HOLLYWOOD --- Responding to the media furor by conservative groups alleging Oscar nomination snubs for Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ, a spokesman for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts today announced a new Oscar category: Most Disturbing Picture. Starring James Caviezel as Christ, the two hour-long gore fest, which depicts in graphic detail Jesus' torture and crucifixion, The Passion is sure to pick up at least that Oscar, the spokesperson said.
Academy governors have been in a desperate scramble to find a way to acknowledge the movie's impact on the film industry and American culture. They have also had a "one heck of a time", according to Gil Gowan, a Hollywood executive, dispelling increasingly vocal rumors by "all kinds of crazies" about a Hollywood conspiracy against religiously oriented movies.
As an example, Gowan cited the operator of one pro-Passion website, "This extraordinary movie and its producer, Mel Gibson, were under intense, public attack from all the worst elements of the major news media and the entertainment industry. Powerful forces in the Culture War."
Gowan said there is no culture war; the movie just wasn't all that good.
"I like Mel," he explained. "A lot, actually. And I like Bible pictures, too. Really. But The Passion wasn't anywhere close to, say, Quo Vadis or Ben Hur -- or even D.W. Griffith's Intolerance."
Reactions among moviegoers are mixed.
Conservative Christian cartoonist Chad Jackson expressed elation over the creation of the new Oscar category, just for this movie.
"These Hollywood liberals have just begun the feel the muscle of the neo-conservative Christian movement," he said. "I am not at all offended that The Passion will be voted Most Disturbing Picture. As a matter of fact, I think that's exactly what it should get. You can't bring people to Jesus with kindness. Only terror and fear will do that."
Martha Jackson, a homemaker from Coshocton, OH, feels The Passion definitely deserves the new Oscar.
"I have been in counseling and on medication ever since I since I went to see the movie," she stated. "I thought it was going to be about Jesus. But the screams. And all that blood. I just want to get those memories out of my head."
The Passion of the Christ is considered to be a shoo-in for Most Disturbing Picture.
Said Gowan, "It doesn't have any real competition. Certainly not among the top ten most grossing movies of 2004."