The Uninspired Manifesto
Saturday, November 24, 2007
More Pullman Hate
I first read 'The Golden Compass' in 2000, after finding a copy in my school library. I was only 12 years old, but already confirmed in my non-belief. After only fifteen or twenty pages, I was hooked. I loved the story, the characters, everything about it. After finishing the first book, I immediately returned it to the library, and picked up 'The Subtle Knife', followed soon after by 'The Amber Spyglass' when it was published in the US in 2001. I wasn't very knowledgeable about atheism at the time, and unless someone were to point it out to me specifically, I didn't see any connection to religion in the first two books. With the third book, even though it uses the name God, I never connected it to being anti-religious, as it's laid out that the children are not going after God, but rather an arch-angel that has taken the place of God. Years passed, and though I regarded the experience as quintessential in my early teenage development, I had largely forgotten the books themselves. Then, I got word, almost a year ago, that New Line Cinema had auctioned the rights to a film version of 'The Golden Compass', and it was going into production. This gave me pause, as I reflected on how much I enjoyed the books, finally deciding I needed to re-read the trilogy before the release of the first (of hopefully all three) films. This brings us to a few months ago, when the first negative press about 'The Golden Compass', Phillip Pullman and his atheism popped up. I reported on the first of the controversy, discussing my disdain for those who criticized the work based solely on Pullman's atheism, and left it at that, hopeful the controversy would burn out quickly, and I could enjoy the film upon it's release. But that didn't happen.
As the days passed, more and more christian/right-wing blogs and news sites picked up on 'The Golden Compass' controversy, until the Bill Donohue and The Catholic League released a pamphlet titled "The Golden Compass: Agenda Unmasked", which - though I haven't read it personally, information I've gathered on it suggests that it - contends that the film itself, though religious themes have been greatly watered down, will drive parents to buy the books for their children for Christmas, exposing them to "Pullman's anti-Catholic hate". Since being drawn up, Donohue's pamphlet has made the rounds to thousands of religious people, inspiring a series of e-mail campaigns directed at warning christian parents to stay away from the film. This sparked a long line of newspaper articles, and news reports outlining the controversy and warning everyone to "do their homework" before allowing their children to see the film.
This leads us to now, with me sitting in front of my computer, typing away, wondering how one little book can divide so many in this day in age. I mean, fuck man, Dawkin's "The God Delusion" didn't stir up this much shit.
First off, let me state that I am a movie fan above all else, and from that point of view, there are legitimate complaints. In order to give Daniel Craig top billing along with Nicole Kidman, they had to cut up the film, as his character only has three or four scenes in the book. Other than that, all arguments about the religious content of the film are unfounded, and I have problems with both sides. My biggest problem with the Catholic League's argument is that they're warning people about a book published in fucking 1995. For twelve years, they could have said something about it, but only chose to do so when New Line commissioned a feature film based on the book, and they could get some press from it. Other than that, he simple fact that none of them even read the series before lambasting it, and applying their own interpretations on it. Of course, all one has to do is listen to any member of the Catholic League discuss scripture for a few minutes, and it becomes clear that it's nothing new to them. On the atheist side, though, we have a bunch of whiny self-important asses crying over the studio removing any religious references that could be considered offensive. It's not as if butchering a novel's film translation is anything new for a production company. Of course they removed anything that could be deemed anti-religion. They did that a long time before this controversy even started. Also, as much as I respect Ellen Johnson for all she's done, please stop trying to defend this movie. You're doing a terrible fucking job. The film itself has never, and will never contain any influential atheist material.
Still, though, the debate rages on, dividing people all across the country (but mostly just online) over an issue that should have been swept to the wayside a long time ago. The latest casualty of which, comes to us from CTV.ca:
The Centre for Inquiry and the Canadian Secular Alliance is calling an Ontario school board's decision to remove a children's book from its library shelves, "an overt example of the discrimination against atheists by the religious."This article has been showing up a lot around the atheist blogosphere the past couple days, with cries of discrimination ringing out. While I certainly don't agree with the boards decision, I can't say I don't understand it. After all, they oversee Catholic schools, and as long as that stupid fuck Bill Donohue is spraying his bigoted hatred over every 24-hour news channel he can find, they'll follow suit.
The Halton Catholic District School Board ordered "The Golden Compass" to be removed from library shelves at dozens of schools after receiving a request for review from a member of the community.
The board -- which oversees some 43 elementary and secondary schools in Ontario -- has pulled the book from public display and two other Pullman titles from the "Dark Materials" trilogy. The books are available to students upon request.
The only good news I can relate is that the film opens in just under two weeks, (Dec. 7th, my birthday of all days... how fucking perfect is that) and we can put all of this behind us. Good night...