Culture-war diaries

I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man.”

“That’s why I support marriage for lesbian and gay couples. I support it personally and as a matter of policy and law, embedded in a broader effort to advance equality and opportunity for LGBT Americans and for all Americans.”

“It appears to be just like Promise Keepers, except with beer drinkers and free rulers for measuring things.”

“Jesus called men to preach the gospel, not be stubborn jackasses.”

“The entire plan can be summed up in the words ‘vote Republican.’

“All the resurrection movies use the Bible as source material, but ours will rely more on special effects. … We’ll even show heaven and hell and see what’s going on there.”

“It’s baffling that a government entity thought it was acceptable to take sides on religion and tell people what theological information they can and can’t access.”

No one can have a right to deprive others of their important liberty as a prophylactic means of protecting his own.”

“Barton was familiar enough with the text that he must have read it …” and then deliberately, consciously lied about it. … Barton rakes in millions, has the moral compass of a cockroach, and wants us to believe he has God’™s direct email address.”

This is a government institution, not a secular institution.”

And there are armed gangs roaming around neighborhoods.”

“It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party.”

“There is a lot of rhetoric in the conservative movement about reaching out the mestizo demographic, or reaching out to the homosexuals and blacks. Our question: why not reach out to whites?

“There’s just too much denial, bad faith and comedy there under high pressure for the center to hold. And you can’t tempt the gods of farce on such an epic scale and not have a blow up.”

“He has previously played parts in several Biblical epics – including Satanic characters long before Barack Obama was elected as our president.”

“All of this is to say don’t be ridiculous, of course Mark Burnett and Roma Downey aren’t trying to say Barack Obama is the Devil, they are just saying all black people are the Devil!

“You opened your heart wide to me — you made me more than a Pastor/Rescuer — you made me your friend your confidant, your beloved.”

“Went to BJU from ’85-’89. Never heard one word about abuse. Only psychos feel ‘abused.'”


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  • I kind of worry that I need an AK-47 to protect myself from people like Lindsey Graham who have AR-15s & think that because there is a hurricane they can go all Mad Max on their fellow citizens.

  • misanthropy_jones

    our kind friends at bju, particularly ‘dr’ monte, have renewed my feelings of unregenerate disdain for humanity in general…

  • connorboone

    One of the reasons I’m really done with zombie apocalypse fiction: it gives cover to the racism and paranoia of the ‘survivalist’ genre. Zombies standing in for ‘those ghetto folks who are going to loot and rape us unless we have bigger guns!’ has really lost its appeal for me. (This is a follow-on from this story, which I found via that Lindsey Graham article:

    Oddly enough, and one of the reasons that I still like the original Night of the Living Dead: Romero pretty much explicitly called that out. And that was 45 years ago.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Agreed. I am so over zombies and not just because that monster has lost all its terror for me, but also for the reasons you describe. Zombies were scary to me because they are us — what we can and do become if we stop thinking for ourselves, but now they’re just the Other and exist only to be mowed down indiscriminately.

    Similarly, I am sick of vampires — again because they no longer hold any terror, but also because being/becoming a vampire seems to be a good thing now, or at least, not unambiguously bad. A little bite, a little blood, and voila! You get super-sexy superpowers with the blood-drinking being more of an slightly gross and inconvenient quirk than, say, the creature’s highly symbolic raison d’etre.

  • Lori

    We really need to stop saying that Roe v Wade isn’t going anywhere and that decades of voting Republican hasn’t accomplished anything for advocates of illegal abortion*. Roe v Wade doesn’t have to be over-turned by SCOTUS to be effectively gone. All that’s required is for Republicans at the state level to chip away and chip away and chip away until it becomes impossible for women to exercise the rights laid out in Roe. That;’s happening and being blase about it because Roe isn’t going anywhere is not helping.

    *Yes, I said is that way on purpose. We are not now and never have been debating whether or not abortions are going to happen. We’re only debating whether they will be legal and safe or illegal and deadly. Full stop. People who want abortion to be illegal are advocating for illegal abortion, whether they want to admit it or not.

  • I’ve never been that enamored of the whole zombie apocalypse genre, especially as it seems to cater to urban-catastrophe fantasies which too many people seem to treat as being real.

  • “There is a lot of rhetoric in the conservative movement about reaching
    out the mestizo demographic, or reaching out to the homosexuals and
    blacks. Our question: why not reach out to whites?”

    What on Earth do Republicans think they’ve been doing?

    “All the resurrection movies use the Bible as source material, but ours will rely more on special effects. … We’ll even show heaven and hell and see what’s going on there.”

    Countdown to accusations of blasphemy in 5…4…3…2…1

  • LL

    Clicking on those abuse links and reading about the crimes of various “Christians” is like walking through sewage. Seriously sickening. I’m kinda bummed out now.

    Obviously, it’s necessary to be aware of all this, but still. I guess I should count myself fortunate that my mother didn’t get Jesusy until I was a teenager, so I was spared at least the potential of being targeted by some Christian predator. Not that I have any suspicion whatsoever that my mother’s church has ever harbored or protected one, but sadly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they have. A lot of what some of those assholes in the stories claim to believe and use to shield/justify their crimes sounds familiar to me from books I’ve seen sitting around my mother’s house. The “breaking children” B.S. and the “man is the head of the household” shit.

    Most of the focus regarding this issue has been on the Catholic Church lately, but the stories referenced above are a reminder that there is disgusting, sex-offender-protecting shit going on in every denomination. And with the full cooperation of the women who are supposed to be protecting their children, not joining in the abuse by blaming the victims. Just appalling. I have even less respect for these people now than I did before, and I thought I couldn’t have less.

  • There’s something interesting and curious about the fact that America’s current “popular” entertainment subjects are zombies, vampires, and pirates. A sociologist should be able to go to town on that. Coming soon: the Waffen-SS were great guys!

  • Baby_Raptor

    I think they mean something other than reaching out to rich white heterosexual men. Or tossing the old people they’re secretly screwing bones via Faux Noise.

  • Kirala

    This is actually my biggest beef with the later Pirates of the Caribbean movies: the elevation of piracy to a noble cause. Look, I’m a sucker for the romantic illusion of the outlaw freedom fighter with inner nobility. I can picture a noble pirate. But saying that piracy is a cause to fight for is ludicrous. I’m pretty sure that Robin Hood himself wouldn’t uphold highway robbery as a noble profession and symbol of freedom.
    I’m ambivalent about stories which decide to use zombies or vampires or other monsters as morality tales about othering. On one hand, othering and ostracizing are some of the worst problems in our society, and it’s worth it to do a lot to drive the point home. On the other hand, it’s nice to have some mythical monsters to represent the truly monstrous lines which can cost one’s humanity.

  • Magic_Cracker

    On one hand, othering and ostracizing are some of the worst problems in our society, and it’s worth it to do a lot to drive the point home.

    Horror at its worst,

    On the other hand, it’s nice to have some mythical monsters to represent the truly monstrous lines which can cost one’s humanity.

    Horror at its best.

  • Slash

    You know, I saw that movie “Warm Bodies.” It’s actually kind of sweet. Believe it or not. Check it out if you get a chance. It’s a different take on the zombie thing.

  • connorboone

    Hmm. Looks like a horrible thing, in which you can tell which brain-eating monstrosity is supposed to be ‘good’ because he’s still pretty, as opposed to the savage hordes that are ugly (and, again, stand in for the savage brown hordes that are going to destroy White America!)

    That’s based on a quick trip to Google for plot synopses and images, though. My snap judgement is admittedly uninformed by actually seeing the film.

  • Those are the people who have no concept of society beyond their own front doors. While the rest of us are doing the hard work of trying to rebuild after such catastrophes, they will be shooting FEMA reps who come by.

  • Well, yes. They’ll know that FEMA is off to drag them to a death camp. Didn’t you get the memo?

  • Worthless Beast

    The only place I know Roma Downey from is “Touched by an Angel” where she had co-stars of color and variety and I seem to remember there having been some “very special episodes” of that show combating racism. So, is she at fault for unfortunate overtones in something else she’s in? Who knows…
    All I know is that I’ve found The History Channel to be a bit dubious in its history sometimes. I’ve not watched any of “The Bible,” but judging by some of their other specials… I watched most of “Mankind: The Story of Us” in reruns and that thing was very… um… Eurocentric. I know they had to condense all of human history into two-hour segments and so many episodes, but I found myself kind of wishing they didn’t treat the peoples of the Americas as though they didn’t exist until the Europeans found them. They went a little bit into Aztec culture as I recall, but not much else in regards to Native American history (then again, that might be justified as a lot of that history was wiped out, but they could have at least tried… I know there is more known history about more known peoples than what was shown). I also kept shouting at the screen in regards to things like the Spanish discovering new lodes of silver “What about the slaves?!” because we know that stuff wasn’t all mined out by the privilaged. The African slave trade was touched upon and portrayed as tragic, but I found it really, almost… glossed over in regards to the special as a whole.
    I understand that “Mankind” was trying to be optomistic on the whole, showing human accomplisment and discovery over our darkness, but I’m of the opinion that the darkness is important and shouldn’t be glossed over.
    I don’t know, I just don’t entirely trust the History Channel anymore to give a whole and varied view of history. Then again, my grade school textbooks didn’t either… with the exception that growing up in Arizona, I did learn a little something in school about the cultures around me in supplimental curricula that was taught locally that I never see on televison specials.

  • snowmentality

    I took one look at that “Act Like Men” conference logo and immediately thought “Fight Club.”

  • I actually thought vampires could be brought back into horror in a modern way. They have usually been used as some kind of metaphor for something horrible, often sexual, that could happen to anyone.

    In the Victorian era, they represented temptation of lust, sin and damnation and all that. In the late twentieth century, they represented venereal diseases, a kind of virus that spreads from infectee to infectee. Now that sex is less of a scary thing (or at least something less scary than society would want to promote) vampires in turn have become less scary, more “cool” in that regard. Troubled, woobie, memetic sex gods.

    (Trigger Warning) – I think that vampires could be brought back to a horror by using them as a metaphor for rape. They charm their victims into defenselessness with their personality, and when the truth is revealed, they hypnotize their victims to pacify them, making them compliant without making them unaware, helpless to move their bodies. Then the vampire violates, takes what they want of the other person’s body, revitalizing themselves by the expression of their power as much as the bloody substance they take.

    I can see the horror in that, and would look forward to putting such a monster down. Unfortunately, someone, somewhere, would probably find that a turn on for some bizarre reason.

  • Carstonio

    I suspect that the choice of Ouazanni wasn’t made by the producers at all, but by higher-ups at The History Channel. They’ve been catering to fundamentalists and reactionaries for many years, highlighting war and Armageddon and Biblical history, and they know their audience. The producers might be telling the truth that they never noticed the actor’s resemblance. My theory is that Ouazanni was suggested to them by the execs who knew the effect he would have, and the producers didn’t think to question it.

  • Hexep

    Finally, someone else sees the fascist undertones in World War Z. No, I’m serious. Granted, I only listened to the audio-books on a train, but I couldn’t help but notice how, well… the whole ‘this catstrophe has purified the world, and gotten rid of all those useless big-city people, and now it’s just us honest country folk who can shoot guns, yee-haw!’

  • Carstonio

    Downey cast as an angel seemed ironic to me because her eyebrows looked demonic, the same as Kirstie Alley and Finola Hughes. Of course, the reigning champion of evil eyebrows is Jack Nicholson.

  • Hexep

    I know this is like asking Mrs. Lincoln about the play, but did Ouazanni do a good job with the material?

  • The_L1985

    Tell me more…

  • Carstonio

    I couldn’t tell you, because I haven’t seen the series itself.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Yes, vampires as a metaphor for sexual exploitation would work very well, particularly if they are day-walkers (like Dracula) who otherwise blend into society. Furthermore, the way sexual predators grooms their victims and the way victims of sex abuse sometimes become predators have ready analogs in vampire literature and lore.

  • connorboone

    Replying to myself – I’m finding it interesting that everyone’s jumping on the zombie part of my post and ignoring the all-white militia that murdered several African-Americans during the Katrina crisis, none of whom was ever prosecuted and some of whom are publicly bragging about their lynchings.

  • Yeah, North Dakota is doing an excellent job of showing how you can de facto ban abortion without touching Roe vs Wade. The senate has just passed the heartbeat bill and now it’s just waiting for a signature, which it’ll almost certainly receive. This effectively bans abortion at six weeks, which is a narrow margin for any woman to realize that she’s pregnant and to successfully have the procedure done.

    And they’re not happy with it, either. They’ve already got two personhood bills making their way through the senate as well.

  • Magic_Cracker

    Your link did not work for me, so I didn’t read the article, tho’ I am curious why you find it ‘interesting,’ assuming your like had worked, that people weren’t commenting on it?

  • P J Evans

    They had to have used about a ton of makeup on him, then.

  • P J Evans

    The word I’m getting is that it’s really bad, even for the so-called History channel.

  • It’s terrible. There is no examination of the stories and the basis in possible events, they are just portrayed as if it happened exactly that way.

    The racial composition if the cast MAKES NO SENSE. There are white people running all over the place, when Moses is a young man he’s brown, but after he goes into the desert and returns to his people, he’s white.

    The other night was Samson, played by a black guy (Xaro Xohan Daxos if anyone’s curious) and the way the framed it, seemed like they were appropriating the miscegenation issues from the US, where Samson is marrying a Philistine(played by a white woman, all the Philistines are white, actually, though the Israelis were all white until THIS story), and there’s all kinds of dialogue about how he shouldn’t be allowed to marry “our kind”. Terrible.

  • The Vikings isn’t too bad, but they are throwing all this mysticism into the story, and it trying REALLY hard to be Game of Thrones(not surprising, it’s made by Michael Hirst who did that really bad GOT-esque Camelot on Starz).

  • Carstonio

    The racial composition didn’t make sense in DeMille’s “The Ten Commandments” either, except that the studio was obviously using stars for their marquee value. But the episode you describe sounds more like something Bob Jones University would film on a limited budget.

    As an analogy, I recently spotted a copy of “Wizards, Hobbits and Harry Potter” and suspected right away that it was produced by fundamentalists. It strongly resembled a self-published book, and no disrespect intended to self-published writers.

  • Darkrose

    I’m bored with “vampire as pouty angsty white boy”, but I think the vampire trope has interesting possibilities without doing a complete 180 back to “vampire as monster”.

    My wife and I have been playing around with a vampire series for…wow, 10 years now. Mostly it’s an excuse to have fun with western history, but the main thread is about what it means to be immortal, and how that would change the way you look at everything.

    Our main protagonist is nearly 2,000 years old, born in Roman Syria in (roughly) 70 AD. After sleeping through most of the 18th and 19th centuries, he awakens in 1885 to discover that the world has changed far more than it did when he slept between 1200-1320. When he learns that most of the world has abolished slavery, he’s shocked, not because it’s a bad thing, but because it never would have occurred to a man who grew up during the height of Imperial Rome that it was possible to have a society without slaves. He’s capable of change, but without the external pressure of time, there’s not really any need to do so.

  • JustoneK

    Christianity is not a religion and government is not a secular institution.

    Words mean nothing anymore.

  • They also have the “excuse” of not being as enlightened as we are now(we hope).

  • Carstonio

    Do you mean DeMille and the screenwriters?

  • Yes.

  • Steele

    I find something suspicious about the whole ‘this guy looks like Obama’ thing. The only resemblance I see between the two is that they’re both black, and kind of thin. It seems a bit fishy to me that ‘Black Guy = OH MY GOD OBAMA’

  • OriginalExtraCrispy

    What amazes me is how much Mohamen Mehdi Ouazanni looks like Satan. :-)

    Actually, I do see some resemblance in the eyes and mouth, but I think that’s because they put those two photos next to each other. If I just saw Ouazanni on his own, I don’t know that I would’ve made that connection.

  • VMink

    Despite the problematic nature of Peter Watt’s online interactions, his book Blindsight had an interesting (if also problematic, as I realize now) take on vampires as standing on the extreme end of the APD spectrum. Some quirk of their genes and neurobiology makes them go into epileptic fits at the sight of right-angles, which is why human civilization more or less wiped them out until their DNA was recovered and they were re-created. (Why were they recreated? I’m not sure; the entire society, such as it is, is a little strange from a neurotypical POV but the gist is that they make excellent charismatic leaders micromanagers because other people are more or less just cogs in machines to them. Like I said: ‘problematic.’ They also have some sort of medication that lets them exist, if slightly uncomfortably, in an environment with lots of right-angles. On the other hand, the book has interesting things to say about the evolutionary utility of consciousness. Still, problematic. Also still, Peter Watts.)

    The entire book is a rather odd and disturbing take on neurotypicality and consciousness. This is definitely not The Speed of Dark, which I also want to read at some point. But it is a different take on vampires, making them ‘very different’ and kind of ‘disturbing’ without going all-out and reducing them to ‘monsters.’

  • One demerit for assuming your audience are all familiar with the “APD spectrum” and not even stating what it stands for.

  • connorboone

    I’ve edited the link – should work now. But part of my post was ‘zombies as post-apocalyptic cultural narrative allows for a convenient expy of ‘savage’ hordes, which tend to be non-white in other post-apocalyptic fiction and other forms of fiction which involve the breakdown of civil society.’ Those zombies allow for an unexamined racist/othering narrative, because zombies are acceptable targets and the form of the narrative tends to extol the virtues of the good (white, Christian) farmer/military man/believer in the frontier myth.

    The other part? Was a bunch of white folks in a white suburb of New Orleans (during Katrina) who bought into that particular narrative, and shot and killed perhaps as many as ten black folks, and were never prosecuted. Those deaths were never investigated, and it was as chilling an example of violent white supremacy as I’ve ever read. I figured it might get at least one comment.

  • VMink

    I’ve been trying to find more information about this. The last news report I read was dated July 2012 saying that Roland Bourgeois was to stand trial in August. Since then, nothing….

  • Darkrose

    The only thing I know about Peter Watts is the whole Customs incident, as well as a quote from James Nicoll that “Whenever I find my will to live becoming too strong, I read Peter Watts.” The book sounds really interesting, though.

  • Lori

    There is a slight resemblance between the two men, but mostly it’s “all those people look alike”. SEK over at Lawyers, Guns & Money did an interesting, and quite detailed, analysis of it. He’s a professor of visual rhetoric so this is his thing.

  • That makes me ponder combining the concepts of predator by necessity and time travel by immortality. Imagine a story that starts out a long, long time ago. We’ll need all the time we can get, so dial it back to the early CE or even BCE eras. A man becomes a vampire. It doesn’t matter how, although my mental demons are suggesting that we’re talking about Cain now. What matters is that his curse gives him immortality and requires that he consume blood to sustain his life.

    Simple enough so far, but let’s keep playing with this. What form does immortality take? Well, he doesn’t age and his body is resistant to harm, that much is a given. Vampires can be killed, though, and it’s suggested that starving themselves is a bad idea too. So what happens when our protagonist “dies”? Simple: He doesn’t. No matter how grievous the injury, his body will eventually regenerate. Even if he were to be dismembered and incinerated, the ashes would gradually reassemble themselves. All you would accomplish is making the process take longer.

    But therein lay the rub: this takes time. A lot of time. Decades in the best case scenario, potentially centuries if his persecutors made an effort of it and separated body parts by great spans. All that time gets lost, but eventually he does regenerate and rise again.

    Imagine writing a story that began in the age of the Sumerians and carried on over thousands of years, winding up in the realm of science fiction. The abrupt transition and the struggle to remain in any one time becomes the conflict, the only external antagonist such a being would have. What happens at the end? If the Earth is destroyed, where does the vampire awaken? If the universe collapses into a Big Crunch, what becomes of him? (If this was Cain, then would be a great point to have him finally have the opportunity to confront God…)

    Darn it, now I want to write this.

  • Damn it, Disqus.

  • Darkrose

    Oooh, that sounds fascinating. You should totally write it.

    Our vampires have a psychological need to sleep for several decades, going into a kind of torpor that allows their brains to process, just like human sleep does. The problem is that the pace of change is accelerating. The first time my protagonist slept, the Western Roman Empire collapsed. When he woke, things had changed, but not really all that much. On the other hand, the world was radically different when he woke in 1881 than it had been when he went to sleep in 1747. In the present, one of his fears is that he won’t be able to sleep again, because he simply won’t be able to keep up.