‘Signs’ movie – a tool of Christian fundamentalist propaganda, asks RITA CORRIEL?
I wrote this piece for a writers workshop in New York City last month. I was really looking forward to this film, only because I thought it would be uplifting and possibly even inspiring... I am a psychologist who has a deeply intuitive approach to the work I do. I also heard Michael Glickman speak in DC about 18 months ago. I loved his talk. I have been wanting to share this view with people who are directly involved with the crop circle phenomena. If you get a chance, I would love to receive a response. If you want to share it, please feel free. If you want to print it, great!:
'SIGNS' IS A SIGN OF THE TIMES
What do fundamentalist Christianity, the US war on terror and the hit movie 'Signs' all have in common? Everything. It is a movie that promises to be about the enigma of crop circles, but turns out to be an insipid morality play; a cinematic Trojan horse that delivers a subliminal attack on our collective psyches. It has been two months since I left the theatre feeling intellectually insulted and spiritually violated, and I still feel a deep sense of malignment and outrage whenever I think about it. So why does a movie that has all the passion, sophistication and emotional depth of an episode of Pat Roberson's '700 Club' elicit such a strong response?
'Signs' is a propaganda film. But unlike the pentagon-financed ‘Black Hawk Down’, which is a straightforward piece of revisionist history, 'Signs' goes much further. There is something really scary and malevolent about this movie; not because of its content, but because of its intent. It is an insidious psycho-spiritual manipulation that echoes the tone of the post 9/11 American zeitgeist. This movie evoked the precise feelings I had when George W Bush announced his war on terror. In fact, I believe that this film is actually a tool of that 'war'. And it mirrors that same dissonance which tells us to be very afraid, while telling us there is really nothing to worry about.
This is the story of a widowed ex-minister who lost his faith in God, and his younger brother, an ex-baseball player, who lost his faith in himself. They live in an isolated farmhouse with the minister's two young children. The world is being attacked by aliens from outer space. Strangely enough, these aliens have no weapons; nothing hi-tech here. Their entire arsenal consists of a poisonous white powder reminiscent of the anthrax we saw ad nauseum on the news last Fall. The 'aliens' (or 'alien’ - we really only see one, however, they all look alike) appear as dark skinned men with sharp fangs and claws; like the pictures of Satan in vacation bible school colouring books. And they have an incredibly primitive strategy for beings capable of extra-terrestrial travel. They land on roof tops and break into homes. We never know ‘why’. It doesn't seem to matter. That question is never even asked, since CNN is our only source of information throughout this crisis. What does seem to matter, though, is that the minister's faith in God is eventually renewed. After 'securing the homeland', he and his family hunker down for the night in their basement, courageously awaiting a terrorist attack. When the alien finally arrives, our ex- ball player beats it to death with his retired baseball bat, right in the middle of the living room. By this time it is morning. The sun is shining when we learn that the international crisis is ended. We know this is true because CNN, the voice of authority, reports that all the spaceships are gone and the world is in massive celebration. As it turns out, there is a "primitive African tribe" that knows how to expel extra-terrestrials. The brother has reclaimed his self-esteem through his heroic deed. The children have been "saved". We know that the 'father' has been 'born again' because we watch him put on his starched white collar for the first time since we've met him. No women were needed here.
I was all set to exit about halfway through this film. It was during the only scene where the family actually leaves their house. The minister's brother visits an army recruitment centre to try to find a meaningful direction in life. (We later see him pouring over the military brochure). The minister goes to a pharmacy where one of his teenage congregants asks him to hear her confession, since the world may be ending in a day or two. Her worst sins involve calling her boyfriend bad names. The kids go to a local bookstore where they are told, "We don't carry books on occult subjects like UFOs." But they happened to have one in stock for "some city folk". And then I remembered... I read a short piece in the ‘New York Times’ last spring about the Christian Coalition opening an LA office to financially back certain movie projects. Some were already being touted as "summer blockbusters". And it all started to make sense. I stayed in my seat because I wanted to see for myself what was turning out to be a bizarre and soulless fable for the new state religion. The religion where demons are hiding on every corner and even have their very own lair, a.k.a. the "axis of evil". I was desperately hoping to find even one moment of real heart, wisdom or substance in this flat, lifeless tale. But there wasn't. When the movie ended I felt a deep gut level sense of foreboding. A feeling of dread that told me something is happening. I had witnessed phase two in the war on terror. It has been launched against our souls.