Professor Nutbottom:

I've been feeling like I really should see
the movie The Passion of the Christ, but I just don't want to. This
movie is such a phenomenon. I'm afraid I'm missing something important,
and later I'll regret having missed it in the theaters. Should I go to

Dear Stacey:

Absolutely not. You should feel no
pressure to see this movie. This "phenomenon" is definitely not worthy
of your attention. I, myself, certainly won't be seeing it.

just to show you how strong my feelings are, let me tell you what I did
this weekend. I staged a protest at the theater near the school where I
teach (Ivy Leaf University here in Urnotserse, Pennsylvania).

Friday, when I came up with the idea, I envisioned a rally with a large
mob of protestors wearing t-shirts emblazoned with "BOYCOTT THE
PASSION." But there wasn't much time to pull it all together.

I called my colleagues from the university and all of my friends.
Unfortunately, all but one had changed their phone numbers - again.
Murphy's law, you know?! My friends do this to me all the time. The one
guy whose number didn't change apparently wasn't available. The last
part of his phone message said, "Nutbottom, if this is you calling,
I've changed my number." He's such a kidder.

So much for the mob
thing - maybe. But I still put in a rush order for t-shirts. If I
couldn't bring the protestors with me, I'd have to harvest some from
the crowds at the theater.

The next day I set up a table just
outside the ticket window. I laid out the t-shirts, displayed large
banners urging people not to attend the movie, and started handing out
fliers explaining my position. That's when someone asked me what the
shirts were supposed to mean. I thought, "What? Hello! They mean
exactly what they say: 'Boycott Imported Passion Fruit.' Oh boy.
Houston, we have a problem!" So much for the rush order thing.

But effective protests are born out of adversity.

I just wish someone had explained that to the group of exchange students who showed up next.

best as I could tell, the entire group was from the same country. It
was pretty hard to follow exactly what they were saying, because they
were pretty angry over something. As they yelled and chanted, pointing
accusing fingers at me, I finally realized the problem. Their country
relies on passion fruit as its biggest export. Go figure.

didn't mind, so much, having opposition. In fact, I had expected it,
even hoped for it. I didn't even care that they were drowning me out.
But I hadn't expected to be arguing with a bunch of kids talking

Just as things were about to spiral out of control, the
police arrived. They wanted to see my demonstration permit.
Unfortunately, that was impossible. A permit? When did they put that
law on the books?

Luckily, my wife and daughter arrived moments
later. In a touching show of family unity, they jumped into the fray
and managed to convince the police not to haul me off to jail; I got
off with a warning and a "next time you better ..." scolding. Then,
after giving these two wonderful women a hug, I invited them to take a
position with me behind the table. They said they couldn't stay. The
line was long and they wanted to get good seats - to see The Passion.
So much for the family unity thing.

After that, there seemed to be no point in continuing.

while I am not willing to call the demonstration a dismal failure, I
also think that using the term "success" to describe it might be a
little misleading.


But the outcome wasn't nearly as important as the stand I took. The stakes are just too high not to do something.

Firstly, let's review what's going on here.

Passion is a story about some guy who has lived an exemplary life of
compassion and wisdom and now is unjustly accused of being a criminal.
In a vicious display of judicial tyranny, the government officials of
the day execute him through a shockingly violent process - torture,
followed by crucifixion on a cross. Is this really compelling drama?

I admit it. I'm understating things just a tad. I realize the guy in
the movie isn't just anybody. Maybe it does make a difference that he's
probably had more influence on the world than any other historical
figure. But does that somehow make him God?

And then (give me a break) he supposedly rose from the dead? Yes, that's actually what his followers claim.


come on. What rational-minded individual is going to believe that? Now,
I will concede - reluctantly - that several scholars of various
disciplines have examined the details of the resurrection accounts and
found the historical evidence for it compelling.

Even with that I still say, "Don't confuse me with the facts -- my mind is made up."

here's my biggest objection. Nothing in life, in culture, or in our
everyday experience should be this popular. That is just too much
attention focused on one thing. Here we have Congress sitting on their
hands, not even paying attention to this entertainment circus, while
the likes of Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, and Martha Stewart are
practically being ignored. There really should be a law against this.

do have to admit, though, that this movie has traveled a fascinating
path. From its conception to its rejection by the big movie
distributors to its incredible embrace by the American public, it has
blazed a new trail in the movie industry. And because of that, there's
actually a little part of me that yearns to go.

But you shouldn't feel obligated to go. It's pretty important, I generally feel, to stick to what you believe.


something just dawned on me. I'm thinking that as a professor of
American culture, I really have an obligation to - almost a mandate
from - my students and the people who read this column to see movies
generating this kind of impact.

Yes, that's the ticket.

I'm going to need to go.

Now, don't let that entice you. You stick to your guns.

Only highly trained professionals like myself need subject themselves to the negative influence of such material.

However, let me say this: I will not - I ABSOLUTELY WILL NOT - be affected by the film. Period.

Secondly, I'd appreciate it if you could send anyone my way who might be interested in buying a couple hundred t-shirts - cheap.


Nutbottom is a Senior Fellow Professor of American Culture at Ivy Leaf
University in Urnotserse, Pennsylvania. He enjoys reading, skiing, and
sorting antique bottle caps. You can learn more about his creator by
visiting http://pepe-day-2-day.blogspot.com.

The Cheers, (c) Rob Favero, All rights reserved.