More Than a Feeling

A lot of films have merchandise tie-ins. There are "Star Wars" action figures, "Lord of the Rings" video games and "Harry Potter" T-shirts. Everyone knows these "officially licensed" products help film studios to promote their movies while making an extra buck. But how far is too far?

I recently saw "The Passion of the Christ" (a film by hardcore Mel "The Man" Gibson), and although I thought it was extremely moving and very well done, what I didn't expect was that the crucifixion would be so good for business. Not only did the film have the second biggest Wednesday opening of all time, but now Christian bookstores are struggling to keep a full line of officially licensed "Passion" products on their humble shelves.

It's no secret that Christian merchandise is very popular. People tack bumper stickers (my personal favorite: "Jesus save me from your followers!") and metal fish to their cars, wear WWJD bracelets and sport T-shirts that say "Abreadcrumb & Fish." However, there's a difference between companies that manufacture products specifically for testimonial purposes and film studios that create products that appeal to believers to endorse their movie and make a profit.

For example, one of the season's most popular fashion statements is the official "Passion" nail pendant, a two-and-a-half inch pewter spike meant to be a replica of the nails used in the film. Christian bookstores can't keep those things in stock. Are regular crucifix necklaces no longer enough? According to Professor Doris Donnelly of John Carroll University, no. She believes "the crucifix alone does not emphasize the sense of horror that accompanies the act of crucifixion."

So how far will people go to prove their beliefs? Will the next trend be stigmata body piercing? How about a Roman soldier action figure with real scourging action? Maybe McDonald's will begin offering "Last Supper" happy meals with Apostle toys. Collect all 12!

I guess what we need to do here is analyze the situation: What would Jesus do? Would Jesus appreciate capitalizing on his death? Or would he go into the Christian bookstores and overturn the tables in a fit of rage? You shouldn't have to wear a nail around your neck to show that you're a Christian. It should be reflected in your actions. That (if my memory serves me correctly) is a Biblical teaching.

It's not wrong to want to show others what you believe in, but doesn't it seem a little backward that a film studio is going to make a profit because of it? Perhaps I'm approaching this whole merchandising thing the wrong way, but it just seems wrong to me. However, if you disagree, the Christian book store across from Mashuda Hall sells officially licensed "Passion" products. But you better hurry, because they're selling out fast.