Sex in the Vicarage

(I wrote a variation of this in my LiveJournal a while back, so if it seems familiar to anyone, that’s where you’ve seen it.)

Vicar of Dibley never could have been made in the US.

It’s a really cute, silly, fluffy comedy about a female vicar (Dawn French) assigned to a tiny little parish in a tiny little village in England. Dawn French plays a vicar who’s single, has a picture of Mel Gibson beside her picture of Jesus, and has a sex life. With men. Right there in front of God.   Not often, but it does happen.   A vicar – a minister in the Church of England – has sex without being married.   Additionally, two of the older people in the village talk merrily about the values of having sex with lots of people, and one older gentleman comes out of the closet.
Imagine this show airing on NBC. That morning, Matt Lauer would interview Jerry Falwell and Al Sharpton, who would explode from agreeing with each other for the first time ever about this abominable representation of Christianity. Never mind that there are sects of Christianity (even here in the US, though we’re not allowed to talk about it for fear the Pitchfork and Torch gang will come calling) who have read the very same Bible as Jerry Falwell and do not, in their considered opinion, feel it is saying premarital sex is automatically evil.
By that afternoon, the NBC studios in New York would be blocked off by a human chain of protestors yelling about how God is going to strike down the infidels and completely missing the irony when someone asks them what they think of bin Laden’s stance on Americans.

By that evening, the show would be cancelled before the first episode could even air, and the president of NBC would issue a public statement on their air about how they’re terribly sorry to have offended everyone and of course they’ll happily cancel the heinous crime against godliness because… well, hell, you can’t buy publicity like this.

A few minutes later, they’ll return to regular programming – a mini-series filled with titillating rape scenes. Which, oddly enough, Jerry and Al will never ever mention. Possibly because they’re too busy watching.

Comments

  1. scarlett says

    I’ve always thought the US lagged behind, well, everyone else in the western world in its ability to be open about sex. I honestly think Sex and the City only managed to get made because the women in it (well, three of them at least) had the ultimate goal of getting married… and the forth, an avowed anti-relationshipper, ended up in a permanant relationship anyway.

    It makes me think of a more subtle Hayes code, where sex wasn’t allowed to be portrayed as a healthy pursuit done by moral people, so the filmmakers got around this by having titilating scenes with the whore and the bad guy. But never healthy people enjoying sex. No, that’s sinful.

  2. Glaivester says

    Note from BetaCandy: Looking back I realize I did not call this user sufficiently at the time on his dismissive generalizations of England and the Church of England. I apologize to anyone who feels insulted reading them, but I have left them intact to document the attitude of entitlement exhibited here.

    But let’s be honest, though. Much of the Church of England is not much more than social club. The English, as a whole, are not particularly religious and the Church of England is fairly liberal.

    I recall an episode of Yes, Prime Minster where one of the characters stated:

    “The Queen is inseparable from the Church of England. God is an optional extra.”

    (More quotes here under the title “The Bishop’s Gambit.”

    Never mind that there are sects of Christianity (even here in the US, though we’re not allowed to talk about it for fear the Pitchfork and Torch gang will come calling) who have read the very same Bible as Jerry Falwell and do not, in their considered opinion, feel it is saying premarital sex is automatically evil.

    But how many of these sects actually believe the Bible to be largely true (I’m not even requiring that they believe everything literally, just that they believe the basic ideas that Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, and that the way to God is to believe in Jesus), or that it was uniquely divinely inspired, as opposed to thinking of the Bible as simply an interesting book of philosophy?

  3. Jennifer Kesler says

    But let’s be honest. Much of the Church of England is not much more than social club.

    If we’re being honest, socializing is by far the primary reason for people to attend church in the US as well.

    But how many of these sects actually believe the Bible to be largely true (I’m not even requiring that they believe everything literally, just that they believe the basic ideas that Jesus is the Son of God, died for our sins, and that the way to God is to believe in Jesus), or that it was uniquely divinely inspired, as opposed to thinking of the Bible as simply an interesting book of philosophy?

    Um, I was referring to the American Baptists, so yeah… they believe in the Bible literally. They just believe that between translation issues and the fact that no two individuals interpret every word quite the same way, every individual has to discover for herself what the Bible’s exact message for her.

    And they do advise against premarital sex: they just acknowledge that things like living together beforehand may be an acceptable adaptation of the same philosophy, and again, individuals should look for guidance from Jesus as well as the minister to figure out what’s right for them.

  4. scarlett says

    Was that you who write that timestamped piece about the Hays code? One of my pet interests in Hollywood history, so the hypocricy of the code and how filmmakers got around it fascinates me.
    In short, sex was OK, regardless of how violent, graphic or demeaning it was, so long as it was portrayed as sinful – rape, or something that happened between bad people, I guess as a sympton of their bad lives. But once you started portraying it as something healthy that occured between well-adjusted, consenting adults, well, THAT was as sinful as it got.

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