I haven’t seen Kevin Smith’s film, Dogma, nor do I intend to. However, after reading about two dozen reviews and articles about the film (most of them favourable), I know more than enough about Dogma’s content to comment on it. One needn’t do laps in a cesspool to know that excrement stinks; the fumes are enough.
I don’t advocate banning or censoring the film, despite the fact that, like other devout Christians, I find it deeply offensive. Censorship and muzzling free expression are what the political correctness folks do.
Which of course begs the question: Why is Christianity uniquely excluded from political correctness taboos against public ridicule and hatred against identifiable groups?
For instance, the Toronto District School Board’s new Human Rights Policy guidelines state: “Harassment, a form of discrimination, is usually persistent, ongoing communication in any form of negative attitudes, beliefs or actions … Forms of harassment include: name calling, jokes…. ” If that definition doesn’t apply to the way Christians and Christianity are portrayed in popular culture, nothing does.
The school board document further states: “The Board is committed to the elimination of all forms of human rights discrimination and harassment. These behaviours can be eradicated because they are neither natural nor instinctive but are learned and socially constructed.” Yes, and what people learn from today’s popular entertainment is that it’s alright, even commendable, to ridicule Christians and treat the sacred tenets of the Christian religion with contempt.
Dogma is a prima facie case. The movie is undeniably blasphemous in parodying the Church and the Bible. As Kevin Smith told Entertainment Weekly online: ‘’If you view God or the church as your friend, as I do after growing up with it … Well, I’m allowed to make fun of my friends. Why should the church be above that?’
Not sufficiently irreverent
Obviously Kevin Smith, like most people under 40, has no comprehension of the word “sacred.” In fact, Smith, a professed “practising Catholic,” fretted to Entertainment Weeklythat his target audience might not find Dogma sufficiently irreverent: ‘’It doesn’t help if you have an audience going in there saying, ‘I can’t wait to watch this, I hear it really takes the p—s out of the church.”’
One Christian who saw the film commented: “Although I did chuckle at a few of the one-liners, this movie was a typical Hollywood failure to understand either the Christian faith or Biblical truth. It was so far off-base it was hard to tell exactly what was being satirized, Christianity, or the world’s view of Christianity.”
Unfortunately, the world’s view of Christianity is today thoroughly imbued with postmodern cynicism and nihilism – even in nominally “Christian” circles. A survey of high school students published in Christian Week found “almost no differences between the cinematic tastes of students in Christian and public schools,” noting that “young people from church-going homes are heavily influenced by the same values as their contemporaries from non-church homes.”
Christian Week’s “Generation Y” surveyors find the dominant worldview of their peers to be skepticism – about everything. They write: “The barriers between what is and what is not appropriate are no longer apparent to us. Anything may be said about everything. Everything is open for attack. Nothing is sacred.”
Which says volumes about the mindset underlying Dogma – a bizarre parody characterized by a grab-bag of cheap shots at Christianity including a “last descendant” of Christ who works in an abortuary; God (played by Alanis Morissette) portrayed as an old man obsessed with the game of skee-ball, who is nearly beaten to death by a group of demons, launching a debate over whether to keep him on life support or let him die; a 13th apostle who wisecracks when asked if he knew Christ personally (‘’Knew him? Nigga owes me 10 bucks!”); and a trendy bishop (at least the film has one realistic touch) who wants to replace the crucifix with a “Buddy Jesus” giving a “thumbs up” sign.
This isn’t “making fun of your friends,” even if that were acceptable in this context, which it isn’t. It is contemptuous ridicule and hate propaganda that would be slapped down so fast it would make your head spin if the target were not Christianity.
Disney Corporation, whose Miramax division produced this steaming pile, didn’t have the guts to release it under its own corporate name, and sold distribution rights to Lion’s Gate, a reportedly struggling Canadian distributor.
Canada’s shame. It would be poetic justice if Lion’s Gate sinks under the weight of Dogma’ssacrilegious baggage.