Anti-Romanism Must Stop

I was terribly offended last week when I went to see the new Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ. As a Roman student at UVM I was disgusted by our portrayal in the film. Not only are we bloodthirsty ogres who gladly torture that poor Jewish man, but we allow ourselves to be pushed around by a bunch of fools with long beards, riding around on Donkeys. Donkeys! No self-respecting Roman would allow himself to be told what to do by some damn Donkey rider.

Admittedly, there are only a few of us Romans remaining, with most of my people having deserted to the whole “united Italy” thing, but there are still a few of us left. Hollywood, always relishing in cheap shots, has made a point of denigrating us over and over in the last few years.

Gladiator was, previous to The Passion, the most egregious example of Anti-Romanism in recent years, but Gibson has outdone himself with his disrespect.

In both films, our bloodlust is the predominant theme expressed. In Gladiator, Romans are depicted feeding people to lions for sport, and cheering as slaves kill each other with interesting weapons. What is left out of the story is that many slaves were captured in war, so whatever, at least we gave them a chance. Nowadays, we just blow people up with scud missiles. Then at least we gave our enemies a chance to get famous. What’s wrong with that?

Also, if you were given the death sentence would you rather have the option of fighting for your life, or being strapped into a metal chair and electrocuted until your eyes popped out of your skull? If you ask me, I’d f*&k up a tiger if my life depended on it. At least I’d have better odds than against an electric chair.

The Passion of the Christ took anti-Romanism to new levels however, with the torture of Jesus. Pontus Pilate, the Roman who chose to commit Jesus to death, is portrayed as a big wussy, unable to do what he wants because of the mob screaming for Jesus’ life. This mob, again, was lead by those same donkey-riding fools. If I was Pontus Pilate I would have just told them to get lost.

“Go ride your donkeys into the sunset, you big jerks!” I would have said, “Leave this poor, crazy, homeless man alone.” Maybe I would have let them beat Jesus a little bit, just to appease the angry mob. They have a bad reputation, those angry mobs.

But the worst part was the depiction of Roman soldiers, who beat Jesus mercifully and repeatedly, showing no human kindness whatsoever. They relish in seeing his blood spill, and only keep him alive in order to punish him further. No matter what your background, what happens to Jesus on the part of the Roman Soldiers is unacceptable.

What Gibson left out of the story however was that Jesus, so removed from his earthly body, had the fortitude to taunt the soldiers throughout his torture. “That didn’t hurt a bit, you chumps,” he said, “why don’t you get a real man to beat me next time?” This kinda annoyed the soldiers. We’re a masculine bunch, us Romans. We don’t take no mess from no longhaired hobo.

Clearly, with Jesus insulting the solders masculinity (and later moving on to “yo mama” jokes), they were going to beat him harder than normal. If only he had kept his mouth shut, he might still be alive right now. Foolish Jesus.

Just because there aren’t too many of us Romans left, doesn’t mean that we should be denigrated so unfairly in popular culture. We did good work, and don’t really deserve this kind of disrespect. Have you heard of this whole democracy thing? That was us. So there. Us Romans aren’t really so bad, its just that history was written by the winners, and those damn Jesus freaks outnumber us by millions.