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Introducing Religion into the Media: when the “Cathodic Clergy” Becomes Violent

digital Introducing Religion into the Media: when the “Cathodic Clergy” Becomes Violent
issue COMUNICAZIONI SOCIALI - 2020 - 2. Learning from the Virus: The Impact of the Pandemic on Communication, Media and Performing Arts Disciplinary Fields. A Round-Table
title Introducing Religion into the Media: when the “Cathodic Clergy” Becomes Violent
publisher Vita e Pensiero
format Article | Pdf
online since 10-2020
doi 10.26350/001200_000083
issn 03928667 (print) | 18277969 (digital)
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This article addresses the media coverage of the film Hacksaw Ridge by the French online press at the time when the biographical war drama entered the public discourse. While this film was welcomed by an overall positive treatment in the American and international media, the French media generally focused either on the exemplary nature of the message (through the character and the real story of Desmond Doss, who, due to his own religious beliefs, has defended pacifism and non-violence as a “patriotic conscientious objector”), or on the deconstruction of the pacifist and non-violent message of faith, in the complex context of the World War, by emphasizing (in prominent secular and Christian media) the violent (secular and religious) character of the film through a terminology which encapsulates representations of violence. Why did the French media favour two colluding perspectives, yet with a predilection for a critical-violent speech? To explain the choice for an analysis built on contrasting perspectives, this article prioritizes three explanations: a) the media discourse remains tributary to a particular French interpretation of secularism (laïcité); b) the media discourse represents and expresses a sense of bewilderment between the concepts of sacred, religion, and faith, a bewilderment deliberately created and maintained by the journalists (on their position of “cathodic clergy” playing the role of administrators of conscience, cf. Debray 2000); and c) the media discourse represents and expresses a conception of violence with modern origins, which traditionally opposes both secular violence and religious violence.


Hacksaw Ridge; mediatization; religion; secularism; violence.

Author biography

Paul Valéry University Montpellier 3, France ‒

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Anno: 2020 - n. 2

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