Tomorrow, on the dreaded June 6, 2006, two movies will be released that present diametrically opposed - yet eerily similar - religious viewpoints. The paradox is all the more interesting, falling on a date that provokes such a wide range of reactions from people: Total apathy to stark, raving fear.
The big-budget release is a 100% fictional horror movie that paints organized Satanists as the enemy of mankind, even (potentially) its ultimate destroyer. It's a remake, and though the original film was part of a series that fleshed out the aims of the Satanists, I have a feeling this movie will be a stand-alone work. Meaning a new generation of filmgoers will see nothing but the scare-mongering, creepier-than-hell first installment of the story. The one that reinforces just about every rumor and lie ever told about Satanism.
The second film is a spin-off of a speculative documentary, hence supposedly more grounded in fact than the horror remake. The documentary and the movie seek to demonstrate that there is no evidence Christ ever walked the earth, that his life story is just an amalgamation of previous legends about heroes that were murdered and magically resurrected (Osiris, Orpheus, etc.). The documentary was self-indulgent and derivitive. The movie might be better. But I was dismayed to learn that it follows the same religion-as-conspiracy pattern popularized by The Da Vinci Code. In fact, it sounds like a knockoff of TDVC: A woman searching for her missing father discovers that he had stumbled onto a Christian cover-up of Christ's non-existence. Meaning the film essentially props up the idea that high-level Christians have formed some kind of sinister, subterranean cabal to despatch anyone who discovers that their religion is built on sand. Sounds a bit like those rumors and lies about Satanists and occultists, doesn't it?
The point is, religious intolerance is religious intolerance. Whether you're trashing a mosque because you're fed up with a handful of Muslim terrorists, making an inane horror film that lampoons religious Satanism, or artily implying that Catholics still like to whack anyone who questions their worldview...you're being a jerk. It's one thing to seriously, cautiously question religious tenets that you don't really understand, and quite another to hype your summer movie with scary billboards and 666 stamps. We can say that The Da Vinci Code and The Omen and the above-mentioned films of Brian Flemming open up dialogue and minds, but at base we all know this is about mocking and degrading the other guy for entertainment.
You want respect? Give respect.