Hollywood Jehovah's Witness
Have you accepted Hollywood Jehovah into your life?
If not, perhaps you would be interested in some literature? You'll find we're a lot more straightforward than a lot of Real Life
religions; not much in the way of intricate doctrine, regular ritualistic practises or nuanced internal culture. All you need to do is pull out the occasional peripheral oddball belief, some crazed eschatological spouting (that's The End of the World as We Know It
) and indeed lots and lots of Knocking On Heathens Doors
. However, you only have to pull these out when most convenient to the plot
Key points of belief:
- The world is about to end.
- When the world ends, only 144,000 will get to go to heaven.
- Other than that, it's the blood transfusions, especially if it's a Medical Drama. Cue Very Special Episode about respecting beliefs or not so special episode about respecting life more, the shocking revelation that the Littlest Cancer Patient isn't getting that life saving treatment because their parents are Jehovah's Witnesses and legal wrangling to overrule them.
- May also believe in not having jobs/not believe in the Bible/not believe in Jesus/not believe in having any medicine at all, depending on how much the particular writer skimped on research.
Yeah, there happens to be this other Real Life
religion with a similar name but they've got all this extra junk about the true nature of Christ
, the method of Salvation, organisational structure and all those other things that you can't fit into a 42 minute hour. Now those guys believe that only 144,000 will go to heaven, yes (technically, rule
heaven alongside Jesus), but that's not what most of them are aiming for: other good people will rebuild earth into a paradise
and live there for a thousand years before the final Judgement Day
. They do indeed believe that blood is sacred and thus they reject blood tranfusions. However, the real life ones have committees trained to point out the alternatives to blood transfusion, even having had heart surgery performed without transfusions without lowering survival rates - but that wouldn't make for such an interesting moral dilemma in Medical Drama
. Despite the evangelical side, they are politically neutral (i.e. not voting, joining the army, working in government jobs, and generally not acknowledging the existence of the nation-state).
Also, it's grammatically incorrect to say "a Jehovah's Witness." The phrase "one of Jehovah's Witnesses" is more correct and is more commonly used by actual Witnesses.
- There's an Urban Legend that Witness was named for the writer confusing the Amish with Jehovah's Witnesses. In truth, the film was going to be titled Called Home and was pretty wise up on Amish practice.
- Averted in A Perfect World, where it's really only mentioned that they don't celebrate birthdays or Hallowe'en.
- In Coneheads it is played for laughs when Michael McKean and David Spade impersonate Jehovah's Witnesses in order to get into Dan Aykroyd's house in the film. They even came prepared with copies of The Watchtower magazine.
- In Clue one pops up after a few of the other unannounced guests to the mansion have died. It's actually an FBI chief in disguise.
Evangelist: Repent! The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!
Scarlet: You ain't just whistlin' Dixie!
Evangelist: Armageddon is almost upon us!
Plum: I've got news for you; it's already here!
Peacock: Go away!
Evangelist: But your souls are in danger!
Peacock: Our lives are in danger, ya beatnik! (slams door)
- Frequently mocked and yet slightly indulged in Zadie Smith's White Teeth: One of the main characters is a former JW and her mother still is. Another character converts.
- Constable Visit-The-Infidel-With-Explanatory-Pamphlets of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is a deliberate parody.
- Metro 2033 has a group of "cultists", never referred to by actual name, but the reference is obvious as their key point is emphasizing to their followers that "God's name is Jehovah", and that the collapse of the outside world and appearance of mutants is a sign that Armageddon has come.
- In Scrubs, Dr Cox had to treat a patient who needed a blood transfusion for a straightforward treatment but was a Jehovah's Witness. In order to keep his jerk credentials, Cox refuses to find another harder way of helping her which clashes with his normal attitude of always trying to keep the patients he can alive. He later goes on to help her, on the condition that she (and everyone else present) refuse to let anyone know he helped her, on pain of death. Turk's mother was stated to be a Jehovah's Witness as well.
- Happens in The Practice, where one of the main supporting characters is revealed to be a Jehovah's Witness right when she needs a blood transfusion. Unusually for an Informed Religion topic, the fact that no one's seen any evidence of her being a Witness becomes a plot point. The other attorneys at her firm argue that her personal practices clearly indicate that she is not a Witness and therefore should receive a transfusion.
- On the first episode of Mock the Week's seventh season, the cast commented on Michael Jackson's death in their usual style. They noted that being a Jehovah's Witness was possibly the least weird thing about Jackson and pondered whether, when he went to meetings, they pretended to be out and that he did look like someone who wouldn't have a blood transfusion. This completely ignores that Jackson disassociated himself from the Witnesses in 1987 and was non-religious for the rest of his life.
- Averted on Community. In "Religious Studies" (the first-season Christmas Episode), Troy is revealed to be a Jehovah's Witness and as such doesn't celebrate Christmas. However, you couldn't tell that he was a Jehovah's Witness if he didn't say so. He does have a crazy and uber-religious and very strict grandma, but that's not so much a trope about Jehovah's Witnesses as it is a trope about black culture in the United States; she could have just as easily been a Baptist or Methodist. Probably the only inaccurate thing Troy says about Witnesses is that they "can't drink." While Witnesses believe drunkenness is wrong, they have no problem with drinking alcohol in moderation. Even so, Troy doesn't fit the description of a typical Hollywood Witness.
- In the first episode of Black Books, Bernard lets in a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses (on the grounds that he'd rather talk to them than do his tax returns). They are utterly surprised by this, having never got past a single door, and in fact have no clue what to say, with Bernard being rather more informed about religion than them.
- In the pilot episode of Lie to Me, the family of a Jehovah's Witness kid accused of murder use religious idoms that are seldom expressed in the JW world except in parody or sarcasm, such as "praying for your soul." Also, the JW child is afraid of being sent to Hell. Major research failure: Jehovah's Witnesses don't believe in Hell.
- Expanding the above a little, it's highly unlikely they would "pray for your soul" given they don't believe in the soul in the terms most understand it; body and soul are not separate things.
- In one episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a suspect in about five rape-homicides, who was found to have both marijuana and cocaine in his home and was known for sleeping with different women until their money ran out, claims that giving the police a blood sample is against his religion because he's a Jehovah's Witness (Jehovah's Witnesses condemn drugs and extramarital sex and have no problem with giving blood for non-transfusion purposes). Legally the detectives can't press the issue, but to their credit they don't take his claim seriously at all.
- In Leverage, Hardison is an ex-Jehovah's witness, but is not treated as a Hollywood version. It's mainly used as insight into his childhood.
- The "Land Shark" sketch from Saturday Night Live consists of the titular shark going door-to-door pretending to be a plumber/janitor/candygram-delivery only to eat people, but when one woman hears his voice proclaiming himself to be one of Jehovah's Witnesses and offering a copy of the Watchtower periodical, she quietly grabs her sledgehammer and knocks her guest on the head...who turns out to actually be a Witness.
- They have such a bad reputation in The Far Side that one panel has a family of gooey blobs act like inanimate beanbag chairs when some Jehovah's Witness approach their door.
- Shows up in Something*Positive where Davan greets a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses at his door naked, and explains that he's behind on his masturbation quota, so he hopes they won't mind if he continues while he talks.
- Parodied in this Sinfest comic, and in this VG Cats comic.
- The Simpsons:
- In one episode, a pair of Witnesses about to call at a house stop and decide that they should "go out and get real jobs". Given that the vast majority of Witnesses don't get paid for knocking on doors,note this leaves the question of how these particular Witnesses were getting by if they currently had no full-time jobs.
- In another episode of The Simpsons, Marge emotes her desperation for human interaction by saying "The other day two Jehovah's Witnesses came to the house. I wouldn't let them leave. They snuck out when I went to make lemonade."
- Otto Aquarius from The Venture Bros. is one of these.
- Family Guy has a few of these: