Tuesday, December 04, 2007

That Golden Compass mess

I've not been paying too much attention. I'm not a Pullman fan, though when I saw the previews, the child in me that loves fantasy stories just absolutely wanted to go see the movie.

I've decided against that. I don't want to give my meager dollars to this enterprise.

There's lots of commentary out there on the blogosphere, and not all are "nitwits" (which is how Pullman described those opposing the movie!).

As always, Amy Welborn nails it. Brava!

Several money-quotes. Here are a few:
Because nothing says, "dark irony" like a movie focused on blasting a "Magisterium" using a group of…er…bishops…to sell itself.

[That's referring to New Line Cinema using ads that twist the (already problematic) USCCB review of the movie to sell it as if it had the approval of the Catholic Church! This beggars belief!]
The irony of trying to shut down debate about a work that sees shutting down debate as a crime against humanity is almost too much.

News flash: Being critical and discerning about entertainment choices is not a sin. Last I heard, it was a positive quality.
Look at this way. After we finish with The Golden Compass, shall we break out The Protocols of the Elders of Zion to open up discussion on Judaism?

Probably not. Why?

Because we recognize that the Protocols are lies. It doesn't matter that some people ascribe to that world view or believe that Jews are as the Protocols describe them. They are still lies. They are not helpful as a "starting point" for a discussion about the nature of Judaism. The starting point for a good - really good, fruitful discussion - is not the bigoted, agenda-driven misrepresentation of others.

So it is with the Golden Compass. The Authority - the God that is killed - is not the Christian God. It is a caricature - the caricature of every village atheist mired in adolescence. The "reality" that the fantasy is trying to create is that religious authority stands in opposition to truth, and that - via the imagery - that Catholicism is the primary embodiment of this, and ergo, Catholicism stands in opposition to the truth that brings human beings happiness and an awareness of their true selves.
Oh go read it all!


WordWench said...

I read the Pullman books years ago when they first came out. They were recommended to me by a former boss who is...ta da...a devout Catholic. Funny that back then none of our little circle of friends who read them thought in any way they were against Catholicism or even Christianity. We interpreted them as an allegory about totalitarianism and/or fascism. Maybe it was the fact that a lot of people in my circle were older people at that time who had gone through World War II and picked up on the similarities between the Gobblers and the SS who made people disappear under the Nazi regime. I don't know. I'm not discussing the books and/or movie with many people because I really don't want to be impugned for having enjoyed them.

However, the one thing that does bug me is a lot of the people doing the criticizing have NOT read the books. Haven't even read a chapter of one. This reminds me of the people who jumped on the "Harry Potter is Satanic" bandwagon without having turned a page of a Rowling novel. I would like it if more people both criticizing and defending these books in the blogosphere and in person had actually read the entire series. I just have a problem with people condemning a work of literature or a film if they have not read or seen it. I myself have learned a few hard lessons over the years about criticizing that which one is not fully familiar with. That may be asking too much of people, I realize, and everybody has a perfect right to their opinion. However, as I said, I've read these books and several other very well educated and also religious people I know have read them (as I noted, back when they first came out) and none of us picked up on this anti-Catholic stuff. I don't really know what that says about us or about the books. I just would hope that folks on both sides of the issue would at least turn a few pages of these books before condemning them to the flames.

WordWench said...

Just an addendum and clarification: Gashwin, I am in no way criticizing YOU for not going to see the film. The people I'm referring to are OTHER bloggers and commentators who have been condemning this film AND the books for weeks. I just wanted to make that clear. I completely understand your reason for not going to see the film. You, as usual, are portraying the issue in an intelligent way.
Thanks again--