Pamela’s Prayer: Part 1

Well, here we go, you guys.  Pamela’s Prayer.

Pamela’s FREAKING Prayer.

Written, produced, and directed by our old friend, Dave Christiano!

The One That Started It All for me.

Once upon a time, a younger and more innocent Ruby was at college.  Unable to sleep, I flipped through late-nite TV, finally finding what looked like an old After-School Special.  It was only ten minutes in or so, and featured a teenage girl whose strict father didn’t allow her to date.  At all.

Naïve as I was, I assumed that surely, this Pamela would find a nice boy to date, one who would never want to take advantage of her, and Dad would realize that he was being too strict, probably because he just missed Pamela’s mom so very much, and he and Pamela would hug it out.

Nope.

Oh, how wrong I was.  So young, so innocent, not yet wise in the ways of Christian films.

Because Pamela’s father is right.  The only way for Pamela to be happy is to avoid all physical contact with the opposite sex until the day of her wedding, at which point she is finally allowed her Very First Kiss.

(You just have to picture the look of slack-jawed amazement on my face.  Oh, to be so young and trusting again…)

Seriously, though, you guys, Pamela’s Prayer is a classic of the genre.  The most classic movie we’ve watched so far here is probably Second Glance, but Pamela’s Prayer…well, people take actual Life Lessons from this flick.  This story makes it icky to kiss someone unless you are bound in matrimony to each other.

Yeah, it’s just gross.

So let’s go!

Lie

This is the biggest lie of the movie.  This is NOT Pamela’s story.  This is the story of her father, Wayne, and his obsession with keeping his daughter’s lips (let alone her ladyparts) pure and untouched for the sake of his future son-in-law.

But let us travel back, back all the way in time to “May 1968,” when young marrieds Wayne and Sarah drive up to some random rock formations, where Sarah, after scrambling over some rocks in a suitably modest long dress, reveals to Wayne that their joyless, ritualized intercourse has finally resulted in the only God-ordained result: a fertilized egg.

Sarah:  Wayne?

Wayne:  Mm-hmm.

Sarah:  I have something to tell you.

Wayne:  What, Sarah?

Sarah:  We’re going to have a baby.

Sure enough, in “January 1969,” Wayne takes Sarah to the hospital, with the part of Pamela being played by a basketball held under Sarah’s coat.  However, after the title sequence, the Music of Sadness plays as Wayne makes a little visit to the cemetery…

Yep, following a long line of Disney moms, Sarah didn’t even make it past the opening credits.

Farewell, Sarah!  We’ll never forget your thirteen words of dialogue!

Fortunately for Wayne (and especially for Pamela, but we’ll get to that), his parents are completely awesome, and all but move in with him to help with Pamela.

At least for a few days, until Wayne boots their collective ass out.

Wayne’s mom offers for them to spend the night “again.”

Wayne:  Ma, I’ll see you in the morning.  Dad, I’ll be coming back to work tomorrow.

So Wayne’s mom is going to go home, grab sleep, then come back first thing in the morning.  I just love how Wayne takes that totally for granted.  (Not that Wayne’s mom shouldn’t do that, if she wants to.  Just that I think Wayne could be a bit more grateful about the whole thing.)

And yes, Wayne works with his dad.  They run a Christian film library.

Wayne checks on the baby and prays over her, then reads his Bible for a bit before turning out the light.  (His nightstand, of course, has a picture of Sarah on it–who could ever forget that unforgettable character!)  Two hours later (in a touch of realism) he’s up for a feeding.  The next morning, his mom is there before Wayne even wakes up.  (THANK THE WOMAN, YOU INGRATE!)

The tinkly-music montage that follows is quite sweet, showing Wayne bonding with the baby by reading the Bible to her and taking her to unsafe rock formations.

We fast-forward in time to “July 1975,” and it is time for the biggest gorram event of the year, by gab: the convention.  The Convention.  Presumably one of Christian film library owners.  Wayne’s dad can’t go, because the doctor told him he shouldn’t travel because of his heart.  So Wayne is supposed to go instead.  But, there’s a problem…

Wayne:  When Pamela was born, I made a commitment to the Lord that I would pray with her every night.  So far, I’ve been able to keep that commitment.  If I go to the convention, I don’t see how I can.

At this point, Wayne is not impressing me with his mental aptitude.  His dad, however, is no fool, and comes up with a brilliant idea.

A TELEPHONE!!!  BRILLIANT!!!

Seriously, this thought never even crossed Wayne’s mind for a second?  What an asshole!

(This is perhaps the right time to let you all know that I hate Wayne.  Like, a really, really lot.  I might even hate him more than Paul Stepola.  Sure, Paul murdered people, but Wayne is just so self-righteously smug and ungrateful and FRAKKING STUPID.)

Sure enough, Wayne actually uses that wild new invention, and telephones his daughter from his hotel room to pray with her.  And this is all starting to read less like Wayne wanting to keep his commitment to the Lord, and more like Wayne not wanting to release his iron-fisted control over every tiny facet of Pamela’s life, even for a second.  Honestly, did nobody ever tell this man that it’s healthy for a child to bond with trusted adults besides the parents?

Probably not.  The last scene of Pamela’s early childhood shows her on Wayne’s lap, as he reads the Bible to her.  I wonder if he’s ever read any book besides the Bible to her?  Wayne is made happy by Pamela’s spontaneous statement that “I have Jesus on my heart.”  Aww.

Next time: Pamela turns Sweet Sixteen!

 

 

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Posted on September 4, 2014, in Movies, Pamela's Prayer. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Sarah didn’t even make it past the opening credits.

    But, uh, don’t get an abortion under any circumstances, girls! Because pregnancy and birth are beautiful things with no harmful side-effects at all! *cough*

  2. Worse than Stepola? That is a very high bar to clear. I mean, just being “self-righteously smug, ungrateful and FRAKKING STUPID” doesn’t sound like it could make Wayne worse.

    Not only would he need to be more self-righteously smug than a guy who murdered Christians, converted only thanks to half a dozen miracles, two teachers and a Bible tape that no other atheist has access too, and then decides all the other atheists are irredeemably evil…
    Not only would he need to be more ungrateful than a man who treated his wife like shit for a decade before deciding god wants him to stay with her and yet has the gall to treat her like the enemy when she does come back…
    Not only would he need to be more FRAKKING STUPID than the guy who sucks so badly at being a double agent that it’s only thanks to Jenkin’s protection that he hasn’t ended up in a shallow grave within a week…
    But he’d have to be so much worse on all those points combined that it makes up for committing premeditated genoicde. Twice.

    I can’t image how a mere abusive father could manage that, but this is Christian fiction. I’m not discounting any possibility.

    • Personally, I tend to hate fictional people more when they’re within the realm of the probable. Paul Stepola was a dude in an impossible world doing impossible things. A man who wants to control every facet of his daughter’s life, and is disgustingly involved in her sexuality: probable. More than probable. I’ve known men who do this. That men commonly have done this for millennia has caused incredible harm to women (and everyone else) over thousands of years. Whole societies have been built on men enslaving women in the name of “protecting” women sexually.

      So, yeah, more hatred for this guy than for Paul. It’s significantly more difficult to laugh at the evil that is actively trying to keep you in chains.

    • A fair point. Although Paul’s attitude towards his wife is similar. But it is probably possible to have worse attitudes towards gender than Paul. And we can’t accuse him of trying to control his daughter’s sexuality, since it’s a calendar event that he even remembers she exists*. He was highly controlling of his wife in Silenced, but not of her sexuality, since she doesn’t appear to have one.

      *Actually, do we ever hear Brien talk? I know Connor asked about the angel on the Wintermass-tree all the way back in the first book. But is there even a single, first-hand scene of Paul (or Jae) interacting with Brien? Even when it was time for the firstborn-slaughter, Ranold immediately looked to Connor because he somehow knew god was sexist and would only count men as firstborn.

    • Oh, I will admit to irrationality when it comes to my hatred of Wayne. Of course, by any objective standard, Paul is the worse person, by a lot, but there is just something about Wayne’s smug mug and self-righteous martyrdom (and seeing it played out in front of my eyes) that just makes me want to smack him.

      • Ah yes, the visual aspect does help to make the hero-villains far more punchable. It was bad enough reading Paul Stepola say “I can’t tell you how offended I am, Jae!” But it can be made more painful to see an actor in question putting up his best impression of the poor, mistreated man, angry at the shrewish paranoia of his harpy of a wife.

        I shudder to think what would happen if Silenced was ever turned into a movie. How could an actor possibly portray the man who commits genocide simply to boost the spirits of a depressed fellow believer, so the latter will do what the former wants? And then pretends to his wife that the genocide will happen because god is just so fed up with the evil humans.

        Especially if they try to work in that “spiteful (her words) god” angle into Jae’s response. A movie can’t add that “(her words)” in that easily, so it’ll have to be the acted out: The actress playing Jae will have to portray her as being unreasonable towards god, and the actor playing Paul will have to visibly show his horror at the suggestion that god might be spiteful.

        I think I might destroy my TV if I were to watch that scene.

  3. “On Nowember 9, 1991, Pamela Bucklin was married at the age of 22. This is her story.”

    Honestly, this ominous title card would make me expect that the story’s going to be about Pamela’s abusive marriage. Or maybe deceptively happy marriage, until one day it turns out that her loving husband is a serial killer. Or something like that.

  4. TW: Incest

    This is the story of her father, Wayne, and his obsession with keeping his daughter’s lips (let alone her ladyparts) pure and untouched for the sake of his future son-in-law. for himself.

    I’m genuinely sorry. I read this sentence and that leaped out at me and insisted that’s what Wayne is all about. And to be honest, this is exactly what I feel the toxic “purity culture” is all about: Sexual control of their daughters by ostensibly “Christian” fathers. There are a lot more unpleasant connotations but they’re making my brain feel skeevy just thinking of them. 😦

  5. So, I was intrigued and decided to google this movie to find out more about it.

    If you have a *very* strong stomach, go read the reviews on Amazon. They are quite something.

    • Let me do a review of one of the review:

      Surprisingly Hip!
      BWHAHAHA!

      “Finally, a film with good morals AND realistic dialogue.”
      Uhm, yeah, realistic. Actually, it kinda is so far: Wayne’s prattle seems a very realistic portrayal of a controling fundie father, and Pamela’s counter-arguments make quite a bit of sense. Where it goes of the rails is where we’re supposed to agree with the “good morals” of the former.

      “This is no “Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen Visit Grandma’s” sappy love-fest. Pam’s Prayer tells it like it is.”
      … I got nothing.

      “You enter the halls of a real high school and witness the sinful underbelly of teen life.”
      The bullying, the elitism, the exclusion of others… nah, just kidding, just the fact that teens have a sex drive. Also, going anywhere outside the protective RTC bubble would no doubt show the writer the sinful underbelly of [insert group here].

      “As a teen myself, I could really relate to the “cool” predator male…”
      I’m assuming the writer means she relates to the situation where predator males exist, not that he/she relates to the predator males themselves.

      “…who brags to his pals about fabricated exploits with the unassuming virginal girl.”
      Okay, I was a geek and didn’t attend an American High School anyway, but wouldn’t they usually fabricate exploits with the most popular girls, not the “unassuming” ones.

      “It’s a story as true and as old as time.”
      If you mean the story of “boy would like to have sex with girl”, yes, that’s true and old. But them targeting the “unassuming virginal girl” is less universally true. And it isn’t helped by people who fetishize the first-time-kiss and first-time-sex.

      “The dialogue is bold,”
      True enough, Wayne’s dialog is very, very bold. Bordering on illegal child abuse, in fact.

      “…the costuming amazingly true to the era (the movie takes place between 1970 and present day)”
      You mean this movie wasn’t made in the 70’s? *Checks IMDB* It’s from 1998? Fucking hell!

      “…and Serena Orrego’s acting is just breathtaking.
      *Ack*-can’t… breathe…

      “Before your very eyes she grows from a trusting crowd-follower to an unquestioning believer.”
      So she transforms from a girl who naïvely and uncritically accepts the moral framework of her peers to one who naïvely and uncritically accepts the moral framework of her father. How inspiring.

      “Her remarkable acting range takes her character all the way from an obedient daughter to a giving wife.”
      Wow, what a breath of acting range. She transforms from a doe-eyed meek helpmeet showing gratitude for the nightly presence in her bedroom of a male authority figure who tells her how to live to a- wait…

      “Pam’s Prayer proves that one must cut one self off from anything that may lead to the remote possibly of any hint of temptation if one is to remain pure.”
      I would cancel my snark right here out of pity, were it not for the very real possibility that this writer will have children. I feel we owe it to them, and any others who are raised with this pathetic excuse for a moral framework, to oppose these ideas. (

      “The character of Pamela is a shining example of a female who is brave enough to separate herself,”
      I think I mentioned that I am a geek. I didn’t fit in with during the first three years of my middle school (we don’t have a seperate high school, middle school runs from 12 through 16, 17 or 18 depending on the school). I separated myself from a lot of what was going on there too, and actually felt a lot better the last 3 years, when I had a few likeminded classmates with me. It was all around more pleasant for me. I don’t think I’d call that brave, but I’d certainly not call this brave: Pamela wants to do something. Others won’t let her. So she doesn’t.

      “…with the gentle guidance of her father and husband,
      A: Oh god, you’re telling me this is supposed to be gentle guidance? B:Oh god, you’re telling me her husband is going to direct her actions just like her father?

      “…from any thought that may force her to do unchristian things.”
      A thought would not force her. Again, the force here comes from her father forbidding her to do unchristian things.

      “A true inspiration. Top notch indeed!”
      The fact that this is almost certainly not sarcasm is seriously depressing

  6. I laughed so hard reading this review…

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