Archive for the ‘I Am History’s Greatest Martyr’ Category
Just last week, Pew Research released the results of a big religion survey, which found, among other things, that non-religious people were more educated on matters of religion than actual believers. Now, given that the questions on the survey were insanely easy, I was not inclined to pat atheists and agnostics on the back for scoring 20/32 over believers’ 16/32. Religious literacy is a problem in this country! Here to illustrate the point for us is Big Hollywood‘s Leo Grin, whose “Catholic grade school” clearly failed him. Recently Grin went to see The Last Exorcism and Let Me In. To his, and no one else’s, surprise, they were terrible! But rather than write a review that was all, “Dudes, these movies were terrible. Don’t go see them,” Grin takes a classic Big Hollywood lateral approach and tries to make a big deal about how there’s not enough God and Jesus and crucifixes in horror movies. He starts with a long bit from Stoker:
“It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?”
Those are words spoken by a superstitious old woman to Jonathan Harker in Bram Stoker’s novelDracula (1897). Fearing for the outsider’s safety, she gives him a crucifix. “I did not know what to do,” Harker writes, “for, as an English Churchman, I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old lady meaning so well and in such a state of mind.”
But later, overcome with terror in the bowels of the Count’s Transylvanian castle, he has reason to be most grateful:
Bless that good, good woman who hung the crucifix round my neck! For it is a comfort and a strength to me whenever I touch it. It is odd that a thing which I have been taught to regard with disfavour and as idolatrous should in a time of loneliness and trouble be of help. Is it that there is something in the essence of the thing itself, or that it is a medium, a tangible help, in conveying memories of sympathy and comfort? Some time, if it may be, I must examine this matter and try to make up my mind about it. In the meantime I must find out all I can about Count Dracula. . . .
Now, as anyone with a passing familiarity with the history of Christianity in Europe knows, the reason Harker balks at accepting the crucifix is its status as a Catholic symbol, with England’s political and cultural three-way tug-of-war between Catholicism, Anglicanism, and Puritanism over the previous centuries enough to give any late-Victorian “English Churchman” (ie, Anglican) pause. In fact, a lot of Dracula is about the nearly-modern English identity struggling against its older, European roots: London on the cusp of the Industrial Revolution vs. rural Eastern Europe, no-nonsense Anglicanism vs. superstitious Catholicism, old European aristocracy vs. the new professional British middle-class, etc etc.
Grin’s takeaway from this passage, however, is that there aren’t enough crucifixes in tween Mormon vampire fiction:
Over a century later, Stephenie Meyer managed to write four bestselling books concerning vampires (later translated into a quartet of popular movies) without the word crucifix appearing even a single time in her hundreds of thousands of words.
Meyer is a Mormon! LDS doesn’t use crosses or crucifixes. And while Jesus himself never makes an appearance in the Twilight novels, it does not take a genius to catch the constant usage of Mormon imagery, and the relentless advocacy of Mormon values. Does Grin expect horror novels and films to be not only overtly Christian, but specifically Catholic? Zah?
Bruce Carroll has a piece up today at Big Hollywood that’s a nice twofer of hilarious right-blog fake-controversy tactics. First, he get all red-in-the-face over how YOU LIBERALS! might overreact given certain circumstances that don’t actually exist. Maybe one day right-bloggers will stop arguing with the LIBERALS in their heads, and start talking to actual liberals, and we can begin to move forward as a political culture, but, hey, in the meantime at least I have this bitchy blog. In the second part of Carroll’s outrage-over-meaningless-shit doubleheader, he sees an affront to his values in something completely innocuous. You may wonder how, rhetorically, it’s possible for Carroll to take LIBERALS to task for being easily offended and himself become offended over something minor in the same piece, but oh, he manages it. Part one:
This article is nearly three months in the making. For the second year in a row, my partner John and I attended the Country Music Association (CMA) Music Fest in Nashville, TN in early June. As a side note, if you ever get the opportunity – GO! It is a weeklong celebration of great country music and the great American city of Nashville.
But this isn’t a tourist agency pimping of Music City. Nope, it is a damning indictment of Hollywood’s natural, auto-immune liberal bias. Let me explain.
I wish Carroll would actually explain that metaphor, because I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know what “auto-immune” means. I’m unsure as to how an ideological bias could be “auto-immune” or “natural,” but I’m pretty sure by “auto-immune” he means “defensive” and by “natural” he means something like “inherent” or “ingrained.” If it were “auto-immune” (ie, attacking its own host), you would think Carroll would like that. Similarly, if it were “natural,” I’m not sure what Carroll would have to complain about. Would he prefer an unnatural conservative bias? Oh, whatever, I’ll just move on.
Carroll spends some time lovingly describing CMA Fest for uninitiated, and randomly complaining about Twitter, before finally getting to outrage number 1:
When viewers saw Tim McGraw sing “Southern Voice” last night on ABC, there was an important moment that the network cleverly edited out and actively hid from America. Why? Because it was inflammatory and would have exposed McGraw, a passionate Democrat activist, to extreme ridicule today.
In what looked like a throwback to the Black Power days of the 1960s, but in reverse, McGraw raised his fist during the chorus of “Southern Voice.” The first time he did it, I was surprised. The second time I was prepared.
[Youtube video uploaded by Carroll, titled “White Power fist – Tim McGraw]
Not that I would make a big deal out of it, but imagine, if you will, if this was a known conservative singer who had raised his or her fist in the air while singing a song called “Southern Voice.” But where’s the outrage? Nowhere. McGraw actively campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 (which makes the “white power” fist action even more surreal). In fact, McGraw lent his vocal talents in January 2010 to a soundtrack compilation, ‘By the People: For the People,’ inspired by the film, ‘By the People: The Election of Barack Obama.’ McGraw joined other notable left-wing artists such as Bruce Springsteen, Dave Matthews, the Dixie Chicks and Sheryl Crow on the album paying homage to President Obama.
I’d like to ask the ABC producers of the CMA broadcast last night why they chose to do a tight shot of McGraw during the white power fist move. And if he thought it was an okay move to make, why they felt they had to shelter him with their clever close-up and editing job.
I actually have two responses to this argument, which is two more than something this patently absurd deserves. First of all, if, say, Toby Keith raised his fist in the air during a CMA performance, I promise you that no one would be outraged. Not a single person. No one would care. No one. Seriously, no one. There’s nothing remotely racially charged about the move McGraw pulls in the video Carroll posts, except in the fevered mind of someone who sees Black Panthers everywhere. I’ve seen probably a dozen or more musicians do the exact same thing on stage. It’s a very, very common rockstar pose. And Carroll’s argument is weirdly circular. Is he angry at McGraw because he’s a liberal who did something Carroll believes is racist? Or is he just angry because he thinks a conservative couldn’t get away with the same thing? If he thinks it’s racially-charged, why would he want a conservative to be able to get away with the same thing? Zah?
But that’s the common sense response, and since common sense is unlikely to appeal to Carroll, I’ll meet him on his level: Here is the official video for “Southern Voice.” In it, at the same point in the song, McGraw does the “white power fist,” and the video moves in to the same close-up that ABC’s editors chose. McGraw likely raises his fist in the air every single time he performs this song, and ABC’s editors were likely just mimicking the style of his own music video.
But on to part two. I’ve already quoted Carroll’s piece extensively, so I’ll just recap his second argument; feel free to read his piece in full if you feel I might be mischaracterizing it. Carroll is upset that ABC chose to air two Carrie Underwood performances (“Cowboy Casanova” and “Undo It”) and not a third (a medley of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” and “How Great Thou Art”) and cites this decision as evidence of an ABC agenda that “actively and aggressively demotes the importance of Christianity – and God – in American society and pop culture.”
It’s a weird accusation to level at ABC, the major network most dedicated to traditional family programming, and even aggressively Christian programming (The 700 Club runs in syndication on ABC Family). Setting aside Carroll’s fantastic claim of systemic anti-Christian program editing, tt’s far, far more likely that ABC chose to air “Undo It” and “Cowboy Casanova” because they are Underwood’s most recent #1 hits (reaching #1 on the country charts August 7th, 2010, and November 21st, 2009, respectively; “Jesus, Take the Wheel” was last at #1 in 2005). Furthermore, ABC did air Underwood’s performance of “Jesus, Take the Wheel” during its 2006 CMA Fest special. I guess the idea is that if they don’t air it every year, it’s an affront to Christians? Maybe Carroll’s beef is really with Underwood herself; lady needs to write some new Jesus-ey songs.
And of course, how else would a Big Hollywood piece close, but with a random dig at Obama:
Not incidentally there was a third performance missing from the ABC broadcast. And it was missing from the entire week at CMA Music Fest in June. And it was not seen in Nashville at all since that city was devastated by a thousand-year flood this past May.
What would that be, you naturally ask? The fact is that President Obama has never visited Middle Tennessee and never properly acknowledged the devastation faced by its residents.
Obama did declare a disaster in Tennessee. Here’s TN Governor Phil Bredesen on the White House response to the disaster:
I have to say that FEMA and the White House have been absolutely supportive. Very quickly FEMA was on the ground here before the raindrops started falling. … The President was on the phone to me before the sun came up practically on Monday morning. Slightly after it came up, other people from the White House had called and checked in with us and helped. … I’ve never seen this kind of a response to things that have happened. We’ve had our share of tornadoes and those kinds of things. … I’m very, very pleased with the response we’ve gotten from the administration.
Carroll has me a little exhausted, so I’ll just leave him with one final link that may help him with future pieces: http://www.google.com
Social cons will sometimes give you the “love the sinner, hate the sin” argument or the “I don’t hate gay people, I just don’t want to redefine marriage” argument, but, to my mind, the movement’s response to impending hate crimes legislation proves that those aren’t honest arguments.
[I]t bothers me that individuals may soon be prosecuted for not just the crime, but the “behind the scenes” thoughts that may have contributed to that crime.
Now, this bit seems sensible at first glance. “Let’s stick with what we can prove, and not worry about what’s in a defendant’s mind.” There’s a little problem, though, when you look at the paragraph directly preceding that one.
I’m all for prosecuting criminals for their acts, especially violent criminals. I’m pro-death penalty, if truth be told. I figure that if you deliberately take someone else’s life, you should pay by forfeiting yours. Not very PC of me, but there you have it.
Thanks for putting that in bold for me, Pam! There you are, arguing for punishment based on thoughts. In fact, our criminal legal system punishes based on intent, malice, etc all the freaking time! Especially in assault and murder cases (the only offense covered by hate crimes legislation), where punishment can vary wildly. A defendant’s state-of-mind isn’t used to determine guilt or innocence, but it is already often used as contributing or mitigating factor.
Apparently Meister has not taken the 5 minutes to read the actual text of the bill:
(A) IN GENERAL- Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, in any circumstance described in subparagraph (B), willfully causes bodily injury to any person or, through the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerouse weapon, or an explosive or incendiary device, attempts to cause bodily injury to any person, because of the actual or perceived religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability of any person–
‘(i) shall be imprisoned not more than 10 years, fined in accordance with this title, or both; and
‘(ii) shall be imprisoned for any term of years or for life, fined in accordance with this title, or both, if-
‘(I) death results from the offense; or
‘(II) the offense includes kidnaping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill.
Nothing in this Act, or the amendments made by this Act, shall be construed to prohibit any expressive conduct protected from legal prohibition by, or any activities protected by, the Constitution.