Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
February 23, 2004

Celebrities Most Wanted: Mel Gibson And The Passion Of The Merchandise

Even before it’s theatre debut, Mel’s Gibson’s film, The Passion Of The Christ–about the crucifixion of Christ by Jews–is making its presence felt in awe-inspiring cultural terms.

For example, a reference to the movie has made it to the top of the 10th page of Google citations under the search term: “crucifixion.” Also, if you search Google under the term “passion,” the film has already fixed itself in the second and fourth-ranked positions, below “Passion Conferences,” but above “Passion For Jazz,” “Pocket PC Passion” and scented candles at an outfit called “Country Passion.”

Even more uplifting, however, is the way in which the film has touched on America’s spiritual identification with commercialism. In the biggest rush on hardware stores since last year’s Homeland Security Department duct tape promotion, the movie is inspiring ordinary folks to rushing out to purchase all sizes and types of nails.

For the more discriminating believers, of course, the film’s website offers its own official “The Passion Of The Christ” merchandise. There, you can pick up your own nail pendants for $12.99 or $16.99. According to the ad copy: “This life changing movie is inspiring many people to convey their faith in everyday ways.” Consequently, it urges you to “Make a statement of faith with these 100% lead free pewter handcrafted designs.”

Although less dogmatic, the appeal for the official “The Passion Of The Christ” mugs is also quite affirming. “Each 10 oz. mug,” it relates, “comes in a matching gift box and makes a perfect gift to share your passion for Christ.”

With the ability to transmit this level of meaning, it’s a divine thing that the cups are also dishwasher safe, and microwavable.

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