[I wrote all of this earlier this afternoon before I read the most recent posts from Brandon and Chris. I'll probably drop out of this conversation now. I haven't seen the movie in 7 years and so can't really discuss/defend specifics. 7 years ago, I mostly disliked the film and wanted to distance myself from the mania. There are a few things that I really respect about the film and I love Gibson for making it. Like Brandon, though, I'm a bit tired of defending a movie that I don't really care about. I know that it's high on my list, but I could toss every one of the films on my list into the trash and feel just fine. I only made the lists because Brandon was making Aughts lists at the time. I meant it when I said that I don't care about 2004 or the Aughts (or rather the early-mid Aughts, as Brandon rightly pointed out).]
Mel Gibson set out to make a feature length film about Jesus being tortured and killed. He lifted his "facts" straight from a crazy nun's diary and the Gospels. He cast mostly complete unknowns. He had his characters speak Aramaic and initially planned to show the film everywhere without subtitles. He was coming off of a super successful career and was well-loved for movies like Payback and What Women Want (not to mention all of his earlier work that had become part of the pop culture consciousness). I'm pretty sure that he thought that he would lose all of his money on this "vanity" project. It wasn't until much later that the waves of support arrived to make the film a cultural cash cow.
Kirk Cameron? To borrow Franky Schaeffer's phrase... he's addicted to mediocrity.
Surely, you're joking when you bring up Cameron. The Jesus Junk Shop folks who peddle mediocre "Christian" entertainments are much easier targets for accusations of cashing in on baptized fads than Gibson's crazed attempt at redemptive violence. These evanjellyfishes, my poor brethren, can't tell the difference between a piece of the true cross and a piece of the true kitsch.
The only thing that Passion of the Christ and Left Behind have in common is what most baptoid xians can't see--that they're both based more on 19th century fictions than on the Bible. If only Emmerich and Darby/Scofield could be receiving those royalty checks, right? I guess Lahaye/Jenkins and Cameron are doing alright for themselves. They're talentless hacks with a shallow scam, even if they've convinced themselves that they believe it all. They're gutless and make gutless films. Gibson, on the other hand, knows how to sin boldly. And he knows how to make motion pictures boldly. And I think that, as bad as he may be at times, and as much of a laughingstock as he has become, he probably knows more about grace then he lets on.