Introduction Review Cults Analyse Conclusion Sources 2
It all started when my teacher Ton advised us to see the movie ‘Clerks’. I was shocked by the lack of acting and storyline in this movie that I did a research about the creator/director Kevin Smith. I wanted to know what was so good about Kevin, and why my teacher would like his type of movies. While searching Kevin I discovered something I could never imagine. Keven Smith is the director of one of my favourite movies, ‘Red State’. I could not believe that a director of a terrible movie such as ‘Clerks’ could make a movie like ‘Red State’. This movie left me behind with allot of questions about religion, cults in America, followers and many more. Kevin is pushed outside his “funny” zone with this film and that is why I choose ‘Red State’.
Production year: 2011 Runtime: 88 min Director: Kevin Smith Genre: Action/Horror/Thriller Cast: John Goodman, Kevin Pollak, Kyle Gallner, Melissa Leo, Michael Angarano, Michael Parks, Nicholas Braun Not only did he wrote, directed, and edited the film himself, but also distribute the film himself. That gave me a good impression of Smith. It also indicates how much he loves this movie and the he becomes a part of Red State. The genre of this movie is horror by from my experience this is more a religious action-‐ thriller. The cast was very strong in the movie and very convincing. Near the opening of the movie the pastor Micheal Parks is being introduced as the pastor of the Five Points Church. At one scene he preach for more then 15 minutes. Parks completely transforms into Cooper. By showing his hands in close up, then his eyes, and then his mouth makes me assume that he is the “biggest” and most important person there and in the film. For me he is the narrator of the movie. It feels like he leads me through the film. The story of the movie is as follow: Three friends, played by Michael Angarano, Nicholas Braun and Kyle Gallner, decide to take out Mommy’s car because a woman on the Internet has promised to sleep with them. They didn’t know that the women (Melissa Leo) who wanted to have sex with a family member of the Five Points church. The boys are drugged and brought to the fundamental church Five Points ran by Pastor Abin Cooper (Michael Parks). Much like Fred Phelps and the Westboro Baptist Church, which gets name dropped in the film. Cooper preaches that homosexuals are the devil, "God Hates Fags", and the world does everything it can to encourage their power. When the boys wake up they face Pastor Abin Cooper who takes it upon himself and his people (most being members of his family) to administer punishments, based on biblical scripture. Eventually a squad of heavily armed officers led by ATF agent Joseph Keenan (John Goodman) comes to the rescue. They set up a camp outside the compound’s walls. Initially under the impression that he’s overseeing a conventional standoff situation, rescuing the hostages. But then Keenan eventually receives his real marching orders: Storm the compound and kill every last man, woman and child inside. Threat them like
terrorists. The resulting firefight claims countless lives, including a few that you may not expect to see snuffed out. Every time I watch this movie it feels like I am drawn in to it. Because of the hand held camera moves, the haunting scenes and the surprising events that are simultaneously involving and thought-‐provoking. There are a lot of medium shots of the actors firing machine guns; this should indicate the action in the movie. From my point of view is quite mellow and takes off to long. Red State is a film with a message, clear and bound in the visions of the mise-‐en-‐scene and the underlying undertones of the films narrative. The film has a message to spread like a Christian spreading the word of God. Kevin Smith has done his cryptic homework when studying these twisted Christian-‐extremists as they preach to their herd. Therefor it became one of my favorite movies, because it tells a story in an uncommon way. In the review above you read the storyline and my personal opinion about Red State. Now I will analyse the film theory of the movie. Red State is an action-‐thriller in which many surprising scenes are shown. The movie has one leader act named Abin Cooper, the pastor. He talks about their cult family the five points. That is originally based on the real life cult ‘The Westboro Baptist Church’. It is interesting for me to do research in what cults care, and how a leader of a cult manipulates his/her followers. I searched all over the Internet about cults and I found allot of academic journals articles. I will use these articles to gain information about cults. After my research of cults I will analyze Red State, and I will analyze in which way the leader of the cult is manipulating.
“Potentially unsafe groups or leaders come off very nice at first, they go for vulnerable people who are looking for answers, lonely, what you'd call 'normal people.' They're very good at what they do and can get people to believe anything. You might think you'd never get taken in, but don't bet on it". -‐-‐ Margaret Singer, 1979.
Noted psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton developed the following definition of a cult. This definition is focused primarily upon three principal criteria and was first published in a paper titled “Cult Formation” in 1981: 1. A charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power; 2. A process of coercive persuasion or thought reform; 3. Economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader and the ruling coterie. Nowadays the online dictionary (2012) describes this as: Cults are systems or communities of religious worship that may include obsessive devotion to a person or ideal. In our society, cults are common and have the potential to be destructive. Cults can make people think they can save your soul from whatever may harm you, and so there are many other ways that affect people’s minds to make them join cults. Cults are very promising, can be very eye opening, and may be the only option left for some people because of what has happened to them in their life or the mental state they are in (Evans, 2003). John Hochman writes in his psychiatric analysis (1990) what cults want: “Cults want wealth and power for the leadership, to be supplied by members. Wealth may include: • • •
Transfer of cash, real estate, and cars, Profits, from exploitation of members' labor in cult-‐owned businesses, and Funds raised deceptively from relatives and other non-‐members.
Power may include: Manipulation of all relationships, work, or schooling to solely the needs of the cult, assignment of city and country of residence, regulation of pregnancy and sexual favors, behavioral/ideological controls via group punishments, or simply to reflect. Leaders exhort members to proselytize; predictably, more members mean more wealth and power for the leaders.”
This shows that it is important for cults to have power and wealth otherwise they will not have enough to be persuasive. It is also that cults strike when there is during turbulent of periods, because people are most vulnerable then. One common misconception is that the only people attracted to cults are those who suffer from some sort of mental disorder. For example scientologist Tom Cruise, by having him in their cult they strengthen their organization. This fact demonstrates that cults are not always attractive to the ignorant, as one might expect. (Evans, 2003) Matthews (2008) made a top 10 of dangerous cults around the world that have changed the way the world looks at cults. This item describes the cults in just a couple of words, and gives you a fast insight of the different cults and what they are capable of. This is why I did not put it as an appendix, because this is information that substantiated this theory. 10. Scientology: Scientology is a religion based on the idea of clearing the “the tans” of outer space entities from the human psyche, with intense therapy sessions that rely on the use of a crude lie detector test, known as an E-‐Meter. Created by L. Ron Hubbard in 1947. Followers: Beck, Tom Cruise, Priscilla Presley. 9. Hare Krishna: Krishna followers lived a hardscrabble, Spartan existence, with the barest level of sustenance, and very little sleep: they suffered for their religion, believing that they would be rewarded by ascension to a spiritual paradise after many reincarnations. Founded in 1966. 8. The Unification Church: Leader Moon (Sun Myung Moon). Moon expects to be treated as God, because he believes he is God, or so he has led his many followers to believe. Other belief systems of the Moonie cult are that an actual kingdom of heaven exists on Earth, not solely in the afterlife, as Christians believe. While preaching that Christian churches are the devil’s instruments he earned millions of dollars in Korea. 7. Children of god: Seriously twisted cult that delivered an evil message that sex with children was natural and right, The Children of God cult was also known as the Family and was founded by David Berg. Known for turning female cult followers into prostitutes who used sex to entice men into the cult, they were the purveyors of “The System”, a doctrine that included belief in the Apocalypse. 6. The Ku Klux Klan (or KKK): The KKK practiced cold-‐blooded acts of murder during their reign of terror, at its most potent during the time after the Civil War. But their activities, born out of a desire for white supremacy, did not stop there. Famous for the meetings they attended, fully hidden by white robes and hoods, and the burning crosses they would erect to frighten those they despised, the KKK membership swelled to almost four million at its peak in 1928. 5. The Manson Family: The Manson Family was small, but deadly, led by charismatic leader Charles Manson. Family followers believed in Helter Skelter, a massive retaliation by the black race against, in their own words, “whitey”. They also shared Manson’s belief that the Beatles’ White Album was sending them messages about how to participate in Helter Skelter. 7
4. Heaven’s gate: A true doomsday cult, Heaven’s Gate followers believed in UFO’s and that the Earth (and everyone on it) was about to be “wiped clean” and “recycled”. The only chance of escape, preached leaders Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, was to get off the planet – immediately. 3. The Solar Temple: The leader, Luc Joret, of the Solar Temple also preached the message of Apocalypse, claiming that it would come through natural disasters. Only Solar Temple converts would escape the fate of mankind: since they were the faithful, they would be spared. The Solar Temple devotees believed that suicide was actually salvation, and that they would be really be going on a journey to a star called Sirius. 2. Branch Davidians: David Koresh was a charismatic leader who taught his followers that the United States Government was the enemy of God. Also preaching the now-‐ familiar refrain of apocalyptic terror and destruction, Koresh installed all of his followers at a compound in Waco, Texas, with some serious weapons, and instructions to fear and fight the authorities that “threatened” their life at the cult. Koresh enjoyed the bodies of his young female followers, while painting himself as the Messiah. 1. The People’s Temple: Jim Jones, the leader of The People’s Temple, is number 1 in this top 10 with 909 followers. He felt that the Bible was ridiculous; a sort of joke or fairy tale, and his followers grew in numbers as he refined his own doctrine. Eventually, Jones and his disciples had to flee the United States, as they where pressured by the government, regarding charges of violence, abuse of followers, and illegal cult activity. They escaped to a settlement in Guyana, which Jones named (naturally) Jonestown. This is where the largest mass suicide in cult history was played out, the result of Jones convincing his followers that they were being pursued by foreign governments who would torture them and hurt their children. Essentially, I think that cults are not life threatened, but certainly something to take serious. As Hochman says they want wealth and power, and if they will have enough wealth and power they can rule the world in no time with there strong leader(s). And Evans warns people that you should never underestimate cults and what types op people are in there. They recruit all types of people, they tend to target those who are talented and mentally stable in order to strengthen their organization. With the top 10 of Matthews you get a quick insight of cults around the world in an easy way, so this is very helpful for everybody to see how dangerous they can be, they can push you to suicide. Therefore, society must be very aware of cults so that everyone can remain protected. I think that Kevin Smiths tried to tell this with his film Red State. The horror behind this movie is not the killing, but that just an ordinary person can lead others to kill, Kevin Smith 2012.
By now I think it is quite clear what cults are and which leaders they have. With the top ten of cults I want to adjust that they all listen to their leaders and that they only have one leader who apparently speaks with the voice of god. I will now use this information and transfer this to the film. I will analyze in how the leader of the cult is manipulating, and how it comes back during the film. I will describe different parts of the movie where this is shown. Psychiatrist and author Robert Jay Lifton says in his paper titled Cult Formation” (1981), that the definition cult is primarily focused that a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power. This is a great example for Pastor Abin, the leader of the Five Point Church in the movie Red State. At the Five Point Church is a serven going on. It is introduced through a song, on a piano, leaded by the leader of that church Pastor Abin Cooper. When the song stops the pastor begins talking about a press release that went international. By saying: ‘ you know what this is? This is a print out what we done today for tomorrows post. You know what this called? National coverage”. The girls a sent to by saying “ It sure was” This shows that the leader knows more by just proving he knows what will be covered and when in the media. It makes him more important then the rest. John Hochman wrote in his psychiatric analysis (1990) that cults want wealth and power. So by getting their word national means that they get more power. Pastor Abin talks about painting the garage and teasing the children, so everybody laughs and shows empathy for him. This makes him loveable.
The boy (Kyle Gallnar) in the cage is screaming, “Help me, help me. He is interrupting his preach. So the pastor say “come on no come on, it is a bit much!” He points with his hands and one if his (family) member’s walks towards the cage and hit it with an electrical stick. This shows that with one small sign the members do what he says. Pastor Abin preach to his followers by opening it with “Welcome family”, they response with “Good evening grandpa”. Then they say, “Preach it daddy”. This shows how strong they are they call each other family. They get the feeling that they belong somewhere. Then pastor Abin starts talking about the Bible and Noah, and names some versus of the Bible. Telling that all sinners go to hell when you don’t have faith. He sounds sincere because he says, “I don’t tell you want you want to hear, or what to do. That wouldn’t be correct. God doesn’t love you unless you fear him.” "I fear God," Abin tells his followers, in a low, gravely growl. "You better believe I fear God." He is now manipulating the followers by saying things out of the Bible, the holy Bible that they believe. But he is not quoting he is adjusting those words in his own words. “I preach like my daddy and my daddy before hi. My daddy’s daddy build this church a 100 years ago.” says pastor Abin. It runs in his family to be the leader of a pack. Therefor people/followers think that he was born with this knowledge and that comes from god. Therefor they are proud to have a leader that is already a 100 year representing “God”. The pastor makes his preach interactive so that the listeners feel a part of his preach. By asking, “Who is the greatest enemy of God Cheyenne (Kerry Blishe)?” Cheyenne gets the feeling she is important because she knows the answer, “Satan”. He also does it again by asking who is Satan’s instrumental on earth? A little child replies “The Homosexuals” this shows that the young people are already brainwashed with these strange thoughts. It also implies that it is ok to hate Satan and therefor the homosexuals. Just like the cults Matthews (2008) describes in his top 10 of dangerous cults around the world.
Pastor Abin is telling in his preach what the gays are doing wrong, no sexual reproduction, Aids, children getting raped in Thailand. “Is there anyone looking at the news and denies these accusations? “ with these words they don’t questioning the pastor because it is “true”. This makes his story more convincing because he can give examples. The children are odd to leave the room. This implies that something is about to happen. The pastor continues his preach by saying “Do you all like to see who is responsible for the extension of the human race? IT “(gay guy taped to a cross). “A homosexual won’t stop singing to his own religious, it allows that is up to the rigours to stop spreading this disease” here he makes the followers believe that they are the rigours, so only they should stop spreading this “disease”, and the only way is by killing it like an insect. “ That is the scripture “ pastor Abin says. This is a perfect example of a leader manipulating his followers by quoting of the Bible (his own version Bible). In this scene the man followers shoot the gay guy on the cross, and the women followers are chanting out loud “Send the sinner straight to hell”. Because this is what Pastor Abin made them believe, that begging gay is wrong. “When you fight you will get a mansion in heaven” says Pastor Abin to Sara. This persuades Sara even more to fight till deaths for her believe, her cult. At the end of the movie, after all the gun fighting with the SWAT team, trumpets went off. Pastor Abin is commanding his followers to lay down their guns and feel the joy. He says “HE is calling us home screams Pastor Abin. God is coming to rapture! The heaven trumps slay the wicked and send this evil world straight to hell. Can’t you hear? Lord day of judgement, four trumpet blast, the seals have been opened. Three more blasts and it closes the book of this wicked world. So praise his name.” And the follower praises his name. Because Abin is used to having all the power he want special agent Keenan (John Goodman) to shoot him. He says” So come on G man, shoot me, shoot me, shoot me, shoot me, shoot me!” Instead of listening to him, he puts the pastor in prison. Cult named Heaven’s gate, described in the top 10 of Matthews (2008) also believed that they have to leave the planet, because their leaders Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles said so. 11
As you can see is Red State full with scenes where shows how the leader manipulates his followers. Because of the long preach in the beginning, by pastor Abin, you get an idea of how preaching within a cult is done. Therefor the movie is quite realistic. After my research about cults and their leaders, I watched the movie with a different view. By dictating the words of pastor Abin I understand it more. In the beginning I was just listening, but now I was analyzing the words. I wanted to know what was in his head and how he could manipulate his followers. Kevin Smith truly did a great job by making this movie. He got allot of bad reviews, but if you would analyze the movie like I did they would understand the message he is sending in to the world. This is not just a movie. It is a movie that shows how wicked the world we live in, and how just one normal person can change it for others.
Evans, Melissa. 2003. "Cult" is a loaded word! http://www.rickross.com/reference/apologist/apologist54.html Hochman, John. 1990. Miracle, Mystery and Authority: The Triangle of Cult Indoctrination. http://www.rickross.com/reference/brainwashing/brainwashing14.html Lifton, Robert Jay, 1982. “Cult Formation” http://www.rickross.com/reference/brainwashing/brainwashing1.html Singer, Margaret. 1979. Psychology Today, Cults in Our Midst. http://www.rickross.com/reference/recovery/recovery4.html Matthews, Heather, 2008. Top 10 Dangerous cults http://www.toptenz.net/top-‐10-‐cults.php Websites: http://www.rickross.com/articles_ag.html http://www.thefreedictionary.com/cult) http://cjonline.com/life/arts-‐entertainment/2011-‐03-‐13/phelpses-‐give-‐mixed-‐reviews-‐red-‐state