3 items from 2017
Melissa Leo stars in Netflix’s upcoming biopic of the contentious figure who was ridiculed and largely forgotten about – but who often talked sense
This week, the film The Most Hated Woman in America comes to Netflix, with Melissa Leo playing Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the atheist who campaigned against the church’s influence in public and political life (the title comes from the headline on a 1964 interview with her in Life magazine). While Murray O’Hair is not widely known outside of the Us, she had an extraordinary life. Long before the likes of Richard Dawkins, she gained notoriety for helping to push bible readings out of schools, and in 1963 she founded American Atheists. It’s a group that is still going today, campaigning against Donald Trump’s plan to abolish the rule that forbids religious institutions, among other charitable organisations, from getting involved in political activity and funding). For the next few decades, »
- Emine Saner
“Most Hated Woman in America”
Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins — these are the names most closely associated with atheism in the United States. But this wasn’t always the case. It was in fact a woman who founded “American Atheists,” an influential organization dedicated to defending the civil liberties of atheists and the separation of church and state. Described as “the most hated woman in America” by Life magazine, Madalyn Murray O’Hair’s story is brought to life by Melissa Leo in a new Netflix film, for which a trailer has just been released.
“What the hell is going on in here?” Murray O’Hair (Leo) asks as she bursts into her son’s classroom after hearing the children and their teacher recite The Lord’s Prayer. “In the constitution, there’s something called the First Amendment. The school board cannot force my son to pray — or anyone else,” she tells the class. When the teacher glibly suggests that Murray O’Hair sue the school board, she decides to do just that.
Rather than focus on the landmark court cast that followed, the true-crime biopic depicts Murray O’Hair’s disappearance, which occurred in 1995, more than 20 years after a Supreme Court ruling put an official end to Bible-reading in American public schools.
“Most Hated Woman in America’ captures the rise and fall of a complex character who was a controversial villain to some and an unlikely hero to others,” Netflix’s summary reads. The film co-stars Juno Temple (“Vinyl”), Adam Scott (“Parks and Recreation”), Vincent Kartheiser (“Mad Men”), and Josh Lucas (“The Mysteries of Laura”).
Leo won an Oscar in 2011 for her supporting role in David O. Russell’s “The Fighter,” and received a nod in 2009 for her leading role in Courtney Hunt’s “Frozen River.” Her recent credits include Oliver Stone’s “Snowden,” “Wayward Pines,” and Margaret Betts’ “Novitiate,” which premiered at Sundance in January.
Trailer Watch: Melissa Leo Is an Atheist with a Cause in “Most Hated Woman in America” was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Laura Berger
It didn't take long after Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser were arrested in suburban Waukesha, Wisconsin, for the local crime story to become a national obsession. In late spring 2014, Weier and Geyser, both 12, stabbed their friend Peyton Leutner 19 times and left her for dead. After the two were caught walking down the side of a highway a few hours later, the girls told police they had done it to prove their loyalty to "Slender Man," a mythological bogeyman whose crowd-sourced legend had been making its way around online forums for several years. »
3 items from 2017
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