The following is a commentary in an ongoing series of “Reflections” by John Mill. John Mill is the radio persona of Ronald Bruce Meyer and can be heard on “American Heathen.” The "American Heathen” Internet radio broadcast is aired, live, on Friday nights from 7:00pm-10:00pm Central time on ShockNetRadio.com.
Halloween: What Really Scares Me
A Reflection by Ronald Bruce Meyer
It’s the night before the night before Halloween, and you know what really scares me? No, it isn’t witches and wizards, ghosts and devils, or even zombies and vampires. No, in the real world some living people give me the frights!
For Halloween, I watched once again the film that nearly gave me nightmares. No, it wasn’t The Exorcist. It wasn’t the homophilic, sadomasochistic The Passion of the Christ. It wasn’t even Jesus Camp, although that came close to keeping my eyes wide open at night. No, the film that gave me the willies was Frailty, the 2002 film with Matthew McConaughey and Powers Booth, and starring its director, Bill Paxton – every one of them a Texan!
The story begins when the peaceful-yet-troubled character played by McConaughey introduces himself as Fenton Meiks to FBI agent Doyle, played by Boothe, and claims to know the identity of the "God's Hand" serial killer Doyle has been tracking. There follow extended flashbacks as Meiks relates to Doyle how, when he and his brother were pre-teens, his father, played by Paxton, was visited by an angel who gave him a list and a mission: to destroy these demons masquerading as human beings. Only Dad could see the demons inside the humans.
And the tool of Dad's trade? An axe. Plus a single-minded faith in his mission.
But Fenton Meiks didn’t share his father’s faith. And as punishment for his skepticism, Dad raises his hand to his son, but instead of striking Fenton, Dad forces him to dig a pit under the garage, then confines him there until Fenton hears from God.
If all of this rank child abuse sounds like unrealistic Hollywood hype, bear in mind that, in the year before (2001), Andrea Yates believed she was possessed by the devil, and that only by drowning her children could she save them. The film Frailty carries the point to its logically perverse end: if you believe God speaks to you, how can you disobey him?
And since Dad and only Dad sees the true demons, we are left wondering, if God indeed speaks to mankind, that he might after all be right. No matter how immoral your actions may seem to someone who didn't experience the visions, if it's God's will, it can't be immoral!
As film critic Roger Ebert wrote in his review of Frailty, "Heaven protect us from people who believe they can impose their will on us in this world because of what they think they know about the next." Yet, with all due respect to Mr. Ebert, from religious fanatics — whether they be a crazed Jim Jones or a comparatively sane Pat Robertson — protection will not come from the sky!
So Happy Halloween. And don’t worry about Freddy until you’ve seen Frailty!
Copyright © 2010-11 Ronald Bruce Meyer. To hear an audio version of this Reflection, click on this link: Halloween Movie
It was on this date, March 28, 1942, that American philosopher, writer and cognitive scientist Daniel Clement "Dan" Dennett III was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Although a researcher on the philosophy of mind, the philosophy of science and the philosophy of biology, Dennett is chiefly known, along with Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and the late […]