Welcome to yet another installment of (God)Awful Movies! This time around, I’m checking out the baffling Christian music video compilation “S.O.S.”, which was brought to my attention through the most recent episode of RedLetterMedia’s “Best of the Worst”. You can check out the whole video below (and you should, it is a great episode).
Something that you may note from the episode is that the RLM gang’s copy of “S.O.S.” is completely in Japanese, so they do their best to piece together the themes from the visuals alone. They also weren’t able to do much research on the video, given the language barrier. Lucky for me, I found an english copy of “S.O.S.” on YouTube, and was able to learn about the video’s background…sort of.
“S.O.S.” was produced by “The Family International”, which is a sort of peculiar hippie cult version of Evangelical Christianity. I highly recommend reading the wikipedia page on the group, as their theology is nothing short of baffling. Here is an excerpt for you:
“[Loving Jesus] is a term that TFI members use to describe their intimate, sexual relationship with Jesus. TFI describes the “Loving Jesus” teachings as a radical form of bridal theology. It is their understanding of the Bible that the followers of Christ are his bride, called to love and serve him with the fervor of a wife. They took bridal theology further than mainstream Christians by encouraging members to imagine that Jesus is having sex with them during sexual intercourse and masturbation. Male members were encouraged to visualize themselves as women, in order to avoid a homosexual relationship with Jesus.”
That’s sure something, isn’t it? The only thing I knew about TFI prior to reading that entry was that River and Joaquin Phoenix were both raised as part of the organization for a time, and that it was a bit out of left field. It looks like there is a deep, dark hole to dig into in regards to some shady practices by the organization, but I’m not going to go any deeper into it here. I’d much rather ridicule some ridiculous music videos.
The first segment doesn’t dig explicitly into Christianity, but does give us a ton of goofy robots and early CGI. Watching it in English, it is clearly a luddite/anti-technology song, which comes back in a big way later on. To my dismay, the title song “S.O.S.” in this segment is ridiculously catchy, so I suppose the people behind this have to get kudos for that. It is definitely interesting that without the context of the later videos, it is easy to think that the “angels” in this section are either aliens, greek god-creatures, or sprites of some sort. Given how heavy-handed the segments get later on, this part definitely feels like a “wedge” or “hook” to get general audiences into the fold.
The second segment is probably the most forgettable of all of them. The first couple of minutes show a band repeating the same two lines of a song about a billion times while a “party” commences in front of them. This bit segues immediately into a romantic song (via some of the worst transitions you will ever see) in which two partygoers leer at each other across a room and fantasize about each other. It is astoundingly uncomfortable to watch.
The third segment is nothing short of a beautiful treasure of nonsense. You could basically boil it down to being a “God’s Not Dead” musical comedy. There are a lot of monkey suits (and monkeys in suits?) involved, and you will be left wondering just how our education system managed to fail so many so completely. They even cap it off with a reference to Charles Darwin’s “deathbed conversion”. Oh joy!
The fourth segment is pretty straight-forward anti-abortion propaganda. All subtleties have long been jettisoned by the time this portion gears up, so this song is written from the perspective of the fetus singing to the would-be mother, featuring such lyrics as “Mother keep me, I’m your baby! / Oh Mother let me live, don’t take away my life”. I was completely unprepared for the lyrics to this one, as I initially just saw clips of the Japanese version on RedLetterMedia. With the translations, this segment is by far the most abysmal. Not only is there nothing to laugh at in it, but the damn thing is just disgustingly predatory.
The fifth segment enlightens the audience to the inherent evils of grocery stores, and encourages everyone to abandon technology entirely in favor of living in the woods to count down to the rapture. Yeah, that’s where this is all going. This may be the best segment, just due to the creepy makeup and baffling premise. Once again, the song is undeservedly catchy for a tune about the evil of grocery store scanners.
Segment six follows up with the same grocery-phobic commune that concludes segment five, and we get to go full-on rapture. There are some lovely interpretive drawings of the rapture featured for some reason, a handy rapture calendar is shown, a lot of vague pointing happens, and Jesus himself makes a fly-by cameo! It all finishes up with the green-screened rapture of the central characters, where they narrowly escape the satanic grocery stormtroopers. It is all quite good fun if you can distance yourself from the fact that people took/take this seriously.
For the record, after a green-screened rapture, anything else is going to be an anticlimax. There’s just nowhere to go from there. Nevertheless, there is a segment seven. Outside of some excellent Rick Astley dancing, there isn’t a whole lot to see in this one. The way this segment is shot is really jarring and unpleasant to watch (odd effects mostly), and it doesn’t have any kind of plot within itself. We get some visual recaps from each section over a song about rebirth and the aforementioned Astley-dancing, and then the YouTube video bluescreens for about five minutes. That was my favorite part.
So, is “S.O.S.” worth watching? Abso-fucking-lutely, yes. This is a mind-boggling experience to sit through. It had me laughing at cheesy effects and dated fashions, creeped-out by the cultishness of it all, furious at the bullshit propagated by it, and confused beyond any measure. This is a golden find. I don’t know how RedLetterMedia came by this thing, but somebody knew perfectly well what they were passing on. I can only hope for something this gloriously awful when I rummage through bargain bins. Knowing more about the organization behind this video makes it all the creepier and more perplexing to watch, so I’m a little sad that the RLM people didn’t try to dig up more info ahead of time. On the plus side, they get completely blind-sided by the content, which is damn entertaining.
If you are interested in watching the full English version of “S.O.S.”, you can find it below: