Saturday, February 28, 2004

the blood never dries
I’m not going to see the Jesus chainsaw massacre. Apart from anything else, I know how it ends. I’m also a bit nonplussed about the two areas of controversy the film has generated. The film may well be anti-Semitic in that it regurgitates old blood libels. That’s because they’re right there in the New Testament. But anti-semitism these days is an almost-entirely political matter. You are an anti-semite, or under suspicion of same, if you don’t like Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians. If you support them, then you’re not, no matter how strange your opinions towards Judaism itself. Since it’s Christian Zionists who seem especially eager to lap up the sacred blood from the multiplexes of the god-fearing republic, well…Jerusalem is worth a few blood libels.

But what of the gore? This does seem to represent a genuine shift in protestant thinking. As I recall, the unflinching way Catholics have traditionally accepted the gorier aspects of the propagation of the faith was always criticized by Protestants as proof that they weren’t really Christian; idolatory and pagan savagery still lurked beneath the vestments of Old Red Socks and his inamorata, the Scarlet Woman.

For those of us taught to dig with the left foot it just proved that Prods were wimps. What did they think a crucifixion involved, or a scourging? I remember being regaled in class with tales of the deaths of the saints, just before lunchtime, presumably to cut down on the Christian Brothers catering costs. Gather any group of former Catholic schoolchildren together and its pretty much a guarantee that all will have a gothic tale of some sort to offer.

And look at the great directors of horror movies. Dario Argento. George A Romero. What faith do their names suggest to you? (and yes, James Whale was a Catholic too). But now it seems that the prods have graduated from spiritual ready-brek to meatier fare. Next thing, they’ll all be building wicker men.