Friday, August 19, 2005

The Rainbow Man/John 3:16 (Green, 1997)

Like his Academy Award nominated documentary, The Weather Underground, Sam Green's The Rainbow Man/John 3:16 explores a situation where steadfast commitment to a cause turned first into obsession and finally into violent crime. Those who are old enough to have watched any kind of sporting event in the late 70's or early 80's may remember Rollen Stewart as the guy who always seemed to be perfectly placed in the background sporting a rainbow-colored wig. Later, after he became a born-again Christian, Rollen carried signs with him so that he could take advantage of network television and broadcast Bible verses -- most often John 3:16. Though it is no surprise to learn that Rollen was obsessed with media, Green's film shows us a man that seems to have little ability to distinguish between true reality and the media-manipulated reality of shows like Geraldo, Entertainment Tonight and TV evangelism. Rollen's case is a single, extreme example of a sickness that plagues a nation addicted to trash television. Green's film leaves us with a disturbing question: how harmless is our 'harmless entertainment' when it inspires our population to eagerly digest without a shred of critical thought?


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