Monday, November 05, 2007

Rate Of God

I like interesting and entertaining tin-foil conspiracy theories.

I especially enjoy silly conspiracy theories which are grand and cosmic in scope but at the same time are built on solid, blunt, every-day type facts. My favorite such theory is William Bramley’s, presented in his book, “Gods of Eden.”

Bramley began research designed to ferret out facts about the roles played by secret societies in fomenting wars throughout history. What he found, however, was what he regards as persuasive evidence of the secret societies themselves being manipulated throughout history and into the present day. Bramley, to his own chagrin, came to see the human race as essentially chattel, a slave race toiling away here on earth in service to interstellar owners and overlords.

As wild as Bramley’s theory sounds, he bases it on a buttoned-down review of ‘standard’ history coupled to a no-nonsense look at many contemporary institutions and practices.

I like theories built on odd ‘every-day’ type facts because even if a particular theory turns out to be, to put it politely, stuffed full of wild blueberry muffins, the odd facts themselves still need to be explained and possibly will have a ‘real’ explanation almost as interesting as the science fiction or fantasy theory which proved to be nonsense.


Today’s post, this Rate-of-God stuff, is the oddest set of real-life ‘facts’ I’ve ever discovered myself.

I don’t have an over-arching conspiracy theory to explain them. I have some thoughts, though, which I’ll get to after I present the basic facts.

Basically, this started when I watched the movie “Scream” and noticed that many of the characters were making a lot of references to God and/or Jesus. Once I noticed it, I noticed a lot of it. After thinking about it a bit, I decided to get all behaviorist about it and actually count the references. That made me curious about other, similar films. And that led me to create these three sets of stats:

111 minutes
Mentions of God/Jesus/Christ: 45
Rate of God(approx.): 1 mention every 2.5 minutes

"I Know What You Did Last Summer"
101 minutes
Mentions of God/Jesus/Christ: 28
Rate of God (approx.): 1 mention every 3.6 minutes

"Cherry Falls"
92 minutes
Mentions of God/Jesus/Christ: 17
Rate of God (approx.): 1 mention every 5.4 minutes

I singled out these three movies because they are so similar. None is directly religious. In fact, in broad strokes, they all tell exactly the same story. A psycho killer is killing teenagers. Other teenagers try to stay alive and, maybe, discover who is doing the killing and why. All were made with similar budgets and production values.

One noteworthy thing is that the Rate-Of-God correlates pretty well with the success and influential nature of the movie. “Scream” grossed hundreds of millions of dollars and re-defined the whole industry of teen thrillers while spawning two sequels. “I Know What You Did Last Summer” didn’t do as well, but it did okay and spawned one sequel. “Cherry Falls” had the lowest Rate-Of-God and went directly to video with no sequels.

Something else worth mentioning is that although “Scream” contains the highest Rate-Of-God, it doesn’t contain many explicit, content-oriented references to religion. The references are typically in passing. However, the two sequels to “Scream” become almost bizarre in their explicit, content-oriented references to Christianity. Two examples of many: In “Scream Two,” the entire climax of the movie plays out with Sidney’s boyfriend ‘crucified’ and killed on a cross-shaped bit of stage scenery; In “Scream Three” the first character to be killed is named ‘Christine’ and the killer is named ‘Roman.’

What do I think this stuff means?

I think it’s probably one of three kinds of things:

At its simplest, and therefore most likely to be true, this kind of stuff may be nothing more than the stylistic imprint of the filmmakers. No deeper meanings of any kind.

Possibly, however, this is a more-or-less typical example of subliminal embeds. That is, ‘hot-button’ items which catch a person’s subconscious, create mental engagement and stimulate an emotional response. Such embeds have been used by certain artists for many hundreds of years. That story, of course, is told in Wilson Bryan Key’s books, like “Subliminal Seduction.”

At the outer fringe of possibility, however, there are the more intriguing, tin-foil possibilities. Things like this may be a concrete instance of the kind of manipulation James Shelby Downard proposes in his weird theories of political and social alchemy. Things like this may be the ‘brotherhoods’ of Bramley’s theory manipulating our thinking about religion. Things like this may be the latest manifestation of, for instance, the millennia-old struggle between Christianity and, say, Mithraism. (In “Scream Two” a stage director tells an actress, “The battle for the soul is fought in the arena of art.”)

I don’t know.

I just think it’s odd that stats like this exist.

And, as one final note, while most directors will never direct even one film that grosses hundreds of millions of dollars and re-shapes the industry, the director of “Scream,” Wes Craven, has had two such films, “Scream” and “Nightmare on Elm Street.” (Incidentally, although the film “Nightmare on Elm Street” contains no explicit political content, Elm Street is the name of the street in Dealey Plaza where President Kennedy was shot. Hmmm . . .)

Wes Craven might be one of them . . .

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