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Screw the rotting corpse of Billy Graham.

Billy Graham wasn’t a charlatan. His accounting was open to public scrutiny, he was never caught with a prostitute, he didn’t lead a lavish life, and he never built an amusement park for the Lord. Graham's revival meetings were among the first public functions in the South where seating was not segregated by race. I’m not a Christian, but I think Billy Graham was.

His "big break" came in the 1940s, when sleazy publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst got wind of Graham's then-recurring theme that the Cold War was a showdown between good and evil, and that communists were Satan-worshippers. "Either communism must die or Christianity must die," Graham famously preached, and Hearst sent a memo to all of his papers' editors, ordering them to "puff Graham."

Prior to that, Graham had been just another traveling evangelist, holding meetings in half-empty tents. After that and for the rest of his life, he was America's most prominent Christian leader.

Graham never liked the commies, and at the height of the blacklists and American red scare of the 1950s, he said of his friend, Senator Joseph McCarthy, "While nobody likes a watchdog, and for that reason many investigation committees are unpopular, I thank God for men who, in the face of public denouncement and ridicule, go loyally on in their work of exposing the pinks, the lavenders, and the reds who have sought refuge beneath the wings of the American eagle and from that vantage point try in every subtle, undercover way to bring comfort, aid and help to the greatest enemy we have ever known — communism."

Every American President from Dwight Eisenhower to George W Bush called Graham a friend, and Bush said it was a conversation with Graham that led him to become a Christian. It was another conversation, tape recorded by Richard Nixon, that led to Graham's most embarrassing moment, when the tapes were played publicly in 2002:

"I go and I keep friends with [Abe] Rosenthal at The New York Times and people of that sort, you know. And all — I mean, not all the Jews, but a lot of the Jews are great friends of mine, they swarm around me and are friendly to me because they know that I'm friendly with Israel. But they don't know how I really feel about what they are doing to this country."

For many years Graham wrote a daily advice column à la Dear Abby, where every reader's dilemma was answered with what boiled down to the same ultimate advice: Come to Christ. His many books include Hope for the Troubled Heart, How to be Born Again, and Peace with God.

And he also made fake movies, which looked like ordinary dramatic movies, except that at the end, all the protagonist's problems are solved by finding Christ. In several of these films, Christ is found at a Billy Graham rally.

Of course, no-one except super-Christians would want to see Billy Graham movies, so Graham's film studio was blandly named World Wide Pictures. These films weren't released and booked in cinemas like ordinary movies; instead Billy Graham’s groupies and true-believers would rent the theaters, paying them to project the movie and bring suckers into the audience.

Now, if you know me, you know two things: I love movies. And I don’t love God.

When I was a kid, though, several times I got suckered into seeing Billy Graham movies. I still remember a few of the fake movies I saw — Two a Penny, and Time to Run. They were horrible. There were probably others, too, because I’m a slow learner, but eventually I became skeptical and refused to go, when my mom or anyone from the church said, "Hey, wanna see a movie?"

After passing control of his ministries to Franklin Graham, his charlatan right-wingnut son, Rev Billy Graham died on February 21, 2018. And yet, it’s a miracle — he was able to stab me in the eyeballs tonight.

I was watching a movie (an old movie, because I love old movies) but I did not know it was a god damned Billy Graham movie. See, that’s part of the swindle — almost nobody would watch a movie “starring Billy Graham,” so his name is never mentioned in the opening credits of a Billy Graham movie. 

The movie was Wiretapper (1955), which doesn’t sound like a film where a famous evangelist is going to yell at you about Jesus, does it?

I usually avoid spoilers, but for this one I have to tell you: A famous evangelist is going to yell at you about Jesus.

Most of the movie, though, is about Jim Vaus, a soldier who’s an electronics whiz, but he’s been court martialed and forced to sit out WW2 in prison. When the war ends, he's released from prison, comes home, opens an electronics shop, and quickly works his way into the mob.

He’s smart, takes initiative, and tolerates his nagging wife, and you know what? I was enjoying the movie, liking the criminal character of Jim Vaus, and rooting for him to have a successful illegal career.

Of course, that couldn't happen. We’d already seen a brief but sanctimonious lecture from a prison chaplain, and later the movie stopped everything so some lady could sing “I Cannot Hide from God” at a church meeting, so I knew justice was coming. But it didn’t occur to me that Billy Graham was lying in wait.

And then, with 14 minutes remaining in the film, Vaus is in trouble. He’s been beaten up, the mob is sending him out of town, so he’s driving his wife to her mother’s house. She sees something out the window, and says, “Jim! Look!” And we see a billboard that says, “Billy Graham Crusade.”

(click image to enlarge)

Oh.

This isn't film noir.

It's Billy Graham noir

I swore and swore some more, and then shouted, “Screw the rotting corpse of Billy Graham. Screw it with a machete and egg beaters."

When I hit ‘play’ again, the movie resumed with almost six minutes of uninterrupted Billy Graham, at a revival tent meeting, hollering about Christ and haranguing the crowd to repent.

I’m a ‘completist’ about movies, but I fast-fowarded past the sermon, to the end, where Vaus, of course, has his 'come to Jesus' moment. After that, he's no longer a wiretapper. Instead he's sharing the gospel of Jesus with the same criminals he’d been working for, and they’re as uninterested as I am.

The End.

In fairness, I should mention that the movie is based on the memoirs of the real Jim Vaus. He actually was an electronics whiz, which is probably why the scenes showing his electronics work seem so authentic. And he really was converted to Christianity by Billy Graham in a tent.

And I'll say again, as I often do, that if religion makes your life better, that's fine by me.

But it's shitty to hide your Christianity in a movie, making sure nobody knows it's a Christian movie until they've sat through almost the whole damned thing.

So, yeah, seriously, screw the corpse of Billy Graham.

7/23/2021

itsdougholland.com 

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5 comments:

  1. Captain HampocketsJuly 21, 2021 at 6:49 PM

    Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like you could use some more Jesus in your life, friend. I will be prating for you.

    jk

    ReplyDelete
  3. This is infuriating and hilarious. Yes fuck Billy Graham.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You think you're watching a movie, but it's really a bait and switch.

      Delete

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