Observations with Richard Bleil
My annual Halloween Movie Marathon is in full swing. For quite some time now, I’ve been watching my collection of “horror” movies on DVD, and Lord, they’re just not good. Well, there are some good ones, but many are from those box sets of dozens of movies for three bucks. I kind of enjoy them because they’re so bad that they’re good. Most of these movies are low-budget rip-offs of bigger movies, poorly written, poorly acted and poorly directed. I also noticed a great number of them are from across the pond, which, sometimes are truly great horror movies, but often are just really not very good.
One of my more recent movies was clearly written by Christians. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but it became clear very early on in the movie that the “horror” aspect of the film was simply a premise to promote Christianity and the power of “being saved”. The movie was about an asteroid that strikes the earth, giving off some kind of dust that is making people simply disappear. A larger asteroid is on a collision course, large enough to destroy all life on earth. But the people who disappear literally just disappear. “My nephew was in the back seat and now he’s just gone!” It doesn’t take long before you realize that the people who are disappearing are innocent and pious, and simply being raptured.
All horror leaves the movie at that time. For me, once I realized it was a ninety-minute sermon, I wasn’t frightened anymore, and I don’t understand how Christians could find it frightening either. After all, being raptured is a good thing, right? In the final scene, the father who turned away from the church when he lost his son some years ago makes peace with God and is, you guessed it, taken up.
But the thing that really struck me about this movie is that it just seemed somehow wrong. There was something not quite right from the very beginning. Eventually, I did figure it out. All of the men were clueless, and the people taking control of the situation were women. But that’s good, isn’t it? This led me to an even larger realization.
I had been brainwashed. I’m so used to movies where men take control and are the leaders and women, sometimes courageous, but always in a submissive role that when the situation is reversed, it just didn’t feel right. This is a form of societal misogyny, so ingrained, and so common that frankly, I just never noticed it. I’m kind of embarrassed, but now, as I continue watching these “horror” flicks, I find myself paying more attention to the roles of men and women. I’m watching now where the women who are strong and taking lead are evil, and the ones being set up to finally defeat them are men.
My friend pointed out that sitcoms are the exact opposite. I don’t want to mention names, but if you think of your favorite family-based sitcom, chances are good that you’ve chosen one where the mom is always the level-headed solver of the weekly problem to be solved in thirty minutes, while the husband is the buffoon. But here’s an interesting perspective; it’s the same as the movies. Yes, the mom takes control, leads them through the weekly crisis, and has the intelligence to see the root of the problem, but it’s the man who gets all of the laughs. The mom is basically the “straight man” to the antics of the father.
Superhero movies are no better. The women are sometimes the intellectual and emotional leaders, but lord, they have to do something. It’s usually the female superheroes who have no actual powers and are usually dressed way too scantily for battle.
I try to keep my eye open for opportunities to grow. I know I’m not perfect and accepting this and looking to see how I can improve is the only way for me to get better. After this very odd horror-based sermon, I don’t know that I’ll be able to look at movies the same way again. Yes, I’m sure I’ll still enjoy movies; I’m too much of a buff to turn away from them, but even in these cheesy, horrible “horror” films, there is much to learn. At the drive-in this week, we’re showing the newest Superhero release. Sometimes I have the chance to watch, but sometimes I really don’t. I hope I can. It will be interesting to see how it is written and produced.