Today's installment of the Decline and Fall of Western Civilization comes from Hollywood -- as if that's a surprise. Tinseltown is demeaning Christianity again -- as if that's a surprise, too. But this time, it's not some gutter-mouthed punk. This time, it's a network doing it, formally. ABC has approved a pilot with the title "Good Christian Bitches."
Is this what Christian women -- especially the good ones -- deserve?
The first credit for this decision to offer offensive titles actually goes to CBS, which began this stupid trend with its awful sitcom "(Bleep) My Dad Says." Now one of Discovery's cable channels has a show titled "Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry?" It chronicles women who have married vicious criminals.
But Disney-owned ABC (oh, the irony) has not one, but two B-word pilots in its outhouse of a production department. They're also considering a show titled "Don't Trust the Bitch in Apartment 23."
Mickey Mouse should have his hands over his ears.
This titling trend matches Tinseltown's concerted effort to add profanity "seasoning" to spice nearly every script on network TV shows. On prime-time broadcast TV, use of the B-word alone increased from 431 instances in 1998 to 1,277 in 2007.
If this show wasn't marketed directly at a female audience, the same ones who watch those witch-versus-witch reality shows like the "Real Housewives" shows on Bravo, the B-word would sound more sexist and demeaning. So it's OK to say it because it's become a word women can call each other. Now, if it's used by an angry male, it's a hanging crime. We're talking about something verging on domestic violence.
Might ABC bow to any sense of decency and change the titles before it picks these shows up for the fall? Fugetaboutit. "GCB" is based on a novel by Kim Gatlin, who unsurprisingly stole her own concept from ABC. A divorced mother of two returns to her hometown in the Dallas suburbs, and as Gatlin describes it, "In an Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Desperate Housewives on steroids style, her old friends are already out to destroy her reputation."
So that makes them good Christian bitches.
If this were a CBS pilot, they could just call it "Desperate Housewives: Dallas." (That seems to work for "CSI" and "NCIS.") Gatlin claims the title isn't mocking God -- that it just refers to people who fall more than a little short of good Christian behavior. But she is so fond of the scandalous sound of her sleazy title that her website (using those same words) sells a pile of merchandise with the initials "GCB" and a cross on it, from shirts, caps and tote bags all the way down to overpriced "party packs" of peppermint gum and Styrofoam cups.
Playing on religion -- and these churchgoing female hypocrites -- is all part of the sale. Gatlin also promotes the book this way: "In the whirling midst of salacious gossip, Botox, and fraud, Amanda turns to those who love her and the faith she's always known. Will the (GCBs) get the best of her, or will everyone see that these GCBs are as counterfeit as their travel jewelry?" Then, in big bold letters, Gatlin's slogan says it all: "For Heaven's sake, don't let God get in the way of a good story!"
No one should doubt that it's this author and the "Desperate" TV network who win the gold medal for abusing a religion.
ABC feels free to pick on Christianity -- after all, what faith would your fictional churchgoing hypocrites stereotypically follow in Dallas? No one in Hollywood would consider swapping the "Christian" in the title for "Muslim" -- that would be oafishly cruel, discriminatory and hate-filled, not to mention potentially life-threatening.
How about moving the setting to Beverly Hills and calling it "Good Jewish Bitches"?
Regardless of trashy titles, real faith-filled people don't relish and wallow in the sins and hypocrisies of others. Gatlin's premise cashes in on the gossipy failures of the people in the pews, but for her and her TV partners, this is all a gold mine to exploit. They don't despair about it. They revel in it, like kids in a candy store.
If ABC picks up this pilot, it's very likely that the sour message that will be resonate is that (SET ITAL) everyone (END ITAL) who goes to church, including priests and ministers, can be exposed as a fraud and a counterfeit. That is consistent with Hollywood's long-standing hostility to the faith of its own audience.