Pamela’s Prayer: Part 3

The next morning at school, Pamela observes that “everyone is looking at me.”  This really doesn’t seem the case from the shots we’re given, but given Pamela’s status as the school’s Weird Girl, I’m willing to concede that there might be a bit of staring.  Because…dun dun DUN…Jerry has told everyone that he kissed Pamela!

GASP!

Jessica informs Pamela that she heard from a friend of a friend of Jerry that Jerry and Pamela “made out for awhile in the living room [of Pamela’s house].”  I suppose this qualifies as a big, juicy rumor in a 1980s Christian high school, but I remain unimpressed, given the goings-on at my sinful, secular high school.  😉

(Jessica, by the way, is a total sweetie.  She’s upset on Pamela’s behalf when she discovers that the rumor is untrue, but she starts the scene happy for Pamela.  “So, what did you think of kissing—did you like it?!“)

Pamela tells the entire sordid, sinful tale to her father that night.  Wayne reacts…pretty much how one would expect.

Wayne:  So, Jerry told everyone he kissed you.

Pamela:  And I didn’t, Dad—why is he saying that?

Wayne:  Well, first of all, maybe the Lord’s trying to teach you a lesson.  If you’d obeyed your father, none of this would have happened.

Pamela:  I know.

Wayne:  You also deceived me.  You said you were going to the game with Jessica, which you did, but you met Jerry.  Now Jerry’s telling everyone he went out with you, which you did.  But what happened is another story.

Pamela:  I don’t know why I did it.  All the other girls were going on dates, and I wasn’t.

Therein lies the heart of the problem.  Pamela is unhappy.  She’s very unhappy and lonely.  And she’s trying to take steps to make herself happy and not lonely.  This is what happens when perfectly innocuous things, like kissing and going to a basketball game with a boy, are demonized and forbidden.  And like I said in the previous installment, this whole thing could have been avoided—not just by Pamela not dating Jerry at all, but by Wayne opening his mind this much and chaperoning the young couple to and from the game.

But no, this is really all about the Lord teaching Pamela a lesson—the lesson that you should never, ever, even ONCE question your parents on anything.  Never test boundaries, never find your own path in life, never think for yourself.  Because One Wrong Basketball Game, and it’s all over for you.

You see why I hate Wayne?  Pamela’s depressed—now, for multiple reasons—and Wayne’s only real response is…Toldja So.

Pamela begs Wayne’s forgiveness, and he gives it.  Prick.

Wayne:  Pamela, a kiss isn’t something you should just give away.

WHY NOT???

(Actually, this ties in with Lliira’s point about sex being an activity.  Hell, give away as many kisses as you want, Pamela.  Because, like love, kisses are not sugar in a bowl.  There are always more kisses.)

Wayne:  What does the minister say, just after he pronounces the couple husband and wife?  You may NOW kiss the bride.

Oh, please.  THIS is what Wayne bases his great dating philosophy on?  A weird interpretation of the phrase “now kiss the bride”?  Jesus, Wayne, the minister means, “now, at this moment, you may kiss the bride,” not “now, for the very first time in your life, you may kiss a woman.”

You see why I hate Wayne, right?

By the way, I do appreciate that dating and kissing and sex are sensitive topics, and television and movies don’t always Get It Right, despite best efforts.  And this whole horrible scene reminded me of a good scene that does get it right, from one of my favorite shows ever, Quantum Leap.

It’s from the episode Another Mother, in which Sam leaps into the body of a hard-working single mom, whose teenage son is struggling, much like Pamela, with his virginal reputation at his high school.  In one of the last scenes, Sam sits down with the boy, who thinks he is having a talk with his mom.

Sam:  I was a virgin when I was sixteen.

Kevin:  You’re a girl; you’re supposed to be.

Sam:  It doesn’t matter if you’re male or female.  And there’s no special age when it has to happen.  But there should be a special reason: when you love someone so much that making love to them is the most natural way of expressing it.

True confession: I actually get a little teary when I think about that episode.  Gets it just right.

Anyway.

After bedtime prayers, Pamela brings up the hot issue (other than Deceiving Her Father, that is): what does she do now?

Wayne:  You could do what Jesus did.  Remember when he stood in front of Pilate?  And they falsely accused him?  He didn’t say anything.  Jesus didn’t defend himself against the lies.  And Pilate was amazed.  You know why?  *doesn’t wait for Pamela to answer*  Because he saw the humble reaction of Christ, and it showed him who was really lying.  You could do the same.  Don’t say anything.  Don’t defend yourself.  Don’t get upset.  Just be patient and let the Lord have control of the situation.

Okay, I am sure that most of the time, in such a case as this, a girl protesting with the truth would only confirm the boy’s story in the minds of most high school kids.  But I have a hard time with the idea that whoever doesn’t defend themselves is telling the truth by default.  In this exact situation, it’s probably the best plan—no doubt this stupid kissing rumor is already dying because, c’mon, it’s a rumor that two teenagers kissed.  Even a Christian high school has to be able to do better than that in the rumor mill within a day or two.

Just not sure this is a Great Life Lesson About Being Like Jesus.

The next day, at school, Jerry’s Friend (And we have a name!  It’s Andy!) asks Pamela out to the next game.  Pamela almost tells the truth about not kissing Jerry, but stops herself just in time.  (Boy, good thing too—Andy actually looked interested in what she had to say, and might have believed her, and we couldn’t very well have that, could we?)  Taking an example from Jesus, Pamela declines going to another high school basketball game.

(The first time I saw this movie, I didn’t realize it was Christian Entertainment.  Thus, I thought that Andy was actually going to be a good guy, and that the conclusion of the movie would be for Wayne to allow Pamela to date such a nice fellow.  And I thought this almost exclusively because Andy looked so interested in the truth in this brief scene.)

When school lets out, Pamela spies Jerry talking to another girl!  Gee, how…ominous?  Insulting?  What are we supposed to be feeling here?

Oh well!  Cut to the next scene (“August 1986“), and Pamela’s grandfather (remember how he had a bad heart?) has died.  This is an important plot point, for reasons which will become clear in a moment, but to me, this scene is important because Jessica is attending the funeral so she can support Pamela, and it is just more evidence that Jessica is an awesome friend.

BFFs

Jessica and Pamela: BFFs

Of course, with his dad dead, Wayne is left to run the Christian Film Library all alone.  So he does the only natural thing: he trains his daughter in how to run the family business.

HA!  Just kidding!  Actually, Wayne puts up an extremely professional-looking advertisement at Pamela’s school, so he can train some other kid in how to run the family business.

Sign

And it is immediately spotted by…a mysterious boy we have never seen before!

Hmmm…

And okay, okay, I can admit it when I’m wrong—Wayne has an interview with the boy (Frederick) and tells him that Pamela has been working with him after school, helping with the “book work.”  Frederick’s job would be to “help back here with the films.”

Fair enough.

The job would be every day after school for three hours.

DAMN, Wayne.  Work the boy to death, why don’t you?  I’m being serious here—this could lead to some serious spare change for Frederick, but what if he wants to play a sport or join a club or hang with his friends.  I mean DAMN.  I had an after-school job in high school, too, and you better believe it was no “every day for three hours” bullshit.

Here is Frederick’s interview speech:

Frederick:  We just moved here this summer from Seattle.

Phew!  Boy, it’s sure a good thing that Freddy escaped that den of iniquity while he’s still young!

Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt the kid (and I will continue to call him Freddy because it pleases me to do so.

Freddy:  Let’s see…I’m a senior, and I became a Christian when I was nine years old.  I’ve been wanting to work in a ministry, and when I saw your sign at school, it looked like a good opportunity.  I don’t know much about film libraries but I’m willing to learn.  I promise to work real hard and try to do the best job I can.

Wayne hires him on the spot.

Two additional notes here.  One, Wayne is VERY PLEASED at Freddy’s “I became a Christian when I was nine years old” line.  We immediately cut to Wayne, nodding with this smug and satisfied look on his face.

Pleased

I hate Wayne.

Two, there are multiple posters for Christian films plastered on the walls, including one for this movie, which looks FRICKING AMAZING AND I NEED TO SEE IT.

Hmmm…a new boy in Pamela’s (very small) world.  Could things be looking up for her?

We shall see!

 

 

 

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Posted on September 28, 2014, in Movies, Pamela's Prayer. Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. OK, Wayne is officially giving me genuine creepo vibes. He doesn’t want his teenager daughter doing ANYTHING apart from home, work, or school. And LARRY is teaching her a lesson?! No. That’s a big negatory on that.

    Wayne should have been the one to die from a bad heart.

  2. Oh dear. On the cover of that “FRICKING AMAZING” video as shown on IMDB, it says his secret identity is “Clark Cant” (how original!), but at that reduced size, well, the vowel in his last name looked like a different one at first, and let’s just leave it at that.

    • Although I now notice that, in the credits, it’s spelled as “Kant”, because really, why bother filing off more than a digit of the serial numbers?
      (I wonder if he has any good imperatives?)

  3. I think you should review “Super Christian”. Just from the IMDB page it looks hilariously bad. This review needs to happen.

  4. “Well, first of all, maybe the Lord’s trying to teach you a lesson. If you’d obeyed your father, none of this would have happened.”
    How entirely not arrogant of Wayne to assume god has nothing better to do than to influence his daughter to obey Wayne. I mean, children dying on the streets in Africa? Pfft, that’ll sort itself out, humiliating an American teenager to make her more obedient to her parent is obviously the priority here.
    Also, I’m not so sure why “none of this would have happened”. How much harder would it really have been for Jerry to lie about kissing Pamela if they hadn’t gone to the ballgame? I guess if there were any classmates at that ballgame who noticed the pair, it lends a bit of credibility to the story, but there still aren’t any witnesses of Jerry even being at Pamela’s house, much less that he’d made out there.

    “Pamela: I don’t know why I did it. All the other girls were going on dates, and I wasn’t.

    I’d say the second sentence kinda answers the first, doesn’t it?

    “What does the minister say, just after he pronounces the couple husband and wife? You may NOW kiss the bride.”
    Isn’t that the exact example the Slacktivist used as a mocking illustration of courtship and purity culture?

    “Don’t say anything. Don’t defend yourself. Don’t get upset. Just be patient and let the Lord have control of the situation.”
    I won’t pretend I was ever good at the social game in high school, but this actually sounds less effective than denying it. If Pamela goes into sullen silence whenever someone mentions her kissing Jerry, the most obvious conclusion would be that she kissed him and is either embarrassed about it or regrets it. It may stop the gossiping faster than making a scene about it, but the consensus will be that she did in fact kiss.

    I’ll give Freddy this much, he knows how to give a good interview. He’s telling Wayne exactly what he wants to hear. Oh, what I wouldn’t give for this movie to go the Pretender-route and have Freddy be a devious liar. The look on Wayne’s face would be priceless.

  5. “Marry Freddy? Don’t be absurd!”

    Somebody did something I don’t like. What is the first lesson I should learn from this? Not “some people are nasty”, but “God is punishing me!”.

    In Fundyland, everything is a Great Life Lesson About Being Like Jesus.

    In the UK, that job would be illegal. Here‘s the gen: during term time, a child may not work after 7pm or during school hours, or for more than 2 hours a day or 12 hours a week.

  6. Wayne: Well, first of all, maybe the Lord’s trying to teach you a lesson. If you’d obeyed your father, none of this would have happened.

    Well, first of all, Wayne is again assuming that his thoughts are God’s thoughts. Because apparently disobeying your father is directly equivalent to disobeying God.

    And secondly, Pamela’s question was: “Why did Jerry lie?” Wayne’s answer is that God is teaching her a lesson. How would that work exactly? Last night God appeared in Jerry’s bedroom and spoke: “I grant you temporary exemption from the commandment against bearing false witness. For it is my will that you should spread a rumour about having kissed Pamela, so that she might learn a lesson about obeying her father.”

    Ok, Wayne doesn’t actually believe that. But his unwillingness to address the logistics of this “God teaching a lesson” idea betrays something about his thinking. In Wayne’s mind, people like Jerry aren’t really real, they are just puppets that God uses to manipulate the lives of the few genuinely important people. Jerry couldn’t possibly lie for reasons relating to Jerry. No, it had to be about God. Denying other people’s agency is what authoritarianism is all about!

    Wayne: What does the minister say, just after he pronounces the couple husband and wife? You may NOW kiss the bride.

    Ah, but he does NOT say: “You may now kiss the husband.” To obey these instructions literally, the man has to kiss the woman in such a way that the woman is not kissing the man. So a kiss on the lips is definitely the WRONG solution to this linguistic puzzle.

    What? You’re telling me that traditional ceremonial phrases are not puzzles to be solved? Well knock me down with a feather! (You couldn’t actually, because I’m too heavy to be knocked down by anything as light as a feather. Unless I was balancing very precariously on something.)

    Wayne: You could do what Jesus did. … Jesus didn’t defend himself against the lies.

    And what happened next? He was condemned to death and executed. Which worked out ok for him, being the Son of God and all, but not necessarily a good route for anyone else to take. Yeah, a weird life lesson.

    Hmmm…a new boy in Pamela’s (very small) world. Could things be looking up for her?

    Haven’t seen the movie, so I’m just going to take a wild guess:

    Freddy starts working at the film library. As time passes, his admiration for Wayne’s wisdom and gentle guidance grows. And Wayne is gratified to receive the adulation he so richly deserves. Freddy and Wayne both come to realize that they are meant for each other by God.

    Eventually Wayne takes Freddy aside and tells him (without actually mentioning the word) that homosexuality is wrong and therefore they can never be together. But happily, God in his wisdom has provided a way. They can form a deep and eternal bond in a manner approved by God: By Freddy marrying Wayne’s daughter.

    And so the day that Frederick and Wayne stood together at the altar (with the required female intermediary between them) was the happiest day of their lives!

    • So a kiss on the lips is definitely the WRONG solution to this linguistic puzzle.

      Linguistic puzzle? Sorry, but Frenching is clearly right out!

      I adore your happy ending for Wayne & Freddy, though.

  7. Does Wayne ever say anything about Pamela being friends with Jessica? I’m frankly surprised he allows it. I’d thought at first that they only talked to each other at school and thus Wayne wasn’t aware of their friendship, but he’d have to know about them being friends if Jessica shows up at his father’s funeral. You’d think he’d be more worried about a worldy slut like Jessica putting ideas into his innocent and impressionable daughter’s head that might influence her into being a temptress who goes outs on dates with boys, especially since I doubt Wayne cares that Jessica is Pamela’s only friend, and by pushing the two apart he’d be leaving her without anyone to talk to her age. If anything, I’d think that would be a PLUS for him, since it would be one less person for him to compete with for Pamela’s attention.

    • A woman? Influencing something? Oh please. The only thing Wayne needs to worry about is the men who might influence his daughter to do things like attend basketball games. The actions of women are inconsequential. Because women only do what men tell them to do.

      Wayne was willing to accept Pamela going to the basketball game with Jessica. Jerry would still have been present at the game, and everyone would still have been sitting in the same tightly packed auditorium. Pamela’s actual behaviour was fairly irrelevant, it was mainly about whether or not she was doing it at the prompting of an unauthorized male.

      Or consider that discussion about Jessica herself from last time:

      Pamela: Jessica’s father lets her go out with guys as long as they’re Christians.
      Wayne: I wonder what Jessica’s husband would say if he knew that?

      It’s not really an argument about the rightness or wrongness of Jessica’s actions. It’s an argument about the rightness or wrongness of Jessica’s father’s actions. By allowing his daughter to go on dates, Jessica’s father is failing in his duty to uphold the rights of Jessica’s husband. Jessica is not important. This is about the correct distribution of property rights between men.

      • Disturbing as it is, you may have something there. I hadn’t noticed it at first, but the wording of that exchange indeed excludes the daughter from the entire consideration. It suggests a mindset where only men matter. If you have a son, well and good. If you have a daughter, the best you can do is keep her in mint condition so that you can get a proper son(-in-law).

        In another movie, I might chalk this up to poor word choice, but it might actually be the intentional message here. The fact that Pamela’s prospective husband is introduced to us by having him meet and impress Wayne is another red flag.

        I seriously wonder how the people who made this movie would recommend handling this parenting question if Wayne had had a son. Presumably, they’d still want Wayne to keep him from dating before marriage, but how would it have been handled? What arguments would Wayne have used to discourage him? How would the lord have taught him a lesson, since rumors that he had kissed a girl probably wouldn’t bother him?

        • The manner of Freddy’s introduction is indeed strange. That’s what prompted my earlier joking about the happy ending of Freddy and Wayne.

          A common progression in a story about romance might go something like: boy and girl meet, they form a connection, parent or other authority disapproves. The main problem of the story then becomes: “How will boy and girl solve this obstacle to their love?”

          Here the progression is: boy and father meet, they form a connection, girl remains unaware that anything is happening. The main dramatic tension this story seems to be building towards is: “Will the girl understand that this is for her own good?” Which is just… yeah, there’s that feeling like someone just threw a bucket of slime at me.

          How would the movie deal with the situation if Wayne had had a son? I think the creepy angel from Second Glance answered that. If you are attracted to a girl who doesn’t share your faith, then your feelings are sinful and sexual and you must avoid her at all costs. If you are attracted to a girl who does share your faith, then your feelings are holy and pure and a sign from God that you should marry her.

          So it’s demonization of sexuality for everyone, but boys get actual miracles and an alternate reality with massive guilt trips. Girls only get the guilt trip. But hey, on the plus side nobody is trying to convince Pamela that her lack of praying might cause Jessica’s suicide. And the fact that that counts as a plus is saying something about these movies.

        • I did have Second Glance in mind when I asked that question. The thing is, there it was an actual messenger from god who used miracles to “prove” that his desires were wrong. Not to mention that it wasn’t the relationship itself that was shown to go wrong. The problem is that that bigotted asshole of an angel went “Oh yeah, you’re dating your highschool crush now. But you had to become a filthy sinful unbeliever to get that, so obviously you’re also cheating on her with a manipulative girl who has a jealous and violent boyfriend. HA!”

          It’s just not the same. I want to know what the genders-swapped equivalent of “I wonder what Jessica’s husband would say if he knew Jessica’s father let her date” is. I bet it’s not “I wonder what Mark’s wife would say if he knew Mark’s father let her date”. My best guess is “How are you going to explain that you’ve already dated to your wife’s father?”

          • Comparing these two movies, it seems to go like this: Girls are considered to have no power at all. So when disciplining them, you need to remind them about how utterly dependent on others they are. “If you do this sinful thing, how will others think of you? No-one will ever truly love you if you disgrace yourself like this. The slightest mistake from you might make you a social pariah for life.”

            Boys on the other hand, are considered to have all the power. So when disciplining them, you need to threaten them with excessive responsibilities. “If you do this sinful thing, your parents will divorce, your teacher will lose his job and your friend will die. The slightest mistake from you might have devastating consequences for everyone you care about.”

            For an adult, that would be a blatantly ludicrous threat. But children tend to have an exaggerated view of their own importance. Even without anyone prompting, plenty of kids manage to convince themselves that they caused their parents’ divorce. So when an authority figure tells them that bad behaviour will cause someone to die, they’ll believe it.

          • Oh, and incidentally, that’s why I’ve never liked It’s a Wonderful Life either. George Bailey is personally, single-handedly responsible for preventing an entire town from going to shit. Um, Clarence, how exactly was that revelation supposed to make him less depressed?

          • Personally, I have more doubts about that movie for the same reason it showed up on Cracked’s “6 movies with uplifting messages (that can kill you)”

            “Convincing Jimmy Stewart to stay alive is easy, in the film the character was basically Jesus and Ned Flanders rolled together, he just needed someone to remind him of all the good things he’d done with his life. After all, it turned out the entire community goes right down the toilet without him.But is that really the standard for not committing suicide? […] Is it OK if we commit suicide if we decide the fate of the entire city doesn’t hinge on our continuing to draw breath?”

            Then there’s the somewhat questionable way both It’s a wonderful life and Second glance bring their “positive” messages in an essentially negative way. The protagonist starts unhappy with his situation. Then an angel cheers him up, not by showing him something really good about his situation, but by showing him how much the alternative would suck.

            Still, It’s a wonderful life at least didn’t insult anyone. It makes its protagonist happy by saying his exitence made him better than if he didn’t exist. That only insults non-existant people and, well, they don’t exist. Second Glance went ahead and made up lots of horrible things the believer would do just because he wasn’t a believer.

  8. That analysis is spot on. Also I feel like I need to go take a shower. Conservatives are always claiming that feminists hate men but I don’t know any feminists that hold men in has much contempt as ultra conservatives do women.

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