Saturday, January 24, 2009

TV Alert

Prayers for Bobby

I know this news made the rounds a while back, but it's happening tonight, and I wanted to post it here in case any of you friends missed the early announcements.

The Lifetime cable channel is premiering a movie tonight, Prayers for Bobby, that sounds very good. Here's the blurb from the Lifetime site: "Sigourney Weaver stars in this emotional true story about a 1970s religious suburban housewife and mother who struggles to accept her young son Bobby being gay. What happens to Bobby is tragic and causes Mary to question her faith; ultimately this mom changes her views in ways that she never could have imagined."

Never mind that I could happily spend hours just watching Sigourney Weaver read the phone book! :-)

It sounds like a powerful story about a Christian fundamentalist's conversion. Her Bible-thumping certainty, her efforts to "save" her son, and finally her efforts to move beyond homophobia.

Here's the 2:14 trailer:



The movie will premiere on the Lifetime cable channel tonight (Jan. 24) at 9 pm ET, with encores Sunday (Jan. 25) at 8 pm ET and Tuesday (Jan. 27) at 9 pm ET.

Sounds like "must-see TV" to me.

18 Comments:

Blogger sharecropper said...

We recorded it, and I watched part of it last night - very moving.

1/25/2009 2:27 PM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

I do hope it gets aired over here (even though I haven't got a TV ;=)

1/26/2009 10:00 AM  
Blogger --Susan said...

Lisa,
What did you think? I caught about the last half--right at the point of the suicide. I think they did a respectable job addressing scriptural interpretation/religion/church vs sexuality. Powerful for me because I identify with the suicidal thoughts (only thoughts, tbtg)when I was a youngun. I was wishing I had the guts (or something) to call my mom and tell her to watch.
--Susan

1/26/2009 12:25 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

I will be pleased to hear your thoughts, Sharecropper.

Goran, I'm not at all sure it's "must-see." See comments below.

Warning: Spoiler alert. If you haven't seen the movie and don't want to know details, do not read further here.

I watched it straight-through last night, Susan. I will confess I was rather disappointed in it. Bobby's early struggles seemed portrayed fairly honestly ... given that it's set in the 1970s. But too many scenes seemed too schmaltzy or "pat." Those little glimpses of his life in the gay bars made me want to gag. And his mother seeking out the MCC and that pastor's answers ... and all the Leviticus haggling just left me cold. There are deeper insights into the Church's positive response to homosexuality -- especially that of the Episcopal Church. I have always found the MCC wanting, and the MCC pastor and his responses sounded as shallow to me last night as they did when I was struggling in the early 1980s.

Highlights: That scene in the kitchen where she says "I will not have a gay son," and how that plays out. Powerful and poignant.

The depictions of his experimentations: dated and very uncomfortable to me.

The scene of his suicide absolutely undid me. The way he stretched out his arms and fell into the path of the oncoming truck ... How could I not hear echoes of our liturgy: "He stretched out his arms on the cross..."? To me, that was one of the most powerful scenes in the whole movie.

His mother's moment of epiphany: Absolutely heart-wrenching to me. Had me sobbing. Especially when she went back up to his attic room and ripped down all those damn Bible verses!

I was disappointed in the depiction of his father. To me, it seemed to play into all the myths of "queerness" in men being caused by a distant or disengaged father. How much more distant and disengaged could the filmmakers have cast that poor man? I assume they were trying to do good, but I think the movie falls into the "domineering mother and disengaged father" myth, and that disappoints me.

The mother's too-quick turnaround seemed like the director was running out of minutes for a made-for-TV movie. Too quick. Too slick.

All in all, I was disappointed. I suspect those of us who have already been converted will find something to like in the movie. But the characters are mostly too much like caricatures to move other people to consider the various perspectives.

And a final word: Susan, thanks for sharing your honest comment. I was there too, my dear. Back in the day, I too had my moments of despair when I believed it would be best to just "not be." I am glad you didn't succumb to that temptation, as I did not. And, like you, I wish I had the nerve to urge my sole remaining parent to watch it.

I didn't take the suicide option Susan. Instead, I cut off both my parents once I realized I was gay and realized what that meant and got the fundamentalist "condemnation" vibe from them. So neither of my parents got to know me in my adulthood. My mother died last year. My father is alive, but I haven't seen him in a couple of decades. Sometimes, I feel sorry for them. I think they might have enjoyed knowing me as a Christian, Episcopalian adult. But I was not willing to put up with their crap, so I just withdrew. Thank God, I took that route rather than killing myself.

That's my $0.02 at the moment. What do the rest of you think?

1/26/2009 7:50 PM  
Blogger Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Sounds a bit like "Murcan" ;=)

I suppose no exegetical highs are to be expected either...

But I'll try to see it if it comes here.

1/27/2009 9:58 AM  
Blogger --Susan said...

Hey Lisa.
Well. I feel--inadequate--to comment after reading your evaluation! Wow.

I thought, given the constraints of a movie, that they did a respectable job. They did not get into much depth. However, the scripture back-and-forth is like unto conversations my mom and I have had. Well, except my mom can't get beyond "well MY Bible says..." no matter how much we've talked about it over the years.

I haven't tried an MCC because I want a church that has theological depth, one that challenges me to grow into the Christ that I am. My understanding (maybe a prejudice) of MCCs is that they don't offer spiritually what I need. But I don't REALLY know. And like all churches, I'm sure there are congregational differences.

I withdrew from my parents too, not physically, but emotionally. I can clearly remember my mom saying to this young pre-pubescent that if either of her children is gay, she doesn't want to know about it. So I threw up a wall that remains there today. It's too bad for both of us that we missed out on an intimacy that mothers and daughters often share, an intimacy she shared with my older sister.

Just a couple or few years ago, my partner and I were driving my parents (my dad is mentally impaired now) somewhere. My mom asked what we thought of that gay episcopal pope. I laughed. I explained my joy. She said that he's going to hell as are all homosexuals and (again) I don't want to know if any of my family is gay because I don't want to know that they are going to hell.

Get a theme? Think she just might, just a little, suspect something "evil" in her younger daughter? She and my partner got into a discussion about unconditional love and acceptance but my mom is, well, set in her thoughts and ways.

So the wall stays up and gets more crusty and barnacled all the time.

I praise God that God loves me just the way I am. I praise God for the church in which I worship. I praise God for the woman with whom I share my life.

I praise God that I don't need my parents' approval though I sometimes desperately wish I had it.

--Susan

1/27/2009 2:00 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Göran, I don't know "Murcan." But, yes, you are right: Expect no exegetical depths from this movie. Alas.

1/27/2009 7:48 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Susan, I tried an MCC church once I realized I was gay and wanted to retain a connection church. I quickly realized I'd rather spend my Sunday morning in St. Arburck's than in am MCC "church." My response was like yours, I think.

And, as you'll know from what I wrote last night, I also gave up on my parents. Their loss.

1/27/2009 7:51 PM  
Blogger Lindy said...

Just checking in to see how you're feeling.

1/28/2009 3:25 PM  
Blogger IT said...

I also thought the movie was a bit too pat. But what do you want, it's on "Lifetime", and we cried anyway. Maybe this was enough to get through to some people adn their kids who are just starting the journey.

The stories you tell of rejection are very sad. I am incredibly fortunate and proof it CAN go the other way. Although I didn't tell my parents for a long time, they had figured it out, and have always been loving and welcoming to me and my beloved. They told my wife that she's their favorite daughter in law now (I have two married brothers), and they threw us a helluva wedding last October "just to make it official".

So I feel very sorry for both of you, of course, but also particularly sorry for your parents, who lost out on knowing warm and wonderful women because of their fundy blinders. Religion can cause great evil (not faith, I said religion!)

If the movie helps pull those off just a few other parents, that will be a good thing.

1/28/2009 3:26 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thanks, Lindy. I am muchmuchmuch better! The muscle soreness is 90% gone. The wounds on my face are healing much more quickly than I anticipated. I think I mentioned it was kinda like a 2nd-degree burn; I had scraped off a layer of skin. Thanks to vitamin E, it's healing well. There's a sorta new layer of "baby skin" appearing now. I am optimistic.

1/28/2009 5:39 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Good point, IT. Even a schmaltzy movie can reach some people. In fact, maybe it's more likely to read the kind of simple-minded Bible-thumpers than a more intellectual, nuanced movie. (Yeah ... I suspect I'm stereotyping here. Oh well.)

I am delighted to hear about your parents and their wonderful acceptance of your beloved!

And I trust you know I'm right there in believing that "Religion" is a perpetrator of great evil. I bet more people have died as a result of "religion" than any other single group of perpetrators. Lord, have mercy. :(

1/28/2009 5:45 PM  
Blogger --Susan said...

Lisa,
I'm worried about your punkin' head. You okay?
--Susan

2/03/2009 8:52 AM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Yeah, I am. I just haven't made much time for blogging. Thanks for asking.

2/03/2009 8:21 PM  
Blogger Tobias Haller said...

I was a bit disappointed at some of the choices -- no doubt due to the target audience and the network -- but I kept thinking: they couldn't possibly have done this when I was his age. Or, for that matter, even when he was his age!

But in spite of the weaknesses, I think the overall emotional appeal will hit where it needs to in the target audience. I was absolutely sobbing at the moment of Epiphany, the breakdown of those fortifications. And there were little details that were so telling -- when she picked up the plate his boyfriend had used and just tossed it in the garbage: ouch. That was a real moment.

And her performance was spectacular. So all in all, I'm hopeful this film may change a few hearts. (Yes, the arguments from the MCC pastor were so weak -- but that was the 70s; it wouldn't really do to put much more in his mouth at this point.) And the arguments, even when more sophisticated, change very few minds -- and fewer hearts. That's where the power of this story may work the other way around, changing hearts first...

2/04/2009 4:08 PM  
Blogger Jan said...

Thanks for the info. I'll definitely watch it on Sunday. Since my eldest daughter is gay, I am very interested.

2/05/2009 9:21 PM  
Blogger PseudoPiskie said...

Long time, little posting. How are you, Lisa?

2/08/2009 2:47 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

You're right, Piskie. It's been difficult for me to devote much attention to the blog. Too much happening IRL. :(

2/10/2009 7:07 PM  

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