Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Logos in "Elmer Gantry"

The 1960 film Elmer Gantry, based on Sinclair Lewis’ 1926 novel, tells the tale of an evangelist couple selling their religious beliefs throughout the Midwest. Satirizing societal beliefs surrounding religion, Elmer Gantry and wife/partner Sharon Falconer, used logical appeals, or logos, as a primary method of attracting followers. These preachers conned followers into repenting for their sins with promises of eternal salvation in return. In the trailer (watch it here here), this is seen when Falconer asks listeners “what do you think will get you into … Heaven? This ace of spades?” she asks “your bank book? Or this pledge to be a good Christian?”. As seen here, Gantry and Falconer prey upon the logos of the followers by illustrating the logical steps that they must take in order to make it into Heaven - that is, by following their religion, joining their ministry and repenting for their sins.
This same method of preying upon the logos of followers is seen in many cult and cult-like groups throughout history. The Children of God (read more about life in COG here), another popular 1960s cult, preached a similar message of salvation, laying out the logical steps towards achieving this through conversion and devotion to their teaching. Even in the modern day, logos is used by these groups to attract followers. For example, the Institute in Basic Life Principles (learn about IBLP here) gives a logical solution to family peace, harmony and salvation through devotion to their group. By providing easily persuaded followers with a solution or answer and deceptively disguising their teachings as logical, leaders of these groups are able to grow their following and spread their message.

1 comment:

  1. When ideas such as religion and cults are brought about, most believe that these are driven primarily by pathos, or emotion, when in reality, logos plays a significant role. Even when the ideas are are not logical, fallacies are frequently used to manipulate people into believing false arguments. The mind can be clouded when hearing things such as statistics and generalized facts. An example of this is Milo Yiannopoulos' speeches, in which he spews out statistics to back his claims, even though the overarching message is corrupt.