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'UU' characters on the screen

What character in a film or TV show best demonstrates UU values, and why?
By Sonja L. Cohen
Fall 2011 8.15.11

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Martin Sheen as Josiah 'Jed' Bartlet (Kevin Foley/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images)

Actor Martin Sheen played President Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet on The West Wing. (Kevin Foley/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via AP Images)

UU World asked: What character in a film or TV show best demonstrates UU values, and why?

The Rev. Erika Hewitt, parish minister of the Live Oak UU Congregation in Goleta, California, wrote that “President Josiah ‘Jed’ Bartlet on The West Wing pushes away easy answers in favor of exploring the complexities of his role, refusing to dehumanize others. His choices and policies value human dignity, reflecting ‘justice, equity, and compassion’ for all people—not just Americans. (I especially love the episode in which he plays dueling Bible verses with a right-winger who considers ‘homosexuality an abomination.’)”

Graham Bass, a member of First Unitarian Church of Albuquerque, New Mexico, said, “In The Simpsons, Lisa sticks out as the voice of pragmatic faith, exploring and doubting the world around her in the quest for meaning. This is best seen in the episodes ‘She of Little Faith’ and ‘Lisa the Skeptic,’ although there are plenty of examples of her as the curious and conscientious Simpson.”

Science fiction is a popular venue for UU values as evidenced by the number of responses that stemmed from the genre. Cat White of First Unitarian in Shaker Heights, Ohio, nominated Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, “an idealist guided by principle in an imperfect universe, trying to learn from all the beings he encounters,” and Jared London Odom from the UU Fellowship of Greater Cumberland, Maryland, suggested the Doctor (protagonist of the long-running British show Doctor Who), who “is always attempting to find justice and equality among not just humans, but all living things.”

Tom Kaser, of the Mid-Columbia UU Fellowship in Hood River, Oregon, chose To Kill a Mockingbird defense lawyer Atticus Finch: “He has a steady, unshakable social conscience, he is compassionate, and he persistently and quietly pursues doing the right thing. When his daughter Scout (who narrates the novel and the film) asks him why he has taken on the unpopular role of defending a black man, he says to her, ‘I couldn’t hold up my head in this town if I didn’t.’”

Other suggestions included: Juror #8 from Twelve Angry Men, Aang from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Dr. Gregory House from House, Chris Stevens from Northern Exposure, and both Joan Girardi and God from Joan of Arcadia.

What screen character do you think best demonstrates UU values? Leave a comment below.

For the next issue: What is the best non-commercial gift you have ever received? Send your answer to world@uua.org.


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