Bibleman and The Six Lies of the Fibbler

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Of all the things I’ve covered on here, Bibleman may be the first actual propaganda. Though it claims to be an exciting live-action superhero story, that’s really just a Clark Kent level disguise, on something that exists solely to spread the Christian message to its audience of the type of children who’d get whipped with a belt if they were caught sneaking down to the basement to watch Batfink. There’s an inherent cheery naffness to any Christian entertainment that sticks doggedly to its core of ‘family values’, with the makers trapped inside the same tiny cultural bubble as the poor fuckers that have to watch it. Robbed of the full artist’s pallet, in an effort to sidestep the terrible sleaze of secular Hollywood, we’re left with works that seem as though they were made by an actual child, or someone who grew up in a cave with a single, tattered page from a comic forming their entire frame of reference. I hope at some point to cover Kirk Cameron’s works, and the recent trend of Christian straw-man films, where a pompous, atheist mayor bans praying, causing one brave, God-fearing man (played by Kevin Sorbo) to rise up and defend the faith. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

An effort to engage children with yer man Jesus, Bibleman arrived during that weird period when Hollywood’s notion of superhero movies was colourful — and dreadful — retro stuff, like The Shadow or The Phantom. Oddly, Bibleman fits pretty well into that feel, by virtue of its lurid 90’s colour scheme, and the fact it’s absolute toilet. Created by sitcom star Willy Aames; which sounds like what you do when you unzip at a urinal; who stars as the titular hero, Bibleman was released straight-to-video, finally giving those kids who weren’t allowed to watch the whorish deviance of network TV something to put on their empty shelves. Bibleman left parents free to leave their kids in front of the Devil’s box without fear of exposing them to the festival of murder, piss, and vigorous eating of the ass that constitutes modern entertainment. Although, nobody seems bothered about the sin of intellectual property theft, and if that turns out to be one of God’s big no-nos, the Bibleman team are in for an eternity of live hedgehogs being pushed up the shiter.

01

The Six Lies of the Fibbler opens, as does each episode, with our hero’s backstory, introducing us to “Miles Peterson, a man who had it all; wealth, status, success. Still, something was lacking…” Next to what follows, the dark, rain-drenched scene is the closest thing we come to modern superhero grit, as Peterson tips out the contents of his briefcase and hurls himself into the dirt, face-down and slow-motion screaming. He finds a bible under some grass, and is illuminated by a beam of heavenly light, as “at last, Miles Peterson felt the burning desire to know God. Inspired by the word of God, and equipped with unyielding faith, Miles pledged to fight evil in the name of God, as Bibleman!” So that’s his power; faith? Good luck dealing with an armed robber off his nut on bath salts, or warring Mexican drug cartels. He doesn’t even know karate. It’s just a youth minister in a cape. He’ll be shot and killed in the first five minutes, unless the villains are as toothless as he is (spoilers: they are).

And about that costume. Even the most heavy-diapered of manbabies appreciate that the bold colours and crazy shapes of a hero’s outfit don’t translate easily from comic panel to screen. Bibleman eschews the more practical black leather (too BDSM!), leaving us with a main character that looks like he’s wandered loose from a superhero-themed stag do. These days, garish purple and yellow are strongly identified as the colours of UKIP, but if Nigel’s collection of daft racists were looking for a new mascot, Bibleman’s views would lend themselves nicely to a political crossover. The aesthetics are a stunning example of horrible mid-90’s flavour, with bad pseudo-Gothic fonts, ‘futuristic’ primordial internet displays, and enormous baggy clothes, which must be the closest thing there is to an American hauntology.

02

The theme tune warns us “the Bibleman is coming, so you’d better step around; a brand new episode is coming to your town,” and promises “a whole lotta fun with the greatest book of all.” As we all know, that’s the Saved by the Bell retrospective I wrote, which I can only presume they’re going to pile up in a big bonfire to cleanse the world of its evil. There’s a supporting cast of Mouseketeer style children, who immediately break out into the first of multitude song and dance numbers. Each wears a crazed look of spiritual ecstasy, with beaming grins and eyes afire. I’m loathe to turn this into a scathing rebuke of religion itself, and would rather focus on the terrible culture produced in its bubble, but these wild displays of euphoria could be green-screened into footage from Jonestown or the Manson Family, or any such cult of your choosing, and look perfectly at home.

Opening song, Biblevision, contains such ‘this is definitely how 12-year-olds speak’ lyrics as “we have made a decided choice, to listen to the saviour’s voice,” and is backed by the sort of horrific amateur dance routine usually dredged up by parents on old home movies to humiliate grown-up children in front of their new fiancée. I’d put the odds of any of these kids surviving past their mid-20’s as zero, each having surely gone on to take their own lives out of embarrassment. For most of us, old class photos showing bad hair and metallic smiles are bad enough, but if someone dug out footage of you shimmying your outsized limbs in a passionate (but platonic!) love-song to Jesus, you’d simply have to smash your head into radiator until there was nothing left. It seems to be a conscious decision to cast kids who are at the pinnacle of their awkward phase, with the clumsy body language and stilted movement made worse by the tent-sized clothing. If this was meant to get the youth interested in Christianity, it’s a weird choice to use the kind of kids other kids would never look up to, and though I’d never condone bullying, I had to be physically restrained from climbing into the screen so I could flush their stupid little weiner heads down the toilet.

03

A cynic might suggest such impressionable young minds have been brainwashed by their elders into concepts they couldn’t possibly understand, but then who am I to doubt the sincerity of a group of kids, who’re at that age when we all get into ideas, phases and ideologies we’ll definitely stick with for the rest of our lives? Hell, I’m sat here writing this in my Kony 2012 shirt and Marilyn Manson spiked collar. Wazzzzzup?!

The worst kind of musical, with each performance a full, many-versed song, Six Lies of the Fibbler sets a new record in how long it took me to watch something, having to break every few seconds to pull my fists out of my mouth. But finally, we get into the story, as an eight-year-old girl called Ashley shows up late to rehearsal. This is where we meet our villain, and as she pulls up on her bike, there’s a weirdo watching from behind a tree — “Run, run, my little late one! The fun’s about to start!” Not a neighbourhood paedo (or at least, not just a neighbourhood paedo), this is the Fibbler. Despite pretty much just being called the Riddler, the Fibbler’s literally the Joker. Green hair, clown make-up, green suit; he prances and cackles in a Joker voice. Oh, and he’s got a prosthetic hook nose that looks like a drooping penis.

04

A ‘Devil on the shoulder’ villain, Fibbler loves how Ashley’s friends are mad at her, and when they ask why she was late, he demonstrates his superpower; blowing a green dust that makes its target lie. In this case, “I had to take care of my mom!” A gleeful Fibbler notes “the Master’s gonna love you!” which we can presume is Satan, who they’re too scared to actually name-check? As the children argue, Bibleman appears in a flash of light. “I was praying, and I felt led to come by…” He seems to sense the Fibbler’s evil presence, and in a beautiful example of how naturally they weave scripture into their dialogue, they ask him what’s wrong. “I’m not sure… but I do know that in Matthew 5:14-16, Jesus said…

As the kids go their separate ways, one of them asks Ashley if she could bring “half the music” along to their performance later, and gives her a cassette, because I guess two cassettes are too heavy to carry by himself. The big show at the church opens with another suicide-inducing song and dance routine, performed to an audience of smiling church ladies in long dresses and their moustachioed husbands, tapping toes and nodding heads with a lack of rhythm that reflects poorly on their sexual ability. The song about “the fruit of god’s love” makes me weep for the kids who were only allowed to listen to Bibleman music, while their friends were staring at the ceiling to Gangsta’s Paradise and 311. Any childhood Bibleman viewers out there? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to get some inside perspective.

Anyway, it’s time for the Fibbler’s next lie, as he sits perched backstage, while the pastor congratulates the kids on another incredible show. “Terrific job, gang!” he says, before asking for that second cassette so they can get back out there. Of course, Ashley’s forgotten to bring it. Fibbler hits her with the lie-dust, and conducting her words like Tyler Durden — “this conversation… is over” — makes her fib that she was never given any tape, bringing the show to an end, with an angry pastor forced to go “dismiss the congregation.” Cut to the pastor sheepishly flattening down his tie and clearing his throat for an announcement. From his nervous manner they must assume it’s yet another church scandal, and he’s disclosing his imminent arrest for snorting meth off an undercover cop’s erection. But it’s worse than that, the kids can’t do the rest of their songs, so they file out, devastated. Fibbler’s bloody loving it though.

05

You know who doesn’t love it? The big BM — wait, that’s pretty rude. How’d that slip by? — Bibleman spots the Fibbler and gives chase. I say ‘chase’, but the costume’s so unwieldy, he moves like a middle-manager with his legs tied together at a team-bonding seminar. In yet more disdain for intellectual property, the Fibbler draws his weapon; a cheap-looking lightsaber. Bibleman draws one of his own, cuing a lightsaber fight in front of the church. I’ve a distinct feeling whoever made this wasn’t allowed to watch Star Wars, because the force is demonic, and Yoda looks like a little Devil, but they saw a poster once when being rushed past a video-store through the gaps between their mother’s fingers. At no point during their battle does Bibleman seem strong or even heroic, and struggles to overpower what’s basically a Juggalo. It’s not until he starts the “in the name of the lord Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” exorcist style, does the Fibbler wither in fear and make his escape.

Bibleman’s greatest scene, and perhaps the greatest scene in all of live-action superheroes, is when we see his lair. Though they missed the opportunity to call it the Bible-Cave, it’s an incredible vista of wobbling plastic rock and $5 joke store props. Test tubes filled with coloured liquid spew dry ice, and banks of CRT monitors flash busy-looking secret agent graphics, observed by a thematically on-point stained glass window. There’s nothing suspicious about an outwardly puritanical man in a plastic cape keeping all his computers locked away in a secret cave, and he definitely doesn’t clear his browser history two or three times a day, or have Wikifeet as his homepage. Bruce Wayne in dad jeans, he tries to figure out the Fibbler’s identity, as though it’s just a regular hoodlum he once pushed into a vat filled with dick-noses. He brings up a criminal database on the computer, revealing a spectacular rogues gallery who legitimately seem like they were created via write-in competition in a children’s church newsletter. Even as the premier wordsmith of my generation, one simply cannot do justice without seeing them, though it’s clear the design process went like this:

What make-up and costumes do we have to create an array of colourful villains?

I’ve got a marker pen.

06a

06b

06c

06d

And lastly, well…

06e

Now, Tayne… uh, Timid Tessie I can get into. C’mon, Disney, plump up some cash, so we can see this crew up against the Avengers. The database says nothing of their powers, but judging from the mugshots, Spider-Head’s less Peter Parker, and more likely some guy who gave (or got) head from an actual spider. Is Bibleman set in Florida? Because when you stop thinking about them as supervillains, and instead, as mugshots of sex offenders, it makes way more sense. Eventually, the Fibbler shows up onscreen, “Gotcha,” says Bibleman. “So you’re called the Fibbler, huh?” Great detective work. Looking him up in your own database, where there’s already a picture of him, alongside his name. “Thank you lord,” he says, casting his eyes skyward. Then he puts ‘Teri Hatcher + feet’ into AltaVista and spunks all over the wall. Probably.

Just when I feel like I’m getting a handle on things, Bibleman’s alter-ego, Miles Peterson, is revealed to be the teacher of the kids in the band. Now, where would a chemistry teacher with a double-life and a secret lab be getting the money to fund a vigilante war? Not that he’s a great help to his students, as his MO, and the point of the show as a whole, seems to be making children feel super sad, guilty and shitty about themselves. We’re ‘treated’ to a long montage of Ashley, now friendless and ostracised, sadly walking through the park by herself. It’s backed by the judgemental wail of a singer, castigating “I know what’s right, but I chose wrong, now my days are lonely, and my nights are long.” The little girl sobs, head in her hands, as the song whines “I’ve got no excuses,” but that “I pray out there, somewhere there’s got to be, some hope for me.” Alone on a bench, Bibleman appears, telling her she’s “just like the Apostle Paul.” Why, did he forget Jesus’s mixtape too? He cheers the upset eight-year-old by quoting scripture, asking “are you ready for the good news,” that Jesus will rescue her. “But I keep messing up,” she says. “Why would Jesus wanna rescue me?

07

Fibbler’s thrilled at his destruction of Ashley — though Bibleman seems to be doing a bang-up job of loading her with the kind of deep-set guilt and self-loathing she won’t shake until her thirties — giving an actual chef’s kiss to the children’s misery. But then, seeking some of that Jesus-love, she apologises to her friends, and all is well again. Oh, Master will not be pleased. This leads to a final lightsaber confrontation on the church steps, where Fibbler mocks DC’s copyright lawyers with a pointed “I was just… JOKING!” Conversely, Bibleman endlessly quotes scripture, literally fighting him with bible quotes, like the sword-fights in Monkey Island — “Proverbs 19:2… how appropriate, you fight like a cow!” Fibbler calls him out on this cheating; “You’re nothing without the bible!” “Well,” says Bibleman, “that’s the first nice thing you’ve said to me all evening!” Like your English teacher laughing at the shit ‘jokes’ in Shakespeare, you know that zinger brought the house down for the bi-weekly church video night parents.

With Fibbler defenceless against the Good Book, he accidentally hits himself with the lightsaber, causing steam to come out of his ears and blow him up. Things might’ve gone a different way if he’d used his powers on Bibleman. “Well, children, if you want to be forgiven [GREEN DUST] the bible says you just gotta push stuff up your butt. Right up your butt.” Similarly, in an episode called The Six Lies of the Fibbler, there aren’t even six lies! We certainly don’t get the Se7en-style chase as suggested by the title; no “Dang it to heck, the Fibbler’s told his fifth lie, I’ve got to catch him before he tells that final porkie! Oh no, it’s too late!” [cut to a newspaper headline, FIBBLER: IT’S ILLEGAL NOT TO FART IN CHURCH. ‘TOOT OR GO TO JAIL’ SAYS JOKER-COSPLAYING NONCE]

08

Back at his lair, Bibleman piously casts a gaze to the sky with a “thanks for allowing me to be a willing vessel, Lord,” adding, “I love you, Lord.” Then, as we zoom in on a bible laying open on Proverbs, offscreen, we hear the sound of fingers typing ‘God + feet’. Oh, the Master’s going to love me. Horrendously, at this point, there are still 3 minutes left, which means another lengthy song, beginning with an eight-year-old lecturing us on God taking away our sins. Unless you’re Mary Bell, you probably haven’t done much worth forgiving at that age, but it’s cool to infect children’s fleeting years of innocence with guilt, the feeling that every movement; every thought; is being watched and judged, and a fear of Devils and Demons pulling you into the eternal fires of Hell if you misbehave.

Speaking of Hell, I’ve seen some truly atrocious performances in the course of this Patreon, but the kids in this are on another level, with all of that ‘eyes ‘n teeth’ stage school energy, but none of the precocious talent. Line-readings are fumbled, and they’re constantly checking what each other are doing during dance routines, as you can see here, with the spectacularly uncoordinated kid with glasses on the back left. There’s a very 1950’s “gee-golly!” intensity, where everyone’s happy, see, because we love God, and if you loved God, you could be as happy too! Couple this with the choreography, which in one case seems to have been done by someone who was dying of farts, and you’ve truly got one of the worst abominations ever. Mind you, this is the script they were working with:

Bibleman: Well, I’m sure everything will work out for the best.

Kid: I don’t know.

Bibleman: Well, I’m sure it will.

09

Bibleman spawned a long-running multimedia franchise, with BM eventually leading a full team of sidekicks, including Biblegirl, who presumably isn’t allowed to speak. Like the TNMT’s Coming Out of Their Shells tour, there was also a live stage show, board games, a video game, and a series of action figures. Two decades after its inception, the spirit of Bibleman’s cartoon morality lives on, through Christian film-makers like Tyler Perry, whose female characters find their enjoyment of sex punished with AIDS. Meanwhile, the Bibleman empire continues to make children hate themselves with an animated series, launched in 2016. But for me, viewer of a single show, I feel the journey isn’t over. Just look at the names of the villains he has to deal with in future episodes. I must stress, these aren’t me doing a bit. Check for yourself.

— Rapscallion P. Sinister.

— 2kool 4skool

— Professor E. Meritus Snortinskoff, and his sidekick, Stench

— I.M. Wonderful

— Baron Ulysses Tantamont von Braggart

— Super Pro Gamemaster 3

Like so much of the trash I watch on here, that’s enough to make me have to go back and delve further. And maybe that’s how God gets you. Sorry, Master.

This piece is from my new Patreon, where subscribers could read this a month before it landed here. If you’d like to support me for as little as $1 a month, then click here to help provide the world with regular deep dives about weird-bad pop culture, and all kinds of other stuff.

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~ by Stuart on August 13, 2018.

3 Responses to “Bibleman and The Six Lies of the Fibbler”

  1. Tag yourself: I’m Unlucky Lucy. Or maybe Rapscallion P. Sinister if I’m on a really good day.

  2. […] trying to lure in the sort of sensitive, sword-hating parents who made their kids watch Bibleman instead. It’s an odd move, right in the midst of Turtlemania, and in 1990, this was far from […]

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