I am not a subscriber to
Entertainment Weekly but this week when I saw the magazine I had another reason
for not reading this rag. The well-known actress Jessica Lange is on the
cover wearing a religious sister's habit, a crucifix around her neck, brandishing
a cane and wearing fire-engine red lipstick and painted nails advocating "American Horror Story." Hmmm, the
artists got the look of many women religious, right? It doesn't take a
brain surgeon to see the ugliness of this image viz. with conversation the
Church is having with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).
While I am not a fan of what the LCWR stands for, or perhaps more accurately, what some members
of the LCWR stand for, there is no need perpetuate the crass cliché through
mocking portrayals of ruler-wielding nuns who are seen as backwards and stupid. The vast
majority of religious sisters and nuns are not this way. One ought to ask, "What about the beautiful work of teaching children
Catechism, their work with the poor and the marginalized, all those women of prayer and
learning in hospitals, and schools?
I think EW has stooped way too low in publishing a cover with anti-Catholic stereotyping. One can't claim
that some members of the media are not anti-Catholic when a prominent magazine puts silly things on the cover. Really, a terrifying nun to advance a fictional
What does one say when EW describes Sister Jude (Miss Lange's
character) as a "scarily stern woman of faith...and a fan of corporal
punishment...who has a penchant for red lingerie and vivid fantasies about her
superior, Monsignor Timothy O'Hara." Further, EW quotes Joseph Fiennes who
says, "Clearly she's attracted to the monsignor for his grace and
religiousness." Fiennes plays O'Hara, "the monsignor might play with that,
manipulate that." Slutty nun. Manipulative priest.
co-creator, Ryan Murphy says, "I'm scared of aliens and I'm scared of Nazis and
I'm scared of nuns."
To posit that there is no anti-Catholicism, I would think you might want to revise your opinion given the presence of fact: anti-Catholicism has a history, it's alive and well. Some Catholics are not bothered by dysfunctional nuns priests. Art, in this case, is claimed to be in the realm of opinion,
that is, subjective. It is said that what is one person's
good-natured ribbing is another person's offensive stereotype. Do we
really think it is appropriate to hold this idea at all, never mind if we apply the whole issue to
those who hold Judiasm or Islam as their faith? Would the media think that
making fun of a rabbi, an iman or a Buddhist monk is a good thing? That doing so is good natured? Why do it
EW's incredibly sad portrayal of a Catholic sister as the
centerpiece of fictional show on TV is wrong, disrespectful, especially when
the reality is very different. The concept is ill-conceived.