‘Heaven knows we’ll soon be dust’:
Catholicism and devotion in The Smiths
‘In six months time, they’ll be bringing flowers to our gigs’ (Morrissey, 1983)1
In this chapter I focus on the Catholic and broader religious dimensions of
The Smiths. In doing so, I locate the significance of their Catholicism and their
fans’ obvious devotion in the context of recent debates concerning the apparent nexus between popular music and religion. What we might term as either
the ‘theological’ or ‘occultural’ turn within analyses of contemporary
Clarice Greco, Mariana Marques de Lima and Tissiana Nogueira Pereira
religious products, in turn related to the current right-wing trend all around the world in society and the media, as well as in politics.
This analysis combines an appreciation of this strategy, reflecting on these productions and their consumption in the current media landscape by drawing on Cultural Studies and Mediation Theory. As a result, it proposes a cultural diagnosis of Brazilian media, showing that the modern biblical epic is itself a reflection of society not only in regard to media products but to the demands of audiences as well.
Brazil’s TV landscape
situation of a middle-aged woman under stress – in Judith’s
case, intensified by loneliness and the loss of her closest relative, her
aunt. When her hopes of the possibility of a romantic relationship with
James Madden turn out to have been built on sand, she gives in to her one
great weakness, alcohol, which in turn leads to a terrible crisis of
religious faith. As in The Pumpkin Eater , there is a moment of
Durkheim’s notions of exhaustion and effervescence,
explored in The Elementary Forms:
Society cannot revitalize the awareness it has of itself unless it
assembles, but it cannot remain continuously in session … The
form of this cycle is apt to vary from one society to another. Where
the period of dispersion is long or the dispersion is very great, the
period of congregation is prolonged in turn, and there are veritable
orgies of collective and religious life … This is true of the Australian
tribes and of several societies in the American North and Northwest.
Demonising controversy in The Last Temptation of Christ and The
Passion of the Christ
. However, other Christ films have told this story without escalating the visual violence like Passion does. Watching the movie becomes a visceral experience, affect, the audience flinches at the beatings, looks away from the blood, the flayed back. Reviewers spoke of feeling ‘abused’ and ‘punished’ and the film was generally reviewed poorly. Conservative Christians, evangelicals, Roman Catholics, responded differently: the film became a religious experience, a phenomenon. Churches across America organised field trips to movie theatres so their congregation could
this tranquil simplicity.
In Ars, Demy superimposes one temporal moment, recounted in
the voiceover narration, over another, depicted in the image-track.
Ars focuses on the final section of the life of Jean-Baptiste-Marie
Vianney, a Catholic priest, canonised by Pope Pius XI in 1925, who
led the parish of Ars-sur-Forman from 9 February 1818 to his death
on 4 August 1859. Demy recounts his transition from humble servant
of the Christian God to a tyrannical fanatic who alienates his congregation, with his death and supposed ‘afterlife’ forming the focus of
, like the village church and the village itself,
as a deep repository of memories. On this and other occasions in
the film, the past and present appear to merge into each other.
These moments are often breathtaking, such as the moment when
the film cuts from the interior of the church when the congregation is singing in the present day to the same space decades earlier,
when soldiers take up the hymn. Time appears to shift and break
down in other interesting ways. The potential for current and
future warfare is evoked by the roar of the jet fighter which appears
and the director but relies on others to carry out the technical roles, to those in which the ethnographer does everything, participating in the action, directing the film, as well as carrying out all the technical roles.
An interesting example of the first case, in which the ethnographer appears as a leading character in a film directed by others, is
Koriam’s Law and the Dead who Govern
, released in 2005. This film concerns the ideas and practices of the Kivung Association, a religious and
des femmes , which attacks the FLN’s
failure to reform Islamic laws pertaining to the sex/gender system. However, in
most instances, beur films refer to Islam only through scenes of local
colour provided by religious celebrations such as Eid and Ramadan. Given the
demonisation of Islam in the press and in mainstream cinema (as in Alexandre
Arcady’s L’Union sacrée , 1989), it is perhaps not
surprising that Zemmouri’s 100% Arabica and Bahloul’s La Nuit du
On 9 January 2017, 22-year-old Dylann Roof was sentenced to death by a jury in Charleston, South Carolina. 1 Roof had entered the Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston in June 2015 and, at the conclusion of a Bible study session, shot dead nine members of the church's predominantly African American congregation. He left one woman, Polly Sheppard, to, in Roof's words, give testimony of his actions to the authorities, the media and at Roof's trial.
After his arrest Roof asserted that he hoped the atrocity would start a