CAP Movie Ministry all upset over “Beowolf.”

Another fun link from another SEB regular, Bog Brother, leads us to the ChildCare Action Project (CAP) which bills itself as…

The #1 Christian entertainment media analysis service on the Internet!  We give you OBJECTIVE tools NO ONE ELSE CAN to help YOU make an informed moral decision for yourself whether a film is fit!

With a build up like that you just know that there’s fun to be had on every single page, but in this case BB directs us to their review of Beowulf which starts off with the following:

“Beowulf” (2007), PG-13 [HARDCORE R-13*] … quite probably the most heinous culprit for stealing childhood from children ever made.

First we have The Golden Compass being such a huge danger to young Christian’s beliefs that the AFA tells parents to run away from it and now we have CAP Ministries saying that Beowulf will steal your child’s childhood! EVERYBODY PANIC!!!

A quick note on the double rating you see above. It seems the folks at CAP Ministries have their own system of rating movies which involves six Investigation Areas that they assign 100 points each. Then they subtract points for every sinful thing they see on screen and when they’re done that final score will determine what rating they feel the film deserves.  In the case of Beowulf the official rating is PG-13 and the CAP Ministries rating, in the brackets, is R-13. They claim this provides them with an objective rating of the movie…

The CAP Model relies on fact, not speculation—it is as objective as any human evaluation system can be. Either an example of unacceptable activity or behavior was present during the investigation or it was not. The CAP Model makes no attempt to evaluate whether any justification for an unacceptable activity/behavior was present.

However, any evaluation involving human factors must provide allowances for subjectivity. The CAP provides for a certain amount of subjectivity to account for varying degrees of severity of unacceptable activity/behavior. For example, witnessing after-the-fact an act of violence is not as graphically extreme as witnessing the mechanism and/or instrument of violence in action. Each example that is so graphically extreme must be given more weight against compliance with Christian ethics because of the more severe impact on the observer. The Investigator is therefore permitted to account for severity by assigning a point loss from one to three points as described earlier.

… while conveniently ignoring the fact that determining what is and isn’t “unacceptable activity” is largely a subjective process even when trying to use the Bible as a guide. They spend quite a bit of time going over how they devised their scoring system and some of it makes for some amusing reading so I invite you to peruse it at your leisure, but right now I want to get to their review of this child endangering film.

So what’s got these folks all riled up? Primarily it appears to be the amount of nudity in the film:

Nudity is rampant. Full nudity. Male. Female. Frontal. Side. Rear. All angles. Though the male-specific anatomy is always kept in the shadows all other tissues and anatomy associated with it are seen in amazing anatomical detail.

I will not argue the nudity in this film. That the filmmakers used what looked like metallic plating over portions of the nude witch does not excuse the nudity. The viewer can tell only her pubic hair is missing. Does the gold plating on jewelry change its form or features? And that the nudity is in CGI does nothing to lessen its influence because of the graphic attention to detail used. It is grasping for the MPAA to approve this film for younger audiences just because the nudity is CGI animation rather than live actors and actresses. If that were justifiable reasoning I guess photographs of nudity would have to be approved for yournger audiences since a photogprah is no more than a piece of paper with chemicals on it. And what about live character nudity onscoreen? It is no more than visible light photons modulated by a film strip of chemicals.

Damn, this is starting to sound like my kind of film! I’ve not seen the film myself so I’m not sure just how much nudity is actually in it, though I have seen the scene with Angelina Jolie and it is admittedly about as close to nude as you can get. Though hardly any worse than many of the comic book characters you’ll see these days. I suppose I can see where it might be considered risqué for the particularly prudish out there and even Angelina has said she’s a little shy about the nude scene even though it’s not actually her.

The nudity seems to be a big issue for the fellow that wrote this review, though, and I found the following particularly amusing:

Beowulf the movie, based on the epic poem of the same name, is quite probably the most heinous culprit for stealing childhood from children ever made. It does seem rather reaching to say the parent poem (text) presents nudity. I have read lots of poems but never have I seen nudity in a poem. Even the nudity in some Bibles was not there when the inspired pen was put to paper; man put nudity in the Bible, not God. That some church approved nakedness in the Bible does not make it acceptable to God. Indeed God speaks darkly and shamefully of nakedness (the display of nudity) more than 40 times from the Old Testament to the New Testament. His Word even advised preists not to build an altar with steps lest the wind expose their nakedness to the people below [Ex. 20:26].

This guy is so anti-nudity he even argues that the Bible has been corrupted by man. Makes you wonder if he showers fully clothed and with all the mirrors covered up.

From here he decides he’s not going to waste any time bothering with a description of the plot, but opts instead to start referencing scientists he feels supports his viewpoint that this movie is particularly harmful, something he’ll come to do a couple of times in the review. First it’s a couple of psychologists that have said it’s difficult for people up to the age of 16 to fully separate fantasy from reality or to anticipate the consequences of their actions and then says we shouldn’t be showing them movies like Beowulf though he fails to say exactly how it supposedly steals their childhood.

From there he goes on to give brief summaries of how low the film scores in each of the remaining five Investigation Areas—which, when you put the first letters together, spell out WISDOM—and the film fares poorly in each one. He revisits his nudity obsession again then goes on to deplore the amount of drinking in the film, the various offenses to God in the film (a witch, a demon, Odin being a “false” God, etc.), and the general murder and mayhem that comes with any good drama featuring monsters.

Basically it sounds to me like the guy wouldn’t be happy with anything short of the Pretty Princess Ponies Totally Inoffensively Bland Movie as being appropriate for anyone under the age of 30. So what could possibly have earned the best possible CAP score, that is a score of 100 thusly making it a must-see by this Ministries standards? So far there are four films to get that coveted score and I’ve only heard of one of them. They are:

  1. Who Gets the House? (1999) – This had a couple of stars in it, but I have no recollection of it ever being in theaters.
  2. Baby Miracle Volume 1: The Story of Creation (2004) – An attempt to indoctrinate toddlers in Biblical nonsense before they can even say their own fucking name.
  3. Grandpa Friendly’s Workshop: Making Friends (2002) – Another bit of predigested pap aimed at the toddler crowd, though thankfully nothing to do with indoctrination.
  4. Mary Poppins (1964) – Which surprises me somewhat as I always considered Mary to be a bit of a witch, but the CAP folks argue that she could have been angelic.

Now as much as I enjoy Mary Poppins on occasion, and I’m pretty sure I could make an argument that it has some very subversive ideas in it, the rest of those films aren’t the sort of fare your average teenager, let alone anyone else, is going to have much interest in. For that matter, the vast majority of films listed in the upper 90’s are either aimed at toddlers or so bland as to make a cardboard box into a more interesting thing to stare at for 2 hours.

The point being that there’s nothing really objective in the ratings the CAP Ministries folks are handing out and they’re no substitute for being a good parent and finding out about a film on your own prior to making decisions on what’s appropriate for your kids. Not all thirteen year-olds are the same and maybe yours isn’t ready for a film like Beowulf, but that may not be true for someone else’s thirteen year old. If you’re really worried about it then go see the movie ahead of time and judge for yourself.

Films with too much smoking to get R rating?

Here is today’s what the fuck story:

Anti-tobacco activists have been pressing for an automatic R rating for films with smoking scenes, but MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman rejected the proposal for a more nuanced approach.

“The MPAA film rating system has existed for nearly 40 years as an educational tool for parents to assist them in making decisions about what movies are appropriate for their children,” Glickman said. “It is a system that is designed to evolve alongside modern parental concerns.”

In line with that evolution, the MPAA ratings board “will now consider smoking as a factor among many other factors, including violence, sexual situations and language, in the rating of films,” he said.

“Clearly, smoking is increasingly an unacceptable behavior in our society,” Glickman said. “There is broad awareness of smoking as a unique public health concern due to nicotine’s highly addictive nature, and no parent wants their child to take up the habit. The appropriate response of the rating system is to give more information to parents on this issue.”

You have got to be fucking kidding me. I’m no big fan of smoking, but this strikes me as one of the more ridiculous things to come out of the MPAA. Considering the lengthy list of “unacceptable behavior”, from excessive drinking to driving irresponsibly, depicted since the first silent films were produced one has to wonder why every movie isn’t an automatic R rating under the stupid logic being displayed in the above decision?

The whole MPAA ratings system is a scam that works in the favor of the major studios over the smaller independent filmmakers (see This Film Is Not Yet Rated for more on that) that needs to be overhauled. That’s what they should be working on instead of worrying about smoking in a movie.