Friday, October 19, 2012

This Is A Real Thing That Is Happening

Remember "Left Behind?" It's a series of Christian-fundamentlist scifi novels involving The Rapture; a supposedly pre-apocalyptic event (short version: Christians in good-standing are whisked off to Heaven in advance of the rest of us sinners having to suffer through the wars and tyranny launched by The AntiChrist prior to the big Final Battle of Armageddon) that has zero basis in any kind of legitimate Biblical scholarship (it seems to have been invented whole-cloth by fringe preachers around the 1800s) but is fervently believed in by people you will be lucky if you never have to meet.

The books (I think they were up to about 20 volumes at one point) are mainly about a multinational team of resistance fighters called The Tribulation Force (really) battling evil in a post-Rapture world. As you might expect, the damn things get exponentially more bizarre and also more hateful and anti-everything-non-Jesus as they go. Kirk Cameron (of course) backed and starred in a set of low-budget adaptations back when these things were the New Hotness in fundie circles, but now it's apparently being relaunched as a more mainstream-friendly (how?) Red State cash-grab (they're only spending $15 million but are apparently garaunteeing a theatrical run of some kind) by Goldwyn Films. Businesswise it's potentially genius - if Obama is re-elected, the same people who'll go to see this shit anyway will be more primed than ever for a "fight the false prophet!!!" epic.

Oh, and they've also got a can't-miss plan for netting the "let's watch a shitty Christian propaganda movie for ironic lulz!" crowd - they've landed NICHOLAS CAGE to star. No, really. Nicholas Cage - who covered some of this same ground without the "convert or BURN!!!!" hate-mongering in the underrated "Knowing" - will headline the "Left Behind" reboot. There are no words.

35 comments:

pastacat said...

Don't forget the Left Behind videogame, which was so bad and offensive that you couldn't help but laugh.

Lido said...

I'm really sad I knew what these books were ahead of time, like legitimately depressed at the depth of my pop culture knowledge, this is how I knew http://basicinstructions.net/basic-instructions/2009/4/15/how-to-maintain-a-peaceful-break-room.html?currentPage=2

Jacob Beck said...

Now I'm remembering that Cage played the vampire in A Vampire's Kiss.

Now I'm imagining Cage running through the Apocalypse shouting "IMMA VAMPIAH! IMMA VAMPIAH!"

Anonymous said...

Why is Cage doing this? I can think of a couple of possible reasons
1. He's a religious nut.
2. He's just regular old nuts.
3. He's doing this because he's bored.
4. He's doing this to troll the movie and all the fans of this crap.
5. Did I mention that he is nuts?

PS. They should really get Gary Busey to complete the crazy.

Cyrus said...

Add Chris Walken to the list of actors who would make this watchable for sane people.

Anonymous said...

Oh god bless that man, Cage you are awesome!! That guy must love his job. I so want to see this messed up piece of shit movie. Not that'll spent a dime on it, ya just got ta pirate this stuff.

TheAlmightyNarf said...

Now, I read a few of the Left Behind books when they first came out. And, admittedly, even by "Christian post-apocalyptic fiction" goes, it was pretty silly and not especially well written. I don't especially recommend them to anyone unless you have a morbid interest in what might constitute "Christian-camp".

But, what they most certainly weren't was "hateful and anti-everything-non-Jesus". Jews and Muslims were both pretty much just as positively portrayed as Christians, and I don't recall atheism getting any sort of mention at all. The Anti-Christ didn't represent other faiths or beliefs... he represented a bastardization of Christianity.

Maybe the later books were worse about that... I honestly couldn't be bothered to read them.

Anonymous said...

This seems apt.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eExfV_xKaiM

Serial Wordsmith said...

Well now I'm torn. I can't in good conscience go see a Christian propaganda film, but I've sworn to see any movie that has Nic Cage in it. What to do, what to do?

Anonymous said...

You forgot that there's also a spinoff series called Left Behind: The Kids that basically just recycles the plot of the main series with teenage characters and even more simplistic writing so the kids can get their dose of fundie dogma. Oddly enough, there are more than double the books in that series, but I don't care nearly enough to compare word counts.

As far as the venerable Mr. Cage goes: he will take anything that 1) pays him money and 2) let's him have at least one scenery chewing nervous breakdown ("Fuck Mexico!"). He has stopped caring about his reputation a long, long time ago (see: Season of the Witch... or don't).

BookwormOtaku said...

I actually read some of the Left Behind series when I was in high school and thought it was okay for a preapocalypse dystopia story. Of course, I didn't know that whole rapture thing was something actually believed at the time. The Almighty Narf is right that it didn't have any anti-non Christian stuff, at least the core series didn't; never read the spinoff one about a bunch of kids in the same setting nor did I read the prequel series.
If I had one complaint about the series, it's that no one actually fought the demons/devils that showed up later in the series. Then again, after I learned more about the Rapture concept I think it would make an interesting idea for a Shin Megami Tensei story (probably the Devil Survivor series)

Sylocat said...

In a way, the books were more anti-Jesus than anti-non-Jesus, given that their portrayal of Jesus has nothing whatsoever in common with the real thing.

But yeah, "hateful" is pretty accurate. In fact, it doesn't even begin to describe those crimes against literature. "Bigotry" isn't a strong enough word.

For anyone interested in exploring just how godawful these books are, in both concept and execution, check out Fred Clark's ongoing critique of the series. He's been at it for years now, and he's hilarious in how he tears those abominations apart.

Anonymous said...

The Left Behind books are all surprisingly short. Also you forgot to mention the sequel series for teens called...something. Oh and don't forget, in one of the movies the Anti-Christ worships the greek gods for some reason. It's all pretty stupid.

Anonymous said...

Did you mean that the Rapture has no basis in Biblical study, or just the Left Behind stuff?

Huntaur said...

Christopher Walken should be in it reprising his Gabriel role from the Prophecy movies. And Viggo mortensen as the best Satan ever.

jake said...

@anon
The Rapture itself has no biblical basis what so ever. John Nelson Darby, read a verse that was clearly speaking of the Resurrection of the Dead, and interpreted it as a separate event.

Aiddon said...

I remember WAY too many people at my high school were into these bigoted pieces of dreck. It was really kinda creepy. A book about how people would live during the Rapture COULD work, but it'd actually take someone who has talent and isn't a gigantic, hateful douchebag.

As for Cage, he's obviously doing it for money. It's well-known he fucked up with some bad investments and is taking paychecks left and right.

Allan said...

Hey, Bob. The snarky elitist attitude you ejaculated all over this post? Yeah, that's the attitude that keeps people from embracing your ideology and agreeing with you.

Keep up the good work. THAT"S how you win hearts and minds.

As for the news itself. I read all the books and they become bleaker and make less narrative sense in the final third of the volumes (The last three books in particular were absolutely useless and the prequels were a terrible cash grab).

But I can't possibly see Nic Cage as Ray, he's not really the dashing pilot type (but then he wasn't Superman either and he almost got that role) and he's too old to be Buck. Maybe Bruce, but eh. I honestly don't have the interest in Chrstian Fiction like I used to to really care about this one way or the other. It will, hoever, be interesting.

Anonymous said...

Cage would make a great Carpathia.

Mr. Gone said...

@Huntaur: I was 100% in the "Viggo Mortensen is the best movie devil ever" until Tom Waits stole the crown.

Nixou said...

"As for Cage, he's obviously doing it for money. It's well-known he fucked up with some bad investments and is taking paychecks left and right."

Yes: but you have to admit: if he's in the right mood, he could make a great antichrist. He could actually give the character the -ahem- soul he so desperately needed in the book.

Spook said...

It's a terrible idea, sure, but hardly worth the histrionics. As others have pointed out, Left Behind was never really all that offensive, just fundamentalist (which I suppose is the same thing if fundamentalism drives you bonkers, but much as I sympathize, it's really a reader's/watcher's issue more than the author's). They were indeed poorly written tripe from what I could tell, but then again they were still better than the half-baked efforts of James Patterson's ghost writers. As it looks like a bizarre, nutty actor just starred in a James Patterson adaptation to predictably detestable results, this, heh, "revelation" demands antipathy at best, weary displeasure at worst.

Squawks of woe and ardently shaken fists on the subject ironically just make one seem religiously bigoted. Against the fundamentalists...yeah, I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around it too, but there it is.

Nixou said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nixou said...

As explained time and time and time again Fred Clarke, the really offensive thing about the left behind series is that it is, as its core, a revenge/power fantasy: its «You'll see, When the end of the world comes, we'll have the last laugh watching You getting tortured for all eternity»

Lord Slithor said...

Somehow, Bob, I can't really get as worked-up about this as you. If anything, the fact that Nic Cage is in this means he's probably going to camp it up for all it's worth. And watching it will probably be a real hoot.

As far as the Left Behind series itself goes, I've always considered it Exhibit A in pointing out that Organized Religion is really nothing more than Organized Fandom taken to the next level. You strip away all the religious trappings from it, and Left Behind is really just your average Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Story. Irony of the fact that the Fundies have based their entire mindset and worldview around the this Revelation scenario for decades seems to have been lost on them. Or has it?

It's been my theory that the real reason the Fundies hate such things as Fantasy and Science Fiction is because they're really just jealous of the competition. For decades they had built up this epic scenario of Good Vs. Evil with Angels and Demons, an Evil Overlord (the Antichrist), a hero who rides in and saves the day (the Second Coming of Jesus), all culminating in an epic world-ending battle (Armageddon). For the last couple of centuries, they had a lock on the big epic story everyone could get into.

But in the 20th century, what happened? Here comes Tolkien with The Lord of the Rings. Here comes George Lucas with Star Wars. J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter. And worst of all, that damned Gary Gygax and his Dungeons & Dragons, which let players actually BE their fantasy character and play out their advnetures. And let's no forget bands like Kiss dressing up as monsters, and Ronnie James Dio, Iron Maiden and Alice Cooper singing about Dragons and monsters and such.

With all these newcomers infringing on their territory and competing for the attention of the impressionable young, the Fundies probably decided to leverage their authority as religious figures and simply denounce all of it as "evil" and "the work of Satan." When what they really should have done is what the others did and simply merchandise it. I could easily imagine a line of toys and action figures based on the Book of Revelation, or a Warhammer 40K-style miniatures game based around the Battle of Armageddon. Wouldn't that be cool?

Anyway, I'll take Nerf at his word and agree with him that this series is largely harmless, and that it's mere just Religious Sci-Fi potboiler.

Spook said...

@ Nixou: I don't know who Fred Clarke is, nor (no offence) do I particularly care, but the same argument could be made for nearly any work that asserts any position strongly enough. As most "literary" fiction contains some variety of moral and the easiest way to portray this is to depict someone who doesn't follow this moral being screwed over, Left Behind is (while, again, poorly done and obvious) hardly unusual.

For instance, if we read Lord of the Rings (as we're transparently supposed to) as the triumph of pastoral simplicity over an industrial world of modern convenience, then that too is a revenge fantasy of sorts. All those ugly, technology-obsessed goblins being slaughtered by the wholesome, honorable sorts with swords. Hell, little as I'd ever want to equate left behind with Alighieri, the Inferno was actually even more blatant: "people alive today are going to hell. Ha ha". Is Left Behind a little more hamfisted than usual? Sure. But it doesn't go out of its way to express absolute hatred either. All the protagonists also missed the flight to heaven. Sure, the text asserts a fantasy in which the opinions of the authors are borne out, but it doesn't necessarily say that "all Muslims are evil demons from the pit" either.

Anonymous said...

Nic Cage needs the money. He's not going to be in any good movies for another few years at best.

Yes the Left Behind books are as bad as you heard.

http://www.joebageant.com/joe/2005/12/what_the_left_b.html

The Almighty Narf said...

@ Anon 4:43

The article started out well enough, but got hilariously bigoted about half way through.

Aqua said...

As an aspiring author, I've gotta say... you must be pretty awful if you can't make the premise of a Post-Rapture Hell vs Heaven war series interesting... I mean really, you'd pretty much have to be TRYING to fuck it up to, well... actually manage to fuck it up.

sophia_copolla said...

Hopefully they'll be able to include this very religious scene into the movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05nrWV4pCjQ

(By the way, right after this scene cuts off, the next thing he says is, "Thank you, Father!"

Megabyte said...

At what point does someone clap Bob on the shoulder and remind him "It's only a movie?"

I remember when this series was on sale... hell I remember seeing the game on sale... sadly it might have been the better choice instead of what I did get that day (being a War of the Worlds fanatic... I picked up this.... http://www.ign.com/articles/1999/01/23/jeff-waynes-the-war-of-the-worlds yeah... I really should find that again and talk about it for my own site.. that game had ISSUES), but that's beside the point.

Bob... you are really starting to worry me... when you look at everything through a political lens like this... it just can't be good for you.

Jake said...

@Megabyte
Sadly, the man definitely has issues. The fact that he's 30 and has a negative view of humanity as a whole, simply because he got bullied in high school, is not healthy. I honestly think he needs to take a break and deal with whatever issues he has, even if he has to go to therapy.

Anonymous said...

Bob, more worse than the movie that is about to make, is this news about the Italian authorities:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-20025626

Imprisoning scientists for not being able to exactly predict something that is essentially unpredictable....I am purely speechless..... :(

Charlie Tunoku said...

I used to be a fundamentalist christian, about 6-7 years ago. Ironically, I quit because I went to a Catholic school, and I had to take Religion class, and we had to read through Genesis and analyze everything. When you analyze something that stupid that deep, it doesn't take long for you to realize it's all a bunch of crap, EVEN IN AN ENVIRONMENT MEANT TO STRENGTHEN YOUR BELIEF.

Anyway, looking back on it now, there were some fun times, and it wasn't hate mongering. I did read one of the Left Behind Kids books, but immediately got bored with it. Wasn't very good compared FUCKING BIBLEMAN. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IbWTmtNn3zY

God, what an awful piece of shit. Veggietales was so much better.

Team Charlie said...

Left Behind is amazing because it's Christian fanfiction that people literally believe. Everybody has ridiculous names (Buck Williams! Rayford Steel! [who's the hero in spite of being like in his '50s] His daughter Chloe Steel! Nicolae Carpathia as the bad guy!), the antichrist is the polyamorous Russian secretary general of the UN (I am in no way kidding) and it all runs like the most contrived possible Tom Clancy movie that very loosely follows a bunch of 'biblical' Millenarian nonsense.

If you've ever enjoyed laughing at Christians, there is literally no more appropriate time than by watching Left Behind. It is always taken deadly serious and it is indescribably retarded every time.