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Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

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Let's Talk about TV and Religion [Jul. 15th, 2010|10:46 am]
Religious Themes in the Shows We Love

churchofjoss

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[mood |thoughtfulthoughtful]

There's been lots of religious references in various television series recently, but very little of it positive.

For example:

On Trueblood, there's been the poorly-researched and quite offensive 'Maenad' plotline (did you know that worshippers of Dionysus grow monster claws and murder people (after making those around them crazy)? Did you know that centuries-old Maenads build altars with modern Goddess-worshiper idols on them?), and Christians don't fare much better - they're portrayed as being intolerant, hate-filled and violent OR ineffectual and self-congratulatory assholes.

On Bones, there's been a Wiccan group portrayed as out-there flakes (who affect stilted 'ritual language' when being interviewed by the police in connection with a murder!) in order to allow the protagonists to make snide remarks at their expense.

And let's not even get into Supernatural.

I miss the thoughtful tenor of Deep Space Nine, where fictional religions were given respectful voice as complex belief systems. And the best part was that there was a range of practice represented. Some people were devout and holy and good, some were opportunistic and grasping and bad...but there wasn't some shorthand where religion in general was made the villain or the buffoon.

Why is Hollywood so antagonistic to religion (in general) these days? Why do writers use their characters' religious lives as a source of derision? I can't think that it translates to a larger antagonism towards spirituality in the US- while my experience is limited, I see more people with active religious life now than I ever did in the past (which may or may not include worshiping within an organized congregational model of whichever religion.)

While such antagonistic writing is not wholly unexpected in 'mainstream' programming, I find it particularly disappointing to see it in shows that deal with genres that should have (in my opinion) greater tolerance and a wider imagination than the average bear.

Have there been any television portrayals of religion (any religion) that you found particularly infuriating or particularly gratifying? How do you think they inform (or are informed by) the general public?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: ivyfree
2010-07-16 03:31 am (UTC)
It sounds like you feel antagonism to religion isn't a valid POV. I've reached the point where I feel my own religion is relevant to me, and I don't particularly care what other people think so long as they please shut up about it.

I think writers ought to be free to express their views, even if they are antagonistic to religion. I think religion provides nearly unlimited opportunities for people to maximize their asshole potential. And I might be reacting a bit strongly to your comments because we received an invitation to go to the corner park tomorrow night to meet our neighbors and have a come to Jesus meeting; we've lived here (and so have they) 32 years, and I can't imagine what we could have done to make them think we'd welcome an invitation to a Christian event- and I'm hoping that they just tactfully drop the matter because if they ask me why we didn't come, I'm probably going to tell them.

Spiritual nudity is, as I've said before, less attractive than the physical kind.
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