Imagine if you will, a scenario where director Kevin Smith releases his indie horror film, Red State, in March of 2011. Inspired by the infamous Westboro Baptist Church and the cultish followers of Fred Phelps, it causes quite a stir. One day as Smith walks the streets of Santa Monica, California after one of his popular podcasts an enraged Christian slits his throat and leaves a note behind, warning Lady Gaga that her advocacy of gay rights has endangered her life.
On the other side of the globe, a director by the name of Theodore Van Gogh releases a documentary titled Submission. Written by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it pulls no punches in its criticism of Islam. Although irate, the Muslim community in the Netherlands essentially shrugs its shoulders, issuing a few press statements and holding a few sparsely-attended boycotts. A Dutch-Moroccan Muslim by the name of Mohammed Bouyeri appears on The Hofstad Network, a Fox News of sorts, where he has a spirited debate with a Dutch version of Bill O’Reilly. No one dies.
If you experienced such a reality it would be time to worry, as it would be apparent that you crossed over into The Twilight Zone.
The reality is this: Theo Van Gogh was murdered by Mohammed Bouyer. An ominous note was left on the stabbed, bullet riddled, and bloody body for Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The Hofstad Network is composed of a group of individuals who would like to behead Hollywood’s inspiration for Social Network, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali requires security guards close at hand. In the United States, however, Christians respond to “art” like Andres Serrano’s Piss Christ with, essentially, a collective grumble.
And that is why Kevin Smith made Red State instead of, say, Islamic State.
Hollywood artists were great at patting themselves on the back for speaking “truth to power” when BushHitler (one word) was in the White House, but the dirty little secret is that their courage generally only rears its head when the power they’re confronting shows absolutely no interest in sending them off to gulags (i.e., North Korea), stoning them (e.g., Iran), or assassinating them in the vein of Theo Van Gogh. The reason why Kevin Smith is able—by his own admission—to make a movie that is “so fucking vicious and nasty and mean and stark…” is because he lives in the United States of America. The country’s Christian heritage paved the way for the kind of rights Kevin takes for granted. Those same rights he thinks are at risk because of inconsequential nincompoops like Fred Phelps and his followers—so much so that he used his own limited time and resources to make a horror movie about them.
The most puzzling aspect of Kevin Smith’s War on Ostracized Christian Outliers is that he comes from New Jersey. He was a hop, skip, and a jump on 9/11 (a Silent Bob jump, nonetheless) from Ground Zero to see the smoldering rubble, twisted metal, and shattered lives because of the machinations of Islamic terrorists. After comparing that national tragedy with the battle scars left behind by the Catholic outrage over his 1999 movie Dogma (note: there weren’t any), one wonders why he’d return to the Christian-bashing well. Fear and cowardice have already been mentioned. The other — desperation.
Kevin Smith needs a hit. Badly. Even his stronger offerings in recent years (Zack and Miri Make a Porno, Clerks II), while ultimately making the studio money, haven’t been breakout successes. Consider this: Zach and Miri was beaten out its first week by High School Musical 3: Senior Year.
The easiest way for a Hollywood liberal to immediately get fawning coverage is to douse their work in condescension towards the conservative worldview; it’s an accelerant for positive reviews by liberal leaning critics. However, what Hollywood types don’t get is that accelerants are often used to commit arson, and a movie like Red State will most likely leave a big black hole in Kevin’s career—what’s left of it—where conservative fans once stood.
While the knee jerk reaction might be to boycott the kind of tired, predictable, cliched Christian-bashing Kevin Smith offers with Red State, that kind of attention is exactly what he wants. Instead, I wish conservatives would familiarize themselves with the movie and flock to blogs in droves to ask why Kevin Smith keeps playing Silent Bob when it comes to radical Islam.
Do you even research your articles? He answered this question in 2005.
I’m not sure what your link shows about my ability to research. In fact, in strengthens the case I’ve been making about Kevin for awhile now. I didn’t need your link to know why Kevin’s social commentary is relegated to a group that doesn’t threaten him when he goes out of his way to bash them. But thanks for the link:
It’s nice to know that Kevin’s willingness to stand up for the freedom of speech (the Founding Father’s thought that one was a biggie) doesn’t extend to the groups that ACTUALLY threaten it. Nah. Kevin readily admits that if it’s going to be done, someone else could do the heavy lifting. No problem, Kevin. I might not have the millions you do to support my loved ones if the many things I’ve said on this blog or on Twitter tick off an Islamic head-chopper, but I’m perfectly fine calling them out on a regular basis.
Again, thanks for the link.
I have to say that you are mistaken if you think that Kevin didn’t get any flack from the Catholic League or anyone in this country (or elsewhere) over Dogma. He got a ton of attacks, including death threats over it.
Also, I think that rather than attack Smith for a movie that he DOESN’T make, maybe just focus on the movie he DID make. I understand what you’re saying, and I know that a lot of conservatives like to embrace the whole “Liberal Hollywood loves to attack Christians”, and there are definitely some examples of that, but Dogma was not an attack on Christianity or Catholicism. Smith himself is Catholic and it was always viewed, by those who saw it, (for the most part anyway) as simply someone questioning his own faith and pointing out what he viewed as hypocrisies in his faith.
You’re entitled to your opinions though, and that’s fine.
However, on that previous point, here’s some stuff below about the death threats for Dogma. It got so heated that Miramax who had always distributed Kevin’s previous films (save Mallrats), ended up passing the ball and selling the distribution rights to Lions Gate, after Kevin and the Weinstein brothers all got death threats.
NOTE: following is from WIkipedia, which quotes Kevin talking in his “Evening With Kevin Smith” DVDS
Over time, the filmmakers received over 300,000 pieces of hate mail, which Smith posted on his website. Among these were “two-and-three-quarters” death threats. Smith explained this in his movie An Evening with Kevin Smith: One of the letters was threatening to start with, then became more friendly further on. The Catholic League in particular attacked Disney and Miramax, the original distributors, for being anti-Catholic. The film was originally scheduled to come out in November 1998, but was pushed back to November 1999 in the hopes the controversy would die down. When that didn’t work, Disney sold the film’s distribution rights to Lions Gate Entertainment.
Thanks for the comment. I never said Kevin didn’t get flak for Dogma. I said “battle scars” (i.e., no one tried to slit his throat, blow him up, or go after his family with axe and a knife like an Islamic nut did to a Danish cartoonist). Islamic radicals kill each other over RUMORS of Koran desecration. When Catholics are angry at film makers they mill around outside a movie theater for an hour with crappy homemade signs before getting cold and going home for hot chocolate. Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back has a scene that makes fun of idiots that hide behind the anonymity of the internet, and I think that’s basically what happened with Dogma. Dumb Christians might say “I’ll kill you” in one form or another over the internet (before going back to their Playstation 3), but radical Muslims will actually DO it.
Kevin always hides behind the “I’m Catholic” line but…he needs to just admit that he’s no longer a practicing Catholic. I respect an open atheist like Christopher Hitchens much more than the Kevin Smiths of the world.
With that said, I will eventually watch Red State. And I’ll blog on it. Again, thanks for the post.
Well, I think your comment where you wrote the following:
After comparing that national tragedy with the battle scars left behind by the Catholic outrage over his 1999 movie Dogma (note: there weren’t any)
that could lead some (as it did me) to view that as you insinuating that “there weren’t any” was referring to “Catholic Outrage”. And I think that you are kind of being a bit unfair when you say that just because no one ACTUALLY came after him with a knife or something, that somehow it was all just some nuts with signs. We don’t know the details of all of those threats, and whether anyone mailed stuff to the Miramax studios or Disney or whatever, or even Kevin’s house. I know in a recent podcast he talked about getting a gift from one of the actors in Red State, and his wife didn’t know what it was and joked about “Are we going to have to call the FBI “AGAIN”? so that leads me to think that perhaps there were some serious threats and legitimate threats, but we may not hear about it.
And it seems almost like you’re dismissing any criticism that doesn’t end with Smith’s life literally in danger. As if because nobody killed him, that it was all just a walk in the park. From hearing him speak about it, it never came off like this was much ado about nothing, but that personal things were happening.
Regardless, there are crazy radicals of all faiths, at least hopefully you would acknowledge that. Just as there are radical Islamic terrorists out there, there are also a lot of people of my faith that have twisted things in the Bible to fit their own prejudices and bigotry. Scott Roeder killed an abortion doctor, because he felt that murder was a sin and that the doctor was “killing babies” and that he was justified in doing it to protect the innocent. There have been a lot of crazy radicals on all sides, but you seem to only care about one side.
Maybe I’m wrong on that, and if I am, I apologize.
On the subject of Red State, I saw it the other day and reviewed it on my blog. I liked it. I’m not a big horror fan, but this isn’t really a horror movie in the traditional sense. And people accuse this of attacking Christians, but it’s not really. It’s focused on a specific group of people who virtually everyone in the movie acknowledges is twisting the Bible to fit their own bigotry. It’s not an attack on Conservatives, and I could be wrong, but I don’t think the words “republicans” “Conservatives” “Tea Party” “Democrats” or any of those labels were even in the movie. It’s not as much about politics as it is about this group of nutcases that believe that they are doing God’s work by killing homosexuals, using the Bible as a justification. Just as people in other religions have used their books to justify violence, and yet other members of the same religions dismiss and reject those radicals, whether it’s Christians or Muslims or whatever.
And finally, I thought the scariest aspect of it, aside from the terrifying people that they were portraying, was the fact that it really hammers home how two people can read the same thing and get a totally different message from it. One can read the Bible and come away with “An Eye for An Eye” meaning that if someone takes a life, you take their life. And someone else can quote God saying “Do not repay evil for Evil” and that “Vengeance is mine.”.
I watched it thinking “man…I used to sing those songs in church as a kid…that church looks like churches I’ve been in” and for a second these people seem normal, and then…. not so much.
Anyway, it appears we no doubt disagree on many things, but at least it’s a civil discussion which is always nice. Too many people when it comes to faith and politics (no matter the affiliation) it doesn’t end politely, and people end up yelling and screaming and insulting. That never gets anyone anywhere.
Take care and have a great day!
BTW: here’s a link to my blog if you were interested in seeing the review I did of Red State. Only minor spoilers, nothing major.
I checked out your blog last night. Good job!
in regards to yelling and screaming, I don’t do much of that. If you ever work your way back here I promise you there won’t be any of that going on in your direction.
I guess my only real reaction to your post is that people always talk about the random Christian nut jobs out there when that’s exactly what they are: nuts. Whereas, you have huge populations of nut jobs (e.g. Pakistan) that are part of a global movement, or countries RULED by nut jobs (i.e., Iran) that act in the name of Islam, and yet the Kevin Smiths of the world feel the need create “Red State”. It’s just annoying.
I used to love Kevin Smith. I’m a comic nerd. When I was in high school I could count the kids on one hand who had seen Clerks (I’m aging myself, here). I met Jason Mewes in Los Angeles years ago and he was the nicest guy ever. I read Smith’s take on Daredevil and loved it. But then he became a douche, in my opinion. He got hyper-sensitive to anyone who criticized him. His hard core fans are, ironically, cultish. He said he had “grown” beyond Clerks (I’m paraphrasing) and then after Jersey Girl–oops–it’s time to do Clerks 2…which was pretty good.
Thanks again for the post.
I appreciate what you’ve written about this cowardly, angry, clunky little piece of flustered left-wing drivel of a film. As I was browsing the mostly medicore-to-poor reviews of the film, none mentioned the political or sociological content!
There was much talk of the structure, editing, acting, use of sound, but….
The film attacks extremist Christianity and cold blooded government anti terrorism, but in a terribly paranoid and unrealistic way. The film reveals a deep distrust and revulsion of anti-terrorism efforts, the kind of efforts that would need to be exerted if the film had been, as you mentioned, about an Islamic terrorist group or militia. Is Kevin Smith really that concerned with right wing firearm stockpiles? How many people have been killed by those in the past decade, compared with a handful of people of a certain persuasion with box cutters or little homemade bombs?
Also, no one has mentioned the absurd logistics of the action in the film, the way the law enforcement officers in the film can’t seem to hit any of the church members who stay in the same spots in their building, how a young woman runs out of the building which supposedly has a fence around it, and manages to run back in. How they use gas, AFTER they’ve broken down the plywood walls. Has the director ever seen any footage or photos of a building seige or standoff on the news? The use of snipers, tear gas?
I am not knowledgable at all in these sorts of tactical manouvers, but the film made the Beslan theater seige look impressive. Such an insult to American law enforcement.
Then, the entire conspiracy of how the ATF needs everyone in the building dead, and the subsequent cover up “Patriot Act bitch!”-in the second to last scene.
This is the unfortunate trade off: those who spend their lives blogging and wandering around LA restaurants with pockets of money are the ones that make the movies about things like religion, politics, red state/blue state, law enforcement, government policy, bureaucracy, and anti-terrorism, that millions of people watch and think represent reality.
Thanks for the comment! If there are any new movies you’d like me to check out, just let me know. Most of my blog posts on Red State centered around Smith and his own testimony regarding what the film would be, so as of now I haven’t really given it an accurate review. I look forward to doing so once I get a little time on my hand.
It sad how predictable these guys are…
Some people just don’t get satire. And not the kind that’s used as a plot cop-out either. Conservatives say “liberal bullshit of no true substance” whereas Liberals will put out one-minded perspectives and dust the other details under the rug. Either way it makes me sad that you guys can’t see any positives in the points made by this project or others like it, other than to brush it off as “garbage”. Maybe simply calling these views “garbage” is just a lazy way of saying you have no idea that the corrupt and fucked up things done in the name of religion have led the way to releases such as this. But you guys are NEVER wrong, right?
Do you know what I love? People who post anonymously who have no idea what they’re talking about. Like you. I guess you didn’t bother to see my actual review of the completed film:
As it turns out, you’re the lazy one. What a surprise.
Ran across your post while looking for more on Kevin Smith’s response when asked about a ‘Dogma’ sequel. Fascinating exchange considering everything that’s happened in the four years since then.
This part: “And that is why Kevin Smith made Red State instead of, say, Islamic State.” The IS/ISIS didn’t exist in 2012. Well, it was in the process of being formed but they weren’t on the media’s radar yet. It’s like you predicted it! And the now notorious Bill Maher-Ben Affleck-Sam Harris kerfuffle in Oct. 2014 that opened up a can of worms and exposed the division in the left hadn’t happened either. How crazy.
I’d be interested to know if Cary Anderson is such an apologist for Islamism after ISIS’ atrocities, Charlie Hebdo, Paris, San Bernardino attacks and the countless number of attacks since Jan. 2012, or if he finally woke up. If not, he’s just another regressive liberal (phrase coined by Maajid Nawaz if you’re up on the current conversation among liberals which I suspect you are).
Thanks for the foreshadowing!
Correction: Gary Anderson and his comments were in Sept 2011. (Not much difference, I realize, but I’m a stickler on accuracy.)