Stupid Girls

Monday, June 28, 2010

MOVIE: "The Exorcist"

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As a former thumper, I can tell you why it was terrifying. We knew nothing of Islam, except that we believed it was a false religion, superstitious, and a road to Hell. We knew nothing of ancient cultures of the Fertile Crescent, but knew Biblical condemnation of others. The demon is based on a real, pre-Islamic deity, not associated with evil locally, but only by Christians. The audience is already set up, thrust into a culture about which we know little beyond superstition and stereotypesl Coincidental happenings, such as a dog fight and a carriage coming out of a blind corner, as omens of interference by demonic forces. Also note: disabilities will be targeted as evidence of evil. Specifically, the black smith with a cataract in his eye. All fundamentalists are warned away from dabbling: by playing with such items as Ouija boards, we open a gateway through which evil can manifest. As a person with a brain injury, I sincerely resent the linking of behavioral health challenges with evil or demon possession. Fear of female sexuality is a prime factor in this story; Regan exhibits symptoms just after her twelth birthday: onset of menses? So called witchcraft, indigenous faith practices, are not synonymous with satanism; that's Christian propaganda. Props to two actors who were uncredited: Carlotta Mercedes McCambridge, who had to sue to get credit as the voice of the demon and Eileen Dietz, who performed the demon, particularly in problematic scenes. Props also to sound engineering. At the time, the innovations in sound and music were extra terrifying, as these were relatively new and unheard techniques (Tubular Bells became a huge hit, as a result). I am very grateful that I am no longer victimized by the guilt, superstition, fear, shame and smallness of a religion that needs to resort to parlor tricks to keep its victims – congregation – dependent. Seeing this again, I see the only power the church has is from the ignorance of its followers.