The Holy Bigotry
– A music film narrative by composer Flint Juventino Beppe
Read an extended interview with the director and composer under the film
Once upon a time, long before human beings began circling around selfishness and power-madness, no bigotry existed; there was no moral frenzy and no discrimination between people.
Food, clothes, goods and sex were exchanged for some kind of value, and people accepted each other without judgement.
Neither religion nor bigoted politics was invented to twist man's mind or to preach certain credos.
An obvious part of each day and life was to respect personal freedom; no "truth" came in their way.
However, some people began to whisper malicious words, and soon slander became a means to disparage others.
The desire for power, wealth and control was eating its way out.
The anxiety, jealousy and uncertainty these misguided people felt about others paved the way for man-made religion and bigoted politics.
Due to widespread illiteracy and low integrity, religion and prejudiced dogmas were easy to promote.
This crusade quickly gained momentum, since playing on a weak soul's consciousness, fear and naivety was an efficient mechanism.
Fanaticism was established, and people were drawn in.
The innocence of a new-born's mind persisted only a few years before it was corrupted by the new "truth" about life: religion.
This "truth" was built on a fusion between euphoric fantasy, intimidation and salvation - the classic underpinning of any religion.
Eventually, religious and bigoted societies were firmly established, and the authors of the religious scripts also became zealots in private.
The feeling of having a god speaking through them created the zealot's euphoria, and they began to add more details to the so-called holy scripts, in order to satisfy their personal agendas.
They invented rules about what was right and wrong in order to remain a devout believer and to secure a place in paradise.
Homosexuality and pre-marital sex now became sinful activities, and the list of bigoted decrees grew longer, affecting innumerable lives.
Executions, torture and other forms of punishment became part of the holy scripts.
The holy scripts sprouted throughout the world and took different shapes. They caused several wars over the centuries and millions of young and old people were sacrificed in the name of their god.
And all of this happened just because of some fabricated words in a few human-made books, cleverly published world-wide as holy scripts.
Based on available historical information it should be easy to avoid future religious and political bigotry, and instead facilitate people to follow their dreams and realise their lifestyle without moralising hinders from zealots.
However, moralising madness, phobias, myths and discrimination still thrive around the world: homophobia, misogyny and xenophobia are kept strong.
Gay people, transgendered and sex workers are only a few examples of groups who meet disrespect for the their sexual orientation or choice of work.
The composition «Warning Zero» is respectfully dedicated to personal freedom, and might be seen as a warning against bigotry.
Until bigotry is eliminated, «Warning Zero» will play in loop continuously and detonate every time bigotry crosses its path.
Hence, the fight will probably go on as long as there is human life.
– Religion will continue to be a source of paranoia, bigotry, moralism, wars and terrorism as long as there are people left,
and that saddens me greatly. (FJB)
Interview with Flint Juventino Beppe about the music film The Holy Bigotry
1. How would you explain the title of the film The Holy Bigotry?
– Well, it can be seen as a pun referring to "The Holy Bible", since the Bible is full of bigotry. In this film, the focus is on bigotry; how bigotry clad as religion and politics may develop into manipulation, and even lead to wars. Bigotry can take many shapes, not only on a big scale, but also in everyday situations. You will find it within families and close-knit communities. Religion can split the strongest of relationships. In its most undiluted form, religion will become fanaticism – and this is where it becomes so dangerous. When fanaticism arises within people, the zealots are convinced that their deity communicates directly with and through them. This happens because they actually believe it happens. The kind of euphoria these people experience may make a deep impression and thereby gain a strong foothold. However, this elation is only a part of man´s own imagination, and what comes trailing behind when this euphoria is revealed, might be substituted by the opposite; a feeling of humiliation and complete submission. Nevertheless, man seems to endure this earthly middle-stage as long as there is a promise of salvation in the end. The process of making The Holy Bigotry has been extremely painful. Nevertheless, I feel this film had to be made.
My intention with this film is not to prove religion wrong, because that may also be considered bigotry. Instead, I take a look back in history to show some of the dire consequences of religion and bigoted politics.
For me to cope with life, any existential questions must be left open. There may be no definite answers.
2. The film opens with a warning about the content. Is it necessary to use graphic images to make a point?
– It is not often that I use graphic images to this extent. This short film, I would say, is just as much a documentary as it is an art film. The photos and paintings are a way to document how innocence suffers when brutal politics or religion strikes: how children and people without much resistance get struck by the very powerful hand of the holy scripts, or the ideas of political fanatics. So in this case, it felt very natural to use graphic images, especially in relation to the very merciless music, which accompanies this narrative. To use censored clips and veiled images to convey a brutal world would simply not be credible.
3. Can you explain the title of the music "Warning Zero"?
– Without revealing too much, the "Zero" in the title might be seen as something digital. In the digital world one operates with the two values 1 or 0. All or Nothing. The "Warning" in this film might be referring to how fanaticism has dire consequences – signified by "0" (nothing) – for people, given the right (or wrong) circumstances. The composition «Warning Zero» Op.54a is as much a part of this anti-bigotry manifesto as the images are; it is the actual foundation of the film.
4. Why do you think religion becomes such a substantial part of people's lives?
– Tradition and culture, combined with low self-esteem, fear and mass suggestion, are keystones in what constitutes the foundation for any religious movement, I believe. When a child grows up in a family where parents, or grown-up role models, bring religion into the child's life, this may alter his or her perception of life and living. Furthermore, it may be dramatic for such a child to renounce the family's religion, since this indirectly also involves breaking up with the family. The whole process of losing one's religion can be demeaning and painful, and in certain parts of the world might even be life-threatening. I think many people actually choose to keep their childhood faith "up and running" to avoid a painful confrontation with what they really believe. This again might lead people to play safe and be selective in what to believe because this is convenient for their lifestyle. For many, it is also safe to believe in an afterlife. These people choose to look away from the ugly realities of religion. And that is something I cannot respect. I think religion becomes such a big part of people's lives because they develop a fear of not knowing, and of not daring to leave questions open and unanswered, without leaning towards an abstract concept of a god. The idea of a possible afterlife is also a captivating one, simply because it is so scary not to know what will happen after you pass away. My suggestion is to wait and see: what else can we do? What you cannot technically know, you cannot know. Why not just settle for this uncertainty? Claiming with certainty that there is an afterlife is an attack on people's integrity and innocence, but claiming that there is nothing is also an attack. It is probably best to say that there is exactly a 50-50 chance you will be right no matter what you believe.
5. Do you think religion will ever vanish?
– The day this earth is demolished, and only then, will religion vanish. Until that happens, I believe that religion has far too firm a grip on people to ever let go. If we look at how much religion has destroyed, killed and violated, and how easy it is to detect the psychological mechanisms of religion, it is very perplexing that people have not abandoned the idea altogether a long time ago. Even when millions are made homeless and masses get killed in religious conflicts, people still cling onto their faith, not daring to say: "I do not know if there is a god" or "I do not know if there is an afterlife". It is easier to fall back on a ready-made road to redemption, and believe in something abstract. As long as there is fanaticism, as long as holy scripts are presented as the "truth" for children, and as long as priests are allowed to preach about heaven and hell, and fear is instilled in congregations, religion will survive.
Religion will continue to be a source of paranoia, bigotry, moralism, wars and terrorism as long as there are people left, and that saddens me greatly.
6. Does one have to be a "Superman" in order to cope with religious or political narrow-mindedness in today´s society?
Have you ever noticed how Superman suffers, and loses his power, when he comes too close to the green material Kryptonite?
I don't think I am Superman.
Still, I experience similar heavy reactions when I come across moralism, twisted radical feminism or any religion, including those practicing barbaric "traditions" such as baptism and circumcision of the defenceless. Freedom-violating politics immediately leaves me paralysed and, even worse, makes me extremely despondent about the human race. These violations of personal freedom and the private sphere are my Kryptonite.
Unfortunately, the nature of democracy has severe faults. People elect representatives that they trust to lead a country, but the pitfalls in such a system are many. To begin with, quite a few politicians have convictions – possibly very private ones – heavily saturated by religion or prejudice – and what is more, these convictions are based on ignorance. These factors aren't necessarily talked much about before a general election. Politicians have an unfaltering confidence in what they believe to be true, and very few are willing to let themselves be open-minded.
Is it tactically wise to let biased and unenlightened people form the legislative body of a country? Well, no. Simply because legislation concerns everyone.
Do politicians have to prove that they know the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and are they pledged to remove any law or law proposal that breaches these? Obviously not. Is it then tactically wise to let these people form the legislative body of a country? Well, no. Simply because legislation concerns everyone.
Then there is the matter of the voters in a democracy. If they know that the candidates (and even some parties) are ignorant and prejudiced, and they still vote for them, it logically follows that a majority of the ordinary men and women are to blame when bigoted legislation comes into effect. What makes it even worse is that over 50 % of the voters might actually agree with narrow-minded politics. This scares me.
Is it then tactically wise to let oblivious, careless people vote for who shall run the country? Again, no. Simply because legislation concerns everyone.
But this is the true nature of democracy, and this is what always strikes me as utterly senseless: an uninformed mass elects ignorant politicians who make bigoted laws, and there is obviously nothing here to prevent clearly moralising and prejudiced policies, often driven by very personal convictions and feelings, from taking effect.
To be honest, I have difficulties knowing who to trust in this democratic power-chain, including the people closest to me, never knowing if new autonomous-depriving legislation pops up out of reasons that only can be traced back to bigotry or personal agendas.
A good system, or perhaps not?
All right, no humans seem to be perfect, and in order to be a little constructive, an obvious improvement to democracy would be to automatically reject any sentiment, religion or proclaimed moralism in connection with policy making, because they suffocate people that simply cannot accept this fanatical straight-jacket. It would also be a huge improvement if elected representatives had to prove that they know all internationally accepted human rights by heart, and could in some way be compelled to consider them before drafting law proposals.
It is as simple as it is serious: freedom-violating politics automatically breaches several articles in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and whole nations will suffer because of this.
Perhaps it would be an equally good idea to let voters prove that they in fact know what they are voting for, in order to avoid detrimental results. Then, at least, the election would mirror a choice based on knowledge, rather than on ignorance, knowing that the electors have actually voted using their intellect, and have not just followed ingrained, populist patterns which are often controlled by emotions and mass suggestion.
If you wish to poison your own mind with moral hysteria, twisted radical feminism or religion, please go ahead, since this is a private matter. But please don't exploit democracy to push the convictional "drug" on all the citizens in a nation.
So, when I come too close to state-manufactured Kryptonite, the only way for me to keep afloat is to turn away in time to avoid the lunacy completely, even if it means I have to leave the country permanently: no reading of newspapers, shunning other unpredictable sources of information. Tiresome? Yes, indeed. But I have no other choice; I am not equipped with a "filter" to save me from exposure to, and to help me ignore, state suppression.
Luckily, a few things in my life are always exceptional - untouchable in quality, pure and timeless. What these are, I will keep to myself. But these gems always generate music in my head
Superman or not, every new day will present me with chunks of Kryptonite.
I'd better stick to my music lab.
7. Do you sometimes feel detached from the world?
Am I an alien? I sometimes feel like I am waiting for someone to come and take me back to my real home.
Maybe I am waiting for a spaceship from a remote galaxy? My problem is that I cannot feel relaxed and at home with most people, and even though I'm forced to be part of society, I cannot say that I identify with society at large. Perhaps it is because I have Asperger's Syndrome.
One thing is quite clear: I cannot adapt to some human traits, those that are too dynamic, too fickle, and too evil. Even in our contemporary world, things change very quickly; people who one day accept personal freedom, may the next day turn to state introduced -isms like moralism or sentimentism. And all without any logical reason, and with a completely blind eye to what are normally called human rights.
Very often I get despondent when I see what humans are capable of and responsible for: how evil and stupidity originating from religion or some -isms can take over society and crush individuals. How politics and other man-made decisions actually get a chokehold on humans, and how a large number of people cannot see this themselves.
I don't know which is worse: a dictatorship where the leader is a fool, or a democracy where the majority is foolish. In both cases, the consequence is often a suppression of freedom. The more people behind it, the more people to blame. It seems impossible for humans to live together in respect and peace.
What make it possible for me to stay alive are what I call static elements: the genuine perfection of things that are not manmade. The beauty of a flower, the innocence of animals, the sunset. Sometimes I see those static elements inherent in some human beings: the pure innocence of a person whose integrity is still not corrupted by the mercilessness of society. Then I am filled with joy, but also feel a deep sadness, because I know that some day this innocence might be ripped away by religion or state suppression.
Innocence is, as far as I know, not man-made and never can be. Wickedness, however, seems to be a well-established trait of the human race.
So, what do I do?
I live in an almost impossible situation where I struggle with this every day. And I cannot close my eyes and pretend these destructive dynamics are not there, since I don't have a "filter" (read: Asperger´s Syndrome). No, I cannot pretend, and I cannot say that I have a solution to untangle this Gordian knot.
Perhaps on some beautiful day in the future the spaceship will come and take me back home. In the meantime, I have to find a way to survive, avoiding the dynamic illogical elements as best I can, and, instead, surrounding myself with static timelessness.
When I manage to do this, the music automatically starts playing in my head, and I feel like a reflector of all things static, completely detached from the world.
Flint Juventino Beppe, director and composer for The Holy Bigotry
Artwork by Line Majormoen