Sunday, August 15, 2010

Complaints, In Perspective

Starring Zombieland's Emma Stone, Easy A is still more than a month away from release, and it's already provoking complaints.

Judging from the trailers, Easy A casts Stone as Olive Penderghast, a High School student who, as an act of compassion, pretends to loudly have sex with a gay classmate.

This attracts the wrath of Marianne (Amanda Bynes), the ringleader of an ultra-conservative band of religious students on campus. Marianne, believing herself to be morally superior by virtue of her Christianity, attempts to run Olive out of her school.

In response, Olive adopts the famed scarlet letter in order to scandalize her detractors.

The film has already provoked predictable complaints from the religious right that the film demonizes Christians.

The complaint is predictable, but not worthy of realistic consideration. If Christians object to the portrayal of morally-snobbish and stuck-up Christians, then it is up to them to challenge the excesses of such Christians.

The more interesting complaint actually comes from atheist circles, where some atheists are claiming that the film is subverting the red A they use as a symbol.

They seem to have forgotten that this symbol had been adopted as a condemnation of adultery and, more broadly, sexual promiscuity long before atheists adopted it as their symbol. Thus, if anything, it was atheists who suberted the symbol for their own purposes.

But the response of another atheist to the suggestion that the film risks subverting their symbol is very telling:
"We co-opted it because it was a symbol of religious persecution."
It's worth noting: modern atheists wanted to believe they were the victims of religious persecution, and so they willingly adopted a symbol of religious persecution as their own.

Easy A sends a stark reminder of what's wrong with the most conservative strains of Christianity. But it also serves as a reminder of what's wrong with the scarlet A-toting adherents of fundamentalist atheism.


  1. Nobody has suggested that the symbol didn't have meaning before it became a symbol for atheism. To suggest otherwise is dishonest.

  2. *snicker*

    It's implicit in the suggestion that the film is subverting what atheists were claiming to be their symbol.

    Sadly, it's not even the dumbest thing I've ever heard from a fundamentalist atheist.


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