Sunday, February 29, 2004

Backward, anti-Semitic, popcorn munching Christians 

Writer J.P. Devine of the Kennebec Journal (Maine) doesn't even bother to hide his contempt for viewers of The Passion of the Christ:

They came in all sizes, ages, sexes. The first group was led by a fat man in a red T-shirt that said, "Darwin Lied..."

How many, I wondered, were Jewish? Contrary to the Pat Robertson-Billy Graham school of ethnicity, that would be impossible to tell.

Were there any anti-Semites in the crowd? It wasn't long before one man approached us and tried to start up a conversation. It was clear he had his mind made up and wanted a scrap. "It's time," he said, "they started making more Christian movies. ... I mean like this, movies for Christians, about Christians, you know?"

I was tempted to remind him that the characters in the film were all Jewish, but I held back. He finished with, "It's all the Jews down there in Boston, you know. ... That's where the money is coming from." OK. One anti-Semite.

But the biggest shock was yet to come. Customers started appearing at the ticket box holding giant bags of popcorn, candy bars and supersized soft drinks. Who would actually sit and munch buttered popcorn, pop Milk Duds and suck up soda while watching the murder of their savior? Unimaginable? Not at all. Before I had to go in and claim my seat, I counted 23.

Indeed, one of these patrons sat directly behind me to the left. This is not an exaggeration: He munched continuously through the garden scene, right up to the last beating. I watched from the corner of my eye as this soul, whose religion of choice is unknown, kept shoving popcorn into his mouth as the Roman actors pursued their torture.

He seemed to stop as the nails were driven into actor James Cavazeal's hands. Maybe he had finished the bag. Give him that.

Moments later, I heard someone to the right of him draw a long mouthful of cola through a straw with a sound that indicated an empty cup. This was about the time that Jesus' mother, Mary, had arrived at the foot of the cross. Unimaginable...

I stood in the parking lot for a few moments to catch the mood of the crowd, most of whom did not stay to read the endless credits with all the unpronounceable names. I watched as they came out. Most did so slowly, mutely, as if leaving a funeral.

Some hugged one another. Some were giggling, that nervous kind of giggle that relieves tension. The big man who had finished his popcorn came out last and stretched in the late sun. The front of his sweatshirt still festooned with his Ash Wednesday feast. I hope he at least gets acid reflux.
I don't think I need to comment, other than to say that Maureen Dowd might object to Mr. Devine ripping off her style. This trash speaks for itself.

UPDATE: This is interesting. Same column, different headline.
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