Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Playing the Martyr Card

A bunch of Baptist pastors in Georgia made a movie about a violent sport (football), and adult issues like depression and dealing with infertility. Now they are pissed that the MPAA dared to give "Facing the Giants" a PG rating for "some thematic elements." Funny how social conservatives don't like media ratings systems--the same systems they whined so hard to get, and which they now want to make mandatory--when they are applied to their movies!

Since this is America, the strategy of the Baptist pastors has been--naturally--to try to play the victim. With no basis whatsoever, the pastors are claiming that it is the religious content of the movie that the MPAA balked at. (Faith plays a powerful role in the decisions of the young football players and their coach.) Feigning outrage, the pastors and their conservative allies are lambasting all of Hollywood as being anti-Christian, trying to strong-arm the MPAA into giving them a G rating. (Ironically, most experts believe the PG rating will actually enhance box office revenues.)

To claim that Christians are a persecuted minority in this country doesn't even pass the laugh test, but it seems that pretending to be the martyr is popular with religious fanatics everywhere. My, how things have changed. Used to be that Christians turned the other cheek... these days, it's the Christians who are throwing people to the lions.


Anonymous said...

I think it's important to call these people Fundamentalist Christians. The sectarian appellation is a reminder that, despite their own pretensions, they do not define what is "Christian" to the exclusion of everthing else. I can be called a "Liberal Christian" or an "Episcopalian" without harm.

Fundamentalist Christians are certainly not an endangered minority, although they is considerable hostility toward them in every major university.  

// posted by LTG

Dr. Strangelove said...

You may replace "Christians" with "Fundamentalist Christians" in the above post... probably reads better that way anyhow.

I disagree with your characterization of the relationship between major universities and Fundamentalist Christians. There is tremendous religious tolerance at most major universities. Universities bend over backwards to accomodate people of all religious stripes. And religious groups--especially fundamentalists--are quite active on university campuses.

It is the Fundamentalist Christian bloc that is hostile toward major universities. The Fundamentalists have been attacking higher education on many fronts. They are trying to change university policies so they may engage in hate speech; they are fighting to return to discrimination against homosexuals in hiring practices, and they are working hard to alter university curricula to conform to Fundamentalist doctrine.

Universities have not bowed to Fundamentalist pressure (for the most part) but they remain welcoming places for all students. As a former student goverment person, trust me--we had to work hard to accomodate religious fanatics, even while they assailed us.

Dr. Strangelove said...

I also had the fun of teaching evolution at a university. The Fundamentalist Gestapo sent observers to our classes to take notes (to twist our words later) and--sometimes--to raise objections. Despite the fact that they were not students, we tolerated them. They baited us to give them cause to file a complaint, but we did not. Even though they were rude and verbally attacked our intentions in teaching evolution, we were not rude in return. We certainly never attacked Fundamentalism.

We just showed the mountains of data. And they were most upset.

Anonymous said...

I must admit to being partial to Jon Stewart's characterisation, which I paraphrase: I dream of time when there will be an openly Christian President. Or 43 of them. Consecutively. 

// posted by Numbat o Love

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, what? Just because fundamentalist Christians are not an "endangered minority" it's OK to treat Christian themes as taboo subject warranting a PG rating? These arguments in the comments are irrelevant. Sorry if you don't like believers. But that's no reason to treat them as suspect. 

// posted by Neorepublitarian

Anonymous said...

There is no evidence that the religiosity of the movie is what inspired the PG rating. The grounds for a rating are never disclosed, and it is incorrect to assume, as these Fundamentalist Christians do, that they are being picked on for some reason. I understand that the coach uses religion in the movie to overcome concerns about infertility and even suicide. those are adult themes. 

// posted by LTG

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I'm ignorant about this movie's content. What were the themes that the MPAA say brought on the PG rating?

Here  is what the MPAA say are their standards for each rating. The operative part of the PG guidelines are "There may be some profanity in these films. There may be some violence or brief nudity." Do we have any details about this particular film and it's discussion of sex etc?

As for Christians' turning the other cheek, the grand sweeping history of Christianity (as with Islam) is one of forced conversion, inquisition, torture, genocide and cultural intollerance. There are few if any examples of a population that has been converted to Christianity without the forceful and often violent intervention (on behalf of the Christians) of the state. Ancient Rome might be the only example where the state opposed Christianity - that is until Christians gained control of the power behind the imperial throne and then used that power to impose their will on a non-Christian majority. Charlemagne's extermination of the Saxons for refusing to accept baptism (and his own Imperial authority) is a great example of what I'm talking about. Turn the other cheek? The majority of self-identified Christians are big on "do as I say not as I do" in that regard! 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Raised By Republicans said...

Oh, here is how tame a movie has to be to be a G rated movie: "The violence is at a minimum. Nudity and sex scenes are not present, nor is there any drug use content."

So if this movie shows the un-saved or backsliding characters using drugs (even pot presumably - under age drinking??), the MPAA guidelines prohibit a G rating.

Anonymous said...

The majority of self-identified Christians are big on "do as I say not as I do" in that regard! That's the majority of the human race, too.

Btw, most massacres in human history, have been perpetrated by people seeking power and control, dictators, generals, kings, princes, sheikhs, khans, maoists, etc., and not for religious reasons. The great slaughters of the 20th century were not conducted by organized religion.

Was Charlemagne motivated by religion, or using religion to further his own political ends? I say "B". 

// posted by LTG

Neorepublitarian said...

Someone who has seen the movie should give a full account of what is in the movie. But from the MPAA's own statements it DOES sound like the religious issue was a deciding factor.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with LTG more that religious rhetoric is merely a cover for the usual sort of political activity that all humans engage in. (Charlemagne actually issued a declaration that anyone practicing a pre-Christian, European religion would be executed ).

The problem is that religious organizations (and rhetoric) are given privileged position over other forms of political organization and expression. In this country, churches are the only PACs that are tax exempt. That is the root of the problem in this MPAA case. One the one hand, politically active Christians on the right want a means by which they can censor or at least officially stigmatize certain films. But when their films are subjected to the same standards they freak out.

I have not seen this movie (it hasn't been released yet I'm guessing) and Neorepublican is correct that we should withold final judgement until we see it. But I'm guessing that the film deals with sex, drugs, rock and roll and how Christ can save young people from them. If they even TALK about teenage sexual activity or drug use, the MPAA rules say it is a PG movie. These rules were insisted upon by politically active Christians on the right.

Hey gang, don't I remember a similar controversy about the R rating for Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ?" As I recall, many Christian Right types wanted it given as permissive a rating as possible because of it's religious content despite the graphic scenes of torture and violence in which Gibson indulged.

I'm all for Christians organizing politically. It is their right to do so within a democracy. I object their presumption of privilege - the basis of which is AT BEST a naked apeal to the "tyrrany of the majority." 

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Dr. Strangelove said...

Neorepublitarian: the MPAA says it rating was not based on relgion at all. I quote the LA Times:

"Joan Graves, chairwoman of the MPAA's rating board, said Tuesday that the decision had nothing to do with Christianity but was based on football violence as well as the inclusion of mature topics such as depression and infertility."

The producers of the film said they "were told" by the MPAA that the religious elements were the reason for the PG rating. There is no record of that conversation. The MPAA rarely discusses the reasons for its ratings, rarely grants interviews.

Anonymous said...

I just looked at the trailer and from that trailer it looks like "Friday Night Lights" but with a lot of talk about God etc. The message of the trailer seems to be that football players play better when they praise the lord more often.  

// posted by Raised By Republicans

Anonymous said...

I nominate someone, anyone else but me to see this movie. Except for the absolutely wonderful film, "The Spitfire Grill" (which was produced by a Catholic outfit called the Mendocino Corporation), my only in-depth experience with this kind of thing is Christian rock-and-roll produced in the early 1990s and marketed to my hapless Presbyterian youth leaders and inflicted on their charges (including me).

After an extremely painful three-and-a-half minute music video involving scarves and feathers, the biggest yes-man in the whole Sunday School class actually sputtered, "You don't actually expect us to listen to this crap, do you?"

Even for a churchgoing person like myself, there is something corporate and numbing about a lot of stuff advertised as "Christian." If I think about what Jesus would do, even frequently, why, exactly, do I need a tacky brightly-colored plastic bracelet?

-Seventh Sister 

// posted by Anonymous