I waited a few days after my first post on Hard as Nails to post a review. I wanted to separate my negative emotional response to this documentary from my rational response. You see, this documentary, and its subject, Justin Fatica, touched on something primeval in me. It stirred hatred, and hatred is something I prefer not to harbor. I failed. I could not get over Fatica. He scares me.
As documentaries go, Hard as Nails is a good one. It tells the story of lay catholic pastor Justin Fatica and his Hard as Nails ministry in a convincing and disturbing way. I enjoyed it. At one point I said to myself, this is the kind of documentary I would like to make (if I had gone to film school and actually had talent in this area). It was Justin Fatica who pissed me off, the documentary was great.
Justin Fatica is a bully. I hate bullies - even bullies for Jesus. I watched as he berated children, even simulating the crucifixion on unsuspecting participants. The yelling reminded me of boot camp - it was designed for the same purpose. Break them down so they could be molded into something else, like solders for Christ.
Justin Fatica is a nutball. I don't want him anyplace close to my children or family. If I were a parent witnessing his harassing tirades, I would punch this guy in the nose... twice. I don't care if he has big muscles built as a penance for his sinful masturbation. He still gets a punch in the nose.
In the 70s, when I was a "troubled teen", the tactics were more subtle, but no less insidious. My youth pastor would work us week after week on issue like masturbation, premarital sex, rock music, dancing, books, and even associating with non-Christian kids. It was enough to make me angry at the time. I did not need advice from these guys, few of us did. Fatica pounds the message home by yelling in the faces of his captive audience until he triggers the inevitable emotional breakdown. Once he cracks the shell, he dives in for more. His methods reminiscent of vaudeville, pro-wrestling, and military mind control all aimed and inflicting the maximum emotional distress on at risk children - night after night a church near you. Where are your kids?
Fatica has no credibility. I doubt he would have any credibility with the kids he preaches to if they knew of his silver spoon upbringing. take the 5,000 square foot home on a lake where his every need was taken care of. The "troubled" young Fatica was a spoiled brat at the end of his schoolyard influence with few prospects. Now the power of Jesus fills him - and he is utterly pathetic. If this is what his brand of religion is, I want no part of it.
I know a few people like Justin. They are ignoble, misguided and socially stunted. They embrace religion with a fervor not seen since the crusades. They focus on religion to the exclusion of all else. They ultimately fail at everything they touch except religion.
Justin Fatica is a scary man. I hereby christen him a nutball.
David Holbrooke deserves an award for his work. I don't know how it is possible to treat a subject like this fairly. My guess is that there was much worse footage left of on the cutting room floor. If you are reading David, may I suggest you choose James Dobson as your next subject?