L.B.: Scream 2 morality

Left Behind, pp. 50-53

Here we learn the sad fate of co-pilot Chris Smith. Ten pages earlier, Smith established himself as a villain by violating Rayford Steele’s odd notion of chivalry and accepting the airline’s offer of a bus ride back to the terminal.

I noted earlier (see “Scream morality“) that:

Left Behind has its own moral rules that function like the rules for slasher flicks that Jamie Kennedy’s character outlines in Scream. By violating those rules, Smith dooms himself as surely as that teenager who says, “Don’t believe those crazy stories. Let’s sneak off into the woods and have sex.”

Rayford’s indignant response at the time makes it clear that LaHaye and Jenkins want readers to regard Smith’s accepting of a ride as an unpardonable sin. “Rayford glared at him … ‘I should write you up for this.’”

But it’s difficult to puzzle out exactly what Smith did that was so wrong. The airline sent a bus to pick up its flight crew and Smith was willing to accept this privilege. Steele later accepts special privileges afforded to pilots (a special phone line, a helicopter ride home). And Buck Williams, the book’s other protagonist, regularly cuts in line and takes advantage of his status as a privileged customer and club member. The lesson, I suppose, is that our heroes are allowed to be selfish because they are our heroes. Other people, like Smith, are not.

So just like the peripheral characters who die for their “sins” in a slasher movie, we know that Chris Smith is doomed. The next time we see him we can expect he’ll be dead, another bloodied corpse in the woods of Camp Crystal Lake.

Sure enough:

[Hattie] turned and spoke into his ear. “They wheeled him past us while I was going into the lounge. Blood all over! … I think he was dead!”

Rayford shook his head. What next? “Did he get hit or something? Did that bus crash?” Wouldn’t that be ironic!

Here again is the major theme of the book. “Bad people” break the rules and die horribly. “Good people” see this as poetic justice and enjoy a chuckle.

The helicopter pilot fills Steele in on all the amusing details: Smith arrived at the terminal and learned that “his boys had disappeared and his wife was killed in a wreck.” In grief, loneliness and anguished despair, Smith slashed his wrists and died.

Isn’t that ironic?!?

  • Michael

    The bus crashing would only be ironic if he had taken it in order to *avoid* a crash. For example, if he took the bus because he thought it was safer than walking.
    Since he took the bus simply because he thought it was quicker and easier than walking, the bus crashing would not be ironic, but merely unfortunate.
    Thus not only is Steele a jerk, he also has no understanding of irony. Can we skip to the antichrist parts yet?

  • Amanda

    Well, it explains how one can be a “Christian” and believe that some people just deserve to starve in the streets.

  • none

    “In grief, loneliness and anguished despair, Smith slashed his wrists and died.”
    … and then burned for eternity in a lake of fire. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHA. Boy, that LaHaye is a real card.

  • Chris

    And meanwhile Rayford, who is also missing a wife and son, apparently isn’t all that dispondent over it. Except, of course, that L&J tell us that he is worried and sick. But he doesn’t really act that way.

  • Stacy

    But it’s because Rayford never really loved his wife. If he *really* loved her, he would have listened to her talk about Jesus and would have gone to church with her, etc, and would not even be there (much less fantasizing about flings with slutty flight attendants).

  • nitpicker

    But even if he didn’t love his wife, Rayford is still apathetic about the loss of his son, and even the fact that his daughter is still alive elicits no real relief, his reaction to hearing her message being something like “well, at least she’s still around.” I know I know, expecting anything else would also require expecting L&J to actually DESCRIBE something(The Horror, The Horror…)
    Still… it seems as though Rayford cared more about the importance of walking to the terminal than the fate of his family.
    Or his ex-copilot.
    How is it that, so far at least, the only people who seem to react in a vaguely human manner, all seem to be mere bit characters? How can the writers know how real people react and then make sure the main characters DON’T act in those ways? (This is a common symptom of bad Mary Sue driven fanfiction also, but at least fanfiction writers don’t generally get paid for this kind of drivel.) It truly boggles the mind trying to figure out what the publishers must have been taking to okay this.

  • Stacy

    The publishers are laughing at all of us, they’re the ones with all the $$$$. People talk about genius it was to sell them in standard bookstores and Amazon, but they do good business in Christian bookstores too, where you don’t generally get 10% for bestsellers.
    Anyway, the LB series isn’t about the characters, it’s about going to hell, and they seem to describe those parts well enough.

  • Scott

    “How is it that, so far at least, the only people who seem to react in a vaguely human manner, all seem to be mere bit characters?”
    Rayford is a nonChristian that L&H intend to convert, and therefore isn’t seen as a human being, but as a project – just like anyone unfortunate enough to get ambushed w/ a tract-wielding fundie.

  • Shocke

    This may be the most offensive thing I’ve read.
    At least, today.

  • Constantine

    Interesting that they try to set up Rayford Steele as the “moral character” by not having him take the bus, and yet the authors portray him as the most immoral of characters by almost laughing at Smith’s misfortune.
    Maybe what LeHaye and Jenkins are trying to say is that there are two types of unsaved– those with human emotions who are potentially dispondant, such as Smith, and the out-and-out assholes, bordering on the sociopathic, such as Williams and Steele. The latter category of unsaved is actually the “good kind” of unsaved.

  • Not Me

    Here again is the major theme of the book. “Bad people” break the rules and die horribly. “Good people” see this as poetic justice and enjoy a chuckle.
    Anyone who remembers the fundies–even some of the nicer ones–arguing that AIDS was God’s punishment for being gay won’t be surprised that this would be the major theme of a book targeted to precisely those same people.
    Fred, I do not envy you your calling to read these books in excruciating detail. I’m not sure I’d have the stomach for it. :-)

  • dmm

    Isn’t that ironic?!?
    If Smith had ten thousand spoons when all he wants is a knife, that would have been ironic.

  • Emma

    I’m SO glad you’re the one reading this tripe. My puke factor meter would have gone off scale by the second chapter, and I would have had to clean up the sofa. Oh, wait, that’s an unchristian…never mind.

  • Beth

    those with human emotions … and the out-and-out assholes, bordering on the sociopathic
    Exactly. The real difference between Smith’s use of special privileges” and Steele’s is that Smith was motivated by concern for the family he loved, while Steele was acting out of some vague, unemotional sense of obligation. Steele is never driven by anything as weak and human as love, compassion or even sympathy. The only real feeling he ever seemed capable of was lust, and he is soon freed even of that.
    More and more this is sounding like a sort of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” but with the body snatchers as the heroes.

  • Ray Grieselhuber

    Are you seriously analyzing the *Left Behind* Novels??

  • Robin Djee

    And I am so glad he is. I can’t even touch these books, with all the evil dripping from the pages, yet due to Fred’s mind boggling ability to withstand such spirit-twisting prose I am able to understand just what the books are inducting into their devotees.
    My only wish is that the pace could be faster, at the rate he’s going jesus might have already come before we get to hear about jesus’ coming… But I understand the slowness, lest his heart freeze and his brain melt from the horribleness of the book.

  • Thlayli

    My interest piqued by Fred’s work here, I checked one of the books (#2, Tribulation Force) out of the library. I’m about 200 or so pages into it, and there is one burning question, one incredible mystery that is keeping me awake at night….
    Why does Jenkins use “contingency” when he should be using “contingent”???
    Yes, Virginia, it really is that bad.

  • Nate

    Oy Vey!
    That is extremely poor wordsmithing, passing up a chance to explore a character like that.
    How many books, movies and television shows make hay out of totured men who have tragically lost their loved ones? (Mystic River springs immediately to mind.)
    Ah, but instead of stiff-upper-lipping it, going on a vindictive rampage or at least falling into a drunken tailspin of grief and loss that requires years of passive suicide, he offs himself just like that. Some evil, single-born sinner he turned out to be, that the loss of a wife and progeny would push him over the edge into instaneous self-destruction.
    Is there a circle of Hell for spineless unsaved girlymen?

  • Alison

    The helicopter pilot fills Steele in on all the amusing details: Smith arrived at the terminal and learned that “his boys had disappeared and his wife was killed in a wreck.” In grief, loneliness and anguished despair, Smith slashed his wrists and died.
    Isn’t that ironic?!?
    No, that’s just horrible.

  • TheRequisiteJew

    Maybe the reason that the compassionate ones are the truly unsavesd-sent-to-hell people are because they DO care. If those who are in heaven are glad that the ones in hell are suffering, therefore, the one’s left on earth that are good are the ones who are also glad and focus on their personal salvation, and the ones that are bad care more about helping them left than figuring out what’s happened and trying to seek salvation.
    And THAT is sick.
    Crazy fundies.

  • John Owens

    Another point of bad plotting: He slashed his wrists with what? Sure, as we now know, it wasn’t too hard to get a knife into an airport pre-9/11. But you still didn’t generally find them lying around in airports, just lying around waiting for some despondent co-pilot in desparate need of a quick end, and especially not the sharper kind (e.g., steak knife, at least) that could do better than a typical table knife, or even a plastic knife. So how did he get his hands on one?

  • Craig

    …you know, I’d really be interested in seeing a serious psychological evaluation of Lahaye and Jenkins. Their sociopathy ratings must be through the roof.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X