Popular Culture Review Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2013 - Page 18

14 Populär Culture Review Despite all threats, Voodoo has survived. According to Voodoo Priestess Ava Kay Jones, Voodoo is still practiced by “as much as 15% o f the population o f New Orleans” (Jones, Voodoo online). The highest concentration o f Voodoo followers can be found “in the [city’s] historically Creole Seventh W ard” (Tucker 52). In New Orleans, one can leam about Voodoo in the New Orleans Museum o f Voodoo (724 Dumaine Street), experience and participate in some o f the religion’s rituals in the Voodoo Spiritual Temple (828 North Rampart Street), and discuss the religion in one-on-one meetings with practicing Voodoo priestesses, among whom we find for example Mambo Sallie Ann Glassmann, Priestess Miriam Chamani, and Mambo Asogwe Mary M illan alias Bloody Mary, in addition to Priestess Ava Kay Jones. As an integral part o f New Orleans’ culture, priestesses, historians, academics, and Voodoo followers believe in sharing the religion’s values with the public; thus, they try to fight against the religion’s unjustified bad reputation and false representation in for example fictional accounts such as, Robert Tallant’s Voodoo in New Orleans (19943) and The Voodoo Queen (20003), Francis Prose’s Mary Laveau (1977), or Jewell Parker Rhodes’ Voodoo Dreams (1993) and Voodoo Season (2005). This falsified image o f the religion gets even more distorted in Hollywood movies such as White Zombie (1932), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), The Serpent and the Rainbow (1987), Angel Heart (1987), The Believers (1988), Voodoo Dawn (1998), Voodoo Tailz (2002), The Skeleton Key (2004), Voodoo Moon (2005), and Hoodoo fo r Voodoo (2006). In these films, Voodoo is compared to devil worship, witchcraft, hexing, conjure, and the like. Hollywood thus stresses and contributes to long-established misperceptions o f the religion. This triggers two questions: First, what is the reason for this misrepresentation, and second, how does Hollywood depict the religion, and by doing so, contribute to the people’s misconstrued notion o f Voodoo? Via a thorough discussion o f the religion and its representation in the two films Angel Heart (1987) and The Skeleton Key (2005), this article attempts to answer these two questions. As the article identifies and explains the films’ inaccurate representation o f Voodoo rituals, o f Voodoo charms and dolls, and o f Voodoo priests and priestesses, readers will discover that neither one o f these two films depicts the beauty and spiritual worship o f the religion. The contrary is actually the case. Angel Heart and The Skeleton Key offer the viewer a representation o f eclectic characteristics taken out o f their cultural and religious context. By doing