Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

Veronica Mars: Is Nothing Sacred?

posted by donna freitas

This week’s new episode of Veronica Mars, called “Rashard and Wallace Go to White Castle,” finally gave me the opportunity I’ve been looking for: an excuse to introduce the UPN series, which airs Wednesdays at 9, to Idol Chatter readers. After many recommendations from friends and fellow “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” addicts (still looking to fill the years-long void left by the 144th and final episode of Buffy), who told me that “Veronica Mars” is the next best thing, I finally decided to give Veronica a chance. Within two weeks I was hooked on Veronica’s character: high school girl, master crime solver-private eye, complete with Buffy-style sense of humor.

Onto this week’s episode… Without going too much into back plot (you’ll need to watch the reruns, which air quite often, yourself), Veronica (Kristen Bell) is currently engaged in solving a number of long-term mysteries in her hometown of Neptune. These include a bus crash that killed several students from her high school and a murder that left her ex, rich boy Logan Echols, accused of the vicious crime. In an effort–albeit a rather reluctant one, since tension and some serious baggage between Logan and Veronica is still pretty heavy–Logan convinces Veronica to bug a confessional in a Catholic Church. After much cajoling, Veronica finds herself sneaking into the sacred chamber, worried she’s “going to hell” as she hides the bugging device. Just then, the parish priest enters the confessional, making for a rather amusing and awkward “confession” on Veronica’s end.

Turns out, the confessional serves as a drug dropoff-exchange site. Lovely front for a drug ring now, isn’t it? The local Catholic Church.

There’s a lot in this series to think about. Viewers will enjoy the constant ethical dilemmas Veronica faces. She often decides not to play by the rules, occasionally with the unfortunate repercussions of disappointing her friends, and worst of all, her father. For anyone still licking wounds over the fact that Buffy lives on only through our DVD players, longing for a good new high-school girl-power series, “Veronica Mars” is the best medicine I’ve found so far. Her, let’s say, “creative ethics” in the name of doing good, helping friends, and solving crimes as best as she can will grown on you quickly.

The Legacy of Betty Friedan

posted by donna freitas

The pioneer of Second Wave Feminism, Betty Friedan, author most famously of “The Feminine Mystique” (first published in 1963), died Saturday, February 4th, on her birthday. Her book, which has sold several million copies over the last four decades, is credited with giving a voice, words, and description to the soul-killing angst of the classic 1950’s-60’s housewife. Friedan offered communal solace to a generation of depressed, stay-at-home wives and mothers, in addition to providing one of the texts that would be come a classic for women of my generation and generations to come. Her work also served as a pivotal springboard for discussion about domestic life in novels, movies, and countless women’s magazines.

The problems she described have proven enduring, at least so far as popular culture is concerned; that lonely housewife is a role we’ve recently seen immortalized on the big screen in such iconic portrayals as Julianne Moore’s Laura Brown in “The Hours” and Joan Allen’s listless, flat-charactered housewife, Betty Parker in “Pleasantville.”

But on a more inspirational note, without women like Betty Friedan–whose familiar face came to symbolize equal rights and the feminist movement itself–women such as myself and the students who fill my “Women and Spirituality” courses might not be able to claim our seats in undergraduate and graduate classrooms, never mind in the pursuit of the study of religion, as so many women of this generation do. Because of Friedan, we take for granted today that, of course, we have a place and a voice and a right to the educations we are lucky to pursue today– as well as space on playing fields and in the workplace. Betty Friedan was the icon of one era, and she paved the way for other inspirational icons of today, women like soccer star Mia Hamm (see HBO’s recent “Dare to Dream: The Story of the U.S. Women’s Soccer Team) and the cultural, spiritual, and enterpreneurial working woman phenom that is Oprah Winfrey.

What a legacy to leave us all.

Kristin Chenoweth: It’s Not Just Her Career That’s Taken Off

posted by burb

Kristin Chenoweth has what’s called crossover appeal. Already, she’s a Broadway diva (“Wicked”), television actress (“The West Wing”), and celebrity spokeswoman (Old Navy commericals), and has a burgeoning film career (the upcoming “Pink Panther”). She’s also a good Christian girl with a Contemporary Christian Music recording career, as well as a gay icon (see “Broadway diva”).

Now she’s breaking new ground as a cheesy bikini model. Clad in very little, Chenoweth appeared in a recent issue of the young men’s magazine FHM. (Click here to see the feature in question, but if you’re offended by such things, don’t say we didn’t warn you.) The magazine’s editors also note Chenoweth’s contradictions, but choose to lead with, “She’s 4-foot-11 and tips the scales at 95 pounds, yet she sports an Amazonian’s curves.”

So far, there is little likelihood that Chenoweth’s audiences will come together in numbers large enough to spark angry clashes, but with her big-screen career picking up speed, it may be wise to avoid multiplexes where her name is on the marquee.

Who Would Jesus Root For?

posted by

In his book “Season to Season,” Joseph L. Price declares, that for Americans, “sports constitute a form of popular religion.” And while it can be argued that sporting spirituality is just as strong across the pond, there is perhaps no better exemplar in America than Super Bowl Sunday, with its religious holiday-like reverence, fervent prayers, and last-minute “Hail Mary” passes.

Even Norman Vincent Peale, pastor and Positive Thinker, is said to have remarked, “If Jesus were alive today, he would be at the Super Bowl.” From Guideposts to goal posts, eh, Norman?

But, religion and sports have been intertwined for millennia. One just needs to look at the upcoming Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. Originally, one of the four ancient Panhellenic games, the Olympic games were held in honor of Zeus, ruler of the Greek gods.

Still to this day, large crowds gather in arenas to honor their god. The most striking example of this modern-day incarnation is the Christ-centered men’s ministry The Promise Keepers, which holds its conferences in sports arenas. Co-founded by Bill McCartney, the former coach of the University of Colorado football team who came to be known as “Coach,” Promise Keepers was the perfect marriage of religious fervor and sports fanaticism when it came on the scene in 1990. More recently, extreme sports festivals for Christ have been popping up around the nation.

In recent years, churches around the nation have stopped competing with the Big Game for attendance and have started throwing Super Bowl related events, including Super Bowl services, where television pre-empts the pulpit while jersey-clad parishioners cheer from the pews. Other communities of faith partake in The Souper Bowl of Caring, wherein church members donate one dollar on Super Bowl Sunday to local charities.

“The contemporary tendency to connect athletic success and divine favor–or simply to blend the spirit of sporting competition with the fervor of evangelical piety–suggests that the convergence of sports and religion involves a kind of denigration of one or both, the profanation of the sacred or the diminution of sporting competition,” notes Price. “However, the process of their modern mixing perhaps represents a reintegration of two sorts of ritual rather than a profanation of sacred rites.”

Think about that as you watch the Seahawks’ Northwestern Totem-inspired helmet running down the field…

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