Wednesday, May 16, 2007
Falwell and the Moral Majority - The Wannabe Torquemadas
The news reminded me a statement ascribed to Mike Clark, a reporter in Memphis, TN, back in 1981. "The moral majority is neither moral nor a majority". Time and time again we learn about two-faced leaders of religious organizations who froth at the mouth railing against moral decadency and get caught in sexual scandals. A notable, recent example is former evangelical preacher Ted Haggard of Colorado Springs,CO. Even Republican politicians have toned down their support for them. The family values cow has been milked dry.
John Patterson wrote in The Guardian, on April 28th, about attacks against books and films by the hate-filled, self-appointed guardians of our morals. My friend KCR calls them mandarins of morality. One gets the feeling that if they had the power they would happily follow Torquemada's footsteps.
If only we had more movies based on the religious right's hate list. John Patterson finds rebellious motivation down at the library
Saturday April 28, 2007
With its cheesy special effects and its teen-centric narrative, Bridge To Terabithia is the kind of movie that normally generates no revenue streams whatsoever from my wallet. However, the 1977 novel it's based on, by Katherine Paterson, was the ninth most frequently challenged book in American libraries and school-board syllabi during the 1990s, according to the American Library Association, and thus I found myself automatically rooting for it. (Paterson also wrote The Great Gilly Hopkins - No 21 on the list; clearly she's dedicated to afflicting the uptight.)
Terabithia annoyed the usual people for the usual reasons: its story of two avowedly non-religious kids who attempt to transcend their everyday problems through creative fantasy punches all the religious right's hottest buttons: secular-humanism as a base substitute for The Word; "magic"; godlessness; unsupervised dating, etc. These same people were also up in arms, at different times in different states, about Daddy's Roommate (No 2), Heather Has Two Mommies (No 11), The New Joy of Gay Sex (No 28), The Witches (No 27), Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret (No 62), and A Day No Pigs Would Die (No 17). It's also pretty clear that a lot of them don't like books by or about black folks, which would account for the presence I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, The Colour Purple, Native Son and The Bluest Eye. As Grampa Simpson might say, this stuff "angries up the blood!"
You have to believe that annoying these censorious, yet subliterate bigots is a very good thing, and therefore the more movies we see based on books featured on the ALA's most challenged list, the better off we'll be.
And if you doubt it, just count the good movies that have already emerged from the opprobrium conferred on them by the list: The Handmaid's Tale (the religious right's ambitions for women, helpfully outlined), Lord Of The Flies (there's your "laissez-faire" right there), To Kill A Mockingbird (justice for negroes? Pah!), The Outsiders (justice for teenage hoods? Never!), Carrie (menstruation must never be mentioned!), The Dead Zone, Slaughterhouse Five, Ordinary People and American Psycho.
That's a track record worth envying, so what about the unfilmed masterpieces? Well, the titles are certainly toothsome enough. I don't even have to read The Boy Who Lost His Face or Mommy Laid An Egg to know I need to see movies of them. And it's about time someone took another stab at The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn (No 5), the slyest and wisest child's-eye-view of the adult world ever written - which is precisely why these people all hate it.
Truly, there is a fund of ammunition here with which to annoy the genophobic bluenoses and the militant Christers for years to come. Pick your titles at:
and start your cameras.
Further reading: Censorship Mrs Grundy
Never on Sunday
A lifelong opponent of fascism, In 1981 Melina Mercouri became "the first Minister of Culture in Greece" and served until 1989. She took this office again in 1993, and served until 1994. Source: Wikipedia
Melina Mercouri died of lung cancer 6 March 1994. Now, that was a sad day.
Falwell Moral Majorioty Christian Right Torquemada Melina Mercouri