The conventional wisdom concerning Tuesday's Oscar nominations suggests that the entertainment establishment made an appropriately cautious decision to avoid controversy by simultaneously snubbing both of the year's most polarizing pictures. In fact, the sloppy, dishonest, brain-dead habit of equating "The Passion of the Christ" with "Fahrenheit 9/11" reveals more about Hollywood's bias and blindness than any aspect of the major awards the two films won't receive.
"Fahrenheit 9/11" represents an unabashedly partisan piece of propaganda whose primary purpose (proudly and repeatedly announced by its irrepressible creator) involved the attempt to discredit and, ultimately, defeat the Bush administration. "The Passion," on the other hand, attempted to convey a timeless religious message rather than score timely political points. None of the countless commentators who derided the film as "Fahrenheit's" right-wing doppelgänger ever bothered to identify the movie's conservative messages concerning, say, the Iraq War or Republican tax cuts. Some moviegoers may resist or resent Mel Gibson's transparently theological agenda, but they can hardly fault him for inserting blatant (or subtle) endorsements for the GOP. During the election season, the embattled director scrupulously avoided endorsing either presidential candidate and confined his political activism to opposition to California's ultimately successful voter initiative (supported by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) to fund embryonic stem cell research.
Of course, the more hysterical critics of "The Passion" might argue that its allegedly anti-Semitic elements irrevocably identified the project with an archconservative outlook, but this argument ignores the fact that Jew-hatred appears today far more frequently among the America-hating left than on the flag-waving right. Consider the malicious focus by Michael Moore and his antiwar cohorts on a few relatively obscure "neocons" in the Bush administration: The endless invocation of the names Wolfowitz, Perle and Feith fairly reeks of anti-Semitic conspiracy theorizing.