Featured: Top of Home Page

Mel's Collection Plate

Rino Breebaart

Easter in Ireland 2004 finds the faithful flocking to the blood-spattered screen; this is how many people want their kids to process a religion based on love and charity.

The Irish make good Catholics for several reasons: they don't beat you over the head about it, and they aren't prone to the worship of icons and relics like some more pagan and Mediterranean variations. With the exceptions of small icons on their dashboards, the Irish are in no way superstitious or flippant about their religion. But I get the creeping suspicion they nonetheless thirst after strong images and iconic representations, for all the heavily obvious visual testaments of faith and suffering, and this could be the reason why The Passion of the Christ has proved so popular here.

The power and direct influence and wealth of the church waned in the early '70s with its separation from state, and besides regular church services and works, the most obvious presence of Irish Catholicism has been in education. There's still a lot of fallout from the systemic abuse of these educational institutions, as elsewhere. But there is no single, majorly symbolic or iconic image of Catholicism in Ireland � no building or work of art or attractive monument which spells out cap "D" devotion for Irishmen everywhere, something they'd carry on their dash in turn, or illuminate in Day-Glo. Barcelona at least has its Sagrada Familia, a work in progress so staggering it could keep any faith alive. Ireland has ruined abbeys . . .

So, along comes The Passion and suddenly the cinema's block-booked by religious groups and communities so all and sundry can partake of the visual event. Despite its warnings of graphic violence and a mere 15PG rating, this is how many people want their kids to process a religion based on love and charity. This, the tenor of many mildly critical reviews so far, could make even cynics advocate the Net Nanny line, armchair moralists suspicious of Mel's methods. Because Dublin cinemas are pretty lax when it comes to enforcing age limitations. The more the merrier.

The film is plied with gratuitous physical torture and bloody lashings. Its spiritual import does seem strongly indebted to acutely tangible images, to a near traumatic cinema experience � but I guess that's the intended vision, the Eucharist become the consumption of the image of Christ. Whether this is heretical is outside of my ken, but I had a strangely disturbing vision of Mel Gibson walking around the aisles of the cinema with a silver collection platter. The cinema has become that new education institution, that massive icon; much like Scorsese always dreamed of blending his desire for church with the collective image-experience of the movies. I don't begrudge Mel's renewed profits over the Easter break, or his sneaky use of a robotic body double, but it's interesting to witness such renewed faith in the power of strong imagery. Interesting to see a nation enrolling in cinema, again � and worshipping collectively again.





90 Years on 'Olivia' Remains a Classic of Lesbian Literature

It's good that we have our happy LGBTQ stories today, but it's also important to appreciate and understand the daunting depths of feeling that a love repressed can produce. In Dorothy Strachey's case, it produced the masterful Olivia.


Indie Rocker Alpha Cat Presents 'Live at Vox Pop' (album stream)

A raw live set from Brooklyn in the summer of 2005 found Alpha Cat returning to the stage after personal tumult. Sales benefit organizations seeking to end discrimination toward those seeking help with mental health issues.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

A Lesson from the Avengers for Our Time of COVID-19

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.


Between the Grooves of Nirvana's 'Nevermind'

Our writers undertake a track-by-track analysis of the most celebrated album of the 1990s: Nirvana's Nevermind. From the surprise hit that brought grunge to the masses, to the hidden cacophonous noise-fest that may not even be on your copy of the record, it's all here.


Deeper Graves Arrives via 'Open Roads' (album stream)

Chrome Waves, ex-Nachtmystium man Jeff Wilson offers up solo debut, Open Roads, featuring dark and remarkable sounds in tune with Sisters of Mercy and Bauhaus.

Featured: Top of Home Page

The 50 Best Albums of 2020 So Far

Even in the coronavirus-shortened record release schedule of 2020, the year has offered a mountainous feast of sublime music. The 50 best albums of 2020 so far are an eclectic and increasingly "woke" bunch.


First Tragedy, Then Farce, Then What?

Riffing off Marx's riff on Hegel on history, art historian and critic Hal Foster contemplates political culture and cultural politics in the age of Donald Trump in What Comes After Farce?


HAIM Create Their Best Album with 'Women in Music Pt. III'

On Women in Music Pt. III, HAIM are done pretending and ready to be themselves. By learning to embrace the power in their weakest points, the group have created their best work to date.


Amnesia Scanner's 'Tearless' Aesthetically Maps the Failing Anthropocene

Amnesia Scanner's Tearless aesthetically maps the failing Anthropocene through its globally connected features and experimental mesh of deconstructed club, reggaeton, and metalcore.


How Lasting Is the Legacy of the Live 8 Charity Concert?

A voyage to the bottom of a T-shirt drawer prompts a look back at a major event in the history of celebrity charity concerts, 2005's Live 8, Philadelphia.


Jessie Ware Embraces Her Club Culture Roots on Rapturous 'What's Your Pleasure?'

British diva Jessie Ware cooks up a glittery collection of hedonistic disco tracks and delivers one of the year's best records with What's Your Pleasure.


Paul Weller Dazzles with the Psychedelic and Soulful 'On Sunset'

Paul Weller's On Sunset continues his recent streak of experimental yet tuneful masterworks. More than 40 years into his musical career, Weller sounds as fresh and inspired as ever.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.