Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Seeds of awful writing

I love it when people shred awful writing, movies, etal. An excellent and most amusing example is Slactivist's on-going (and interminable) reading of Left Behind. Here's how his reading opens:
Pages 1-3.

The first words of Left Behind are "Rayford Steele," the protagonist's name.

It sounds like a porn star's name -- and in a sense it is. The Left Behind series is dispensational porno, but it's more than that. One of the most disturbing things about this book is the way LaHaye and Jenkins portray men, women and the relationships between them.

Note that Tim LaHaye's wife is something of a professional misogynist. She runs the 500,000-member "Concerned Women for America" -- jokingly referred to by its critics as "Ladies Against Women." For years, while Beverly LaHaye's husband pastored a church in San Diego, Mrs. L. spent most of her time 3,000 miles away, in Washington, D.C., running a large organization committed to, among other things, telling women they should stay at home and sacrifice their careers for their husbands. She is not an ironic woman and doesn't seem to find any of this inconsistent. (Nor, as I found out firsthand, does she appreciate jokes about the Freudian implications of the view from her L'Enfante Plaza office window. Sometimes the Washington Monument is just a cigar.)

Our porn star hero, Rayford Steele, interacts with women just like any porn star does -- minus, of course, the sex. It's all about dominance, exploitation, titillation and the stroking of -- in this case -- egos.

The character Rayford Steele is, like the authors, no longer a young man. Younger authors might not have been compelled to give their protagonists names -- "Steele" and "Buck" -- that seem such a blatant assertion of male virility. Bev is apparently not the only LaHaye who seems oblivious to phallic imagery.

If you're thinking I'm reading too much into all this, that this theme isn't really as present in the text as I'm making it out to be, consider the opening lines:

Rayford Steele's mind was on a woman he had never touched. With his fully loaded 747 on autopilot ...

That's more than just subtext.

I'm anxiously awaiting Fred's review of the movie, but at his present pace it may be a few decades.

In this vein, I've found Dave Rattigan's series on a book called The Seeds of Destruction, yet another book in the burgeoning Christian culture-war industry. Here's his thesis:

At the heart of it, if I can put it crudely, is this: Someone is pissed as hell that after years of the media and society being the guardians and evangelists of their political, religious and moral agenda, someone else is being given a crack of the whip. The issue isn't control or brainwashing or agendas. In so far as those terms offer fair and accurate descriptions, they've always been with us. The issue is that certain conservative Christians like Preskar had it good for so long, they're damn well pissed that they're not the ones doing the brainwashing any more.
Sounds about right. What about awful writing and naive regurgitation of suburban ideology? Oh, it's in there:
Our little white house with its large back yard, Mom baking apple pies, Dad coming home from work, a dog and cat, riding horses, playing Cowboys and Indians and dolls are many of my recollections of childhood.
I always find it interesting when the message of the Gospels is conflated with suburban idyll. At any rate, I'm sure the rest of Dave's series will be equally good.