one girl’s perspective on life, neopaganism, veganism, politics, books, films, and… stuff.

Posts tagged ‘media misrepresentation’

NeoPagans in the (Australian) Media

As I was reading the response of Ms. Demarco to Jason’s critique of ‘The One’, I thought to myself: ‘why is it that almost all the visible NeoPagans (i.e. those who interact with the media) come across as poorly educated, self-conscious and generally rather petty?’ I have nothing against these people personally, I just resent that the people who shove themselves into the media spotlight generally make the world regard NeoPagans, on the whole, as ill-informed, irrational beings.

I mean, in Australia we have Fiona Horne (who doesn’t really seem to grasp that Wicca is a polytheistic religion) and, apparently almost as bad, Stacey DeMarco (who thinks that “There were more people killed in the inquisitions than the holocaust” – for a good rebuttal, see The Wild Hunt Blog). I’m sure they’re lovely people. But personally, I would rather be represented by someone who has at least a basic understanding of either the theology/orthodoxy/orthopraxy (all 3 would be nice) of the religion they claim to represent, or any understanding of historic fact. Both would be fantastic, but I think that’s naught but a pipe dream, at present.

So, these two are prominent ‘representatives’ in the Australian media; the situation in the U.S. is muchthe same (with the like of Grimmassi, Ravenwolf, et all). Basically, all over the world, NeoPagans are being accounted for, in the popular media, by people we (or, at least, those of us with any idea what we’re doing) would really rather not be our spokespeople. From these reflections, I came up with these possible reasons/conclusions:

1) This is quite possibly actually representative of the NeoPagan community (or, at least, the majority of them). Spend enough time online, and you soon come to realise that the ‘revolution of DIY religion and eclecticism’ has had significant impact, in that few NeoPagans now seem to bother learning anything about their religion, their history, or even what the term they use to ‘define’ themselves actually means. This is the frightening conclusion.

2) Those people who could accurately – and intelligently – represent NeoPaganism are the ones who don’t feel the need to throw themselves into the media spotlight; the ones who don’t care for fame and glory, they care only for their lives and their beliefs. I have to admit, I fall into this category (minus being an intelligent representative) – I resent that I’m being characterised in the public mind as another idiot, but at the same time, if I really want to change this, I should step forth and represent myself. Which I do, but only on a personal scale.

3) Therefore, it will be a self-perpetuating problem that those NeoPagans who are willing and eager to thrust themselves into the public view will naturally be the ones who are perhaps less… intense? serious? educated? about their religion. Unless we, as a community, decide amongst ourselves that we should select our own spokespeople, based on their knowledge and actual dedication, the attention-seeking will always volunteer themselves. Though even a community-promoted spokesperson is still likely to be the one with the greatest ego.

Representing ourselves – and thus, our religion – as intelligent human beings on an individual level is a grand achievement in and of itself. But it would still be nice if we could also achieve this on the macrocosmic scale. I’m not saying everyone has to be an academic, not at all. But having some idea of the basic tenets and history of your, you know, religion might be nice if you insist on promoting yourself to the world. Just something to consider.

Pagan News: Update on the K.L. Gifford Fiasco

So, it seems that my original thoughts on this whole “Kathy Lee Gifford called pagans ‘bad and nasty’ issue” were quite right. Following that post, the vast majority of hits to this blog (in the area of about 85-90%) were referred from various search engines using terms like “kathy lee pagan nasty” and “gifford comment pagans”. It seems a lot of people out there were very keen to be involved in this.

I didn’t raise this in my original post (OP), at the risk of being provocative or inflammatory, but seriously: what the hell is with the number of ‘Pagans’ (in inverted comments because I seriously question these people’s devotion) who actively seek out cases of “persecution”?! As someone pointed out in the comments on the OP, Gifford has previously insulted numerous religious groups and other minorities. Yes, she’s a bigot. But she’s also clearly, as I assessed previously, a total moron. Seriously, it’s ignorance, not “hate crimes” (and I really dislike the inappropriate use of the term “hate crimes”, which belittles the extreme prejudice felt by so many minorities; it seems to be most commonly used by the same people who espouse the “9 million Wiccans burned at the stake in Medieval Europe – Never Again the Burning Times(TM)!!!!!!”). There are plenty of instances of actual discrimination against Wiccans/NeoPagans out there already: see here, here, here, etc. And that’s not including actual hate crimes against supposed “witches” (most of whom are innocent and frequently Christian) in Africa, Indonesia, India, the Middle East, etc.

It was asked why I wrote a blog against the “outcry” of certain NeoPagans against Gifford, when I “could” have used my time (more efficiently? Debatable.) to write a letter, sign a petition, etc. against her actions. As I stated in my OP, I devote my time to letter-writing, petition-signing, etc., in real “battles”. You know, the issues that allow for the legal suppression of freedom of religion, freedom of speech, legalised oppression and discrimination. Not the moronic, ill-informed wafflings of some half-wit American. Furthermore, yes “pagan children” could have seen the show: in which case I wonder why they’re watching such tripe in the first place, and why the parents can’t then explain why that woman is wrong. And I don’t doubt that a lot of people that watch a show hosted by such a moron probably share her sentiments anyway, otherwise why would they watch it? Except to try and find something to be “outraged” over. As for her pretense of an apology? Just adds to the already significant evidence that the woman isn’t exactly the sharpest tool in the shed.

I also found it rather sad, but highly poignant, that one commenter then felt the need to attack Christianity, and Christians as a whole, based on the stupidity of one pseudo-Christian. As another poster pointed out, NeoPagans don’t like being painted as “bad and nasty”, so don’t then tar all Christians with the same brush simply because of the stupidity of a few. And I refer to Gifford as a “pseudo-Christian” in the same sense that I refer to people so insecure and anti-Christian (for no reason other than the need to feel superior [and, contradictorily, persecuted]) as pseudo-Pagans: they have no understanding of what it means to really live your faith and work as a priest/ess and holy representative of their God(s).

It’s always been my stance that if you feel that your faith is threatened by stupid off-hand remarks by stupid people, well, then it’s not really much of a faith, is it? Or are we all just so desperate to “prove” how “persecuted” we are that we want to allow ourselves to become “outraged” at blatant stupidity? But then again, is it really representative of the NeoPagan community to say that we are bothered by this moron’s comments? I know that most of the intelligent, devoted NeoPagans with real faith out there aren’t particularly phased: like me, they’re worried more by increasing legitimisation of persecution and oppression of rights (and in general, not simply as they apply to NeoPagans).

Pagan News: Kathy Lee Gifford’s “Pagan Comment”

I found this interesting. In this video clip, Kathy Lee Gifford, a (minor? I’d never heard of her) American television show host/actress makes a comment about “The pagans, the nasty, bad, pagans…”

I have to say, the choice of language is a little… sad. As a NeoPagan, and a proud one at that, I’m agreeing with Jason Pitzl-Waters and saying that, personally, I’m really not offended, and not just because her manner of “insulting” us is by calling us “nasty” and “bad”. If I was, say, four, then yes, perhaps I would be offended. But as it stands, I have to say that I disagree with (and find a little sad) the reaction of the general NeoPagan community, who are stating that Gifford’s comment, clearly not thought out, amounts to “hate speech”.

Why are we offended by the remarks of a woman who is clearly of sub-par intellect? Are we really that desperate to “prove” our persecution by secular society that we find it necessary to voice (over)reactionary, knee-jerk responses? Why are we wasting time trying to protest this stupidity, when there are plenty of real cases of discrimination occurring every day?

I agree that all discriminatory comments, no matter how stupid they are, are unacceptable. That doesn’t mean I’m going to take to court the next idiot who tells me that my religion isn’t real/valid. There’s such a thing as choosing your battles (I can think of better ones, the case of legal and political discrimination in the UK for a start), and I really don’t think these calls to petition and letter-write in order to try and “make” Gifford apologise to NeoPagans are the best use of our time and effort. We’d be better off fighting the more pressing issues of legal, political or religious discrimination, like that mentioned above, or trying to better our image in the public eye by promoting ourselves as rational human beings, rather than reactionary extremists who fly off the handle at the first signs of criticism (as is true of all extremist factions of any religion). Ring talkback radio shows and point out that perhaps Gifford’s television coaches should provide her with a better vocabulary, since she’s clearly not going to bother learning anything about what she’s talking about.

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