Certainly people weren’t quite sure what to think when Two and a Half Men star Angus T. Jones openly bashed his sit-com on in a YouTube video testimony for an online church; when his video, also exalting his newly discovered faith in god while beside a controversial pastor, went viral the picture became a little clearer. His own parents worried he had been snared by a cult. Still weeks later media watchers wonder if he will be fired for calling his own show, for which he receives a whopping $350,000 an episode, filth. Additionally he blatantly said he was on the show but no longer wanted to be on it, causing members of the public to think he should be fired for trashing his employer. Current rumors surrounding the show include that fellow co-star Ashton Kutcher wants Jones fired and a CBS executive is hinting at his character, Jake’s departure. Making this seem more like an actor trying to get out of his contract or adolescent whining from a bored teen looking to do something else with his time are earlier comments made to media outlets like E-online lamenting his character’s lack of screen time; likewise he has been acting since the age of 4 and on the show for a number of years lending credence to the idea perhaps he just needs a change, regardless of the wisdom of if this was the way to get it. Two and a Half Men is similarly no stranger to controversy and strange star behavior having weathered the very public drug use and perceived mental instability of Charlie Sheen. Whatever is next, it should be noted Jones is only 19, just starting to handle Hollywood press for himself as opposed to being sheltered from it by publicists, agents and people there to protect him as a minor in the business, having already apologized for his comments and the uproar they caused.
Jones is not the first star to find religion and denounce the amoral, hedonistic stereotypes of Hollywood after doing so, the first child star to grow up in front of the camera, grow into adulthood and do other things with a religious basis, nor is he the first star to find religion, particularly Christianity, and begin proclaiming extreme views. Gary Busey, Kirk Camron and Stephen Baldwin, all with acting careers have made more headlines in recent years for their religious fervor than their screen roles. Neither is the Christian faith without its share of prominent falls from grace including mug shots from Glen Campbell, aforementioned Gary Busey and well known mega-church leader Creflo Dollar; usually for drunken behavior or drugs, the latter being most serious alleging child abuse because of a “spanking” gone wrong in which his daughter claims she was choked and punched. Another mega- church leader Carlton Pearson lost a great deal of his followers when he shifted his beliefs denying the existence of hell going further toward something called the gospel of inclusion. Former mega-church leader Eddie Long stepped down from his church following young men’s allegations he used his position, influence in the church to engage in sexual relationships with them; while it appears they were of age, it was quite the scandal for a married pastor known for preaching the evils of homosexuality. Add to that prosperity doctrines surrounded by uber wealth, investigations into how the obtained their wealth, the fact that every other sermon, through the eyes of onlookers, is about asking congregants for money combined with skeptical faith healings, people falling down, falling unconscious or incoherent under the power of “god” and it isn’t any wonder people are, at minimum, a little standoffish. Throw in the religious organizations that do fit the dictionary definition of a cult, heaven’s gate, compounds run by David Koresh, Warren Jeffs and when someone starts talking about religion, they take that as their cue to stop listening.
Fueling the idea Angus T. Jones may have fallen in with a cult, or perhaps a charismatic religious person seeking their own agenda, stems partially from the faction of Christianity Jones has credited with his conversion, taken classes from, the Seventh Day Adventist, who like Jehovah’s witnesses and Mormons, are considered by more mainstream denominations of the faith not to be true Christians. Despite his parents’ possible lack of credibility taking into account their pasts, both having arrest records, his mother may well have a point; aside from there being no hint of either parent trying to use their child as a paycheck a-la Lindsey Lohan, no indications the parents have or are pressuring him to keep acting, enter the history and reputation of the man now being called his spiritual advisor, his co-star in the YouTube video, Christopher Hudson. A simple Google search of the man reveals he is an unconventional, to say the least, online pastor who has compared Obama to Hitler, accused Supreme Court justice Sonya Sotomayor of being part of a satanic plot, in the wake of gas rationing post hurricane Sandy warned of potential catabolism in the resulting chaos. But it was not just that he equated gas rationing to potential food shortage in the storm aftermath, it was how he did so, saying in part “your baby may start looking like a chicken wing,” putting him in the same category as the pastor who said he knew when the world was going to end twice, obviously being wrong both times, the obsession with the Mayan calendar to the more dangerous types listed in the previous paragraph. In short persons in need of some serious psychological help. While Hudson maintains he did not know who Angus T. Jones was prior to filming the video, in dealing with wealthy celebrities financial motivation is always a concern, especially with someone so young. Still taking the pastor at face value, a known celebrity possessing deep pockets endorsing your product, jumping on your bandwagon is never a bad thing. In fact what Jones did was almost better for Hudson because it gains him notoriety without immediately making people think it was about bilking a star for money; plus Americans, watchers of news and celebrity media worldwide know who he is, about his church and are free to investigate it for themselves, potentially gaining him more followers, donators regardless of the dubiousness of the initial encounter.
However people are not angered that this 19 year old young man found religion that he found a better direction in life after admitting to smoking pot, trying acid; remaining watchful, guarded and skeptical of if this could be a case of cult exploitation, they far more are angry he is renouncing the show but has no plans to voluntarily leave it. What’s worse, from their point of view, is even though he is still under contract for the rest of the season, X number of episodes, he is not stating he only stays on the show to legally, morally do what’s right and finish what he started by completing said contract; instead voicing that if he stays god must want him there. Others promptly take issue with the warn out arguments on the negatives of television Jones arguably regurgitating what he has heard all of his life, that TV rots your brain, renouncing the argument television, his show included, is just entertainment, parroting both the pop psychology and religious rhetoric implying what you watch has a direct effect on everything you do, facts not in evidence no matter how many times we blame teen and young adult violence, mass shootings and the like on video games, movies, music and yes, TV. An argument critics point out he didn’t take to completion by citing actual research, listing actual potential effects opting instead to one, project the idea there are people who live exactly like the characters on his show and seeing it will cause people to aspire to live that way, completely void of understanding words like satire, parody and hyperbole, all employed by the show to make it funny, then two, choosing to demonize it on religious grounds. Drawing further anger is the fact Jones’ rant portrays him as very ungrateful for something that has made him a very rich young man, assuming his money has been managed correctly, providing him with the opportunity, should he want to leave show biz altogether, to go to college, invest in a more mainstream career, very possibly stop working altogether. People are angry he doesn’t put his religious convictions where his feet are and walk away; they are saying fine you found religion, you now find Hollywood against your moral standards, bye. You want to go start a faith-based film company, you want to only star in faith-based films, church approved roles, want to leave the business, great, but if all you are going to do is bad mouth it while continuing to work for it, in the words of Bugs Bunny, ahhh- shut up.
People simultaneously are fed up with those who use religion to justify doing or not doing things; in a world where the words bomb plot, terrorist and threat are likewise synonymous with jihad and Islamic radical, when they see pictures of suicide bombers, repressive governments founded on the strictest interpretation of a religious doctrine not allowing women to drive cars, wear pants on the news, religion as a concept, is something they want as far away from as they can get it. Having been made aware of female circumcision, better known as female genital mutilation done across the world on cultural and religious grounds, doctors here pressured to do so, hard pressed to come up with an alternative to appease patients parents all too willing to return to their home country to have this done, honor killings perpetrated on U.S. soil by immigrants to this country angry their daughter kissed a boy, angry about the clothes she tried to wear, immigrants trying to practice the old ways here, a man selling his daughter for money, cases of meat and beer, police finding out when he went to them for supposed non-payment, religion becomes just another tool to subjugate masses, specifically women. Returning to Christianity and faith generated arguments here at home, whether you’re talking about political gridlock, ridiculous fights over the foundations of science, how old the earth is, evolution verses creationism, intelligent design, from perpetuating hate of homosexuality, abortion in the extreme to squabbles over women and birth control, such fights always have a religious component while so many other things need our leaders’ attention. Remember these are the same types of people announcing they’re going to burn Korans on the anniversary of 9-11, who stand outside military funerals with signs saying god hates gays, god hates America, who have their children singing about who’s going to hell. Many rational persons taking in mentioned behavior recognizing it only inflames problems, inspires divisiveness. Perhaps the best way to sum up Americans who do not identify themselves with a religion or passively do so comes from the sit-com Becker featuring the life and times of a socially challenged, old school doctor practicing in the 21st century, “Becker: [on religion] Religion is supposed to be about people being nice to each other, but frankly, I don’t see a lot of that. You know, what I do see, is people using the Good Book to say that they’re morally superior. I see people building TV stations to bilk Grandma out of her pension checks, all in the name of God, you know. And, how about all those God-fearing people who are killing other God-fearing people because they don’t fear God in the same way!?”
Ticking the back of minds too is the post conversion behavior of famous Christians in the modern era; too many of the infamous mug shots on record, making the news are after their conversion to this that or another version, usually of Christianity. Then there are the famous representations of the faith personifying the phase god needs a new PR department; Kirk Cameron is the guy who defended Todd Akin, you know the man running for office who asserted a woman’s body had a way to prevent pregnancy during rape implying there was no need for exception to the conservative abortion stance in the cases of pregnancies that resulted from rape, saying he was a good man. Frist as if that were the only criteria for holding political office; second leave religion, character out of it, individuals were so angry not just because Akin’s comments were disrespectful to women but beginning with he was wrong. There is no such capability by women, hints the need for exceptions to the conservative abortion platform. Watching Gary Busey do celebrity Wife Swap is an exercise in what the heck is wrong with that guy; for one he looks like he is very much still taking illicit substances, abusing prescription ones or needs to be medicated with strong rounds of anti-psychotic medication, leading viewers to say if that’s what you look like “on god,” having god in your life, no thank you. During the presidential debate season much ado was made out of the many facial expressions of vice president Joe Biden; it is a similar situation with the exuberant facial expressions of Stephen Baldwin, who went on Good Morning America to attest that from what he could see young Mr. Jones had an authentic experience with god and must do what he thinks is right, implications being both in speaking out about the content of his show and whether he remains on it. Running us headlong into another point pushing Americans to be wholly unimpressed with individuals claiming to speak on behalf of god, faith based television stations, shows from talk to news, forgoing the fact they are the first ones to give air time to preachers, the converted who almost inevitably come to have varying degrees of fall from grace, they are concurrently the first to extol the virtue of outlying political members most recently tea party conservatives. Here are the programs interviewing favorites like Sarah Palin focusing on faith and character, hokey mom, good Christian personalities to the exclusion of ensuing the politics makes sense, sans asking the hard questions, sans addressing the issues; such as, how she handles sex ed. in her household, according to her faith landed here with a pregnant teenage daughter, which is important when you’re running on a platform that supports abstinence only sex ed. in schools. It matters when Michele Bachmann has such a poor understanding of history she doesn’t know one fact a 3rd grader would know about the shot heard round the world, when she fundamentally misunderstands society so much so she says to cameras things were better in times of slavery owing to more two parent homes; it matters when a prominent Christian teacher hosts a guest supporting Mitt Romney, a Mormon, for president based on the he is a good man criteria, when he practices a faction of Christianity, going against the fundamentals of the faith you teach others to practice.
Further deluding his argument’s potency, causing his conversion to seem less genuine or a convenient excuse for an ulterior motive is that Angus T. Jones is yes a name we remember for his popular sit-com, but otherwise he remained a low key individual, unlike so many others making headlines for celebrities behaving badly, until this incident. Despite his experimentation with drugs it is clear from his lack of headline-making, lack of court dates, lack of stints in rehab, he was a purely recreational drug user, had no problem putting aside the drugs when he came to the realization there is a god and he is watching what I’m doing. Commiserate with the naiveté of someone 19 were his comments he never got into alcohol that god saved him from that implying he believes alcohol is one of the worst things you can be exposed to; now having been a firsthand, partial witness to the apparent meltdown of Charlie Sheen it is easy to see how he might think that’s true. Yet teens today can tell you not all drugs/substances are created equal; some carry much higher rates of addiction and thus destruction, including heroin, meth, prescription pain killers. Of course in light of deaths like Michael Jackson, Whitney Huston Heath Ledger and Britney Murphy, we don’t want such obvious talent, particularly young talent, going down that path; however it is just as obvious Angus T. Jones was nowhere near said path, no matter how much he thought he might have been. And the only things conspiring for his downfall are his own words coupled with his apparent bad choice in clothing to wear a collared shirt under a sweater like he’s 50 or the dull, bland colors of hoodie he sports spawning the question is he color blind. If America had to choose I think they would wish he had Jake’s fashion sense.