Call me crazy, but, wait, actually you literally will call me crazy after reading this: I have always been interested in tragedy. Not all types of tragedy, but, wait, yeah, no, all types of tragedy.
When I was younger, I remember this colorful picture book that I would always check-out from the library about massive tragedies that occurred in the early 20th century. Titanic, Hindenburg, and other catastrophic tragedies that left many people dead. To this day I still can’t find that book and let me tell you, I have spent an inordinate amount of my personal time trying to find it. (If anyone can, please e-mail me a link to where I can purchase it)
Even in my Evangelical/Zionist/Zealot Christian Sunday school, there was an obsession around death. Maybe that’s where my fascination began? In any case, one day in Sunday school class, my Sunday School teacher, Dave, had us watch a movie. It was one of those “end of days” movies that evangelicals like to scare children with, reminding them that any day, any hour, any fucking minute Christ will return and if you miss the boat, that’s it. Game over. End of story. End of days actually, ha! See that, I made a joke about death.
Lest we forget, I was about 10 years old (maybe 9?) when we watched this ridiculous movie meant for teenagers. I remember quite clearly one remarkable scene. It’s chaotic, it's confusing, and it scared the life out of me at 10 years old. A woman is screaming bloody murder, as two military men, drag her to a guillotine.
Go ahead and reread that sentence, I’ll wait…. <drums fingers>
A guillotine. These military men are dragging her to a guillotine while her friends watch in horror, actually a crowd of people are watching this, and myself as the young viewer is practically shitting her pants in Sunday school.
So these military men finally pull her to the guillotine and are chaining her underneath the guillotine (I’m going to try and see how many times I can say guillotine to get the point across that I had to watch this) and her friends are shouting , “Take the mark of the beast! Why won’t you take the mark of the beast?!”
The mark of the beast, for all intents and purposes of this movie, is an inscription that non-believers would have written on their forehead, to show that they do not believe in Christ thereby rendering them capable of living in the dystopian society where religion and God have no meaning. Christians are persecuted, via guillotine. The U.S. government is systematically killing all Christians who will not take the mark of the beast.
As I sat in my Sunday school chair, still shitting my pants, I turned around to see what sort of facial expression my Sunday school teacher, Dave, had on his face. He was standing in the back of the darkened room, face in a serious grimace, with his right hand balled into a fist, almost as if he were fist pumping the air in solidarity. He was happy about what we were witnessing. He was supportive of it.
I turned back around to see the completion of the guillotine scene. As the woman wales in her chains under the guillotine, suddenly, the skies darken, and a great quake takes over the land, killing everyone, except the woman in chains. Panic stricken, she attempts to unchain herself and get out from under the guillotine. (Lest we forget, how could an earthquake happen and it NOT shake loose the guillotine?)
Anyways, she is able to free one arm, and when she goes to release her other arm the guillotine becomes unhooked, and drops down towards the screaming woman and the screen goes black.
<blink, blink, blink>
Double-You. Tee. Eff.
Let us also keep in mind, that at my age, I couldn’t watch The Simpsons or Married with Children or Dirty Dancing! But I could, in church, watch a woman (actually two women) lose their heads in a gruesome guillotine scene that has scarred me for life.
Thank the Lord Jesus Christ that I am exceptionally skilled at finding anything on the internet. And I mean anything.
Here, watch the whole movie. Live my horror. Live my nightmare. Live my fear as a little girl who never did anything to anyone, ever, in her short life and yet was terrified each and every day that I would be left behind. I’m not bitter. No. Not one bit.
Guillotine scene starts at the 06:00 minute mark, get some popcorn and enjoy!!
Ok, I just realized this piece went in a such a different direction than what I had previously intended which was to link you fine readers to a Vice video on YouTube about tragedy. Oh well. Next time.