Thursday, May 1, 2008

May Day

Today's my annual May Day viewing of The Wicker Man. The 1973 film is one of my favorites and I've seen it about 20 times over the last eight years. It's one film I find new things each time I view it, but this year I noticed something. On previous viewings, I felt sorry for Sgt. Neil Howie, a pious and judgmental character played by Edward Woodward. This year, however, it struck me that Sgt. Howie is a real dick. He's investigating a disappearance of a girl on Summerisle, a small island off the western coast of Scotland, an island that happens to be home to a pagan community.
Instead of accepting or merely tolerating their religion, the uber-Christian Howie is very condescending and rude to everyone he meets. Watching this in the past, I thought it was just a character flaw and that Howie was just ignorant, but this year I couldn't help but realize he's just a dick, calling the inhabitants "heathens" and expressing astonishment at their beliefs.
"Haven't these children ever heard of Jesus?" he expresses to Lord Summerisle after witnessing a fertility rite where young girls jumped over fire.
So when they stick him in the gigantic wicker man and sacrifice him, I really wasn't sad. I was rooting for the murderous pagans for snuffing out this holier-than-thou douchebag. Problem with the world now is there are a lot of Sgt. Howies out there, professing that their faith is the only true one and all others are inferior fables and superstitious mythologies.

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