The American Museum of the Moving Image, located in Astoria, Queens, will host this weekend the American premiere of Peter Greenaway’s “The Baby of Macon.” This 1993 play-within-a-film has been labeled by Gareth Rees as “a representation of a snuff film”; the San Francisco Bay Guardian called it a “corrupt movie”; Michael Brooke branded it “one of the most gratuitously unpleasant and indefensibly nasty films in recent years”; and the New York Times spoke of how the male and female stars in the movie are shown “in full frontal nudity in a blasphemous scene parodying the birth of Jesus in a manger.”
The movie, set during the Renaissance in France, concerns the “miraculous” birth of a baby boy. The child’s older sister pretends that she is the virgin mother and dresses as the Virgin Mary. She attempts to seduce a bishop’s son, wishing to make him Joseph to Mary and chooses a stable for her seduction; it is complete with animals and a manger. The bishop’s son is graphically disemboweled after the birth of the son.
The Church takes the child from the mother, holding her to be unfit to have a miracle child, and then sentences her to gang rape: in a scene that lasts for ten minutes, she is raped by 113 soldiers a total of 217 times. The child is then dismembered after his bodily fluids–spittle, urine, phlegm and blood–are sold by the Church at an auction.
Catholic League president William Donohue commented on this today:
“This is perhaps the most obscene, blasphemous movie targeted at the Catholic Church that was ever made. It is the functional equivalent of a hate crime and deserves to be taken with the same degree of seriousness.
“What is even more obscene is that the museum that is hosting this attack receives federal, state and city funding. Accordingly, the league will press federal, state and city officials to explain why any public institution has a right to deeply offend a large segment of the public while forcing them to pay for it.
“It is not for nothing that there is a Web Site for information on Peter Greenaway called ‘Art and Trash Video and Laserdisc.’ The ‘Baby of Macon’ is more than trash—it is a frontal assault on Roman Catholics and the Roman Catholic Church.”