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More Jesus in My Vampire Porn, Pls

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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?

Written by dieblucasdie

October 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Looks More Like a Terrorist Fist-Bump to Me

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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

Written by dieblucasdie

September 3, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Movin My Hips Like Yeah

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In one of the more double-take inducing headlines Big Hollywood has published in a while, Brian Cherry asks the question most vital to a politically polarized nation facing an economic recession and two foreign wars:

Remember the Maines: Is Miley Cyrus the Next Leftist Trojan Horse Into Country Music?

This is a freakin koan if I’ve ever seen one.  How does one answer this question? “No”?  “Yes”?  Neither reply seems to make much sense.  The best answer I can come up with is “Are your parents cousins or something?” but I always shy away from answering a question with a question.

Now, I’m so old that I can remember way back to May of 2009, when Big Hollywood editor-in-chief John Nolte was trying to rally good Christian soldiers around the banner of Ms. Montana:

Miley’s a target-rich environment for celebrity enforcers because she’s openly opposed to the spread of Gomorrah and therefore a threat who must be marginalized through ridicule at every opportunity.

What, pray tell, could Miley have possibly done in the last 11 months to have gone from conservative Christianity’s last bulwark against Hollywood excess to diabolical leftist sleeper agent?

Liberals failed miserably when they tried to take over the talk radio industry with Air America.  It reminded me a lot of the time that Pearl Jam took on Ticketmaster, which in turn reminded me a lot of a bowl of jell-o taking on a herd of wildebeests.  The left can’t compete in the Christian market.  Let’s face it, the folks who declare Robert Mapplethorpe “art” simply have no credibility in that particular market.  With that said, Country is a family friendly format they still think they have a chance of corrupting, and Miley Cyrus may be their perky little Trojan horse into that industry.

You mean a pop star might have a manufactured persona?  This is worse than I thought.  Pray for Toby Keith, my friends.  But wait, what actual evidence is there that Cyrus might be insincere in her publicly stated Christian beliefs?

A good example of her more questionable behavior is that she was involved in a scandal that included some pictures she took of herself with her camera phone.  Her actions bordered on sexting, and she was involved with this before she was old enough to bug her dad for the keys to the pickup.  The photos were pictures of her in her underwear, wetting herself down in a shower wearing only a white t-shirt, and lounging in the arms of boy in what appeared to be a sort of early teen afterglow.  Of course she apologized, but apparently didn’t learn anything from the incidents.  Soon after she, and her parents, allowed her to be photographed for Vanity Fair magazine in a manner that would suggest her core audience was a rampaging pack of pedophiles.  Once again, she apologized.

When that whole Vanity Fair thing went down, I just assumed it was an entirely media-generated controversy designed to sell copies of US Weekly and get Perez Hilton and TMZ page views whenever some perv googles “Miley Cyrus sexy” for the rest of eternity, and that no sentient human being could actually be offended by those photos.  Thanks for sorting me out Brian Cherry!

You know, if Cherry really thinks that all it takes to negate the conservative movement’s cultural influence and threaten its institutions is a teenage girl’s bare shoulder, he might want to consider betting on a different horse.

But the fact that Miley Cyrus is human female with a human female body that sometimes gets photographed isn’t his only evidence against her.  Behold:

While Miley is portrayed as type who can be found in Church on any given Sunday morning, she is even moving away from the official religion of the entire industry, and experimenting with Buddhism.  When talking about her religious beliefs, Miley put herself out of step with the core country audience when she made this statement:

“The one thing I’m really strong about regarding my religious beliefs is that you should know a little bit about everything before you define your own beliefs. I think all religions have a good practice in them. Liam and I have been reading about Buddhism lately and it’s all about hope and love. To me, faith is about having a clean slate and a clean start.”

Expressing a desire to be religiously literate apparently puts one “out of step with the core country audience.”  I went to Catholic school.  We were assigned books about Buddhism.  Buddhism is a major world religion, and if you’re a person who takes religion seriously, you should probably be educated about it.

As for the “I think all religions have a good practice in them,” well, that’s no different than what the Catholic Church teaches, at least.  And most mainline Protestant denominations generally articulate the same line that non-Christian religions are imperfect expressions of humankind’s relationship with God.  Cyrus isn’t saying anything here that most Christian ministers wouldn’t also say.

What Miley has that others don’t though, is a father who can get her through the Nashville gauntlet and into the club without paying any real dues.  While it is nearly inevitable that she will one day take advantage of a country music plan B, the problem is that she could be a corrupting, left-leaning, influence on an industry that so many liberal elites want to see taken out of the “red state” column.

It should be obvious to anyone that country music is hardly the sole purview of strict conservative values, but I won’t belabor a point that’s been well-documented elsewhere. What funniest to me is that Brian Cherry is actually worried about the political implications of Miley Cyrus.

Written by dieblucasdie

April 23, 2010 at 7:39 pm

A Camel Passing Through the Eye of a Needle

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Steven Crowder is doing some quality trolling today with a headline like “Poor People Can Be Greedy Too”.  Judging from the url, it looks like the Big Hollywood editorial staff wisely trimmed Crowder’s original title, “Poor People Can Be Greedy Scumbags Too.”

Ever notice that the chronically poor nearly always share one thing in common? They are some of the most greedy SOB’s on the planet. I know it seems sacrilegious to say so. You’re just not supposed to criticize the poor.

Yeah, they’re always trying to get “food” and “shelter.”  Greedy fucks.

Now, I hate to throw a Proverb at you (particularly as it’s not of the trendy Chinese variety, but one of those scary Old Testament scribbles) but no matter what your faith, I would imagine that Proverbs 28: 22 would still have to be incredibly insightful.

A stingy man is eager to get rich and is unaware that poverty awaits him.

See, God isn’t condemning rich people. He’s condemning actions followed by a solemn warning of where they would lead. God seems to think that actions are a reflection of your heart. He’s a freaky dude when it comes to that kind of thing. Yes, I said “dude.” Feminists, start sending your letters.

Now statistically, it’s true. Poor people (particularly liberals) donate a lower percentage of their income than middle and upper-class Americans. To be fair, they have less to give… But then I guess it becomes the whole “chicken or the egg” deal. Do they have less to give because they’re stingy/greedy, or are they greedy because they have less to give?

The poor don’t… give enough money to the poor?  What?  And what does that random Proverb have to do with a goddamn thing?  Seems to me the Bible actually addresses the question of poverty and charity pretty directly:

He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury.  Many rich people put in large sums.  A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents.  Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.  For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood. (NAB, Mark 12:41-44)

I agree with Crowder, though, that actions can reflect the heart.  So what does writing sarcastic blog posts attacking the least privileged members of society say about his?  Oh wait, the Bible has something to say on that, too:

Amen, I say to you, whatever you did to one of these least brothers of mine, that you did unto me. (NAB, Matthew 25:40)

Written by dieblucasdie

January 20, 2010 at 4:02 pm

Scare Quote Watch, Day 245

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Yep, that’s Big Hollywood‘s Steven Crowder throwin’ up the air quotes for

If you believe in the modern concept of “peace,” you might be an idiot.

Definitely one of the more lazy and ridiculous examples of BH’s reliance on putting scare quotes around benign words and phrases to make them sound bad (though not as awesome as the time Crowder put scare quotes around the Virginia Tech shooter’s name).

When you strip away the crazy (and there’s a lot of it this time), the main thrust of Crowder’s argument–that war is sometimes necessary–is one that few people, even on the far left, would disagree with.  I’m so old, in fact, I can remember when Republicans were largely isolationists.  Liberals have spent years advocating for military intervention in a host of troubled regions:  Sudan, Liberia, Rwanda, the Balkans, Somalia, etc.  Not that I personally agree that military intervention would be/would have been/was the right call in all those situations, I’m just sayin’.

But it’s possible, I suppose, that Crowder’s not making his customary strawmanish “YOU LIBERALS…” argument, and that he’s narrowly criticizing the hardcore peace movement that opposes any military action.

If that’s what he wants to do, he goes about it in a bizarre way.  First he does a couple so-bad-they-go-past-good-and-back-to-bad bits lampooning John Lennon (ooooo, burn, guy-who’s-been-dead-for-29-years) and reeling off some quick ad hominem attacks relating to Lennon’s personal life.  That’s weird enough, but then he goes into the tired old John Birch Society conspiracy theory about the origins of the peace symbol.  Next he’ll be freaking out about the pyramid on the $1 bill.  National Treasure 3: Rise of the Lispy Canadian.

Now, if you want to criticize the peace movement, calling them crypto-anti-Christians is a pretty weird tactic, given the modern peace movement’s Christian roots.  Apparently some people take that “love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” thing literally.

Written by dieblucasdie

December 4, 2009 at 8:27 pm

Jesus Only Healed Lepers Who Were Referred By Their Primary Care Physicians

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Now, I’ve already wasted much of my precious youth documenting the various ways in which Big Hollywood‘s Steven Crowder is a total dick.  He links to racial statistics provided by hate groups, insults key American allies, brutalizes his imaginary/future children, will happily turn any argument into a wang-measuring contest, and peppers his writing with more random scare quotes than anyone this side of Alfonso Rachel.

But even given the high bar he’s already set for presumption, callousness, intellectual incuriosity, and wounded masculinity, his writing on religion never fails make my jaw drop.

Poll after poll, the United States ranks as the most “God-fearing” nation on the planet. Good on us! Whether you believe in God or not, it’s tough to deny the reality of Christian principles being an intricate part of our country’s historical fabric.

One has to ask themselves however, as arguably the last “Christian nation” around, why were our Founders so adamant about keeping the Feds grimy paws out of our churches?

Why indeed!  I would think they did it to foster religious freedom and avoid repeating Europe’s history of bloody religious conflict.  But no, Steven Crowder is here to set me straight:

There’s no doubt that the Founding Fathers were deeply spiritual men (and when I say spiritual, I mean in the Judeo-Christian sense, not in the Disney/Pray-to-colors-of-the-wind type silliness). With that being said, could it be that they wanted to separate church and state, in order to PRESERVE the Christian principles that built this country?

Think about it. When has government successfully forced people to do ANYTHING that they didn’t already want to do? From forced “integration” in Detroit, to putting a tax on a morning breakfast beverage, the results have always been disastrous.

OH.  I SEE.  The Founding Fathers would’ve liked an iron-fisted theocracy, but were so sure the government they were in the process of setting up would be comically ineffectual that they decided not to bother.

And, uh, I can think of a lot of things that the government successfully forces people to do.  I mean, I’d rather just blow through that 4-way stop on my way to the grocery store, where I’d rather not pay sales tax on my tin of Maxwell House morning breakfast beverage, but hey, government.

Silly, government, with your “taxes” and “civil rights enforcement,” when will you learn that people are hateful cheapskates?

But hold up, it’s about to get real good:

A freedom-saturated environment is conducive to the growth of faith in God. I’m guessing that might be why our Founding Fathers were much more “spirit” rather than “letter of the law” Christians like their English counterparts.

You know who else felt the same way… Jesus.

No, really. Jesus was forthright with his whole “I am the way, the truth and the light” deal (heck he was even crucified for it), but ultimately, the man left the decision up to us.

I guess what I’m wondering now is, if the Son of Man never felt the need to force anything down our throat… Where does our government get off thinking that they can?

All the messianic stuff surrounding Obama is blasphemous, but Thomas Jefferson?  That dude was JUST LIKE JESUS.

Also, you know, right after the “light of the world” thing, Jesus says this:

Do not think I have come to abolish the law and the prophets.  I have come not to abolish but to fulfill.  Amen, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will pass from the law. (NAB, Mt 5:17-18)

But the best line of the piece is here:

Americans don’t want universal health care, we’re getting it.

Uh, Americans do want universal health care and we’re not getting it.  I mean, I kind of want to live in the conservative-alternate-reality where a Democratic Congress is cramming through a single-payer bill.  He… he’s knows that’s not remotely what’s happening, right?

If freedom has generally bred positive choices, one would have to wonder what comes of statism. Historically, all signs point towards revolution. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that, even though the muskets would be fun to have.

Crowder loves the system the Founders set up so much that he’s willing to foment armed rebellion against it.  Now that’s patriotism!

Written by dieblucasdie

November 20, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Scare Quote Watch, Day 223

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Since screwing his fellow conservatives over by wresting Roger L. Simon’s money from them (I know that’s two in a row, but I never get sick of linking to that one!), Alfonso Rachel has actually been very judicious with his use of air-scare-quotes, though you can tell in this clip that he’s just dying to use them during his TOTALLY FAIR paraphrasing of an abortion-rights advocate.

I must say though, Rachel gets points for honesty, with his admission that the only actual basis for his opposition to abortion rights is religious in nature.  His argument for outlawing abortion rests on his claim that America has been, since its founding, a religious nation (Rachel alternates between describing it as “Judeo-Christian” and just straight-up “Christian”).  So yay theocracy!  I guess?

Since I am too tired to re-hash the history of the establishment clause and early establishment clause jurisprudence (I mean, it’s 2009.  The least you can do is read the Wikipedia article about something before you start running your mouth, dude), I’ll take a different angle.

I’d be interested to hear Rachel’s thoughts on the broader implications of this argument.  We’re a Christian nation!  The founders were Christian!  Should divorce be illegal?  What should the prison sentence be for adultery?  How often should people like Rachel be forced to re-read the various bits in Matthew condemning the hypocrisy of the Pharisees?  Discuss!