Persecuted: Part 1
Well, I’m heading into this one with a tad more trepidation than when I critiqued The Penniless Princess.
Can you imagine a glorious alternate reality, where I’m critiquing this in a happy time? A time when we’re celebrating a milestone in our nation’s history, one long overdue, where we actually show our daughters that we don’t think less of them than our sons?
But no. We live in Bizzarro World now. A world where up is down, right is wrong, and a stupid, corrupt, pig-ignorant, pussy-grabbing, child-ogling, racist, classist, misogynist, petty, vindictive, narcissistic Putin-puppet is sitting in the White House in an ill-fitting suit, in a chair that he no doubt considers SAD because it is not gilded.
So now I’m going to watch a movie about how the RTCs have it soooooo hard in Washington, D.C. They’re soooooo put upon. This after they voted for this serial adulterer, this child-neglector, this materialistic opportunist who, you would THINK, is the antithesis of everthing they claim to stand for.
If there’s one silver lining to this clusterfuck (besides Alec Baldwin being able to do his perfect impression for the next couple of weeks or months or however long it takes for the GOP to find this thing not a useful enough idiot), it’s that the RTCs can never hold the moral high ground again. They’re done. You put a serial-cheating, child-neglecting, pussy-grabbing, stupid, corrupt, pig-ignorant, pussy-grabbing, child-ogling, petty, vindictive, narcissistic Putin-puppet in charge? Well, you are now officially done with claiming that you stand for any kind of values or morals.
And when he ruins your life, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourselves.
Okay, rant over. For the moment.
Okay, moment’s over. Movie’s starting.
We open with a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr., about being willing to die for a cause. Then we cut to the Jefferson memorial. Yeah, because the ideals of King and Jefferson are soooooo in line with RTCs. I mean, they know it was Jefferson who coined the phrase “wall of separation between church and state,” right?
And he also crossed out all references to miracles in his own Bible.
A rally is happening in the streets of Washington, with screaming people sporting signs for something called SUMAC, and featuring quotes like Gandhi’s “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians.”
They’re protesting against preacher man John Luthor, who is being interviewed. The interviewer expositions that Luthor has been hailed as “God’s ambassador,” but that some say that he is “intolerant” and “condescending.”
John explains it away thusly:
“I’m not a Republican…”
“I’m not a Democrat, I don’t belong to any particular religious denomination.”
Of course you don’t, bud. We want this movie to sell to all intolerant, condecending denominations.
He also describes himself as a former “abusive, alcoholic, gambling drug addict.”
Damn, son, that’s a lot of addictions to have at once. You must’ve been a busy boy.
Of course, this is the typical “I was a horrible sinner saved by grace” stuff, and it’s pretty early to hit that, but whatevs. The interviewer has nothing to say about John’s past history of abuse, but instead pops right to her next subject, the “Faith and Fairness Act,”
“…to publicly declare your religious beliefs in a way that permits equal time and respect to other systems of faith…”
That’s all we get so far on what this proposed legislation is actually about, meaning…we know basically nothing. What are the details of this, and how would it affect John and his ministry or anybody else and their ministry…that is all fuzzy at this point.
(Yep, I decided to do this movie blind. Because I have so much to say about every little scene.)
But despite the fuzziness for the audience, John is ready with his take on the legislation:
“Freedom is fragile and costly, and must be defended by work and by faith…and even by blood.”
Wow, John, that doesn’t sound vaguely threatening at all. Jerk.
After the interview, John goes to a nighttime rally or whatever. I mean, I guess whatever it is when it’s not Sunday and a preacher yaks at you and you have an opening act.
Said opening act is a lame and supremely unfunny stand-up-isa guy, who cracks wise about how “meticulous” John is, and how he had a sinful past involving “buying Communion wine in kegs.” Har.
WAIT A MINUTE!!! THAT’S FRIGGIN’ BRAD STINE!!!
Damn, no wonder I’m not amused.
Still, it seems Brad isn’t wrong about the whole “meticulous” thing, as we cut to John prepping backstage, obsessively repeating a prayer to be “pure, honest, clean,” and doing some stupid shadow boxing exercises. He’s so deadly serious about this that we do get the impression that John is one of these intense kind of guys who is incapable of overcoming an addiction or a troubled past without CONTROLLING EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE AROUND HIM WITH AN IRON GRIP.
Doesn’t exactly endear me to him, but then again, maybe we’re going to see some growth in John. Maybe the persecutory events he’s about to go through will force him to loosen up a little.
As he’s in the middle of yet more pre-preaching praying, John is interrupted by Senator Evil Senator From The X-Men Movies, who wants John to say nice things about the Faith and Fairness Act. This seems a tad unlikely, as Senator X-Men just saw John talk about the blood that might be needed to combat such a bill, but the senator really wants John’s good word, since he has such a big ministry.
Okay, we’re only a few minutes in, and already this is falling apart. The very first thing we see in this movie is a demonstration AGAINST John and his ministry, so how does the senator think John’s support is necessary? Hell, there appear to be plenty of people who HATE John and what he preaches, so why don’t you use that in your favor, Senator X-Men? Talk about how John’s intolerant ministry is against freedom and equality! Do I have to do everything for you?
John says no, citing the whole “there is only one way to Heaven” bit, and Senator X-Men alludes vaguely to some favors he has done for John in the past. John shrugs this off (vaguely), and now it’s Senator X-Men’s turn to make a veiled threat, this time about running out of patience. Undeterred, John kisses Senator X-Men (yes, really. On the cheek) and heads out to preach.
Well, okay, he goes out to denounce the bill. Seriously, Senator X-Men just asked him to support it, and John goes out and THIRTY SECONDS LATER talks smack about it. That’s pretty rude, John. I thought you just said that all you wanted to do was preach the Bible.
So Senator X-Men gives a go-ahead over the phone. And out in the alley, a besuited dude gives a young black girl some pills. She tosses them back, and they go inside and he takes a picture of her with John when he’s done preaching, since “she loves your show.” Oh yeah, humorless TV preachers are always a hit with the under-18 demographic.
Driving home later, John thinks about a conversation with his wife and their little daughter. He has to miss her recital because of a “super-important board meeting,” but it’s okay because…she gets to make him breakfast in bed?
Man, RTC families are weird.
John spies a young girl on the side of the road, signaling for help. It is of course, the same girl from before, but John doesn’t notice. He does, however, get out of the car and follow her, and is, of course, conked on the head by Besuited Guy and dragged away.
Okay, this plan sure banked heavily on John a) noticing the girl and b) getting out of the car and following her instead of, for example, staying in his car and calling 911.
They take his car and drive it around while the girl makes out with the unconscious John and takes pictures in the backseat. Then they stop and Besuited Guy smacks the girl around to bruise her…and then kills her. Meanwhile, John regains consciousness, stumbles out of the backseat, and makes a run for it.
And, to make sure there is no suspense whatsoever, we see that all this is recorded on the phone of a person hiding in the woods.
Okay, I get that they’re trying to do a Fugitive thing here, with John as the wrongly-accused man, fighting against the odds to prove his innocence, but…why run NOW? Dr. Richard Kimble ran because he had already been convicted in a trial, and knew if he was caught, he would be sent right back to prison. But John has no idea what’s going on yet. All he knows is that he was ambushed and knocked unconscious. And again, as far as he knows, there is only one other man there. And they took the trouble to establish that John is an active guy who knows boxing. So why wouldn’t he take down this guy, or at least run to the first phone he can find to call the police and figure this out?
But no, John runs…like a guilty man would. And he only compounds his stupidity from here…