Hollywood Hell House

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Lyle, Sep 3, 2004.

  1. Lyle macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #1
    Ran across this opinion piece from Catherine Seipp at the WSJ, where she describes a parody of the "Hell House Outreach" productions that are staged at many U.S. churches around Halloween each year. The parody, titled "Hollywood Hell House", sounds predictably juvenile and stars Bill Maher and Andy Richter, a few members of Kerry's "heart and soul of America".

    What impressed me was the level of class shown by the original production's creator (one Keenan Roberts) who attended the premiere of the parody in Los Angeles:
    The author of the editorial closes with this observation:
     
  2. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #2
    Oddly enough, I just finished reading the LA Times theater review of this show. Here it is:

    Fun ride on a sin-filled road

    'Hollywood Hell House' offers devastating commentary by spoofing religious fundamentalism. Anyone for Pin the Sin on Jesus?

    By David C. Nichols , Special to The Times

    Sep 3 2004

    In 1992, Assembly of God minister Keenan Roberts reclaimed Jerry Falwell's concept of replacing secular Halloween motifs with graphic realizations of sinful behavior. Roberts' outreach has spawned about 3,000 houses nationwide, inspiring "Hell House," George Ratliff's 2001 documentary. That film spurred co-directors Maggie Rowe and Jill Soloway to create the conversion subversion of "Hollywood Hell House."

    Audiences enter the Steve Allen Theater from upstairs, descending through the transformed space to the outer courtyard. During this scant, vivid trek, sin's wages erupt with Grand Guignol gore, from the notorious abortion scene to the outrageous take on AIDS patients. All congeals in Hades, where grisly punishments preface a salon with Satan, followed by an invitation from Christ. It ends to Christian rock in the rec room, with a Pin the Sin on Jesus game, "Praise the Vote" registration forms and a beatific minister's wife.

    By replicating the Abundant Life Christian Center playbook with ruthless fidelity, this industry-packed interactive théâtre vérité affords fundamentalism its own devastating self-comment. Under Amit Itelman's haunted house direction, the technical team goes for broke, from production designer Jerry Buszek's drapes and dioramas to lighting designer Steve Pope's black lights.

    At the reviewed performance, Bob Dassie's demon guide and Eric Waddell's church doyenne framed the ensemble's total commitment. "Six Feet Under's" Justina Machado made a shrieking human sacrifice, while Matt Price's metal head and co-producer Becky Thyre's date-rape victim met eternity with deadpan conviction.

    Bill Maher's Satan, a casting coup, ad-libbed with devilish wit as the crowd blocked this guest slot's cue cards. When Andy Richter's cuddly Jesus assumes Lucifer duties during the run, Maher should assay Christ, in memory of the Fairness Doctrine.

    Penn and Teller, Richard Belzer, Traci Lords and Sarah Silverman (as abortion recipient Chrissy) are future names in a starry rotating roster. This aspect coupled with the political implications creates a hot-button cultural touchstone for the polarized present.​

    http://www.calendarlive.com/printedition/calendar/cl-et-nichols3sep03,2,6610321.story
     
  3. Taft macrumors 65816

    Taft

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    #3
    To answer the last quoted paragraph in your post, I'd like to ask you a question. Which fundamentalist religious group has a more direct effect on Americans lives: Islamic fundamentalists, or Christian fundamentalists?

    I think the answer is pretty obviously the Christian fundamentalists. And this speaks volumes about why peoplpe in this country would choose to parody Christian organizations rather than Islamic organizations.

    I find the author's assumption of misplaced liberal politically correctness/undue sympathy towards Islamic groups to be quite a low blow. No person I know of on the left actually thinks that all Islamic people are good and all Christian people are bad. Almost all I know are accutely aware of the extremists in both groups and the ramifications of their radical beliefs.

    Many on the right seemed irked by the left's insistance that Muslims be treated well with respect to civil rights. "Treat them with suspicion," seems to be the common underlying mentality. From a statistical viewpoint, this mentality has no backing and can only lead to human rights abuses. This column seems an extension of this mentality meant to lash out at those parodying the "good" Christians instead of parodying the "enemy" Muslims. That very thought--that Muslims are our enemy OR that they are more deserving of parody than Christians--is reason enough to dismiss this tripe out of hand.

    Taft
     
  4. yellow Moderator emeritus

    yellow

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    #4
    God? What's a god? Ch-ch-uuuuuu-rch? What is that? :confused:
     
  5. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    Taft, you put your finger on it. The objections to this show appear to be yet another example of the kind of political correctness the right wing thinks only exists on the left. I guess anything can be parodied, satirized or generally poked fun at, except for their icons. Then it becomes hateful.
     
  6. Lyle thread starter macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #6
    Oh, sure, I agree with that.

    But it's not just any people in this country doing the parody, it's some pretty well-known celebrities. And while I find it offensive, the fact that they're doing it doesn't surprise me or anything. What mystifies me is that while a large majority of U.S. citizens consider themselves to be "religious" (if not specifically Christian), Kerry considers the Hollywood left to represent the "heart and soul of America".

    I agree that the author's attempt to draw a contrast between attitudes towards Christians and Muslims was out of place. As far as I'm concerned, the story stands on its own without trying to bring that element into it. And I would agree that most people understand that Islamic extremists don't represent that religion as a whole.

    But having said all that, let me ask you a few questions:

    1. If news of this parody were to receive significant press coverage (which I suppose it may still), what kind of response would you expect from Christians in general?
    2. If it were instead parodying radical Islam (per the author's hypothetical) and it received significant press coverage, what kind of response would you expect from Muslims in general?
     
  7. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #7
    Can someone point me to Kerry's quote calling Hollywood specifically the "heart and soul of America"? I keep seeing this quote tossed around but haven't seen an attribution associated with it.

    Thanks :)
     
  8. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #8
    I'd be more impressed with your argument if you'd respond directly to the political correctness issue.
     
  9. mactastic macrumors 68040

    mactastic

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    #9
    Why does Jerry Seinfeld get away with cracking wise about Jews? How come Chris Rock can say what he says about African-Americans?

    So how come Americans (who are predominantly Christian) can't parody their own heritage? I would think it would be far more offensive if Christians were parodying Muslims. It would be the equivalent of whites parodying blacks while wearing blackface.
     
  10. IJ Reilly macrumors P6

    IJ Reilly

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    #10
    Apparently he did, at a fundraiser in July. Almost nobody in the legitimate press thought it was of any interest but the right wing media outlets pounced on the remark, forcing Kerry to explain why he supported the arts...

    Just another distraction.
     
  11. Rower_CPU Moderator emeritus

    Rower_CPU

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    #11
    That's what I figured, but I was curious to see the full quote instead of the out of context soundbite. Searches thus far have only lead to op/ed reactions and not an actual transcript.
     
  12. Lyle thread starter macrumors 68000

    Lyle

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    #12
    Who are the Christians parodying their own heritage in this scenario? I've watched "Politically Incorrect" more than a few times and I never got a strong sense that Bill Maher was a Christian. I don't know that he's not, I just wasn't sure if you had some inside scoop on that.

    Yes, either of those would also be offensive to me as well. Of course, that's not what I asked.
     

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