The XX Factor

Hollywood Nuns With Guns: Not Really Offensive

August is a slow news month, hard on increasingly desperate journalists who don’t get to spend it at the beach. But I’m still annoyed by this ginned-up story (on the first day of September, when news ought to be making a comeback!) from ABC News, ” ‘The Town’ Poster’s Nun with a Gun: Too Sacrilegious?: Ben Affleck’s New Movie’s Poster May Offend Catholics .” Italics mine, because the reporter calls the Catholic League and heads to a couple of very conservative Catholic universities for the bulk of her quotes, which are predictably outraged about the image, featuring two “nuns” with horror-movie faces robbing a truck. This is a little like conducting interviews on one block of Hasidic Williamsburg and and saying the sentiments expressed represent the American Jewish opinion, or asking a deacon at New Life Church to explain the American Protestant reaction to something. The reporter buries waaaay down quotes from a Wesleyan film professor and a retired priest at Jesuit Fordham University, who reasonably explains, “At a certain point, nuns’ habits stopped having a religious mystique. The only people who might possibly be offended by the poster are Catholics who are religiously conservative and who have memories of nuns wearing habits.” The writer throws in a few instances of other pop-cultural nun portrayals for good measure ( Troy Patterson’s amazing history of the naughty nun trope is far superior and ought to be revisited in light of Lindsay Lohan’s upcoming movie ), but even the Vatican isn’t offended by Hollywood’s often less-than-reverant portrayal of nuns: Earlier this year, it officially declared The Blues Brothers , which features “The Penguin,” a ruler-wielding nun caricature, to be a Catholic classic .