“DETROIT ROCK CITY” IS A LOW-CLASS ACT
Catalyst September Issue 1999
On August 13, New Line Cinema released “Detroit Rock City,” a movie set in 1978 about four teenagers who go on a wild spree on their way to a KISS concert. KISS star Gene Simmons is featured in the movie and is a co-producer. It is a farcical comedy in which nearly all the characters are caricatures. It is also one that contains two scenes that are explicitly designed to offend Catholics. Catholic League research analyst Tamara Collins previewed the movie before it debuted and offered the following account:
In the first offensive segment, viewers meet a drunken, foul-mouthed priest who steals money from the collection box to pay for pizza. In the second offensive segment, we meet a Catholic woman who is portrayed as a fanatic because she carries her rosary beads with her and has a bumper sticker that says, “Smile, Jesus Loves You.” Coarse and hypocritical, she drags her son to confession when she discovers his interest in attending a KISS concert.
The priest, who is the subject of an advance by the boy’s mother, asks the boy in the confessional whether he doesn’t have something to confess like “carnal knowledge with a neighborhood girl” or “finding a box of magazines under Dad’s bed.” When the priest exits the confessional, the boy is joined by one of his girlfriends and quickly loses his virginity there. When the priest returns, he asks the boy about “crotchless panties,” etc.
Here’s what our press statement said about the film:
“It’s always the Catholic religion that today’s ‘humorists’ in Hollywood target. That’s because they like us so much.
“The interplay between sex and religion has long made for good copy, and in the right hands, it can prove to be fascinating. In the hands of charlatans, it doesn’t work. That Gene Simmons fits the latter category will be argued by no one. ‘Detroit Rock City’ is a low-class act that is consistent with the work of Mr. Simmons.”