The most misrepresented person of all times in Hollywood is Mary Magdalene. Mary was one of Jesus' most faithful disciples. She was also privy to profound information the other disciples weren't given by Jesus, due to her deeper level of understanding his teachings. Nowhere in the Bible is she said to have been a prostitute. Quite the opposite. She was a woman of means, likely a widow, who helped fund Jesus' undertakings, as did others. Her high position of trust and leadership given to her by Jesus earned her the title, the Apostle to the Apostles. Is it that very position of authority at a time where women weren't allowed to have any kind of power that subjected her to the biggest smear campaign in history? Yes, and it's high time for a change.
Though many knew the truth well before this, finally in 1969 the catholic church formally announced that there was a mix-up caused by Pope Gregory back in 590AD when he combined Mary Magdalene with 3 other women in the Bible and they now wanted to set the record straight. This clarification happened about 50 years ago! What they declared was that Mary Magdalene had never been a prostitute, but rather one of Jesus' most integritous, courageous and faithful disciples. She was the one who stayed by his side when the others ran for the hills in fear of persecution.
So that leads me to my next question, now that we know the truth, why is Hollywood continuing with the character assassination and never portraying her for who she really was? I’d like to believe it’s more ignorance than ill will. Firstly, everyone loves a story of redemption…so what if we need to make someone out to be someone they were not? Of course no one would want that to happen to them.
Secondly, it’s a great way to add a little sex in a film, which helps it sell…but at what price?
I've read audience reviews on films that depicted Mary Magdalene as a prostitute. One reviewer gave a film that just came out recently a bad review because once again she was depicted as this made-up prostitute. A couple people agreed, but several guys responded to his or her review with, aggressive comments I won't even share here, but one question that came up that I will share was “How could you have the gall to give this film a bad review, just because this one little detail of information wasn't accurate? What about the rest of the film!?" Well ya...in the rest of the film the guys get the credit they deserve, but the woman who was a hero in her own right has been demoted to the prostitute she never was.
She was the first person the risen Jesus appeared to...which I'm sure was not a crap shoot, she was chosen for that position. She was asked to tell the news to the other disciples. Since a resurrection appearance and a call to spread His word is what deemed a person an apostle, she was actually the first apostle! Not only is she not given that title, instead her power and voice are diminished by making her a fallen woman. This is a big deal folks.
When dramatic films like this are produced, any google search on Mary Magdalene will bring up plenty of information that she wasn’t a prostitute. So filmmakers who are supposed to research their subjects can’t pretend they simply didn’t know. Most fiction films produced around people of the Bible continue to keep the May Magdalene lie alive so much that I’m shocked how many people still assume she was one…and that is the power of the media.
Why is it such a big deal?
This is a defamation of character of someone who actually existed.
Mary Magdalene and other women of wisdom and leadership where slowly phased out of the Bible to maintain control, taking the voices that were meant to contribute to society and this has affected women, your daughters, mothers, loved ones for nearly 2,000 years. At this point, after some progress, still only 7% of the people given the voice and opportunity to direct studio films are women.
For the masses following the Christian faith, this sadly has distorted Jesus’ teachings for nearly 2,000 years. He disagreed with the government of that time and saw women as equals, giving them positions of authority and leadership.
This has lead to other distortions of Jesus’ teachings which were actually much more love based and inclusive of women and diversity than often purported. This balance and truth would be healing to men, women, the planet and make us more tolerant of the beautiful variances in people. Think of the impact these distortions of the truth has had.
Still going on the basis that this is ignorance and not ill-will... if any of these filmmakers have daughters, wives, mothers, please hear this with an open, compassionate heart…ok, so you haven’t walked a mile in our shoes, but this kind of thinking, controlling, objectifying not only negates opportunity but has not made the world the safest place for women. Here is an eye-opening trailer I just came across that exposes just one of the issues. Please watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBNHGi36nlM
CALL TO ACTION
Filmmakers: No matter what topic your fiction film centers on, see if you can find a place where the topic of Mary Magdalene could come up in a conversation between your characters. Use the opportunity to set the record straight regarding her misrepresentation. In his film "Reservoir Dogs", Quentin Tarantino brought to light that waitresses are taxed on the assumption they get tipped a certain amount. He lectured a character who tried to avoid tipping his waitress. It was said he put that in for all of his hard-working actor/waitress/waiter friends who had been stiffed or under-tipped.
I personally now go straight to the negative reviews on a film where Mary might appear and if the reviewer’s complaint is that she was made out to be a prostitute, I do not give them my money or watch the film. That simple. When a narrative film comes out that shows her for who she was, i look forward to announcing it to you all.
A 30-min., mixed-genre/documentary film on YouTube you can enjoy:
"Who Framed Mary Magdalene?"