The Hollywood Scandal Behind the Clerical Scandal
Joshua Hren penned a compelling, Dante-haunted piece (“Ressentiment or Rectification?: Dante’s Divine Comedy & the Viganò Testimony,” Nov.), arguing in defense of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s open letter (Aug. 22) that details Pope Francis’s granting of de facto free reign to disgraced prelate Theodore Cardinal McCarrick. As Hren argues, Viganò has been vilified as a resentful and power-hungry cleric seeking to get back at the humble and well-meaning Pope. Hren’s central thesis is that, regardless of Viganò’s motives, his accusations should be weighed on their own merits.
Hren is entirely correct. There is, however, a deeper question behind not only Viganò’s motives but the reason why the McCarrick scandal broke when it did. It seems strange that McCarrick, a serial molester of young men, could survive for so long, undetected, hobnobbing with the elite at places like the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and even serving as a visitor to Iran, China, and Africa on behalf of the Obama administration. Are we expected to believe that the rigorous United Nations and U.S. State Department background checks to which McCarrick would have been subjected did not uncover any of his many misdeeds?
Furthermore, if His Eminence’s misdeeds were known, why were they made public only in June 2017?
Is it possible that they were purposefully released at that time to hide another scandal that was brewing in plain sight? What is this other scandal?
To answer this question, we have to take a trip down memory lane — not to the cavernous realm of Dante’s Inferno but to another hellscape: Southern California of the 1980s.
The 1987 cult film The Lost Boys, a staple of 1990s cable television reruns and currently the subject of innumerable online analyses, ostensibly tells the story of two teenage boys, Sam and Michael Everson, who arrive in California with their single mother to shack up with their aging hippie grandpa — broken homes being a common phenomenon both on screen and in real life during the 1980s, a decade in which an entire generation of children reaped the poisoned fruit of the sexual revolution. While settling into their new home in the fictitious seaside community of Santa Carla, the two brothers cross paths with a gang of vampires, an encounter that ends, after a number of twists, turns, and “romance,” in a gory climax complete with a squirt gun filled with holy water and a stake through the heart.
On the surface, The Lost Boys is a campy, vulgar, and violent movie showcasing the popular locker-room humor of 1980s stars Corey Feldman and Corey Haim, the notorious “Two Coreys.” Their typical B-level films follow a predictable plot of zany high school-age adventures during the Reagan era, when (heterosexual) violations of teenage chastity and rough and impure jokes would still seem shocking to an America barely holding on to its WASP morality and social norms, a time when it was still “Hip to Be Square,” as rock singer Huey Lewis crooned.
However, as three decades of critical digestion have revealed, there are a lot of weird things going on in The Lost Boys.
The film is saturated with teenage sensuality, but vampire films are always loaded with impure, erotic imagery, even when the actual “love scenes” are fairly mute, as they are here. The Lost Boys, however, is not merely part of a long parade of 1980s films about “losing one’s virginity” or the crudely termed “making it,” one of the target goals of Generation X, the first American generation to grow up without a firm grounding in Christian morals. Even the name of the film itself is telling.
The term “lost boys” was originally used to describe the group of adolescent young men who inhabit the (all male) perpetual play world of Neverland in Peter Pan. It is also a term for the four or five generations of American boys who, like Sam and Michael, have grown up without a father and thus are completely adrift in a morass of social and cultural decay.
The film’s title has an especially creepy resonance when we realize that the director of the film, Joel Schumacher, is a practicing homosexual who, like Gus Van Sant (of Good Will Hunting fame), another famous gay director, has made his career largely through films about teenagers — especially teenage sexuality. Even more disturbing, Schumacher went on to make one of the most transgressive films of the 1990s, 8mm, which deals with the dark and violent underbelly of the pornographic film industry.
It would be easy to explore the “gay” and even pederast themes of The Lost Boys, but this exploration is unnecessary and has already been done many times before. Outside of the awkward appearance of androgynous, long-haired, teenage vampires (which largely went unnoticed by American audiences of the time), there is one very odd detail in the film.
In one of its most iconic scenes, we see on the Santa Carla boardwalk a missing-persons board, which has what appears to be, according to the FBI’s own report (Jan. 31, 2007), the symbol for pedophile networks buried amid the record of the local “disappeared” kids, whom we later find out were victims of the vampires’ nightly feedings.
What is even more disturbing, however, is that both of the Coreys in the film have claimed to have been victims of organized sexual abuse and human trafficking in Hollywood.
After Haim’s tragic death in 2010, Feldman appeared on ABC’s Nightline (Aug. 10, 2011) and revealed that Haim was the victim of abuse. Haim’s mother likewise has accused actor Dominick Brascia of abusing her son. In addition to his earlier claim, Feldman claims that one of his own abusers is still “prominently in the [movie] business today,” further telling The Hollywood Reporter (May 25, 2016) that Haim’s abuse was not an isolated incident:
I believe that Haim’s rapist was probably connected to something bigger, and that is probably how he has remained protected for all these years. This person uses intimidation and threats as a way to keep people quiet. And all these men were all friends. Ask anybody in our group of kids at that time: They were passing us back and forth to each other.
Feldman’s deeply unsettling words point to a larger network of sexual abuse within Hollywood — a network that Amy J. Berg exposed in a documentary film titled An Open Secret (2014). Unlike Berg’s earlier film on Catholic clerical abuse, Deliver Us from Evil (2006), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award, Open Secret has largely been ignored by the mainstream press and, of course, was shunned during award season.
For some strange reason, Hollywood was invested in supporting a documentary that exposed evil in the Catholic Church but not one that aired Tinseltown’s own dirty laundry. Nonetheless, buttressed by the Harvey Weinstein scandals, accusations of sexual abuse of young men by Hollywood figures such as Kevin Spacey and Bryan Singer continued to gather steam. Something had to be done to shift the narrative away from Hollywood and onto another target, one that is easy to hate — an institution like the Catholic Church.
The straw that broke the camel’s back came in the very strange form of Isaac Kappy, a B-list actor who had a minor role in Thor (2011). Kappy began to level accusations against some very powerful Hollywood figures. What was weird about Kappy’s claims, though, was how Hollywood responded to them. Virtually every major Hollywood gossip rag went into attack mode against Kappy (a tactic reminiscent of the official Catholic media’s attack on Archbishop Viganò), mocking his failed acting career, his personal life, and his mental health.
Even more curious, many of the major or minor news outlets that broadcast Kappy’s claims were pulled offline. Perhaps the most notorious was Texas-based conspiracy broadcaster Alex Jones, who in August of last year was pulled simultaneously from Facebook, Twitter, and Spotify immediately after Kappy appeared on his show.
This, of course, does not mean that Kappy’s accusations are true or that his appearance on Jones’s show is the sole reason why Jones’s controversial program had been de-platformed. But even if Kappy’s accusations are fake, it is a strange coincidence that after decades of conspiracy theorizing on a wide variety of often offensive and odd topics, Jones’s Info Wars was suddenly pulled down. It is also a strange coincidence that the accusations by Feldman, the Haim family, Kappy, Amy Berg, and many others were quickly washed away as accusations against Cardinal McCarrick came to the fore and the now-infamous Pennsylvania grand jury report dethroned Donald Cardinal Wuerl.
The accusations against Cardinals McCarrick and Wuerl and another round of sadistic, gay, pedophile priests are disgusting, and few question their veracity. However, they are no different and have no more weight in a court of law than the accusations against many in Hollywood, some of whom have been criminally prosecuted for rape and the sexual abuse of children.
To point out the accusations in Hollywood is by no means to defend McCarrick, Wuerl, or any other prelate credibly accused of sexual abuse. It is, however, meant to point out a double standard: The U.S. media and the American judicial system will gladly go after a high-ranking Catholic priest or bishop but will run cover for powerful Hollywood directors and actors.
Moreover, there is the unverifiable but nonetheless very real possibility that the release of the McCarrick and Wuerl scandals was strategically timed to diffuse the Hollywood scandal.
It appears that despite receiving a slap on the wrist, McCarrick and Wuerl are still being protected by Pope Francis’s Vatican. In fact, Wuerl even presided over the 2018 Christmas Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
While they will soon go to meet their maker (the rumor is that McCarrick is very sick), both Wuerl and McCarrick will likely escape justice on this earth.
It may or may not be the case that the release of the McCarrick-Wuerl scandals was meant to cover the tracks of abusers in Hollywood. However, if the whole point of the recent McCarrick-Wuerl scandal was not to bring the abusers to justice, we are left with the likelihood that the only point of the whole fiasco, like the 2002 Boston Globe’s Spotlight reporting, was to attack the Catholic Church as an institution and lower her estimation in the eyes of the people of America and the world.
If that has been the goal of the media, they have definitely succeeded.
As a side note, all young Catholics interested in going to feed the “neon demon” of Hollywood as an actor, director, or screenwriter would do well to listen to the advice of Corey Haim’s mother, Judy, whose son, like so many child actors in Hollywood, had his life destroyed by sexual predators: “Don’t go to Hollywood.”
© 2019 New Oxford Review. All Rights Reserved.
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