Scared Shitless

I’m not a big fan of the horror genre, neither in film or print. I’m not sure why, but I suspect it has some connection to why I’m an atheist. I love crime fiction and mysteries, because they are usually grounded in the real world, they only take liberties with the cognitive and deductive abilities of the characters, and they rarely give them supernatural powers. Horror, however, always seems to assume some otherworldly phenomenon beyond the ken the human victims (and there’s always a victim). I don’t mind suspending my disbelief a bit, but horror movies insist that I abandon it altogether. I find that difficult to do.

Why am I talking about horror? Because, a few days ago I was perusing Greg Laden’s Blog, and came across a video posted on GodTube. If you aren’t familiar with GodTube, it is a comedic serious alternative to YouTube (now GoogleTube, or whatever) with a Christian slant. A very heavy slant. Actually, there’s no slant to it at all, it’s completely horizontal.

There was a story that went along with the video. Apparently, a middle school teacher was caught showing the video to his eighth grade health class. He claimed the video was for the purpose of teaching the dangers of drunken driving, though the connection between the subject of the video and drunken driving is… well, let’s be blunt – nonexistent. But you be the judge. Take a look at the video. I’ll wait.

(Note: I linked to the copy from YouTube, because I can’t embed GodTube videos on this blog. However, the original on Greg’s blog shows it came from GodTube, as does the related news article.)

The point, the purpose, the raison d’être of the horror genre is to scare the wits out of the viewer/reader. The rise in endorphins and other chemicals associated with fear can caused some pleasurable sensations in individuals. It’s the fight or flight response we inherited from our distant ancestors, somewhat modulated by the modern comforts and security of a movie theater or comfortable reading chair. In the entertainment context, I have no problem with that. One’s man’s entertainment is another’s rubbish, but the choice is personal. It’s not for me, but I don’t impose my personal predilections on others.

Clearly, however, if you’ve watched the video, the purpose is to scare the living crap out of the viewer, in an effort to “bring them to Jesus”. Again, if that’s what people want to watch, in the appropriate context, say a sunday school, with proper advance explanation, then I have no problem with it. However, showing it in a health class in a public middle school, on the pretext of scaring impressionable young teenagers into avoiding the dangers of drunk driving, is morally reprehensible, and the punishment the teacher received, a virtual slap on the wrist and a notation in his personnel jacket, is insufficient. WTF was he thinking?

I agree that drunk driving and teenagers don’t mix. Hell, drunk driving and humans don’t mix. Showing scary videos to pre-teens about drunk driving is common. Most DUI classes imposed on those convicted involve some form of reality television designed to scare them into understanding the ramifications of drinking and driving. Mangled automobiles, mangled bodies, mangled lives are often de riguer. But this video crosses a line, and ends up miles past it.

First, it’s not related to drunk driving in any way. Other than the hell bound narrator arriving there via a motor vehicle accident involving alcohol, drunk driving is at best incidental to the message being imparted. It is clearly a Christian propaganda piece being proselytized by the video. And it was imposed on a captive audience. These children did not watch it for entertainment, they watched it as part of their education. They had no choice.

Second, according to the Wikipedia reference I cited above and here, the showing of this video could actually have the opposite, counterintuitive effect than was purportedly intended.

Behaviorally, the fight or flight response describes men’s reactions to stressful situations better than women’s [1]. That is, men are more likely to cope with stress via social withdrawal, substance abuse, and aggression.

If the children, especially the boys, actually bought the message, and were scared by it, the increased stress could cause them to self-medicate by – you guessed it! – drinking alcohol.

And we wouldn’t want them to do that, and then get behind the wheel of a car, now would we?

H/T Greg Laden (Note to Greg: Could you please slow down. I can’t keep up with all the posts. I have a day job, you know. 8) )

25 thoughts on “Scared Shitless

  1. No, I don’t see the connection either. It is a bit extreme and I’m not sure about its theology, but it certainly reminds us that there is a world in need of hope. No one should merely accept anything simply because someone with some kind of title (Reverend, Doctor, King, Star, Pope) told them it was true. Too many people who call themselves Christians wouldn’t be able to tell you why. Keep on the offensive my friend…the more you press the attack…the more Christians have to be ready to give a reason for their hope.

  2. No one should merely accept anything simply because someone with some kind of title (Reverend, Doctor, King, Star, Pope) told them it was true.

    Dwight, If I didn’t know better, I’d swear that was Christopher Hitchens commenting. 😉

  3. SI:
    You didn’t mention that the video was shown in a public school. I’d have no objection — except on grounds of stupidity — if it were shown at a religious school.

    You said, Clearly, however, if you’ve watched the video, the purpose is to scare the living crap out of the viewer, in an effort to “bring them to Jesus”.

    Actually, I think you’ve only got half the purpose here; the other part is even more sinister, but seems to be the real purpose of the video: Whenever you get the chance, preach to your friends. Introduce them to Jesus, and tell them about hell. Do everything you can to keep them from going there. Otherwise you, too, may get such a letter.

    This is the first stop on the short journey to becoming a theocrat: Whenever you get the chance, preach to your nation. Introduce it to Jesus, and tell it about hell. Do everything you can to keep your country from going there.

    On the positive side: Middle-schoolers are all pretty much apprentice wise-asses. It’s hard to imagine any of them sitting attentively and watching that video with any degree of seriousness. In fact, they’ll probably have these questions:

    How is it possible that Josh lived in America and never ever heard about Jesus before he died? If Josh spoke to Zack right before he died, doesn’t that mean that Zack was one of the kids who got drunk?

    And, most important, Do you get breaks in hell to write letters? Can you choose to send email or a cell phone text message instead? (For most teens, having to write a real letter on paper would be similar experience to burning forever in hell.)

  4. I read (I think on Carpet Bagger, but my memory disserves me) that it was shown in a North Dakota classroom. Oddly, they picked a classroom with a Jewish student (hard to do in North Dakota where there are less than 800 Jews). Go ahead. Somebody tell me the teacher was not trying to convert the Jewish student. ‘Cause that’s what I tink they were doing.

  5. This is some funny shit.

    I love how he blames his friend for not telling him “how to become a christian”. What “how”? Is there like a seven-step program?

    ROFL!

  6. A new twist for an old video. Cute.

    I used to be one of those wise asses Ex alludes to and yes, I had teachers with crazy god ideas, too. None showed vids like this, but it would have been a hoot if they had. No doubt it would have had to be stopped several times due to the volume of laughter and wise ass remarks by most students, not just me. At least that’s how it was 20+ years ago.

  7. Alright, Spanqi, here’s the Lion Law: You put any more boring crap like that in here and I’m gonna deBlogroll you.

    Really, I mean, education has been so dumbed down and now someone’s giving them something even dumber? How long before the Dakotas are under water?

    BTW, did ya see Ex’s post on the resolution in Congress declaring us persona non grata in the United States?

  8. Ric:

    What is past is present is future. As it is, as it was, as it will always be.

    When I was younger and lived out west, we went on family vacations. One of our favorite roadside non-personal interpretive media items was the geology wayside. They always started out with, “millions of years ago, this area was covered by a vast inland sea . . .” and then went on to describe the neat rocks.

    So according the the Young Earth Cretinists (sorry, creationists), the Dakotas were under water only about, oh, last tuesday, I think.

  9. Must have been a helluva job pumping them dry. Whaddya think, maybe FEMA?

    I understand the National Park Service lets the cretins (not a bit sorry) put their pathetic literature on the instantaneous creation of the Grand Canyon in the Flood on display in the tourist center.

  10. Bookstores at National Park Service sites are run by a non-profit groups (which may or may not be part of a larger company). I don’t know the whole story at Grand Canyon. I do know that the decisions about what to put in a bookstore are made through the Superintendent’s office at the park in question. This particular book, which hypothesizes noahtic* formation of the canyon, was forced in by (supposed) threat of a lawsuit and (reported) intervention by an appointee at a higher office.

    *Noahtic (2007), adj., infering a creation through the ‘global floods’ of Noah.

    And as far as draining North Dakota, they didn’t do a very good job. There are lots of pothole lakes left from the last glaciation about 10-12,000YBP.

  11. I saw that video a month or two ago. It’s a piece of crap, but I’ll bet it’s being shown at summer camps, youth retreats, etc., all over the country. Did you read the comments at GodTube? There are lots of people who think this video is great stuff because it really challenges Christians to share their faith (because we heathen don’t hear nearly enough of that already!).

    Onward Christian Soldiers!
    Stand up, stand up for Jesus!
    Sound the Battle Cry!
    Rescue the Perishing! Glory, glory hallelujah, his truth is marching on!

    Oops, sorry! I got carried away with the Christian battle songs. They’re so invigorating!

    Anyway, if you’re curious about what the faith-heads have to say, I’ll advise you to read the comments only if you have a really strong stomach. On the other hand, I’d pay good money (well, maybe buy them a bottle of wine) to watch Exterminator or Phillychief take some of those jerks down a few pegs.

  12. I don’t waste time with the “soldiers” when they control the field. What kind of battle would that be? Holy ground, Highlander. There’s a reason you don’t fight there. JP just got a taste of that visiting whacko Frank’s blog. Now if we’re all on neutral ground then yeah, I’ll take some heads, metaphorically speaking. 😉
    Places like godtube or most every other christian controlled forum or blog usually doesn’t allow a fair discussion. Also some, like that “charming” baboon who visited Chaplain and Ex recently, are like those who wear tinfoil hats to block, focus or amplify the voices in their heads. What’s the point trying to discuss anything with them?

  13. I would find it objectionable even shown in a religious school. That’s child abuse. But if it was a public school, then that teacher needs some heavily publicized jail time. Either that or Hell.

  14. Just to warn everybody:

    I’m taking down the names of all commenters here and elsewhere in the Atheosphere. You can expect notes from me when I get to hell. How come none of you folks told me about Jesus? I did have a troll once who told me about Jesus; I guess he gets a thank-you card instead of a whine from the afterlife.

    (Hmmmm. I wonder if the hell authorities let you send out a form-letter.)

  15. Modern Christianity is such a hoot sometimes. The whole left behind series, videos like these and countless preachers teachers and pompous idiots proclaiming the love of God and the threat of hell in the same breath.
    My personal belief, (and I practice it) was to teach my kids [at the proper age] what being drunk is like, let them try to do anything they would normally do and see for themselves how impossible it is to function. They [at least the two boys, I haven’t done this with my daughter yet] agree that being intoxicated in any form is best when your in a safe place that you don’t have to leave, like your house or a friends house. It’s amazing what a little objective evidence will do for them. “The burnt hand teaches best, after that advice about fire goes to the heart”. –Tolkein But that is not everyone’s style, one thing is for sure though, if you tell a kid that something is taboo, they’ll for sure do it behind your back.

  16. Spanqi – it was the fever that made me do it (post the Romney speech), but I think you have to admit I drew blood in that one… 🙂 Besides, you do understand that I referred to the little film, not to your sparkling writing and commentary. And please don’t spit on the keyboard.

  17. Loving Jesus meek and mild,wasn’t hell his ‘invention’? Bring forth the children unto him……..!

  18. Man that sure scared me! Those angels are fu’kin evil! That Jesus, who I’ve never heard of since I live in America, sounds like some Jim Jones / Charles Manson character. Glad I’ve been warned.

  19. Ill be praying for you Im so sorry for you God really does love you should try praying sometime let a little happiness and light into your dark world 🙂

  20. Thanks, Aime, for your kind thoughts. I’ll let you know when he contacts me.

    Be reassured, while you’re waiting, (and I suspect it will be a long wait) that my world is anything but dark. 😉

  21. Heaven and Hell are states of mind. The amount of time you choose to live in either one is entirely up to you.

  22. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. My dad always said that hell is repetition. etc.

Comments are closed.