I love that Fred Phelps is always condemning people to death, when he looks like a corpse that's been kicking around for a few months. It's like Weekend at Freddy's Part 5,000. Way to bring a sense of vanity to proselytizing, Fred. Because that's not gay or anything.
I mention this because I recently watched this documentary that Showtime's been running, Fall From Grace, which is all about Fred and his Westboro Baptist Church (I know that there are many documentaries that focus on this church; this just happens to be the one I watched). It's a well-made film, if slightly snoozy on account of its subject. It's sort of amazing to me that someone so full of hate could be so dull, but Fred Phelps' one-note platform (you may know him from his constant refrain: God Hates Fags) makes him just that. Honestly, I'm kind of disappointed. I want variation in my unfounded rage, damn it!
Westboro's efforts don't bother me as a homosexual; they bother me as a human. I have a Hannibal Lector-like obsession with politeness, and these people are just fucking rude. Beyond that, I find their anti-gay message pretty harmless -- any attempts to verbalize their rationale generally trail off or boil down to a few oblique references in the Bible. Clearly, these people are idiot maniacs (who are more into gay people than even gay people are), and it's very easy to feel self righteous in the wake of blind rage. That's not to mention the fact that religious intimidation is utterly meaningless to me. Your terribly translated book of contradictions says what? Your god takes what stance? I know you think it pertains to me and my life, but I assure you, it really doesn't.
Really, the Westboro Baptist Church, per Grace's portrayal, just seems like a group of failures -- no one outside Phelps' family is a member, and their attempts to persuade people of their beliefs are bungled by their alienating delivery. My cats communicate better than they do.
But what I really took away from the film is that for all of their yammering (I'd call it hard work, but, uh, it isn't), they're failures at religion, too. Even if religion isn't for me, I cannot knock its practical application: I repeatedly read about studies suggesting that, by and large, the happiest people are also religious. I respect that positive correlation and would even go as far as tipping my hat to religion's power to transform lives and, sometimes on a very fundamental level, make the world a nicer place. But these people are fucking miserable! Like all of them! I think there was one younger woman who cracked a smile a few times during her interview, and that was really fucking it.
Come on, guys, cheer up! You can't dance on graves without a smile on your face!
You know, it's like he's just begging for a bundle of balloons.
What does Fred need here?
Hmmm. Would that charming, British worm from Labyrinth lift his spirits?
Why, I do think that she would!
These hands look empty...
I'll make it better!
Now they're full of the joy that only lollipops can bring.
This looks like a tough one:
I think I have to bring out the big guns...
Care Bear stare!
Oh, and I also think it's ironic that Shirley Phelps-Roeper has the taste of a blind lesbian.
And now she has the taste of Elton John.
Oh, and speaking of lesbians...
...this son of Fred looks exactly like one.
So yeah: joyless. But you know what the worst thing about all this is? The only thing these people are successful at (besides grabbing cheap press that amounts to only hurting their cause, as homophobia's poster children are stridently fucking crazy) is converting their children. The segment of Grace in which the kids are interviewed is by far the most moving and chilling in the documentary. You expect people who are older and bitter and who don't like themselves to just transfer that onto an already disenfranchised group. It's human nature to attempt a shortcut to superiority, but it seems like something you work toward. The kids in the video below already seem jaded -- for the most part, they are unsmiling and clearly have been robbed of their childhood. And childhood is one of the few social constructs that I support wholeheartedly because I know how awesome it can be (truthfully, I kind of miss it sometimes).
Anyway, the video below probably qualifies as disturbing if you aren't a sick fuck like me. So if you're sensitive about kids being incredibly po-faced and homophobic, you probably shouldn't watch. It's basically the result of what the Westboro Baptist Church probably considers "God's work." Chilling, I know.