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Saturday, September 4, 2010

Elvis Presley - The Elvis religion

In a later essay, Neal and Janice Gregory critically discuss the media attention on the subsequent Elvis religion as a means to discredit his fans. Indeed, after his death, Presley had been seen by fans as "Other Jesus" or "Saint Elvis". "I don't think he will ever die down," Dolly Parton says. "He's considered by many to be like a religious figure, like Jesus. ... I don't know how to explain it, but it's there, and it's real, and people love it."

In his book Elvis Religion: The Cult of the King (2006), Gregory L. Reece describes the presence of Presley in books, songs, art, movies and on the Internet. The author sets out to appraise the religious significance of the star for popular culture. For instance, Paul Simon's 1986 song "Graceland" presents Graceland as a holy place. Movies like "Finding Graceland" and "Mystery Train" have Presley as the central character, bearing spiritual messages. In Portland, Oregon, a woman opened the so-called Twenty-Four Hour Church of Elvis. There, visitors could slip a quarter into a machine, - The Mystery of the Spinning Elvis - to supposedly contact the spirit of Presley. Some Internet sites even invite people to post accounts of their spiritual encounters with the singer. Several artists use Presley as a recurring theme because he is such an icon of pop culture. The Naked Art Studio in Birmingham had a showing of Elvis art. A mosaic entitled "The Last Supper (Elvis)," shows Presley enjoying a turkey leg at a table littered with pill bottles - allusions to Presley's religion and drug abuse. However, "Elvis stands for violence, uncertainty and loss," says Reece. "Elvis is the apocalyptic messenger. One doesn't seek him out for spiritual advice, but shudders at his presence." The author concludes that Presley is the sort of god the public wants today. Elvis was overweight, he dressed out of date and he took too many prescription drugs, just like us.

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