August 20, 2003 | 8 Comments
The Catholic League bashed the critics of the “Bruce Almighty” for not liking the god-themed movie enough. Now, the League is after the critics of “The Magdalene Sisters” — a film based upon the brutal and systematic abuse of wayward girls in Catholic-run laundries in Ireland in the second half of the 20th century — for liking it too much. League president William Donohue draws some rather dubious parallels:
Imagine an anti-Semitic director who admits he packed into one movie every anti-Semitic theme he could draw on and then gets an anti-Semitic duo to distribute it. Next imagine film critics taking the anti-Semitic propaganda at face value and then offering anti-Semitic remarks in their reviews. Fat chance. For example, there will never be a movie about Jewish slumlords in Harlem or Jewish managers of black entertainers in the 20th century. If there were, and if it were to present a wholly one-sided portrait of the worst excesses of how some Jews exploited blacks, the ADL would be up in arms. And rightly so. But luckily for Jews, this is not likely to happen. Catholics are not so lucky—they have to endure Catholic-bashing directors like Peter Mullan shopping his anti-Catholic script to anti-Catholic distributors like Harvey and Bob Weinstein, only to have it reviewed by anti-Catholic critics.
Donohue might have a point if someone made a film called “The Gambino Brothers” that portrayed organized crime as a Catholic enterprise due to the religion of the family bosses. But in the Magdalene Sisters, the laundries are operated for the benefit of the Church and managed by nuns and priests. Is Donohue suggesting that synagogues purchased Harlem properties and installed rabbis as superintendents? Or that a similar, institutionalized religious arrangement controls the music industry? And if he’s so concerned about group stereotyping, why was he so angry with the critics who panned Mel Gibson’s upcoming film “The Passion” for portraying Jews as Christ-killers?
Donohue also misfires in attacking the film’s distributor, Miramax, which is run by Harvey and Bob Weinstein. He asserts that “[i]f someone were to do a movie called ‘The Weinstein Brothers,’ one that focused on their legacy of anti-Catholicism, and sold it as being representative of how Hollywood views Catholics, it would be dishonest.” But all that Miramax has done is to release a movie which accurately depicts certain abuses by the Church over a fifty-year period. If legitimate criticism of the Church is anti-Catholicism, so be it; but the fault then lies with Catholicism, not the “anti-s.”