Saturday, April 12, 2008

Why I Love Joe Bob Briggs...

Almost everyone has some sort of secret ambition in life that they don't share with the people close to them. Some of us want to be famous musicians, painters, novelists. Still others dream of running a book store, a bed and breakfast, or a nice, cozy cafe. Hell, I know more than a couple of guys who are making a good run at becoming famous cage fighters. I, on the other hand, have a secret dream that is simultaneously more down to earth and more weird.

I wanna be a late-night cable TV monster movie host.

No, seriously. That's not some sort of joke, it's something I've been kicking around in my head for ten years now. It would be the coolest thing in the world, and one of the main reasons I think so is Joe Bob Briggs. Briggs was the host of "Monstervision" on TNT for what seemed like a zillion years (Wikipedia indicates that it was probably closer to 4.) and he introduced me to the finer points of monster flicks, teaching me that they can be appreciated for their trivia, history, and cultural influences just as much (if not more) as they can for their narrative and artistic merits. It changed the way I watched those kinds of movies, and it changed them from a passing fancy into something that I'm really, really interested in. Neither my girlfriend nor my buddies will ever forgive Joe Bob for this, but I'd like to thank the guy.

I've actually been trying to think of a reason to bring this up on here for a while, but I really didn't have any reason to think that Joe Bob really related to any of the topic I tend to talk about on here. I mean, what could Joe Bob Briggs, that lovable movie host and critic, have to do with issues of skepticism, religion, and the paranormal? Little did I know...

Turns out that Joe Bob (under his real name, John Bloom) was president of the Trinity Foundation, a Dallas, Texas based organization that engages in various charitable activities and works very hard at fighting religious fraud*. The organization is a thorn in the side of televangelists around the country, and has investigated loons, hucksters, and swindlers like Benny Hinn, Jim Bakker, and Robert Tilton. Their pursuit of televangelists has led them into Randi-like investigations involving surveillance of revivals, contacting ex-staff of powerful evangelists, and the ever interesting process of digging through people's trash. (Seriously. I'm not being snide - it's legal and it has produced more than one uncomfortable bit of evidence for hucksters.)

Now I'm not going to pretend that I agree with Joe Bob's theology - I'm an atheist and he's some breed of non-denominational Christian, but taking a stand against money-grubbing televangelists is a worthy cause one way or the other. Bravo. Joe Bob also writes for The Wittenburg Door, the TF's semi-satirical magazine. Sadly I have no direct access to the print version, but the website contains an archive of articles. His satirical articles are written as Joe Bob Briggs, his serious ones as John Bloom, and his serious articles have legitimate meat to them. Check out his school prayer article here. I could almost cry - he actually understands the issue! Color me impressed.

Apparently there's an issue of that magazine coming soon detailing his adventures, as Joe Bob, at the recent Atheist Alliance conference. I'm curious to see what he has to say about an issue that I have every to suspect I won't agree with him on. The cover even has a picture of him doing battle with zombie versions of Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Christopher Hitchens. I've got to do something to get my hands on that.

Anyway, Joe Bob is awesome, and I still want to host monster movies.

*Or is it an evil cult? That'd be weird, huh?

1 comment:

Garret said...

OHH thats cool Skippy! Televangelists such as Hinn et al, I consider to be much worst than 1000 Atheists handing out tracts from the Out Campaign.
They are the true anti-Christs out there. I hope Joe Bob Has a lot of success poking holes in those bloated evil pigs that have the ignorant emptying out their bank accounts on false, anti biblical promises of wealth on earth. Did you know that Hinn calls God the biggest failure in history? They also believe that the words you speak can control God, like a cosmic lottery.
Take care Skippy!