American graffiti

Good luck to the 15.7 million South Baptists trying to say no to all things Disney. The church's recent tantrum about Uncle Walt's alleged gay-friendliness means that its members will now have to stay clear of the multi-tentacled corporation's theme parks, superstores, and major television network (ABC), and generally be very careful about their entertainment diet (from films to sporting events, books to CDs). Among summer movies alone, the boycott translates as: no Con Air, no George of the Jungle, no Hercules - and, by virtue of the inevitable Hercules-McDonald's tie- in, no Happy Meals. The Southern Baptists have repeatedly lashed out at Disney for offering health benefits to partners of gay employees, and at its subsidiary Miramax for releasing filth like Pulp Fiction, Kids, and worst of all, the gay-themed Priest (originally set for a Good Friday opening). When Ellen DeGeneres came out on prime-time ABC, it was just too much for their delicate dispositions (a church leader has reportedly likened watching ABC to "spending time with a prostitute").

The glaring absurdity in all this is that Disney is still very much Family Values Central. Southern Baptists would probably approve of the new animated blockbuster, the Disneyfieid Hercules - that is, if they would actually see it. In what is admittedly its wittiest cartoon since Aladdin, the studio renders the boy-loving demi-god staunchly heterosexual's he's also the product of a happy (married) family, as opposed to the bastard son of Zeus. The church boycott appears to be affecting company policy already. Last week, Disney-owned Hollywood Records recalled all copies of an album by a hip-hop act called the Insane Clown Posse within hours of its release, claiming that the raunchy lyrics had, at the last minute, been deemed "inappropriate".

Had enough of "MMMBop?" If so, the Internet offers numerous outlets for venting Hanson-related spleen: among others, the Marilyn Hanson site, the I Hate Hanson site, the Hanson Are Gimps site. Be prepared, though, for some unironic, aggressively putrid sentiments involving decapitation fantasies and the like, most of which, unsurprisingly, come from the American heartland. You see, Hanson's pubescent androgyny somehow strikes a nerve in dumb middle-American male insecurity. The three brothers are called the "queerest" band in the world, peddlers of "gay pansy shit", and the onomatopoeic chorus of "MMMBop" is bizarrely pronounced "the gayest chorus ever". It's intriguing to see that much of this violent, almost unanimously male loathing stems from an initial attraction to squeaky-voiced, pretty- boy singer Taylor ("sooo femine [sic] looking") - the half wits weren't terribly amused when they found out he wasn't a "cute girl".

Far more disturbing than Hanson, but still without his own web-site, is a singer-songwriter called Bob Carlisle. Normally filed under "Christian Pop" or "New Age" or "Adult Contemporary" or something similarly worrying, Carlisle has scored the most peculiar crossover pop hit in recent memory. His "Butterfly Kisses" went to No 1 on the mainstream album charts last week (fighting off the Wu-Tang Clan, Paul McCartney and the Spice Girls), largely thanks to extensive radio play of its title track. Both nauseating and truly creepy, it's a slushly ballad about Carlisle's enormous pride for his teenage daughter as she "becomes a woman". He wrote the song as a birthday present to her and even sang it at her high-school graduation; it was, he explained, simply his way of saying that he's "so very grateful that she's so very normal and lovely and loves God and loves us". One suspects the Southern Baptists are grateful too.

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