By Matt Coker
By R. Scott Moxley
By Charles Lam
By Nick Schou
By Gustavo Arellano
By Gustavo Arellano
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
The film concludes with a bizarre scene from the era of Scott's FCC troubles, the time of the FCC monkey band. In those days, when Scott was feeling particularly hassled by the government, he'd holler, "Bring me that monkey band!" and one of his helpers would hurriedly wind up a gang of piano-playing, cymbal-crashing toy monkeys, a bizarre toy-shop caricature of our government at work. The concerto usually ended with Scott taking up a bat and whacking the gears out of one of the band members. The scene is almost frighteningly odd, but Scott's delight is infectious.
"You hit 'em on the head, and all they do is squawk!" he cries. "Look at 'em! There's your bureaucrats! Wouldn't you like to grow up and be a bureaucrat, if you're a kid watchin' this?! That's our government for you! Haw haw haw!"
Shortly after I saw God's Angry Man, Scott's nightly shows took an ugly turn. I watched for weeks, but I never managed to figure out exactly what happened; apparently, Scott discovered that one of the women in his employ had been saying unflattering things about him on the telephone. It never got any clearer than that, but for the next few weeks, Scott raged endlessly, hideously, against this woman in particular ("She was like a blob, expecting me to stuff food into her opening. Well, I don't touch an opening like that!") and all women in general ("God is the ultimate chauvinist . . . I've never met a woman who didn't need a man to lead her around"). The incident brought out the beast in him, and soon Scott was enacting his own words about bosses who want to be bosses. "Hell, this ain't a democracy" became his new favorite phrase. He began to spend his Sunday sermons screaming at his congregation that he is literally a chosen one, selected by God before he was born to lead a select handful of followers, a "master race" in the fight against the forces of Satan. These followers absolutely will not ever talk back to the boss.
"I don't care what I do," he told them more than once. "If you think it's wrong, I don't wanna hear about it. I do what I do because God wills it, and if you don't like it, you can get the funk out."
His flock sat silently through every rant, only piping up when he barked a question at them: "Am I boring you?" Of course, there could be only one answer.
SIT UP STRAIGHT AND NARROW
At 11 a.m. on a Sunday morning, I was outside the imposing University Cathedral in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. After repeated, unsuccessful calls to arrange an interview with Scott, I had given up and made a reservation to attend one of his services. I was greeted (intercepted, really) at the door by a doughy, smiling fellow who checked my name on the reservation list and then proceeded to brief me on the rules for the two-hour service: absolutely no talking, no wiggling in my seat, no getting up to go the bathroom. "We wouldn't want to get Dr. Scott mad, now would we?" he said with a laugh.
I'm a shaggy creature, clearly out of my element, and I could tell my appearance made the man nervous. As he escorted me to my seat, I noted with a chuckle that I was in the next-to-last row, far away from the cameras.
The cathedral interior is a gorgeous, brassy, kitschy mess, a mix of the UA theater the place once was and the pulpit to the world it is now. They've hardly tried to hide the past; the drop curtain still says THE PICTURE'S THE THING and UA in giant, ornate letters. The crowd was an odd mix of blue and white collars, with a couple of girls floating around dressed like they were at a Cramps show.
It was well past the scheduled starting time when the curtain went up; but when it did, there was Scott on a stool, sharing the stage with a few musicians and a sports-bar-style big-screen TV. The crowd applauded thunderously for what must have been a full minute until Scott finally snapped at them to stop it already. The band immediately struck up and performed a few numbers, although I was disappointed that they didn't do "Kill a Pissant for Jesus," a song Scott's been known to call for on occasion. The musical interlude gave me a chance to inspect the enormous mural behind Scott. At first, I took it to be a religious scene of some kind, but it turned out to be a '30s-style painting of a bunch of cowpokes heading for the last roundup.
After the third song, Scott came forward to speak. He wasn't far in, though, when he broke off to look ominously in my direction.
"I'm about to embarrass somebody in a minute, if they don't sit up."
There was dead silence all around me. I was slouching in my seat a little, but I was 25 rows back and in the dark. Could he possibly mean me?