"True Detective," an HBO series that purports to show real detective work is probably not your normal look at the life of a real detective. Rather, it’s probably what a chosen writer at HBO thinks of the profession, complete with a bizarre rant against a church gathering.
"True Detective" is supposed to be an unfiltered look at a case the two detectives are trying to solve in the ‘90s. Like mamy detective series, detectives, played by Matthew McConaughey (Rusty Cohle) and Woody Harrelson (Marty Hart, are pressured to close a case, to charge someone with the crime.
For these detectives, that means long hours on the road investigating leads. It can be boring, tedious work. That much seems true to what many detectives probably face when trying to solve a crime.
What is different is that one of those leads brings them to a rural church group holding a series of camp meetings. While meetings like these camp meeting may not be a common today, it is was a common form of preaching in the late 19th and earth 20th centuries in the United States. In some denominations, like charismatic churches and movements, it’s still popular, and is even broadcast on some cable TV stations.
Rusty would probably not be invited to talk about his faith at one of those camp meetings. In the third segment of the first year, one of their leads takes them to an outdoor church group, where the two are standing in the back of the meeting. surveying the service. Rusty is not impressed by the church, its pastor, or anything related to it.
So disgusted is he by what he sees and hears, that he spends a few minutes running down not just the group, many of whom can probably hearing him, but Christianity in general. While Mcconaughey’s character is cynical, Harrelson’s character tries to put up a reasonable defense to his rant.
Here is the dialogue:
RUSTY: What do you think the average IQ of this group is, huh?
MARTY: When you are up there on your high horse, what do you know about these people?
RUSTY: Just observation and deduction. See a propensity for obesity, poverty, the yearning for fairy tales. Putting what few bucks they do have in a little wicker basket they pass around. I think it’s safe to say that nobody here’s going to be splitting the atom, Marty.
MARTY: You see that. You’re fucking attitude. Not everybody wants to sit alone in an empty room beat’n off to murder manuals. Some folks enjoy community. The common good.
RUSTY: If the common good’s got to make up fairly tales, then it’s not good for anybody.
MARTY: I mean can you imagine, it people didn’t believe? The things they’d get up to?
RUSTY: The exact same thing they do now. Just out in the open.
MARTY: Bull shit. There’d be a fucking freak show of debauchery and murder and you know it.
RUSTY: If the only thing keeping a person decent is the expectation of divine reward, then brother that person is a piece of shit. And I’d like to get as many of them out in the open as possible.
MARTY: I guess your judgement is infallible piece of shit wise. You think that notebook is a stone tablet? What’s it say about life, hm?
RUSTY: You got to get together and tell yourself stories from the Bible. Laws in the universe, just to get through the damn day? Naw. What’s that say about your reality, Marty?
MARTY: You think it’s a big scam. All them folks. They just wrong?
RUSTY: Oh. Yeah. Been that way since one monkey looked at the sun and told the other money - “He said for you to give me your fuck’n share.” People. So goddam frail they put a coin in a wishing well and buy dinner. Transference of fear and self loathing to an authoritarian vessel. Catharsis.
RUSTY (comments on the preacher): He absorbs their dread with his narrative because he’s effective in proportion to the amount of certainty he can project. Certain linguistic anthropologists think religion is a language of virus, that rewrites pathways in the brain. Dulls critical thinking.
MARTY: I don’t use $10 words as much as you, but for a guy who sees no point in existence, you sure fret about it an awful lot. And you still ???
RUSTY: At least I’m not racing to a red light.
MARTY: gives him the finger.
RUSTY (at the office testifying): We all got what I call a life trap. Gene deep certainty that things will be different. . . . Closure. Empty jars to hold this shit storm. It’s never filled, until the very end. Closure. No no. Nothing is every over.
RUSTY: (back at the camp meeting): The light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what the preacher sells. Same as the shrink. The preacher encourages your capacity for illusion, then he tells you to fucking virtue. It’s such a desperate sense of entitlement isn’t it?
MARTY: Surely this is all for me, for I, I, I, I’m so fucking important. I’m so fucking important. Fuck you.
This kind of treatment of the church and Christianity by HBO is not an anomaly. Rather, it’s typical of people in Hollywood and productions associated with HBO. Not only do they not try to understand Christianity, they head in the opposite direction. If anything, they treat it like it's the enemy.
There are virtually no HBO originating ideas for series or productions that present an accurate view of Christianity. They don't want to portray the average preacher who has both faults and virtues. It’s the same with many other motion picture studios, including Amazon Studios, which produced a series based on a man who believes that he hears voices from God that make him want to kill people, and a church pastor who is obviously corrupt, holding church services to exploit the congregation.
It should be noted that True Crime was executive produced by the two male leads who star in the production, Matthew McConahey and Woody Harrelson, meaning that both actors knew all about the scripts and approved of them during production of the segment. Neither are Christians; both are products of the Hollywood system that rewards actors just like them.
The segment was written by Nic Pizzolatto, who is an award-winning novelist and short-story writer. He is originally from Southwest Louisiana, and taught literature at several universities, including the University of Chicago, before going into screenwriting in 2010. What is relevant about Pizzolatto, is that his creative writing is hostile to Christianity, and distorts what most pastors do when they preach, how many Christians act and think. It’s obvious that there was not a lot of concern as to whether or not the script would offend Christians.
What's worse about Pizzolatto's writing rant, is that it's probably racist. His writing attacks poor whites in the crowd; they are not very smart because they attend an outdoor church held in a tent; they are probably white trash in their minds. But it's acceptable for him to attack them and their beliefs because they are white, not black.
The reason is that he probably thinks they vote Republican, or worse, for Trump, so that makes it okay. If he said that about a crowd of blacks at a church meeting, he would be labeled a racist. It wouldn't be smart either; liberal whites need blacks to vote for their liberal Democrat candidates.
Targeting whites is acceptable and won't get Pizzolatto, Harrelson or McConaughey in trouble. What's the worst that could happen to them? They might be included in some liberal comedy writing. Such are are ground rules for people working in Hollywood.
It's condescending and hypocritical, but following the rules correctly can win you followers and Oscars. Let's hope that in the future, Godless movie producers become more civil and tolerant of Christians who practice their religion, and provide better access to all of the major studios.
© 2019 Larry Ingram
Based in St Louis,
Larry Ingram writes about the news media, movies and culture, as well as on topics like race, privilege, Christianity, religious expression and tolerance.
Many news articles are blatantly biased against Christians and conservatives in the news media, movies and culture.
Read his exclusive articles and columns that bring balance to mainstream, leftist and liberal thinking on a variety of topics.