Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Golden Compass and the bigger picture

A comment on another blog got me to thinking. When do you go see something for yourself, and when do you let others opinions influence yours?

Looking specifically at the new movie, The Golden Compass, I'm confident that I don't want to see it for a number of reasons. Others though, Christians mostly, are going to spend their money on it to "see for themselves".

Cassy Fiano of Wizbang was one of those-Golden Compass Review

It's their money, and if they want to spend it supporting people who actively hate God and the Catholic Church, and by whose own comments have said that they want to draw kids away from God by creating a sort of 'anti-Narnia', well then, it's a free country.

My bigger problem though was with the larger idea that unless one experiences something first hand, they are letting some one else make a decision for them, or telling them what to do.

I don't have to smoke cigarettes to know that they can be harmful to my body. I don't have to get falling down drunk to know that alcohol can have negative effects on a person.

There is a time and a place for first hand experiences, but thankfully *I* don't have to be the one to do everything. Unfortunately, it IS necessary for some one to experience the negative things (smoking, drinking to excess, watching bad movies), and I'm sure there will be times when I am the one who gets to do so.

So, what criteria do I use to determine if I'm going to see a film? It comes down to three basic things for me-

1) Can I trust the person who is telling me about it to be giving me an accurate portrayal? Good, bad or otherwise.

B- Do I really want my money to go to support this type of project? What to the people involved with the film/book have to say about it?

III. Is this the sort of thing I should be filling my head with, is it edifying, or something that will try to tear down my beliefs or faith?

The first must be negative and usually from multiple sources, and BOTH of the others in place before I will outright refuse to see a movie. Note that I said BOTH of the second two criteria must be met. I've seen plenty of films with disturbing imagery, and some that aren't particularly edifying. Some of them I regret seeing, and some I own on DVD. (won't see V for Vendetta, seen Hannibal-complete with scenes now seared, seared in my memory, and own Dogma) That's why it's not the SOLE criteria I use for seeing a film.

Does this mean I'll miss a few good movies? Possibly. But with a limited amount of time and money, I'm willing to risk it.

With Golden Compass, it's as much the writer and director's philosophies about the project that bother me as the actual anti-Christian bias. That's what really disturbs me about this film. The outright hatred of Christianity that I've read from the people involved in the project, and how they hope it will be a catalyst for leading people away from God.

So, I'm not going to go see it, and I'm going to actively discourage others from seeing it. But I'm not going to protest it in any other visible way. Why give them the free media attention?

For those who are interested in what other's ARE saying about the movie and the books, here's a few of the sources I have read-

Archbishop Chaput On The Golden Compass

"Compass" Points in Wrong Direction

Here's Snopes on it

I could go on, but you get the idea. Also, just from a movie going point of view, what I've read doesn't make me want to rush out and see it. Here's a couple of key graphs from Cassy's review-

All that aside, how was the actual movie? It was decent. I'd give it a C. I got to see the trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian again, and that had me more excited than the actual movie did (literally -- I was practically bouncing up and down in my seat with excitement). The movie had decent action sequences, although not enough, and I felt myself willing the movie forward. The plot was kind of tedious, and left the ending quite obviously open for another movie. There were no real awe-inducing visuals in my opinion, either. There also is not the feeling that Lyra's quest is something that she needs to undertake. There's mention of how she's the child in a prophecy, but there is no sense of urgency there.

The biggest problem, however, was not the tedious plot or lack of action sequences or that there were no stunning visuals. It was missing that spark of magic, that sense of awe and wonderment you get from other fantasy movies like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Harry Potter movies, and yes, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Those movies left you feeling awed, stunned, and the magic in those worlds seemed palpable and real. You left the theatre feeling as if these were real people, real events, and that if you poked around a few wardrobes in your house, you might just find Narnia, too. The Golden Compass did not have that spark of magic. You didn't leave the theatre feeling awed and stunned. Whether this was due to the plot or the filmmaking, I don't know exactly. Some movies have it. Some movies don't. This didn't.

So, I'm still encouraging folks to give it a pass, but that's just my opinion on it. (that IS why you read my blog, right?)


(oh, and thanks A, for your comment on the previous version of this post. It really helped me with rewriting this piece.)

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Can't begin to tell you how angry this makes me

War Budget Struggle Claims Its First Victim - Family Spending

Did the Dems really think that their hissyfit and refusal to pass the current military spending bill was SUPPORTING the troops?

Rolled out to much fanfare at U.S. Army garrisons across the globe in October and November, the Army Family Covenant, as the initiative is called, is the cornerstone of the Army’s plans to bulk up programs and services for families stressed by frequent deployments.

But because virtually all funding for the covenant — $1.4 billion — is tied up in the funding bill that is at the center of a clash between Congress and the president, none of the promised funds have yet made their way to Army families or even to garrisons in Europe.

Concerned that the bill might not pass before money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan runs out, Gen. Richard Cody, the Army’s vice chief of staff, has ordered all commands and activities to draft plans for reduced operations at Army posts.

According to Cody’s order, the effort’s intent is to reduce funding for some operations “to the minimum essential level.”

Pete Geren, the secretary of the Army, told Congress he may need to reduce some of the same services the Army pledged to improve in its “covenant,” such as counseling for returning soldiers and their families, and family and youth activities, in order to shift money to the war budget.

That is a possibility “if the supplemental doesn’t pass,” said Ned Christensen, a spokesman for Installation Management Command in Washington.

At this point, though, installations are being told to continue at their previous funding level, he said. That level, though, is where programs were funded before the covenant.

Plans to cut back on nonessential programs and services will, if necessary, go into effect in late February, Christensen said.

Among the covenant’s goals are increases in the number of paid assistants to deal with family issues at a battalion level; extension of child-care operating hours; expansion of hourly and respite care; increase in the number of Army Community Service personnel; and expansion of youth programs.

The covenant, which is really a statement of commitment to another initiative — the Army Soldier Family Action Plan — also includes plans to beef up health care, family housing, schools and family member education and employment opportunities.

We're not even talking about the need to divert funds yet, this is money appropriated for these programs that the Dems are holding hostage.

Way to go with supporting the troops there gang...maybe instead of whining about how the Bush Administration isn't personally giving out free phone calls to each and every wounded soldier (something that the USO, MWR, and many other groups already do) you might talk to your congressmen and tell them to pass the funding bill that will provide extra counselors, child care, healthcare, and employment helps for soldiers and their families.

If that's what you consider support, then no thanks.

Yeah, this one pisses me off...can you tell?


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