Friday, December 10, 2004

Libertine Men And Scarlet Women -- And RAGTIME!

I don't usually hit Andrew Sullivan's blog, but he had a doozy today, from the transcript of Wednesday's Scarborough Country on MSNBC:

PAT BUCHANAN, GUEST HOST: Could Academy Award judges really choose Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11” over Mel Gibson‘s biblical masterpiece, “The Passion of the Christ”? We‘ll soon find out. And if they do, will there be a red state revolt against Hollywood?


Joining me now, radio talk show host Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, the director of the Liberty Film Festival, Govindini Murty, the president of the Catholic League, Bill Donahue....


RABBI SHMULEY BOTEACH, AUTHOR, “FACE YOUR FEAR”: Well, firstly, let me just say that I hope that Michael Moore actually wins so we can finally confirm what Hollywood is. Hollywood has become an America-hating bastion that always portrays people in uniform in some sinister role. It‘s always the CIA killing President Kennedy.

And so when I see Michael Moore‘s “Fahrenheit 9/11” and he portrays our soldiers as a bunch of cutthroats who play Metallica while killing Iraqi civilians, let‘s confirm what Hollywood is by giving him this Oscar.

But I‘ve got to tell you, Pat, the fact that Christians around the country be offended if Mel Gibson‘s “The Passion” doesn‘t win best Oscar is shocking to me. First of all, “The Passion of the Christ” was an domination for Christianity. It really should win the World Wrestling Federation Oscar for best movie. It‘s a guy for two hours being kicked, beaten, his blood gushing everywhere. It‘s just a diabolical, criminal, violent mess.


BOTEACH: It really is like Mohammed al-Zarqawi‘s movies on the Internet where a guy gets his head chopped off. It‘s gory. It‘s ugly and it‘s not inspiring.

BUCHANAN: Well, since about tens of millions of Americans saw it, loved it, appreciated it, and honored it, that tells us, Rabbi, I think, what you think of the intelligence and sensitivity of millions of Americans.

Bill Donahue, what do you think about “The Passion of the Christ”? And as a practical matter, even if Hollywood hated the film, it seems to me as an artistic work of art, a smashing triumph, a film of great controversy and interest, it ought to at least be nominated for best picture. It pulled in more money than any other picture all year.

WILLIAM DONAHUE, PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: I spoke to Mel a couple of weeks ago about this. And I don‘t think it really matters a whole lot to him. It certainly doesn‘t matter to me. We‘ve already won.

Who really cares what Hollywood thinks? All these hacks come out there. Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. It‘s not a secret, OK? And I‘m not afraid to say it. That‘s why they hate this movie. It‘s about Jesus Christ, and it‘s about truth. It‘s about the messiah.

Hollywood likes anal sex. They like to see the public square without nativity scenes. I like families. I like children. They like abortions. I believe in traditional values and restraint. They believe in libertinism. We have nothing in common. But you know what? The culture war has been ongoing for a long time. Their side has lost.

You have got secular Jews. You have got embittered ex-Catholics, including a lot of ex-Catholic priests who hate the Catholic Church, wacko Protestants in the same group, and these people are in the margins. Frankly, Michael Moore represents a cult movie. Mel Gibson represents the mainstream of America.

This is what organized religion does to your head. This is what dogma does to your perspective. And this is what being a shitheaded asshole does to your discourse.

Point by point:

Why, yes, Mr. Buchanan, they really can vote for Fahrenheit 9/11, if they think it's a better movie. I'm surprised you even ask the question, seeing as how you and so many other pundits accuse them of being against religion and goodness and right and daisies and puppies 'n' stuff.

Will there be a "red state revolt" against Hollywood. Absolutely. Until the following weekend, when the new action thriller, lewd slapstick comedy, or vaguely erotic horror movie opens. Contrary to what you think, the 18-to-49-year-old-set -- the ones with the money -- aren't gonna give up their gratifications to go Godly.

What message will Hollywood send to America over the Oscars? How about the same one they do every year -- "this is what we think is the best in movies this year, you may not agree, in fact you may disagree profoundly"? I think The Incredibles should be nominated for Best Picture. I'm still galled over A Beautiful Mind beating The Fellowship Of The Ring. Suck it up, Pat.

Rabbi Boteach says "Hollywood has become an America-hating bastion", which, as we all know, is reflected in the many pro-Islamic-terrorist films coming out over the past several years.

American film making is so fucking conservative that Walt Disney Pictures has been effectively making the same movie since 1983. It's okay to be different, friendship and family, blah blah blah.

Oh, and, and this may be nit-picking but, the CIA hardly ever wears uniforms. They wear suits. That's how we know the government bad guys in most cases, see. The exception was Men In Black.

Moore didn't "portray" our soldiers as a bunch of cutthroats who play Metallica while killing Iraqi civilians, he had footage of real American soldiers and showed what they really did. The point of military training is to make people psychologically ready to kill other people, and one of the techniques is to dehumanize the enemy, so that it's easier to kill them while, for instance, playing Metallica.

But then Boteach goes off-script, or at least generates "controversy", by pointing out that The Passion Of The Christ is a grotesque movie about some guy being flayed and then crucified.

And then Buchanan says, "Well, since about tens of millions of Americans saw it, loved it, appreciated it, and honored it, that tells us, Rabbi, I think, what you think of the intelligence and sensitivity of millions of Americans."

Maybe it does, Pat. Maybe the Rabbi is trying to say that some people don't want to watch two hours of a man's skin being stripped off, seeing the blood, hearing the cries of pain. And maybe you're saying that the truly devout really want that, perhaps even become more faithful by their seeing the torment of their Savior, by empathizing with His pain.

Except, of course, what they're seeing is a lot of fake blood and special effects make-up. What they're hearing is acting. What they're "empathizing" with is their own belief of how awful it must feel, because I guaran-damn-tee you that if any one of the people in that audience got even one good crack with a cat-o'nine-tails, they'd be shrieking and begging their assailant to stop.

But, instead, they watch it, for nearly two hours.

And I do believe it's your side of the aisle that puts such stock in an audience becoming desensitized to violence by seeing it over and over.

And maybe the Rabbi is, in fact, pointing out that tens of millions of people in this country are voyeurs of violence.

Buchanan refers to the film as "an artistic work of art", which is, as Harlan Ellison pointed out, like saying "a solar star" or "a house home". As it is, I think that if the film had been made by anyone besides a die-hard Republican, Buchanan would've freaked, along the lines of "How can you reduce the passion of Christianity to two hours of whipping?" I may be wrong in that, but it sure seems likely, given Buchanan's track record.

And then we get to Bill Donahue.

First thing I recommend that he change his fucking meds.


Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular.
I'm still wrapping my head around the concept of a secular Jew. (Although the first commenter below adds some perspective on that.)

I haven't checked out studio ownership lately, nor have I examined the average religious leanings of producers and directors. But the only evidence that I see of Hollywood hating Christianity is they green-lit Surviving Christmas and Christmas with the Kranks.

Oh, excuse me, do you mean that religion isn't permeating every frame of every movie? Well, hell, maybe we should just go back to the days of the Puritans, where you had to work all the time because otherwise you'd think about something besides God. Oh, wait, that's what you seem to want.

Hollywood likes anal sex.
I stared at that quote for a long time. The only thing I can think of to say about it is, now we know how the mind of at least one major Catholic leader works.

They like to see the public square without nativity scenes.
Ummm, I've got public nativity scenes all over my part of the world already, including a couple big honkers in public parks. Certainly in front of churches. The problem has always been having them in front of public government buildings, where it looks as if the government is endorsing one religion over others.

I like families. I like children. They like abortions.
Nobody likes abortions. I mean, many women want to have abortions for whatever reason, and medical practitioners recommend abortions in certain cases. But I really don't think any woman is sitting out there going, "Hmmm. Slow weekend. What to do? Shopping? Extra time on my new project at work? Down time watching a movie...? Naaaah. Think I'll get knocked up and have an abortion. That's always fun." And I really don't think any doctor is rubbing his or her hands together in glee, muttering in a Peter Lorre voice, "Please, let me do it... please...."

There are several other money lines by Mr. Donahue, but it's all of a piece, and it comes down to a man who is so caught up in his world-view that the idea of anyone not thinking as he does is dismissed as "libertinism", a word which hasn't been used much since we got them new-fangled ee-lectric lights.

But the Big Winner is this:

Michael Moore represents a cult movie. Mel Gibson represents the mainstream of America.
Michael Moore made a movie that showed how, with the help of a bought-and-paid-for media, an unelected government lied us into a war and is killing innocent people everyday. Mel Gibson made a movie about a man being whipped for two hours and then nailed up until he died.

If Mel does represent the mainstream of America, something is very wrong indeed.

Great post, but I have a little bit of info to add. There really are "secular Jews." It describes someone who appreciate his/her Jewishness as an ethnicity and culture, but doesn't believe in it as a faith, or necessarily even believe in God. In fact, there are a number of self-decribed secular, humanistic Jewish organizations.

I became aware of them in my days as a typesetter, when I worked for a place that did up a magazine for one. It was a fascinating insight for this cradle Catholic, along with the synagogue bulletins and one zionist magazine so vilely hateful that I felt dirty after typing it.

Hard to buy into a "Jews are all alike" meme after an education like that! I figure it's pretty much the same for all ethnic/cultural/religious groups.

sister of ye
And to add to what sister of ye said, I've run across the term "secular Christian", which refers to someone who goes to church once in a while, maybe Christmas and Easter, but who otherwise doesn't think much about religion in between, or let the right-wing fundies tell him how to think.

-- arensb
Excellent post. This is one more example of how this God question is starting to dominate our discourse. Luckily, this will fade by the 2006 mid term elections unless, God forbid (sic), things should move even more towards Pullman's world (The Amber Spyglass). In the meantime we are slaughtering lots of innocent people in Afghanistan and Iraq in the name of what I don't know. Maybe Mel Gibson does.
Great job! How can you read that transcript and not be overwhelmed by the numerous gross stupidities screaming out to be countered? "an America-hating bastion that always portrays people in uniform in some sinister role"? Good God, I guess he never heard of "Saving Private Ryan", "Band of Brothers", "Hamburger Hill", "The Thin Red Line"...I'm trying to stay fairly recent, but if you want to go back as far as the 50s, there wouldn't be enough room on one page to list all the sympathetic portrayals of U.S. soldiers. Hollywood turned itself inside out to accommodate that piece of shit McCarthy during the Red Scare; they haven't changed that much since.

And "All these hacks come out there"? Like Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, Paddy Chayefsky, Dalton Trumbo? I guess that puts his beloved Gibson into hack status, as well, since it was the Hollywood mechanism that helped him release his film. And BTW, as someone who has actually lived in Hollywood, I need to say that they really are human out there.

A lot more human than these folks seem to act.
So, what kind of people flock to the theaters to watch their God getting his ass kicked?
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