Globe nominees and award winners, we see the same culture-of-death ("Vera Drake" and "The Sea Inside") and culture-of-infidelity ("Sideways" and "Closer") themes pop up again and again.

Myth #3 is that the Golden Globes gives us a preview of the Oscars and has similar stature.

The Golden Globes and the Academy Awards differ, particularly in terms of the membership composition of the organizations.

The HFPA has been known to elicit some snickers from Hollywood insiders. As Robin Williams alluded in his acceptance speech at the Globes ceremony, the roughly 90 members of the HFPA are best known for their ability to go to fine hotels, eat gourmet food and down glasses of champagne, with studios and producers picking up the tab. Williams cited the 1982 Golden Globe that went to Pia Zadora for "New Star of the Year" only a few weeks after her wealthy spouse had jetted HFPA members to Vegas for a junket.

Reportedly, only about two dozen of HFPA members are actually full-time foreign journalists. Most are part-time freelancers for small-time overseas magazines and newspapers. In contrast, the Academy Awards are determined by the votes of approximately 6,000 film industry professionals.

It is hoped that the Academy is about to dispel some myths of its own.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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