Thursday 10 September 2020

Room 207 Press Webinars #12: The Atrocity Tour

Few things are as synonymous with the pop culture idea of the cult as the great cult atrocity stories: the Manson Family murders, the cult massacre at Jonestown, and the siege at Waco have become irresistible gravitational forces of narrative. 

They have defined the idea of what being in a cult is, have become pop culture artefacts in their own right. And they have inevitably influenced film and TV, both in the sense of film adaptations of the stories, and in films inspired by them. 

But of course, the mythology of these stories isn't the whole deal. We talk about “drinking the Kool-Aid”, we talk about Manson and Waco and what happened in those places, but the stories we know aren't necessarily the truth. To what extent then can fiction really give us an in-road to understanding these real-world tragedies? Should we even attempt to approach them?

In this part of the Cult Cinema lecture series, I’m going to look at how these events have become part of the cultural lexicon and how their transformation from fact into legend has been portrayed on the screen, and what this can tell us about the conditions that make these abuses become part of oour mythology. 

The event is going to be conducted via Zoom, as ever, and it is going to be held on Monday 14th September, twice, at 8pm UK time, and 8pm Eastern Time (US/Canada). Although tickets are £10, subscribers to my Patreon, which also gives you access to videos of previous talks and other patron-exclusive content, get in free.

You can become a Patron here. 

Tickets can also be booked here:

Thursday 3 September 2020

Room 207 Press Webinars #11: Evangelical Horrors – the cinematic politics of fundamentalist Christianity

When Jerry Falwell Junior hit the news recently, it came as a surprise to some and no surprise whatsoever to many. The son of the notorious televangelist of the same name (only, you know, Senior) had been the President of Liberty University since his dad died in 2007, but unlike his dad, who as televangelists go was at least some variety of sincere, Falwell Jr has been prone to doing stuff like posting pictures of himself on Instagram with his pants down, and recently it's come out that he was involved in a specific sort of poly triad with his wife and a hot pool boy or something. The evangelical world has predictably been going crazy about this, as you'd expect. 

Don't worry about the Boy Falwell – he's going to be fine, and sure, Liberty have finally managed to get shot of him. But consider this: Falwell was blackmailed about this poly thing in 2016, because when you're a big proponent of family values stuff and hating on queer people, being poly (albeit poly in one of the most depressingly vanilla ways you can be, of course) is not an optic you want to get out there, and Donald Trump's people made it go away. And in return, Falwell did not endorse Ted Cruz – an awful human being to be sure, but a committed and sincere evangelical believer – and instead endorsed Trump. And the evangelical vote went to Trump. 

I don't think that this is going to make any difference at all to how evangelicals vote in the US in November. Why is that? Why is it that the only people who seem to think that Falwell Minor feeding his entire faith community to a man who conforms closely to the Biblical descriptions of the actual freaking Antichrist are not the people who you'd think would be bothered?

There's a question. 

It's a subject close to my heart, since I spent several years in the thrall of the evangelical version of Christianity and got to know

On Monday 7th September, I'm going to be looking at the prominence of American evangelicalism and its history through the lens of how modern evangelicalism is presented in cinema and TV, and how that illuminates the power, influence and reach of a faith that can be quite persuasively be argued to have departed from historical Christianity. From Righteous Gemstones and Greenleafs to gay conversion camps and Biblical archaeologists, we'll be tackling the religion of the American Empire, and interrogating its flaws.  

It's going to be held twice at 8pm UK time, and again at 8pm Eastern Time (US/Canada) via Zoom. Backers of my Patreon get in as part of their subscription, but regular tickets can be purchased from this link or via the widget thing below.