Bomb Throwing Pacifist
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Merry...-oh, wait! I know this one!
Oh, dear. Maybe. I'm not sure.
It depends on what choices in moviegoing signal about the American character. I see I'd better explain.
You know, they say that when trying to understand a foreign language, a fair amount of the subtextual meaning is lost in translation. However, a side-by-side textual reading of this opening paragraph alongside a in-game text screen from "Zero Wing" can only lead me to the conclusion that Murchinson's original language, while similarly garbled, is so incomphrensible that it can only be explained in the following way: Bill Murchinson is not from this galaxy.
The word came on Monday that the new PG-rated film "The Nativity Story" hadn't had the large opening expected for it -- just $8 million (in 3083 theaters) vs. $11 million for "Déjà vu" in its second week and $15.1 million for "Casino Royale" in its third, not to mention the Penguin thing, "Happy Feet," at $17 million. May it be inferred that American moviegoers are dissing Jesus, Mary and Joseph? If so, how come? Are the End Times upon us?While virtually any given wingnut can on any given day find fault with Hollywood, I posit to you that only a special brand of wingnut looks for signs of the impending apocalypse based off of the ticket receipts of Christian-themed movies. Indeed, if ticket sales alone are an effective wyay of telling the future, then it would appear that we are headed for an imminent invasion by an extraterrestrial race sometime in early July. Say near Independance Day. Yeah, that sounds about right.
"The Nativity Story," a warmly reviewed account of Jesus' birth[...]
If by "warmly reviewed" he means having an approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes slightly higher than that of the President, he's right. Just kidding of course. Bush's approval rating is well below 41%. But who knows? Maybe his mom liked it or something.
[The Nativity Story] is supposed to be at the leading of faith-based films that trail the gargantuan "The Passion of the Christ" and "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."
Heh, he said "gargantuan." Whenever I hear that word I can't help but thinking of hordes of unwashed lardies, desperately searching under seat cushions for any stray peices of mince pie and piggy pudding. I have to admit, Jesus isn't the first thing that comes to mind, but then again I was always bad at free association games.
A journalist who has frequented the cinematic palaces since Gabby Hayes and Hopalong Cassidy were in vogue confesses that he himself hasn't quite -- not yet, despite splendid intentions -- made it to "The Nativity Story" and therefore finds it hard to round on the millions who took their millions elsewhere last weekend in search of diversion. But he's going, he's going. Honest. Cross his heart and hope...
What then agentlike brought about that tragoady thundersday this municipal sin business? Our cubehouse still rocks as earwitness to the thunder of his arafatas but we hear also through successive ages that shebby choruysh of unkalified muzzlenimiissilehims that would blackguardise the whitestone ever hurtleturtled out of heaven.
No doubt the atheist authors now crashing the best-seller lists will share looks of satisfaction if events cause them to conclude the public couldn't care less about some old Nativity. On the other side of the coin is what we might call historical realism. Reading "the culture's" mind is no easy endeavor.No doubt the atheist authors now crashing the best-seller lists will share looks of satisfaction if events cause them to conclude the public couldn't care less about some old Nativity.
TWO of the above paragraphs are from Bill Murchinson's Article on the Nativity Story film. The OTHER is from James Joyce's epic stream-of-consiousness novel "Finnegan's Wake." Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to figure out which one makes the most sense. You have 30 seconds. Choose!
Did the once-broad taste for Charlton Heston bidding the Red Sea part in "The Ten Commandments" signal broad devotion to the Law and the Prophets? How about the teeth-gritting of Burt Lancaster in "Elmer Gantry"? By watching, were we, the people, affirming the absurdity of sawdust evangelism? I wouldn't count on it. A large portion of us -- each of us -- seeks entertainment for the sake of entertainment, diversion for the sake of diversion. So it ever has been.
Hmm. I'm pretty sure any competent author (or indeed, native English speaker) could cut through this lard using 10 words or less. Hmm, let's try this: "Movies are fun." Moving on...
A populace that demonstrated its inner spirit by attending pious movies alone and pursuing pious pastimes the rest of the week would be … a little atypical, mightn't you say?
I agree. Any group of people that demonstrates its religious esprit de corps by patronizing religion-themed movies, amusement parks, and bowling teams would be a little atypical. But then again, I've never been to a "Hell house."
Not so many years in the past, Christians didn't necessarily hold with moviegoing -- any movie.
Nor gambling, spitting, drinking, divorcing, dancing, or love making (outside of the hallowed grounds of marriage for reproductive purposes only). My my how the world changes.
I recall 50 years ago hearing a local Baptist preacher relate with some satisfaction how he had torn up the free tickets he had received to "The Ten Commandments." No Charlton Heston for this guy -- just the good old Book of Exodus, which likely a number of his own good folk couldn't locate without some exertion.
Ah, I forgot! Better add "educating" to the above list of Christian no-no's.
It's nice to see the culture affirm, via its ticket purchases, the good and the true and the beautiful -- "The Nativity Story," shall we say, over "Borat." But it works that way only some of the time. Dare we forget the popularity of Britney Spears' latest videos on YouTube?
Shorter Bill Muchinson: It's really nice when the facts on the ground synch up with my preconceived notions. Except for when they don't, and stuff.
And for the record,
1) Borat opening weekend= $26.5 million.
2) Nativity opening weekend= $8 million.
3) Threfore, Borat > Nativity Story.
4) Oh hell, Borat > 3(Nativity Story).
Truth is Truth, projected on a screen or not.
I agree! I must say, it's really nice to see someone who dares to think outside of the box every once in a while and challenges the notion that the "Truth" does not exist independantly, outside the limited confines of the movie screen.
I think Christians may hope for, as well as toil and labor for, the success of any commercial endeavor that throws unexpected light on doings at the Red Sea or the Sea of Galilee. And yet, in some measure the thing is out of their hands. "God doth not need man's works or his own gifts," interposed Milton. No bad realization, this. Takes the pressure off to some degree. Man is not -- repeat, not -- the measure of all things. A somewhat higher authority has claimed that prerogative, and doubtless means to keep it
In short, it's the thought that counts. Sure, if the Nativity Story makes tons of money then it'd be a nice affirmation of God's influence on our pop culture. But hey, if it totally tanks, it doesn't really matter because God's still cool. Unfortunately for Mr. Murchinson, he is not God, and his column is reakky shitty. See ya next week!