Friday, Dec. 17, 2004

(Tie) Fahrenheit 9/11 and The Passion of the Christ

Michael Moore and Mel Gibson probably couldn't sit at the same dinner table for two minutes without getting into a food fight. But the two most ornery and resourceful mavericks of the movie year have a lot in common. Who knew, before Mel found out, that having studios refuse to distribute your film could be a great career move? Every mogul in Hollywood said no to one of its biggest stars who had directed a Bible film. The Passion fracas also showed that there's no better publicity than your enemy's enmity. U.S. liberals took to the talk shows and op-ed pages to denounce Gibson's film, usually without having seen it. These attacks — which simply validated the conservative suspicion that a liberal is a man who will defend to the death your right to agree with him — gave the film priceless ink and air time. It galvanized the Christian right and lured the curious into theaters. Two months later, The Passion was the ninth top grosser in movie history.