29 January 2006

Did they really say that?

I was reading and listening to the latest from my favorite web-site, Media Matters for America (mediamatters.com), and I found myself somewhat shocked by the vast intellectual distances that seem to seperate me from most creationists and deeply fundamentalist religious folk. I suppose I should amend that last to, deeply fundementalist, christian folk. They are the ones I have the most experience with. So I ended up following a series of articles and clips, audio and video detailing the multifareous ways in which Christian Media personalities from Pat Robertson to Janet Parshall and I differ. This whole trek started with a the headline, "Conservatives quick to opine on Brokeback Mountain's "agenda," slow to actually see film." This lead to numerous articles about conservative religious attacks on the movie. These were all fairly odd. They had a range of offensiveness, and I won't waste alot of space here on thier content, except to say none of the people critiqueing the film had seen it. Janet Parshal,as a guest on the Larry King show, said, "I am interested in all the buzz about the film." She went on to say, "After all Larry, I think what we are witnessing is the homosexualization of America." She spoke about gay marriage and civil unions, "pretend family," and she suggested that Matthew Shepard died, at least in part because he was looking for trouble in all the wrong places. She neglected to mention that he had been coaxed out of the bar by two men posing as gay men in a premeditated assault. She also called same sex adoption "state sanctioned child abuse." Larry King was a bit more combative than I have seen him in the past and I must say hats off. He challenged her on the notion that the genesis template is one man, one woman. She didn't defend very well. The patriarchs with more than one wife had lots of trouble was about all she could muster. And in response to the "state sanctioned child abuse" crap, Larry asked her, essentially, if she would commit to saying that same-sex couples were capable of creating a safe environment, and "normal" hetero couples were capable of creating a pretty awful one. Of course she opted to say something like, "foster care laws need to be changed," before ever admitting that there were any circumstances where it might be better to hang out with some gay couple than the hetero alternative.
She was one of the least acidic of the highlights at the media matters website. Conservative radio talk-show personality Michael Savage, whose vitriolic rhetorical florishes make me suspect that "he" might really be Anne Coulter in drag, went on about a movie he called, "fudgepack mountain, bareback mountain," and "bareback mounting." Which are all his nick-names for "Brokeback Mountain." I guess he was being clever. He also went on to say that America had "voted," (in box office sales the movie "Hoodwinked" did better than Ang Lee's Western) and that it rejected the degenerate, vile morality of "disconnected, and perverted" Hollywood. Lets ignore the fact that these two films are both, Hollywood studio films shall we, and skip right to his rationale for the conclusion. The movie "Hoodwinked" knocked the pants off of "Brokeback" in terms of box office grosses. Well knocked the pants off is not exactly true. That was the tone Savage used. It made about a million more dollars this weekend (7.38 vs 6.35 which is terrible for an opening weekend by the way). There are several reasons why this happened and I needn't spell them out here. But lets continue to apply Savage's logic to the rest of the Top Ten list for this past weekend (My list is from IMDB.com.). "Brokeback Mountain" earned this weekend, 6.35 million. I think this is a respectable earning for an R-rated romantic drama, of somewhat limited release. "The Chronicles of Narnia" earned only 4.41 million. That is a differnce of thirty-one percent. So, following Savage's logic, Americans prefer gay cowboys much more than allegories about Christ. They also prefer Big Momma's House (28 million) to all things on the silver screen. What does that say about American values? Anything? Nothing? Everything. To Michael Savage I will say this.

We Americans have spoken. We like men in drag more than most things, we like parodies on the classics more than gay cowboys, and we like men in drag, satirism and gay cowboys much more than Jesus, or at least much more than Jesus-lions. At least that is the way we feel this weekend. Check back next weekend, as new releases require a re-assessment.

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