God’s Not Dead? Maybe He’s Just Not Feeling Well

Is God dead? The very existence of this movie proves that God, while not yet dead, is at least coming down with a really bad case of the flu.

God’s Not Dead gives top billing to a cameo appearance by Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson (the one with the business degree), who appears as himself with his wife Korie, playing herself.  Hold onto your willing suspension of disbelief: Kevin “Hercules” Sorbo stars as a Shakespeare-quoting philosophy professor who demands all his students write the phrase

God is dead

as part of their first day of class exercises. One student refuses because he’s a Christian. Our hero Josh Wheaton is then challenged by Professor Radisson to

prove God’s existence by presenting well-researched, intellectual arguments and evidence over the course of the semester, and engage Radisson in a head-to-head debate in front of the class. If Josh fails to convince his classmates of God’s existence, he will fail the course and hinder his lofty academic goals.

Humility ensues.

(The names are important: Joshua= Jeshua=Jesus; Wheaton, bringing in the sheaves; Radisson=radical. Josh’s parents are named Ward and June in the cast list).

Based on both a book of essays, God’s Not Dead: Evidence of God in an Age of Uncertainty by evangelical author Rice Brooks and the catchy song “God’s Not Dead” by the Christian rock band The Newsboys who appear in the movie, God’s Not Dead is produced by one of the film’s stars, David R.A. White who stars as Pastor Dave (again with the names!). White has appeared in over twenty Christian-themed films, including Revelation Road 1 and 2, Holyman Undercover, Redeemed, and Jerusalem Countdown.

God’s Not Dead, which hits high points of evangelical rhetoric (liberal colleges, brave youth, standing up to faith even at gun point), opens on March 31, the spring equinox, a major pagan holiday. Interesting….

And okay, what is with former teen idols going all Jesus Movie of the Week? Kirk Cameron is full on repressive fundamentalist. Dean Cain has appeared in several Christian-themed movies. Kevin Sorbo

decided to take his faith with him while working in Hollywood

and has of late only appeared in Christian movies (Soul Surfer, What If…).  Michael York jumped to Jesus and hasn’t had a good role since.  One Tree Hill hottie Chad Michael Murray starred in the reboot of Left Behind (weirdly he played Michael York’s younger brother in Megiddo: Omega Code 2). I liked it better when stars past their prime finished off their shelf life in horror movies.

Bob Newhart to Headline Anti-Gay Summit Legatus: TV Icon + Rick Santorum = Unfunny

TV icon Bob Newhart is slated as headlining entertainer for the Legatus 2014 Summit to be held February 6 -8, 2014,  in Orlando, Florida, alongside Rick Santorum and the Catholic League’s William Donohue. It’s pretty clear where  the ever-frothy Rick Santorum and Donohue stand on LGBT issues–and Legatus?  Jeremey Hooper writes for GLAAD:

Legatus pushes the idea that homosexuality itself is a “disorder” from which one must be “cured.”

This year Newhart won his first-ever Emmy playing opposite openly gay actor Jim Parsons on the very funny and at times off-color The Big Bang Theory. And Newhart appeared onstage with Parsons to present at this year’s Emmy. Parsons was named one of OUT magazine’s 100, and recently won his third Emmy and the GLESN Inspiration Award. Legatus assures in members that with Newhart

Summit attendees can certainly anticipate a clean show, but they will also get a good dose of Catholic humor.

GLAAD is actively contacting

Mr. Newhart’s representatives to let them know how, exactly, an appearance at this event will come across to LGBT people and allied voices,

A part of  me is hoping that Newhart will pull an  “Elton John in Moscow” and use his voice to speak up for LGBT rights. Newhart will have the floor, the pulpit if you will, and an opportunity to change minds with his legendary humor. Granted, there might be a little bit of blowback, but it could certainly have an effect.

On the other hand, Newhart telling Legatus that he will not perform because of their hate-filled views that harm so many people–both LGBT and their allies– who are his co-workers, friends and fans would also be a strong and bold move.

HT: Back2Stonewall.com

Skip “Ender’s Game”: Geeks OUT Making an Impact

Thanks to Geeks OUT, the bad vibes on Ender’s Game are being felt beyond the LGBT community. Tonight I went to a signing at La Luz de Jesus, our local Los Feliz art gallery/alt.culture general store (books, candy, action figures, robots, stationery, statuary, shower curtains, rugs, blankets, stuffed toys, candles, flashlights, purses, clothing, tee shirts, make-up, perfume, soap,  CDs, jewelry, bones, taxidermy, Haitian sequined prayer flags–basically any thing you’d need to survive emergency gift-giving, lost luggage, a bad break up, or an earthquake) for Heavenly Bodies, Dr. Paul Koudounaris’ glorious photo book full of images of bejeweled skeletons, cult figures from a bygone time when  saints were believed to have worked miracles.

Matt Kennedy, the gallery director, and I were chatting about what we were going this weekend. Matt’s really into comics (he recently scored an original panel from Gasoline Alley, one that contains a pivotal plot point), loves weird history and science fiction (he and his wife play a drinking game centering around the TV show  Ancient Aliens–narrator says “alien” and you drink; narrator says “extra-terrestrial,” and you take three sips, etc.),  and has an encyclopedic knowledge of movies. In the midst of our geeking out I blurted:

Please don’t go see Ender’s Game!

He replied vehemently:

No way! No way would I see that. And I gotta tell you, a guy came in from the the film company, wanting to put up a poster from the movie and said, ‘Hey, maybe we could do a promotion with you.’ I told told him, ‘No, that’s not gonna happen,’ and he shook his head and went,”I know, I get it, I get it.’

Matt went to say that he did half-joking suggest to the film company promo guy that maybe he could try Lassen’s (the Mormon-owned health food store up the road that donated to support Prop 8–I won’t shop there, even though it’s the only health food store close by). The poster guy went away unhappily aware that the word was out on Ender’s Game–that the man behind the story, Orson Scott Card is a bigot.

Geek’s OUT has been the instrumental primogenitor in raising awareness about Orson Scott Card’s nastiness, his homophobia, his anti-equality activism through their Skip Ender’s Game campaign. In the Advocate, Patrick Yacco, a Geeks OUT board member writes brilliantly and passionately about why he is skipping Ender’s Game, and explains more eloquently than I what his group of sci-fi-loving queers has done and why. Their activism has shown what motivation and determination can accomplish. Geek OUT are true superheroes.

Since Geeks OUT launched this campaign earlier this year, we’ve faced a slew of criticism, ranging from “you need to separate the art from the artist” to “this isn’t big enough to make a difference.” To the first argument, I have to draw on my experience of being a queer geek and knowing that Orson Scott Card doesn’t respect who I am as a fan of science fiction. We’re not talking about someone who at one time or another made some stupid comments and is now apologizing for them, like James Gunn, director of the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy. Card actively works to target and undermine the LGBT community’s progress, and he’s quietly begun attacking people of color as well. To me, consuming any of his products is extremely problematic, and I’m addressing that in the fashion I see fit.

On the other hand, to say that the Skip Ender’s Game campaign won’t have an impact is completely moot at this point. Geeks OUT has pushed Card’s atrocious attacks on the LGBT community to the forefront of mainstream media, with nearly every outlet that reports on Ender’s Game commenting on his radical activism. Even if people weren’t aware of his views, they’re learning about them now. Regardless of Ender’s Game’s box office tally, Geeks OUT has helped raise awareness of Orson Scott Card’s fear-mongering, and no amount of ticket sales can change that.

Matt Kennedy isn’t the only straight sci-fi fan who’s skipping Ender’s Game. On Facebook and in real life, straight sci-fans have told me they are not going to see Ender’s Game, period, not even by paying for a ticket at the megaplex and sneaking in. That’s huge.  Geeks OUT are true superheroes. Their activism has shown what motivation and determination can accomplish.

Skip Ender’s Game!

Need something? La Luz de Jesus probably has it.

Left to right, Matt Kennedy, artist Christopher Ulrich, Paul Koudounaris PhD.

Koudounaris and two of his Heavenly Bodies.

Late Night: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid!

There’s a lot that’s going on out in the world and while some of it has nothing to do with Halloween it does provide some good fodder for costumes. Other costumes are in bad taste, “too soon” or not. What are you doing/wearing for Halloween?

Now for the very scary: According to a certain Christian sect very popular among elected conservatives, Ted Cruz is the Anointed King who will redistribute wealth. And why if liberals want to do it, distribution of wealth is Evil; but if Ted Cruz does it, it’s totally cool? The answer lies in a sermon delivered by Dominionist preacher Larry Huch at his megachurch August 26, 2012, where Ted Cruz’ father Rafael Cruz also delivered a sermon. Huch preached:

The number 12 means ‘divine government’, that God begins to rule and reign. Not Wall Street, not Washington – God’s people and his kingdom will begin to rule and reign…I know that’s why God got Rafael’s son elected – Ted Cruz, the next Senator. But here’s the exciting thing – and that’s why I know it’s timely for him to teach this, and bring this anointing. The rabbinical teaching is, especially amongst gentiles, who God opens their eyes, that in a few weeks begins that year 2012, and that this will begin what we call the “End Time Transfer of Wealth.

And that when these gentiles begin to receive this blessing, they will never go back financially through the valley again. They will grown and grow and grow. It’s said this way – that God is looking at the church, and everyone in it, and deciding, in the next 3 and 1/2 years, who will be his bankers. And the ones that say, “Here am I, Lord, you can trust me,” we will become so blessed that we will usher in the coming of the Messiah. This message if for you. Would you welcome our good friend Rafael Cruz ? What a tremendous man of God.

The elder Cruz then took the pulpit and said:

The pastor [Huch] referred to Proverbs 13:22, a little while ago, which says that the wealth of the wicked is stored for the righteous. And it is through the kings, anointed to take dominion, that that transfer of wealth is going to occur. God, even though he’s sovereign, even though he’s omnipotent, he doesn’t let it rain out of the sky – he’s going to use people to do it.

The theological implications of this are huge, as are the political and social.  And scarier than any goblin at your doorstep.

Which Witch Is Which? Does Television Do a Disservice to Sorceresses?

It’s the season of the witch. At least on TV. Witches are hot, and producers are staking their cred on a current crop of witch shows, with new ones in the works. Right now there’s The Witches of East End [WoEE] and American Horror Story: Coven [AHS:C], with a reboot of Charmed being conjured. Coincidentally, Charmed just got dissed on AHS:C, when Queenie, played by Gabourey Sidibe, says:

I grew up on white girl shit, like Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Cracker.

Honey, we all did. And Bewitched. And we’ve all had to deal with Stevie Nicks stigma. (Nicks’s music is the constant companion of swamp witch Misty Dawn, another of  AHS:C‘s fashionable friends of the Devil).

For the past six years, reality producers have been trying to get a “real witches” show cast. I know, I get casting calls regularly and even shot a teaser reel for one.  When I worked in an occult shop, I was featured on a few shows (Blind Date, where I showed a famous comedienne and her hapless, annoyed staged-date dude how to cast a passion spell; and some episode of a history show about a cursed dress for which I did a snazzy flaring cauldron routine and discussed curses).

Thing is, unlike TV witches, what “real” witches, sorcerers, sorceresses, and (non-stage) magicians do is not all that flashy. Sure there are  rituals, solo and in groups (I don’t belong to a coven and  I’m a witch, not a Wiccan–more on that later), but unless you are participating and know what’s going on, on it’s pretty boring, though the set dressing can be awesome.  Do we go “skyclad,” that is, naked? Uh, if I do do that, I wouldn’t on TV.

American Horror Story: Coven is way better than the tepid Witches of East End, which involves a mom and her twenty-something daughters–the sexy bartender daughter is engaged to a rich boy, but sexually attracted to his bad-boy brother; her uptight librarian, super-rational sister doesn’t believe in witches, even though she is one. Mom is trying to be normal, but she’s accused of murder (the soapy trope of the evil twin!) and the free spirited witch auntie makes peyote stew and walks around naked. WoEE’s cosmology is off, its spellwork is wrong, its characterization of witches is weak, of women is facile, and the acting and writing suck. It’s embarrassing. Like, the librarian witch decides to try casting a spell to help her friend get pregnant (even though she doesn’t believe in magic, but hey, here’s an old book, let’s do it because nothing else is working), and next day her friend gets the results on an over-the-counter pee stick that she is with child!  Biologically impossible, even with magic.  While it’s possible to test positive as early as seven days past ovulation, most likely a woman isn’t producing hCG at a high enough level to be detected by a home pregnancy test. The earliest you can test is 7 days after ovulation, and it’s recommended to wait until after you have missed your period. You can also be pregnant, not know, and have spotting that you mistake for menstruation.  So either the friend tested too soon, was pregnant before they did the spell and the pregnancy test gave a false negative which the next test read as positive, or she mistook spotting for her period, and retested after the spellcasting–surprise!

And the barely a tertiary character token gay guy, is just that, a token.

Joanna’s daughters on  The Witches of East End have been reincarnated since at least Salem–mom appears to have nine lives, or be immortal or something– and each time the girls are named Freya and Ingrid. No way in Puritan Salem would these names–especially Freya, the name of a Norse goddess–have been given! Those names struck such a strident note that, for me,  the whole plot fell to bits.

American Horror Story: Coven, created by Ryan Murphy (Glee) with James Wong (X Files) delivers a rich, engrossing storyline with beautiful cinematography and a stellar cast. Plus, unlike WoEE there’s an effort towards historical and ritual accuracy. Wong says they do a lot of research  (and it shows in the background of the evil Mme. Delphine  Lalaurie, played with intensity by Kathy Bates, and in Angela Bassett’s sublime and powerful Marie Laveau who now in present day works the same gig she held in the 19th century, a hairdresser). The rituals so far have been pretty well-grounded in magic. My friends and I did spot some glitches in episode three’s voodoo ceremony–red clothes would never be worn, nor would be underwear!  While there’s general acceptance in the occult community that rituals shown in fictional films and on television will not be 100% accurate in terms of words, signs and so on—kids don’t try this at home and if you do it won’t work anyway–the red dress was still way off base! We screamed at the wrongness. Plus it was sorta fugly.

Another inaccuracy: Characters constantly reference Tituba, the real slave who was tried for witchcraft during the Salem witch trials–she wasn’t hanged as many of the accused were, but rather imprisoned; she was eventually freed from jail and then from slavery. Tituba was not of African decent, but rather an Arawak, one of the indigenous tribes of the Caribbean. Her Arawak heritage is mentioned on AHS:C, but unless you know your tribes, the implication remains that she practiced West African magic. The magic, though, that Tituba has inspired on AHS:C is  voodoo, a West African diasporic religion, and there is also an error in implying that Western witchcraft gained its gifts solely from the voodoo root, which is not the case.

Witchcraft is a crazy quilt of beliefs and practices. Not all witches practice Wicca, a 20th century sect, which is the most well-known of the many branches in the forest of non-Christian Western esoteric belief systems. (There are some people who call themselves Christian Wiccans, which is a major oxymoron, but hey…it’s their souls, not mine!) And not everyone who is Wiccan, or a Druid, or an occultist does magic. The syncretic African diasporic religions, like voodoo and santeria, while very interactive with the gods, have believers who don’t cast spells (Hoodoo, the American melting cauldron, is a more action-oriented system, with a lot of “work” being done, sometimes with Jesus, Bible verses, and/or the saints as the whammy). Some people have a belief system, observe the seasons or moon, light candles, say prayers, and that’s that. Spellwork involving herbs and oils, “barbarous names of evocation,” sigils drawn on  parchment, and such are not really everyone’s bag of tricks. Also, not all practitioners of non-Christian Western esoteric belief systems  re purely Goddess worshipers, though one or more female aspects are acknowledged along with male aspect/s. That’s the religion part.

The “work” part, the spell casting,  is not the nose twitching, the miraculous appearance of fur coats out of nowhere, or the sudden lighting of cigarettes from across the room seen on television. And it’s also not the positive affirmations of  The Secret. It’s called “work” for a reason, though sometimes there’s a certain amount of fun involved. Television witches have a lot of powers–they can toss people across rooms with a subtle gesture, pop in and out of photographs, turn into and talk to animals, bring the dead back to life, grant the incorruptibility of flesh, and do all sorts of Jedi mind tricks. In real life (aside from spellwork and ritual which take time, effort and talent to cause change to occur in accordance with will) the latter is the only thing that works, and that’s because some people, witches or not, can just out-think other people, anticipating and adjusting as necessary, seeking to create outcomes in which all parties benefit. And I’ve noticed that the people who apply themselves, reading and studying (and by those verbs I mean more than just books on “how to do spells and set up your altar”), focusing on mental and physical exercises, engaging in lively discussions, who travel, avoid petty social drama and chaos, and again seek outcomes that are mutually beneficial, are the people who succeed in being happy. Which is really what it’s all about.

Yes, it’s possible to do spells for money, for youth (or the money to look youthful!), for love (though the best spell for that is loving yourself), and for health (which is to a certain extent our own responsibility–eating right, getting exercise to start with!). Magic can (and often does) work. Does magic meet a scientific, rather than anecdotal, proof? I did A and B was the result. I did A again and B was the result. So A works. For me. Life is not a reproduceable experiment; we are individuals; circumstances change. My A may not produce B for you, and under new and different circumstances may not produce B a third time for me.

Television witches are fun to watch, but they have done a disservice to real witches and women, providing role models who have denied our self-determination. We are stuck with watching Bell Book and Candle on late night movie channels (Kim Novak falls in love with Jimmy Stewart and loses her power, her glamorous wardrobe, and her groovy African art gallery, becoming a shirt-dress-wearing drab who sells faux floral displays made from sea shells). On Bewitched, mortal moron Derwood stifles Samantha’s natural talents, and stews in a state of mutual resentment with her witchy family. The girls of Charmed, the Halliwell sisters, have a guardian angel, Leo Wyatt a “whitelighter,” (In the series, a whitelighter is a former human mortal given a second chance at life in order to serve under an angelic group as guardian angels for good witches and other future whitelighters, who helped them out scrapes; in real-life magic a whitelighter, aka a fluffy bunny, is an uptight, self-righteous goody two shoes). Leo is also the Charmed Ones’ handyman, further reinforcing that women (and witches) are helpless little creatures who need a man. The sisters Halliwell also get a lot of (at times meddlesome) help from their buddy on the San Francisco Police force, who was a childhood friend and becomes one of the sister’s love interests. The series’ story arc involve fighting evil, working at cool jobs, trying to meet the right guys, and having a baby…

Sabrina the Teenage Witch originally appeared in the Archie comics in 1962. Like Bewitched‘s heroine, Sabrina is blond, but unlike Sam, she is only a half-witch. Her powers manifested on her 16th birthday (witch genes are strong; Samantha and Derwood’s daughter Tabitha also could do magic). Sabrina lives with her two full-witch aunts and Salem, a talking black cat (shades of The Master and Margarita!), a male witch who had been turned into animal form by the Witches’ Council for bad behavior. Salem  gives Sabrina advice, often suggesting that she use magic to solve problems, usually with comically diastrous results.

Until this 2013 TV season, producers and their networks seemed to feel that TV witches needed a masculine authority figure. But so far, both the  Witches of East End and the witches on American Horror Story: Coven have shaken off that superstition. On WWoE , witches don’t even seem to need to have a man to have a baby. Joanne, WoEE‘s witch mom, played by Julia Ormond, has reincarnated her daughters into her womb over the centuries and it’s unclear so far, who, if anyone, was responsible for fathering the girls–the book the series is based on may pony up that plot point, but it remains to be seen how firmly the series will adhere to the source material.

As the seasons progress for these two new witch shows, we’ll see how far both the supernaturally-blessed and everyday women have progressed in the last decade. Because what witch TV programs show, in hyper-focus, is how the public is perceived as wanting to view women. This perception is formed by the views expressed, by actions and reactions, in daily life. And at the same time, television programs provide modeling for how women should or should not behave. And that goes for witches as well.

Santorum Says Satan Controls Hollywood

Rick Santorum spat a frothy mouthful on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, plugging his first foray into film production, The Christmas Candle, due out this holiday season. The movie, from EchoLight Studio, is a period piece set in a Thomas Kinkade-esque village and tackles modernity vs (Christian) tradition as electricity and progressive thinking threaten the  town’s visit from a Christmas angel. Now the CEO of EchoLight, Santorum said, seeming a little uncomfortable:

This is a tough business, this is something that we’re stepping out, and the Devil for a long, long time has had this, these screens, for his playground and he isn’t going to give it up easily.

Shifty eyes much?

I’m not going to go into Santorum’s (il)logic about Satan controlling Hollywood which at some point will end up in a grand conspiracy, but ye gods and little fishes, if Satan controls the film business, why did the self-proclaimed White Witch of Los Angeles give a lecture about the film industry and how it controls the mind? Inconceivable!

And speaking of inconceivable,  Santorum’s position on  Satan in the film biz puts him at odds with fellow conservative Sen Ted Cruz who admitted that in addition to playing video games (also a tool of Satan)

I’m a huge movie buff. Love watching movies. So we’ll often go and watch a movie.

Cruz’s favorite movie? The Princess Bride which has a wizard bringing Westley back to life. Blasphemy!! Clearly Ted Cruz is thus a tool of Satan, which makes his opposition to the current administration a Satanic plot. But wait, conservatives think Obama is Satan, or at least the Anti-Christ…

Screw it, I’m gonna go watch an MK-Ultra produced, Illuminati/Satan mind control movie. Like  Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Fantasia.

Jesus Lesus! That’s a Mega-Typo

Someone misspelled the name of the Vatican’s raison d’etre, Jesus, on a commemorative medallion, striking 6,000 gold, silver and bronze coins with the name Lesus. Several of the medallions were sold before someone noticed the error. The remaining medallions were recalled, making the four that were sold collectors items.

The coins were struck by the Italian Mint to honor the papacy of Francis I and carried a Latin inscription which the Pope said inspired him to join the Catholic priesthood:

Vidit ergo Jesus publicanum et quia miserando antque eligendo vidit, ait illi sequere me (Jesus therefore sees the tax collector, and since he sees by having mercy and by choosing, he says to him, follow me).

I suppose the capital L could be confused with a J if you’re looking in a mirror. But more likely “Jesus” was presented as Iesus, since I was J in ancient texts–remember INRI (Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum) the Latin reading as “Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews” — and whoever was doing the inscription for the coin thought I was a lower case L (l) not a J and made a copy-editing decision on their own.

Didn’t anyone who speaks Latin check the proofs? Maybe the devil IS in the details–and the Vatican!

Just for fun:

Using Latin gematria, Iesus= 67, and Lesus =70. Running those numbers in the gematria calculator, you can get some interesting results. Using traditional Jewish gematria for 67 produces fapfemale, and Im a geek, amongst others; in simple gematria, Elvis, Satanic, and iPhone are some of the meanings.  For 70, the traditional is not quite as interesting, resulting in, amongst others, I God, meme, and hidden. In simple gematria 70 is way more fun: robot, Yaweh, women, demons, Adam and Eve, Bernie Mac, cold feet, and zombies are just some of the results.

Elton John to Play Moscow: “I’m Doing It for Gay Russians”

Oh Elton, Elton.  I am so confused, but I just can’t quit you. Remember when his remark about being very happy with civil unions became a rallying cry for Prop 8 and anti-equality forces? Once there was a hue and cry about his naivety ignorance of basic facts, he came around and ended up playing an amazing concert as a fundraiser for AFER and becoming a spokesperson for marriage equality. Then he played Rush Limbaugh’s wedding for  huge fee. (I’d like to hope that he donated that fee to pro-equality groups as a puckish fuck you to the forces at the EIB, but I guess I’ll never know).

Elton John played Sun City  in South Africa during apartheid, and yes that was 30 years ago. He played Tel Aviv just three years ago saying:

Musicians spread love and peace, and bring people together. That’s what we do. We don’t cherry-pick our conscience.

Oh?

Then Sir Elton thumbed his nose at China’s cultural politics by publicly dedicating his 2012 concert in Beijing to  to “the spirit and talent” of dissident artist Ai Weiwei,  prompting the Chinese culture minister, Cai Wu, to demand that only stars with university degrees be allowed to play in China. Sir Elton told the Guardian:

“Ten thousand people went ‘Eugh!’, but how could you not?. He’s become a friend, and what he’s suffered as an artist is unbelievable. During and after the show, my tour manager was interrogated for three hours, and what he said to them was true: I bought a beautiful Ai Weiwei piece, I was grateful and we’ve become friends. I didn’t feel in any danger.

Sir Elton adds a new item to his wish list: He’d like to go back to China and talk to the government about AIDS. According to the performer:

the country’s leading AIDS activist has claimed that the government’s estimate of 650,000 HIV cases is barely a 10th of the real figure.

Elton John wanted to play in front of the Pyramids of Giza, but claims be was banned because he is gay. And his very public gayness has ruffled feathers in other locales, the Guardian reports:

a church in Tobago organised a protest against his appearance there, while he received threats from an Islamic group when he played in Morocco.

So what about his proposed December concert date in Moscow?

Listen, I went to Russia in 1979 and I knew we were being watched all the time: I had an interpreter that they’d clearly set up. Actually, I ended up having sex with him on the roof of my hotel.  I’m supposed to be going to Moscow in December. I’ve got to go. And I’ve got to think about what I’m going to say very carefully. There’s two avenues of thought: do you stop everyone going, ban all the artists coming in from Russia? But then you’re really leaving the men and women who are gay and suffering under the anti-gay laws in an isolated situation. As a gay man, I can’t leave those people on their own without going over there and supporting them. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’ve got to go.

Elton John certainly flies in the face of Putin’s  ban on homosexual propaganda. He and longtime partner David Furnish united in a civil union ceremony in 2005, one of the first in Britain, and are planning weddings in Britain and in California now that it is legal to do so– and the couple has two children Zachary  and Elijah. In 2009 the Ukrainian government block Sir Elton’s adoption of an HIV+ baby, citing his age and single status; the Ukraine does not recognize same-sex unions.  Adoption officials had another point of view:

Albert Pavlov, head of the Happy Child foundation for orphaned and sick children in Zaporizhia, said he opposed adoption by gays, but called for removing age and marriage restrictions for adopters.

How will Putin and Russian government deal with Elton John, a venerable and flamboyant, visibly gay figure in pop music who refers to himself as the Queen Mother? Madonna and Lady Gaga  played St Petersburg and spoke out from the stage, violating, according to the Russian government, the terms of their visas.  Lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to ban fans under 18 years old from Gaga’s concerts. Madonna and Gaga are post-modern hetero-normative, basically straight ladies who like teh gheys, have a platform to speak out, and do. Elton John is waaay more risky–he’s clearly queer and the very act of playing in Russia is pretty subversive/transgressive, especially given his outspokeness on  stage and off.

In July, 2103 Elton John was scheduled to play a concert in Krasnodar, Russia which caused great consternation.

Local party leader Mikhail Abramyan recommended that Elton don a knee-length kaftan, knee-high leather boots, and a fur hat for the July 14th gig.

He said: ‘It would be more respectable.  We have suggested it to the promoters and we hope he’ll wear it.’, according to Russian news agency Ria Novosti.

Despite calls from Krasnodar clergy to ban Sir Elton’s July 14th concert because the singer represents homosexual propaganda, no ban was issued. Rather the concert was postponed, then cancelled due to the singer’s illness.

Somehow I think, and maybe I am just an optimist, that Elton John playing Moscow is his attempt at activism, and is motivated by the desire to make a positive change, rather than to line his pockets. It will be interesting to see what bombshells, like that in China, he drops from the stage–maybe playing “All the Young Girls Love Alice”? And I wonder if Edward Snowden will be backstage! Now that would be a Facebook photo op!

HT: Back2Stonewall

Teen Exorcists Get Medieval on Demons for Reality Show

Claiming himself  to be a champion demon purger, Pastor Bob Larson has conjured up the the Dominionist version of a boy-band/cash-printing machine: A trio of (sorta) teen girls (one is 21) who cast out allegedly evil spirits and are featured in a new BBC3 documentary called (hold your breath here!): Teen Exorcists. They’re also the subjects of a Vice TV documentary in which they claim demons cause sexually transmitted diseases.  And here all along I thought it was bacteria and viruses, silly me.

The virgin trio–one is Pastor Bob’s daughter Brynne Larson, the other two are sisters, Tess and Savannah Scherkenback–are now taken to the British Isles which they say is a hotbed of occult activity whose origins go back to pagan times. Spunky 21 year-old Savannah explains:

It has been centuries in the making, but I believe it came to a pinnacle with the Harry Potter books.

Oh and, you guys, Harry Potter spell are totally srs bzns. Her 18 year-old sister wants you to know:

The spells you are reading about are not made up. They are real and come from witchcraft.

Not only can these girls kick ass on demons, they can kick ass in real life! All three of the home-schooled exorcettes have black belts in karate. Brynne first joined her semi-famous fundie father to cast out demons when she 13, but she’ll be leaving the Get Thee Behind Me business behind her when she starts at conservative Christian Liberty University this fall. But stage dad Bob wants to come back to the UK and continue tossing off devils–private exorcisms cost about $450, but he offers free seminars as he travels from city to city with his metaphysical medicine show.

Online, Larson, the self-proclaimed

world’s foremost expert on cults, the occult, and supernatural phenomena

who has his own reality show, The Real Exorcist, on SKY-TV in Europe, offers DVDs of exorcisms and a nifty silver metal

cross … anointed and prayed over personally by Bob.

And gosh darn, they work, according to testimonials on the sales page:

When Pastor Bob touched my forehead with his cross, the demons that had been tormenting me instantly manifested.

Not sure if you need a silver Cross of Deliverance or an exorcism? You can take Pastor Bob’s Demon Test and:

Let Bob Larson, the man who has dealt with more demons than anyone on the planet, show you how to overcome every obstacle of every day. Stop the cycles of failure, poverty and sickness. Break family curses at the ROOT! Discover why you are the way you are and immediately change destructive habits. If you have demons, you’ll be delivered.

Let’s just say to fundamentalist nutbags like Pastor Bob, anything that clashes with the pastor’s interpretation of the Bible is all Satanism and demons. And his list of what demons can do is pretty impressive: Generational curses, STDs, anger, promiscuity, loud noises, earthquakes, and crank phone calls are just some of the weapons demons use to torment Christians who have opened the door for possession by simply reading a daily horoscope or knowing someone who does.

Last year Anderson Cooper had the teen exorcettes on his show. It was hilarious:

Ender’s Game: GLSEN to Honor Lionsgate, Studio Behind Orson Scott Card Movie

 

GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network, is honoring Lionsgate, the studio behind Ender’s Game at their annual $,1000/ticket  Respect Awards in October. Disgusting. It’s shameful that GLSEN would do this, and looks really bad especially since Lionsgate responded to GeeksOut’st call to skip Ender’s Game by saying:

Lionsgate will continue its longstanding commitment to the LGBT community by exploring new ways we can support LGBT causes and, as part of this ongoing process, will host a benefit premiere for Ender’s Game.

I see what you did there. Gross.

Along with giving an award to Lionsgate, the Respect fundraiser for GLSEN will also honor Jim Parsons, Sheldon from the tv show, Big Bang Theory and his husband, designer Todd Spiewak (the newlyweds just founded a production company, That’s Wonderful Productions, and they are actively looking for projects, ranging from TV and movies to plays); and award winning producer and writer Linda Bloodworth-Thomason (she was responsible creating Designing Women and wrote and directed all three of Bill Clinton’s Democratic Convention films, including the iconic Man from Hope, as well as the 2008 Democratic Convention film for then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton).

The work done by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network is important and impressive. With 36 chapters in 23 states, GLSEN works to make sure that every member of every school community is valued and respected, regardless of sexual identity, gender identity or gender expression. So why the flying monkeys are they lauding Lionsgate this year with their Chairman’s Award? Because presumably Lionsgate can sell tickets and get their stars to show up. Think The Hunger Games franchise, The Twilight Saga Breaking Dawn—Part 2, Now You See Me, Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain, Tyler Perry’s Temptation, Warm Bodies, Perks of Being A Wallflower, The Expendables 2, The Possession, Sinister, The Cabin in the Woods, Mud and Arbitrage–and that’s just movies. They also produce 28 television shows on 20 different network,s including iconic brands such as the multiple Emmy Award-winning Mad Men and recent hits such as Orange is the New Black, Anger Management and Nashville.

However, this year Lionsgate has stinky stench associated with it: Ender’s Game is based on the novel by Orson Scott Card, a homo-hatin’ card-carrying (ex?) board member of the National Organization for Marriage, and a staunch opponent of marriage equality who advocated for government overthrow should federal marriage equality be granted (now there’s a guy who needs an NSL!). Insiders suggest Card stands to make millions of dollars between the story rights, distribution rights, and his box office percentage through Lionsgate and their partner Summit Entertainment.

Julia Marella of Slate PR, a public relations firm based in Hollywood, CA, replied to Back2Stonewall’s query to GLSEN’s involvement with Lionsgate:

Lionsgate has a long and rich history of creating LGBT-inclusive and affirming films. The studio has also been an industry leader in ensuring workplace protections and benefits for LGBT people. When Lionsgate acquired Summit Entertainment last year, the company inherited its library of current projects, including Ender’s Game. Though GLSEN flatly rejects book author Orson Scott Card’s support for the discrimination of LGBT people, we stand behind Lionsgate’s similar rejection of Card’s personal beliefs and its long-standing commitment to support the LGBT community.

If GLSEN, which counts Kyra Sedgwick as a board member, wasn’t an organization involved with kids, I would use some very strong language about selling oneself. Interestingly, when Back2Stonewall contacted  GLSEN’s  press person, Andy Marra about Lionsgate, it was Slate Public Relations, one of the heaviest hitters in Hollywood that  responded, and Hollywood publicists are  not cheap, they start at about $4,500/month.  In the past, Slate handled the PR for the 2013 Tony Awards and the 2013 Emmys. Basically, if you buy a table (1oK) you’ll be covering the publicist’s fees.

Ender’s Game opens November 1. Patrick Yacco of Geeks Out emailed me about the Respect fundraiser, Lionsgate and Ender’s Game:

Until Lionsgate and their subsidiaries are more transparent about their production deal with homophobic activist Orson Scott Card for the rights to Ender’s Game, it’s difficult to see them as deserving of such an award.  Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely that those details will ever be revealed, so I feel that LGBT fans have few options to support that film, and should skip it when it’s released later this year.

But for now, shame on GLSEN for accepting this obvious pinkwashing. Shame, shame shame!

H/T: Back2Stonewall

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