Before we begin, can I just ask you to look at that title. Do you see it? See how it overflows its banks, cascading down onto a second, blissful line? Nadya recently changed the headers so that we can do that. Have you any understanding of how wondrous this is? Do you have any idea how difficult it was for a grandiloquent fuck like myself to pare down my excessive verbiage to fit on one line? My post titles are going to run a paragraph long for weeks I expect.
Alright, that’s enough. I can see that you are entirely too enthused about the little bit of web coding. It’s time to bring you down a few notches; somewhere closer to a normal state of hopelessness and despair. To that end, The FAM present America’s Most Hated Family in Crisis Louis Theroux’s hyperbolically titled follow up to The Most Hated Family in America, both done for the BBC. The titular family is that of Fred Phelps, alleged drug addled abusive husband and father, who heads the Westboro Baptist Church, the Evangelical church, and pop music parodists, infamous for their picketing of, among other events, the funerals of American soldiers. Theroux’s previous visit had taken place 4 years ago, and since then, a number of members had left the church, including one of Fred Phelps’s sons.
Both of these documentaries (I was unable to find the first in its entirety to link here) are stunning for the ignorance on display. Like Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady’s 2006 documentary, Jesus Camp, Theroux presents a group of people whose bigotry is presented as devotion to divine scripture. Phelps and his ilk manage to out-crazy the participants in that film, if only because of how vociferous their dogma is, how naked their hatred for anything or anyone that differs from what they believe, and how complete and thorough its grip is on them. Perhaps the most disturbing scene in the entire hour is when Theroux interviews Grace, the youngest daughter of Shirley Phelps, accompanied by three other family members to make sure he doesn’t try to corrupt her with his words, speaking for her so that her answers may more closely align with the church’s teachings.
In the end, I suppose it winds up being more voyeuristic than anything, playing to a morbid fascination with just how far the depths of idiocy can go, just how awful people can be. Still, it serves to remind us that, yes, there are people who walk this Earth who really think this way and who, for the time being, are not going anywhere.