“Misunderestimating” One’s Enemy

I’m up way too late as usual, just beginning the nightmarish process of catching up on over a month’s worth of reading (lost due to bronchitis and chronic sinus infections), and sort-of watching The Exorcist on AMC.  It’s the new-and-updated version–the one with cheesy single-frame flashes of a “devil face” every once in a while, along with a couple of scenes that were cut from the original film. 

I remember going to see this movie when it was re-released in theaters in 2000 (after watching it oh, about 20 times on video/DVD–I’m a horror movie aficionado).  I have a LOT to say about The Exorcist, but for tonight I’ll just point out the most unexpected thing I encountered in that massive stadium theater in Manassas, Virginia, in the year 2000.  

Check it out: In one of the “from the cutting room floor” scenes, the possessed child’s mother is meeting with a doctor at his offices.  And he’s SMOKING.  He smokes in the hallway.  He smokes in his office.  You should’ve heard the reaction from the audience the second they saw that cigarette–hysterical, spontaneous laughter.   It was, aside from bored eye-rolling and sarcastic giggles, the only reactions I heard/saw from the audience.  And I went in looking for them: I was curious how a New Millenium crowd would react to the movie.

Think about that for a second.  You have a film depicting the most radical, tangible type of spiritual warfare possible: a demon inhabiting a child’s body and killing people at will.  Evil with all masks cast aside.  Yes, it requires a bit of imagination, and some patience with the 70’s-style special effects and fashion.  But the movie is harrowing and is based on a true story–a REAL true story that actually happened, and is verified by unimpeachable witnesses.  Yet, the only thing that audience instinctively understood or responded to was illicit smoking.  

It explains a lot; for instance, a culture that expresses solidarity and courage by the wearing of certain colors (i.e., today’s “day of mourning” for the Virginia Tech massacre); a puny, narcissistic culture that defines every permutation of evil as an addiction or disease.  We’re afraid of smoking, minute climate changes, guns, the use of the N word, and being fat/unattractive/unpopular with others.  These things frighten us, and we consider them our foes.  But Satan?  Well, we just snicker cynically at him. 

Pretty fucked up.  But I guess that’s just me bein’ all crazy again. 

Sorry.  The Virginia Tech bloodbath has got me pretty rattled.

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~ by lewdandlascivious on April 21, 2007.

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