A Passionate Dichotomy

Regardless of what you may think about Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ, it seems to have aroused a passionate response, both from its fans and detractors. One of the many useful things about the Internet Movie Database is the insight it can give into the cultural views of large groups of people. In addition to the many mini-movie reviews it carries by anyone feeling moved to contribute (and some of these are of such insight and quality of writing that they could be from print-media reviewers), there is also the voting system.

Anyone at all can vote on a scale of 1 to 10 for any of the tens of thousands of movies listed on the database. The ratings are averaged and range from 9.0 (from over 90,000 votes) for The Godfather to 1.5 for You Got Served.

Passion scores 7.5 (over 17,000 votes), which from my experience indicates a memorable and well done movie, but not one destined to become a widely recognised classic. What’s interesting, though, is to see how it got this score. Consider, again, The Godfather. Its voting histogram shows that nearly 52% of voters gave it a ’10’, and another 19% gave it ‘9’. An usually high 6.2% gave it a ‘1’.

Now consider a movie that was perhaps as controversial as Passion, dealing with the same subject matter: The Last Temptation of Christ. This movie received an average vote of 7.4, not much different from that received by Passion, with the bulk of its voting spread fairly evenly across the ‘8’, ‘9’ and ’10’ categories (64%) and only 4.4% giving it a ‘1’. Interesting, given the highly publicised protests against the movie by elements within the Christian community upon its release (in the late 1980s).

So, back to Passion. Its voting pattern shows 56.3% giving it a ’10’, 10.5% a ‘9’ and 8% voting ‘8’ for a total of nearly 75% in these three categories. So why is the average only 7.5? At the other end of the scale 9.4% voted ‘1’, and this is what pulled down the average.

It seems that The Passion of the Christ really is a controversial movie!

(Cross-posted on the Australian Libertarian Society Blog.)

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