Nearing end of the road: Christian porn, Passion and a digital mystery

peteDuring the past month or two, I have rarely seen my own office and my own telephone. I have been working in Washington, D.C., and then following that with travel to Turkey, Greece, Phoenix, the remote corners of the North Carolina mountains and this coming week to New Jersey.

Finally, I get to stay home to prepare for the fall semester (or whatever you call September, October, etc., in South Florida). I have never had such a wild schedule before and it has really affected my work on this blog, primarily due to random Internet access. More on that in a moment. Meanwhile, three cheers for Doug for keeping us alive and well! As you know, we try to post at least one or two items a day, but rarely let a day pass with nothing new.

Now I have some catching up to do.

Rather than pass up some major events and interesting stories altogether, I plan to write about some a week or so late. For starters, you might want to jump over to TheRevealer.org to catch up on that blog’s R-word forum on how political coverage would or would not change if more God-beat specialists got to take part in faith-related political stories. Any proposals for who should take part in this forum next?

Also, I was interested — my red vs. blue interests remain strong — in a recent Sharon Waxman story that compared the “Two Americas of ‘Fahrenheit’ and ‘Passion.’ ” No surprise, but the top theaters for “Fahrenheit” have been in those familiar blue-state cities — Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco and the Bay Area, Chicago and Boston. Meanwhile, the top “Passion” theaters were located in suburban territory in Texas and New Mexico to Ohio, Florida and Orange County, Calif.

Please note that, here at GetReligion.org, we are shocked, shocked, at these findings. But here is an interesting detail. Is there a “red” New York City and a “blue” New York City? A “red” Oklahoma City and a “blue” Oklahoma City?

For both films, the top theater was Empire 25 in Times Square, and theaters in Greenwich Village and West Nyack, N.Y., were in the top 50. But even in the New York metropolitan area, the ticket buyers’ profiles make for sharp contrasts. The area’s other top theaters for “Passion” were in Elizabeth, N.J., and in Whitestone and Astoria, Queens. For “Fahrenheit” the other top local theaters were on the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side and in Midtown Manhattan.

After the opening weekend of “Fahrenheit 9/11,” Mr. Moore declared that it was a “red-state movie,” referring to states that voted Republican in the 2000 election. The numbers on top theaters do little to support the claim, but “Fahrenheit” did sell out some movie houses in Republican-leaning states and military towns, including Fayetteville, N.C., and Oklahoma City.

I guess the larger truth — clear in the 2000 election — is what some of us have observed all along. There are, in fact, “red” and “blue” communities and even zip codes that add nuance within the larger red-blue state cultural divide.

And speaking of “blue” issues, in another sense of that word, I had an interesting problem this week with my Scripps Howard column. I was shipping it from the middle of nowhere and the copy never reached the copy desk in Washington. Thus, for the first time in 17 years, I missed a copy deadline.

Here is the mystery. The topic this week was a bit colorful. Here is a sample of what will come out on the wire next week.

Anyone with the nerve to create XXXChurch.com is going to get attention, especially if they keep calling it “the No. 1 Christian Porn Site.”

“We’re No. 1 because there really isn’t a No. 2, which is a good business plan if you think about it,” said Craig Gross, co-founder of the ministry in Corona, Calif.

Two years ago, Gross and partner Mike Foster opened their first booth at the Adult Video News trade show in Las Vegas, handing out anti-porn brochures to hardcore consumers and sharing their faith with porn stars and producers. The youth pastors took their wives as chaperones and to take turns inside their church’s full-body rabbit costume. The approach was goofy, but intrigued the Los Angeles Times, ABC, Playboy and others.

This year XXXChurch.com teamed up with veteran pornographer James DiGiorgio — producer of videos such as “The Sopornos #3″ — to make a surreal public service announcement called “Pete the Porno Puppet” warning parents not to expose kids to explicit images. As it turns out, “Jimmy D” is also a parent who worries about porn.

Now, when I sent the column to the desk I simply labeled it with my name and “XXXChurch.com.” When I sent it to my own personal listserv of friends I called it “Beyond XXXChurch.com.”

The copy made it to the listserv, but not to the copy desk. Here is my question to you really major-league digital geeks. Do you think the mere presence of the word “beyond” helped the second label miss an anti-spam program somewhere? I have done some follow-up testing since and the results are inconsistent. ‘Tis a mystery, I guess.

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Greg Griffith

    Terry,

    Anti-spam filtering is usually implemented on the “incoming” side of email, not the “outgoing.” It’s probably not the additon of the word ‘beyond’ that helped it slide through to your friends – your copy desk probably just has stronger anti-spam protection than your friends on the list.

    In addition, your friends probably have different kinds of anti-spam ptotection set up on their personal machines, with different blacklists, different rules, and different levels of sensitivity. Plus, the different mail servers through which your messages pass on the way to them have different degrees of protection set up, from none at all, to very strict. This is what produces those mixed results from your test.

    Geekily,

    Greg

  • http://www.ChristianityToday.com/ Rich Tatum

    What really complicates things is that more and more of these anti-spam filters are using probability analyses on your email headres *and* email body to determine the probability that a given characteristic in your email is like the emails it has already identified as spam or not spam in the past.

    Meanwhile, a quick an deirty method to test the “spammishness” of your email is to pass it through the Lyris content checker–which uses Spam Assasin–probably the most popular server-based spam checker out there:

    http://www.lyris.com/contentchecker/

    When I tested the brief excerpt you quoted in your blog entry, I got the following score:

    Score: 1.3

    Test: PORN_4

    Explanation: URI: URL uses words/phrases

    which indicate porn

    So, according to Lyris, with that short quote, you would’ve passed it’s own content filters. But that doesnt mean you would have passed your newspaper’s filters.

    Regards,

    Rich.


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