The Passion of the Christ

dir. Gibson

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Here's a riddle: Why did Jesus die on the cross? He forgot his safeword! That's an old joke in the BDSM community, but I left the theatre after watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ feeling like I'd forgotten mine, too. At least half the reviews I've read about this movie used words like "sadomasochistic," "S&M," and "fetishistic violence." It's nice that my community has given movie reviewers some new vocabulary, but, as a bona-fide sadomasochist, this movie is not kink-friendly.

For one thing, there's no warm-up. We meet Jesus, there's a tiny bit of mind-fuck action with the Devil, and boom! The High Priest's goons jump right into heavy bondage and suspension. Jesus is then dragged around to different tops, but neither Pilate nor Herod want to play with him, and I don't blame them, because Jesus is already smeared with blood and pretty unresponsive.

But then we get to Mel's real blood-fetish come-shot: the flogging scene, wherein Mel indulges himself in over ten long minutes of nothing but Jesus having the crap kicked out of him by some Roman soldiers. This scene is all about blood-letting. Jesus's shredded flesh and blood, rather than Jesus himself, is the star; dripping in slow motion, puddling on the ground, spattering the faces of the leering Roman soldiers--Gibson can't get enough of it. This isn't like watching a BDSM scene, it's like watching Jerusalem Chainsaw Massacre. I like blood, and even I sat there thinking: Eeuuww, gross.

In the end, The Passion of the Christ doesn't work as a BDSM scene because it's not about connection. I didn't feel connected with Mel's Jesus, mainly because he spends most of the movie looking less like a man and more like a bloody rag doll with rolled-up eyes. Like many novice kinksters, Mel hasn't yet learned that the success or failure of a scene doesn't rest on how many strokes of the whip you give someone, but how everybody feels when it's finished.