When my sons were in their early teens, we had a VCR and rented movies.

They could rent any G or PG movies (this was before PG 13) but I would have to go with them and approve any R rated movies. (If this sounds strange, it was because some R rated action movies had better morals–friendship, sacrificing self to save others, fighting for the rights of the weak– than some PG ones, which showed manipulation of other people or made light of stealing or drug use). But one type of movie I did not allow were the “slasher” movies so beloved of teenagers.

But one day, my son was having a friend over whose parents weren’t so strict, and he decided to “push the limits”. He picked up a famous slasher type movie, with a gory bleeding and cut face on the cover and asked:

“Mom, what do you think of this?”

“Well, son”, I replied loudly, “I think if we put saline compresses on the face to stop the bleeding, start an IV of Ringers Lactate, give some IV antibiotics, check the XRay for facial fractures and arrange a plastic surgeon, I think we’ll be able to fix him up okay.”

Several people nearby laughed, and that was the end of R rated slasher/horror movies, at least until he hit 17 and could rent them on his own.

That’s why I think the arguments over the “Golden Compass” are sort of beside the point.

Is Pullman’s triology anti Catholic? Of course. Anyone who remembers the blantant anti Catholicism during the Kennedy campaign (or has read the “jack chick” conspiracy comics so beloved of some Evangelicals here in the Philippines) could mistake it otherwise. It’s an old conspiracy theory that goes like this:

The big bad Catholic church controls people’s minds and tries to destroy them if they question the church. These big bad priests/bishops/pope hates sex and hates parties, and wants people to live a sad and rigid life. So it is our duty to destroy the evil church, and take off the chains so that we can make a utopia of happy people.

Of course, how one can believe such a thing and see the fiestas (and huge families) of the Catholic Philippines or go to a Polish wedding, but never mind. Conspiracies never hold up to close scrutiny; but the sad thing about this one is that it was one of the lynchpins of the communist world…which turned itself spawned a godless utopia that controlled people a lot more than any bishop ever tried to do.

As for the movie “The Golden Compass”, it sounds like the producers “watered down” the blatent anti Catholicism, making the plot weaker for lack of bad guys.

(Hmmm….wonder what would have happened if they had put the Mullahs of the Taliban as the bad guys instead of bishops in the plot? Well, never mind…even Islam rarely fits the stereotype in practice that the strictist Mullahs try to push in theory.)

Well, anyway, all the talk of boycotts are beside the point. The movie (but not the book) is probably harmless, and has a lot of good in it.

What worries me a lot more than watered down blasphemy are movies that glorify violence in the name of…whatever.

Here’s a paragraph describing a movie that will be coming out soon where

“One by one, as each of these victims meet their terrifying ends in the hands of a deranged killer, ….

It just amazes me how [director] Quentin came up with a character who can actually personify death in the most dreaded and heartless manner. You can’t cheat him, you can’t outrun him … there’s just no escape from him. And there’s nothing you can do but to face him and pray that he’ll go easy on you. All I can say is that you have to see the movie for yourself, and then you decide what’s the worse way to die.”

So while we’re at it, people, how about boycotting films that glamourize the torture and killing of young women? Especially those aimed at young men as the audience?

Years ago, Hollywood had standards, which they hated. And then Hollywood decided to eliminate standards in the name of “artistic freedom”. Have movies gotten better? Not really. And a lot of the best “R” rated movies would be even better if they had small things cut out to make them PG 13. (Thank God for the “fast forward” button on the VCR).
Which brings us back to Pullman:

“Indeed, Pullman’s God is not the God of religion, but the didactic, authoritarian voice of adulthood. It’s the Authority that pays lip-service to free thought, but then limits free thought within the narrowly defined parameters of what it judges comfortable and acceptable. It is this Authority – and not the God of the Bible – that Pullman silences.

Yes, we have eliminated the maturity of adulthood, silenced the wisdom of the past in the name of freedom, and have inherited the whirlwind of our own dark desires.

Boycotts? A bit late for that, isn’t it?


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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