Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Review: HBO - Hard as Nails

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?


Johnny Crow said...

Joe, I don't know what it is, but I was reading an article in Newsweek, I think. It was about Justin Fatica and his type of militant style jesus pushing christianity.

At first I laughed at it, then the more and more I read, the more and more I got mad.. so much I threw the magazine across the room... It INFURIATED me... I wanted to do something. I wanted to create an organization that goes around and gives REAL motivation and destroys the type of crap this asshole teaches. Even now I am seething a few days later. This is the kind of shit that no child should be forced to endure. Torture and Rape of the mind and soul.

Fatica is the kind of guy I want to get in front of and have him try to force jesus down my throat and show him the true strength of critical thinking and then rip him a new asshole. I want to show this fool what it is like to be on the other side... I want to give him a taste of what he gives and I want to see that man weep.. not just cry, but weep. FUCK man.. I hate that man.. I don't even know why it affected me as much as it has... but it did...

sorry for the rant.

Mojoey said...

Johnny - no worries mate. I had the same reaction. This guy pissed me off in much the same way.

Katherine said...


I just watched the "Hard as Nails" documentary on HBO onDemand...
I couldn't even finish watching before I had to get online to investigate this guy. I stumbled across your blog when I typed "hard as nails reviews" into my internet search bar. I am SO glad to have read what you wrote.

There is nothing that infuriates me more than blind-faith leading our blind youth. As a 23 year old, nonreligious female currently dating a 25 year old Catholic guy, I have developed serious concerns about a religious upbring and my own ability to date someone who willingly continues to classify themselves as a Catholic (despite their collegiate education). I'll admit that his "pick-and-choose" cafeteria-style approach to Catholicism gives me some hope for his ability to see through religious fallacies. But, I am simultaneously discouraged by his combined experience, intelligence, and education's continued inability to break the vice-grip that the Catholic religion seems to have on his critical thinking or rational logic abilities.

I hate statements linguistically contrived to elicit a certain fervent response or those that are laden with the speaker's subjective inflammation... So, I try to refrain from making them. But I'm willing to break ranks for this Asshole:

This jackass, Fatica, is a religiously-fanatic, brainwashing jerk of the first-order. He's a emotional terrorist amongst the youth population: a Zealot who uses scare tactics and sentimental propaganda aimed at our malleable youth... It's "youth ministers" like this idiot that prevent the otherwise able-minded youth from developing the critical-thinking skills that they need in todays world!


C. J. said...

I just watched the HARD AS NAILS documentary on HBO. I was very impressed by JUSTIN FATICA. It doesn't suprise me that the first blog that is listed after the HBO listing is a fear based article.

WAKE UP PEOPLE!!! Their is a war being waged right in our own backyard. (I don't mean Iraq) It's a war being waged on the youth of today and the price is their souls... What you people fail to realize, We parents are loosing little by little everyday.

We let the main stream media expose our teen age youth to every immoral, corrupt, and degrading type of behavior and lifestyle. We have lost sight along time ago, that the media is NOW showing this to our kids in away, which is being interpreted as good....

Everything from the television (programs and commercials),movies, games, and music, etc. They are bombarding the senses of the teenage youth from every direction. The youth of today are being lulled to sleep and disarmed.
(Literally being striped of any defenses, we parents are arming them with...)

Most parents believe they have given enough information to their kids to direct them away from all of the bad elements in the world....

But they are sadly mistaken... We are shown everyday that the schools are inept; the parents are too busy trying to keep up (but can't); and most churches don't know how or aren't able to meet the needs of these kids...


So why does it make you feel frighten, pissed off, or outraged, when someone like JUSTIN FATICA takes matters into thier own hands, and use shock tactics to wake up the teens of today...

If the message is the exact same as what the catholic church is teaching, and the details are truthful and not harmful. Then why be afraid of the messenger.

No one gets outraged, when a football coach is using bootcamp style tactics to get his team ready for the championship game. It takes drastic messures to elevate everyone on a team. The coaches,player,assistances,and even the water boys know that they are being prepared for a major battle... EVERYONE GOES INTO THE GAME PREPARED!!!

If it works so well for our atheletes and soldiers, then why not use it to take back the souls of the lost teens of today...

The old passive ways of the catholic church of yesteryear aren't strong enough to reach out to today's youth, who are being lost faster than any generation before in history.

Just like the catholic cruesaders knew before, dark days are approaching and new stronger tactics are going to be needed to save the souls our youth... Like JUSTIN FATICA said at the end of the documentary. "If you don't like the way I do it, then you step up and do it!!"

I live in Las Vegas, where schools are rated in the bottom 46th nationally / dropout are the highest/ crime is the top 10 percent in the nation/ and we have the highest grossing revenue industry in the world- $multi-billions annually. (Gaming Industry)in the nation./and with 7,000 people moving in & 7,000 moving out per month... Still we are loosing the battle for our youth faster than anywhere.

We would welcome someone like JUSTIN FATICA to battle in the trenches with us..

SIN has become our national way of life. We are ALL going to loose if we don't all step up and HELP...


Looking Deeper said...

What I saw was a troubled young man who was addicted to the flood of endorphins he gets from his shameful verbal abuse and intimidation tactics. I have known several crack and cocaine abusers, and his behavior during his preaching parallels the same effects that the drug abusers display when their craving has been satisfied for the moment and they are flooded with the chemicals which tickle their brain. He is addicted to the hormone release which happens in his body when he behaves that way. It is even possible to see him twitching and scratching like a junkie im withdrawl when he has to be dignified and discuss his message and tactics with real priests.

I predict a lot of problems for himself and for the people he directs his emotional and sensory attacks upon. It doesn't take a genius to see the potential for emotional backlash from impressionable and insecure young people.

Lisa Ferrara said...

I knew Justin from my days as a campus minister at Seton Hall. He formed an evangelical group on campus, and most of us agreed it bore a remarkable resemblance to an actual cult.

I feel like if the administration would have stood up to his outlandish conversion tactics, the emotional damage he has inflicted on countless young people since then might have been prevented.