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December 20, 2005

Incestuous Pedophilia; The Musical

Incestuous pedophilia, the musical.

Around the holidays, the biggest challenge for many theater companies is convincing audiences to care about yet another staging of "A Christmas Carol." This season in Atlanta, however, Actor's Express wants to stir up buzz about a less familiar property -- namely, a pedophile musical.

The Express has already started pushing "Love Jerry," a new tuner written and composed by Megan Gogerty that follows the tortured story of Jerry, who develops a sexual relationship with his nephew while trying to stay friends with the boy's father.

I'm not sure how someone can see this and not realize the cultural pit we're slipping down into.

This is the start of the normalization of pedophilia (and incest; a two-fer). Doesn't matter that it's "delicate" and "heart-wrenching"; the point is that the behavior isn't condemned.

In "Love Jerry," there's no question what's going on, yet Gogerty refrains from demonizing the title character. She focuses instead on the entire family's attempt to comprehend what's happened.

This moral grayness makes the play even trickier to market, yet it's also what convinced Express artistic director Jasson Minadakis to produce it. He says he "absolutely believes" in the show and is continually "shocked by how powerfully it expresses itself."

Apparently, the theater-going audience that Gogerty is trying to reach is no longer shocked by the act itself, so Minadakis is left with trying to shock people with "moral grayness". They're trying to move these things from the "wrong" category to the "gray" area. That's shocking. It's not surprising, but it is shocking.

To some, however, this may indeed be surprising. Slate's Dahlia Lithwik, from last year:

The problem with the slippery slope argument is that it depends on inexact, and sometimes hysterical, comparisons. Most of us can agree, for instance, that all the shriekings about gay marriage opening the door to incest with children and pedophilia are inapposite.

An appeal to only the legal angle begs the question. Normalizing this will ultimately mean more of it, especially the way "privacy of my own bedroom" is used by those trying to normalize homosexual marriage.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Diane Glass, also from 2004, approached this from the same angle:

Which brings us to the inevitable "what about the children" argument. What's stopping us from going down the slippery slope toward pedophilia? Well, the fact that only adults can marry. Problem solved.

For some, that's simply a discriminatory statute just waiting to be "reformed".

Kevin Drum, from 2 years ago, railing on Rick Santorum:

Santorum's main beef relied on a "slippery slope" argument: if the government can't ban gay sex, then it also can't ban incest, bigamy, or adultery. This reminds me of why I dislike slippery slope arguments so much: they rely on the unspoken assumptions that (a) all arguments will eventually be followed to their most extreme conclusion, and (b) there are people whose ultimate goal is to gain acceptance of those extreme positions.

And yet here we stand, with an arts crowd looking to give a boost to some of the very things that Drum didn't think was anywhere down the slope at all.

The surprise for these and others appears to be that a different set of people may, in fact, be responsible for pushing pedophilia and incest into the mainstream of society than were responsible for giving homosexual marriage a kick-start. It doesn't really matter that some same-sex marriage advocates didn't want to see incest normalized, frankly. The main argument against same-sex marriage was "where does it end?" When the line is pushed to a new distance, it's now much shorter distance to other targets, and the folks waiting at those other targets are very happy you helped them out. Your protestations against their targets mean nothing to them, while they use your same arguments to work for what they want. You've done most of their work for them, and now all they have to do is nudge things a little more with a play here and a book there and an outed celebrity to sign autographs.

Posted by Doug at December 20, 2005 02:46 PM

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Tracked on December 20, 2005 03:20 PM


LOVE JERRY – A Musical That Bravely Confronts Child Sexual Abuse

I wanted to write in and attempt to correct some misperceptions about LOVE JERRY, the new musical that is about to open at Actor’s Express Theatre Company in Atlanta, GA. I hope to show that the tag “pedophile musical” has been inappropriately attached to this play. LOVE JERRY does not in any way condone child sexual abuse nor does it glorify or exonerate Jerry, the abuser - quite the opposite.

Two Georgia child abuse prevention agencies, PREVENT CHILD ABUSE GEORGIA and STOP IT NOW! GA, have strongly endorsed this production, the script, and the music. I cannot speak more eloquently on the play’s behalf than to share with you the words of Sally Thigpen (Statewide Coordinator of Stop It Now! GA):

“This is a musical about family struggle and is actually scripted reality. The audience will be challenged to think about the issue in a more realistic and personal way. The stranger listed on a Child Abuse registry is not the most common risk to sexually abuse a child - it is someone that child knows and trusts, most likely someone in the family. This play unfolds this reality and honestly looks into a family, exposing all the guilt, shame, and secrets that child sexual abuse entails. It reveals the complexity for a family who both loves and hates the abuser. The play offers an amazing portrayal of behaviors by an adult abuser that could have clearly been recognized and addressed by other adults within the family, adults who could stop the progression of the abuse - essentially preventing the abuse BEFORE the child could be harmed. We see this play as an opportunity to educate the public… One of the goals of Stop It Now! Georgia is educating adults in communities about how they can better prevent child sexual abuse through recognizing behaviors in others and confronting those behaviors before a child is harmed. This play truly illustrates that. ”

We can no longer pretend that child sexual abuse is only perpetrated by socio-paths who live on the fringes of our society. If we do, our children will continue to be victimized. We must recognize that the majority of abusers were themselves abused as children. Child sexual abuse is an insidious cycle of violence.

I believe that to make the strides necessary to eliminate child sexual abuse we must reframe the way people deal with this issue. People must be educated to identify the warning signs of child sexual abuse and they must be made aware of the dangers of turning a blind eye to those warning signs. I am producing LOVE JERRY because I believe it is an invaluable piece of art that will allow us to begin to reframe the discussion that our society must have about this horrible crime.

LOVE JERRY does not hide the facts that child sexual abuse does happen within families, that abuse can be systemic within a family and that with courage and love a family can survive child sexual abuse and the ultimate betrayal of family trust.

LOVE JERRY is not a piece of sensationalist theatre, it is not looking to exploit a very delicate issue, nor is it a piece of shock theatre. LOVE JERRY deals with a very real problem in a brave and honest format that will hopefully encourage people to learn more about how child sexual abuse can be prevented. We also hope that this play will show victims of child sexual abuse that they are not alone, that help is available, and that healing can begin.

If you care about stopping the national epidemic that is child sexual abuse, I am hopeful that you will find a way to see this important piece of theatre – either here in Atlanta or at a theatre in your community.

If you know someone who is a victim of child abuse please share the following information:
Childhelp USA®, National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-CHILD® (1-800-422-4453)
Prevent Child Abuse GA: 1-800-CHILDREN
Stop It Now GA: 1-404-870-6565

Thank you,
Jasson Minadakis
Artistic Director
Actor’s Express Theatre Company
Atlanta, GA

Posted by: Jasson Minadakis at December 30, 2005 01:46 PM

As a childhood sexual abuse survivor, I find myself applauding Megan Gogerty and Actor's Express for having the courage to take such a "hush-hush" kind of issue and bring it out into the open. Megan was the guest on my most recent podcast at, and I agree with her 100% that until we bring these issues to light and address them in an honest and heartfelt way, we cannot begin to address the epidemic that child sexual abuse has become. Silence is not a solution, as uncomfortable as it is to talk about things like this openly.

Christy :: audio burlesque

Posted by: Christy at January 17, 2006 09:59 AM