Reading Fame

Alright, let’s go ahead and get this out of the way up front: this week’s tract is “adapted for black audiences” according to the Chick website.  What does that mean?  It’s full of black people.  Apparently Chick has an entire series of tracts “adapted for black audiences.”

Does anyone else see the problem with this marketing decision?

Page 5

Yes, I somehow find myself sympathizing with the guy negotiating a higher salary on his next movie for doing a sex scene. (Image credit: Chick.com)

We all know pretty well by now that Chick tracts reflect a very odd worldview that’s heavily xenophobic, anti-Catholic, and just generally paranoid about everything outside the conservative protestant evangelical branch of the Church.  That’s a lot of qualifiers for what the people at Chick consider to be their tribe, but I suppose we should go ahead and add ‘white’ to the list, because black people are so different from the in group that they apparently need tracts specially written and drawn for them dealing with subject matter that they would find uniquely interesting and relevant (such as the life of a famous movie star, like in this week’s tract, Fame).

I mean, seriously, if this were an attempt to make Chick tracts more diverse, I might applaud it as a sincere effort at inclusiveness, but there are clearly better ways to do it, the most obvious (I’d think) being that you simply make a point of including more characters of color in your new tracts.  That shows a genuine concern for sending the message that everyone is welcome in the Church, not a separate series of tracts with modified versions of stories that were printed in the main line.

So anywho, on with the story.

We open on a news reporter explaining that the world famous actor Douglas Ford has just been taken to St. Lucy Hospital for chest pains.  The second panel shows the chief of medicine holding a press conference to gush over how pleased he is that they have such a big celebrity in their care, although really I don’t think hospitals tend to give press conferences, let alone disclosing private information about a patient’s healthcare (hello, HIPAA!)

Before we meet Douglas, we get a hint of what’s to come with a panel that shows the cleaning lady Daisy (well, her back anyway) complaining about the crowd that’s keeping her from cleaning Doug’s bathroom and grumbling about “what he does.”  When we do meet Douglas, he’s meeting with a priest who’s telling him about a mass that was recently said for him by the local Cardinal, to which Douglas responds by asking his assistant to donate another $250,000 to the Pope (I’m pretty sure he means the Catholic Church, but this is Chickland, so maybe in this world the Pope can accept extravagant personal gifts).

In fact, Douglas is actually a pretty nice guy for a celebrity.  He’s kind to everyone he interacts with, and he’s rather patient with all the fawning fans.  Of course, he’s also self-absorbed, which comes across as a legitimate flaw, although it seems to me that part of this stems from that fact that no one ever does any real talk with Douglas.  When Daisy shows up to clean his bathroom, he’s offended that she tells him that he makes trash (not because he’s a Hollywood A-Lister who’s probably made his share of awful movies designed just to pull in a paycheck, but because he makes secular films that aren’t child friendly).

From this point, I could see a very touching, if well-trodden, story about the big name celebrity who learns about true love and friendship from a humble person who’s not at all impressed by his fancy adornments.  Heck, you could still throw in the evangelism without it being too forced.

Instead, what we get is Daisy saying, “You’re going to hell, now shut up so I can clean your toilet.”  Douglas becomes obsessed with what this cleaning woman told him about going to hell, and he has a mental breakdown on the set of his next film, a period piece that appears to be set in early 17th century France based on Doug’s costuming (maybe he’s been cast as Alexandre Dumas in a pseudo-historical action adventure that posits Dumas’s own life was the inspiration for The Three Musketeers; a huge stretch since Dumas was born in 1802, but that sounds like it’d fit perfectly in Hollywood), and goes back to the same hospital to speak with Daisy again.

She delivers the gospiel to him, and Doug has trouble accepting it because he’s afraid of losing all his fame and wealth (because actors with strong beliefs clearly get blacklisted for being religious nuts–oh, wait).  Despite these fears, Douglas takes the plunge and lets Jesus into his heart (chest pains!).

A year later he dies in a car accident, having suffered no ill consequences at all for his new found faith.  Way to go, Daisy the relentless brow-beater!

Seriously, Daisy nearly coerces Douglas to convert when he starts waffling.

Evangelism: I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

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