Sunday, September 13, 2009

Thieving From The House of God

I use a movie rating community called Criticker to rate all the movies I've seen and thereby get recommendations for movies I haven't seen based on what people who like the same ones as me think. This is similar in principle to the rating of films on sites like movie oracle IMdB, but with fewer additional features beyond rating and recommendation based on those ratings.

I've just watched the original 1974 'The Taking of Pelham One Two Three' starring Walter Matthau and Robert Shaw which has recently been remade with John Travolta and Denzel Washington. So I logged in to rate both versions as I saw the new one at the cinema a month or so ago but wanted to wait until I'd watched the original before I gave it a fair score. For those interested I gave the 1974 version 55/100 and the new one 70/100 (yes, a sequel that's better than the original) and after doing so I had a quick browse through the ratings other users have given the new one (which doesn't take that long; Criticker has far fewer users than IMdB).

What I stumbled across amongst the baseless figures (most users, myself included, rarely comment on why they have given the rating they have) is a comment from a user who is very clearly a Christian. He rated it very highly, giving it 94/100, and obviously enjoyed it, calling it "an excellent, suspensful thriller", which is perfectly accurate, but went on to say "with a strong Christian, redemptive worldview, but it is marred by a whole lot of strong foul language and some intense, very strong depicted violence where people are shot multiple times".

It doesn't have a particularly religious view at all, so this is way off the mark, but in particular, it is not a very violent movie. Many movies, intending to shock or excite, are very over-the-top with their violent depictions, but this is not one of them. It is simply realistic, showing a small number of people getting shot in desperate situations involving armed criminals. It happens every day (at least in America) and regardless of whether or not it's right or wrong (clearly wrong), it's true, and the movie has made no attempt to portray otherwise.

Reading the other reviews (9) this user has written reveals every one to have been labelled "extreme caution", including candyfloss romantic comedy 'The Proposal' for its "sexual innuendo, some near nude scenes and a mixed pagan worldview with positive references to pagan beliefs" (while still giving it 65/100) and comically 'The Stoning of Soraya M.' about an innocent wife being stoned to death in Iran, which he generalises as "what occurs all too often in some Islamic countries" while handing out a 94 rating.

And herein lies the real problem (or one of them) with fundamentalist Christians. They think everything and everyone must follow their way of thinking at all times or be damned. So, besides being an incredibly hypocritical individual who watches these thoroughly un-Christian movies under the pretence of doing so to warn others, putting himself at risk so they don't have to so to speak, like that makes a difference, he genuinely pretends to believe that every movie made should portray Christian beliefs, while rating movies that very clearly don't quite highly.

This is a guy who clearly enjoys his films, but apparently shouldn't, and so hides behind the reviews, like the writers of ridiculous websites like Kids In Mind (blatant liars who review movies with R/18 certificates pretending to be warning parents about showing these movies to their children) and Christianity Today Movies (the movie reviewing arm of Christianity Today, a Christian publication who don't want everything to conform because then they'd have nothing to bitch about), so that he can pretend he's watching them with good intentions in mind.

What is it you all think movie certificates are for? We all know they're probably too low for the content (i.e. movies rated 12A are generally too violent for a 12 year old, accompanied by a parent or not), but seriously, when you watch a movie rated 18 or R, do you honestly think some of them might conform to all of the Christian values? Do you really expect to ever be able to tell any of your readers that a film rated 18 can be watched without the slightest bit of caution? If you do, you're as delusional as the alien conspiracy theorist with the tin foil hat. But you don't do you? You know full well every highly rated movie is as likely to offend fundamentalist believers as a Catholic priest at a boarding school, but you watch anyway because you LIKE IT. Then you write your report so everyone thinks you've done it for their benefit.

The reality, it is my indescribable pleasure to inform you, is that you are no better/worse than everyone else who watches these movies and enjoys them. If it turns out watching them really is a sin and all the viewers are going to Hell, that's going to include you. You watched it and loved it. You are as culpable as everyone else. Stop pretending otherwise. You are the guy who shoots the gun then goes around telling everyone "I shot the gun, it killed someone, so be warned, guns are dangerous", before going off to test the next model.

And to the writers on the Christian movie reviewing websites who think absolutely everything in every movie is a metaphor for something from the bible, or for something entirely non-Christian in an attempt to cover their tracks: no, it isn't. Everything really isn't about you. Get over yourselves.