Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Mangled: Stay at Home Daughters on the Silver Screen

Disney princesses, who doesn't love them? Since Snow White's debut in 1937, the 'Disney Princess' line has become a $4 billion franchise, who's merchandise includes everything from miniature ballgowns to designer handbags...for a mere $2.49 one can even purchase their child a personalized phone call from the princess of their choice.1 They've become an icon worldwide, representing the dreams of every little girl, the love of which is passed from generation to generation.2 The latest figure in this royal lineup is Rapunzel, Disney's first CG princess and the heroine of their 50th animated classic, Tangled.

Most of us are probably familiar with the old fairy tale by the brothers Grimm. While the original tale was a pretty poorly written story, Disney has rearranged it a bit, applied their expert craftsmanship and added a dose of modernity for good measure. The plot line is still similar- a beautiful girl is kidnapped by an old hag, locked away in a hidden tower, the hero finds and rescues her, and they all live happily ever after. This time, though, Rapunzel is a princess who's hair possesses magical healing powers- an impetus for our old hag, Mother Gothel, to keep her locked away. And, instead of wandering around in misery and despair, Rapunzel and our hero, Flynn Rider, go on a grand adventure. Sounds pretty innocuous, right? Well, not exactly. The film is filled with beautiful imagery, delightful characters, great humor, and a story that never drags, but as I walked out of the theater last week, my thoughts were on a different vein. It was, in fact, the film's perceived harmlessness that made it so disturbing. To be sure, there are a number of things to pick on- from thugs delivering sermons on the basic goodness of man, to magic droplets from the sun god, valley girl vernacular, and much more, but the most troubling parts of the film were the overarching themes.

As this new-fashioned fairy tale unfolds, we're treated to an interesting commentary on homemakers and why these captives to domesticity are setting themselves up for eventual disenchantment. In spite of the fact that Rapunzel has been locked away from the world and dominated by a sugary sweet despot, we find her a delightful, adorable girl, with a zest for learning and a creative flair. Eventually, though, she wearies of the monotony. Though it's a mockery and misrepresentation of homemaking, it holds an interesting element of truth. When life is divorced from a larger dominion purpose, the eventual result will be frustration and misery.3 Rapunzel was disheartened because even her more useful skills had no point beyond filling her time and whiling away the hours.4 The real problem here is that, within the world of the film, we're only given two options, two choices in life- both of which are unsuitable, but one of which is deemed acceptable by it's creators. The first, obviously, is for Rapunzel to stay in the tower trapped forever in a life of childish meaninglessness. The second is presented shortly as Rapunzel, in turmoil over her choice to run away, is advised by Flynn,

"Does your mother deserve it? No. Would this break her heart and crush her soul? Of course, but you just got to do it.....This is part of growing up—a little rebellion and a little adventure. This is healthy."

This is the first major sermon statement of the story, and from here things spring into action as we're shown, for the remainder of the film, that chronic rebellion is innocent, healthy fun, and disobedience in pursuit of our heart's wildest desires actually leads to enlightenment and maturity.5 Biblically speaking, maturity isn't defined by the childish assertion of our autonomous wills, but rather by a life lived in terms of God's Word.6 What Tangled doesn't tell little boys and girls, is that there is a third option of dealing with the situation in Biblical maturity and wisdom, or that the Bible paints an entirely different picture of the home and it's purposes. Instead, Tangled only teaches that behind door number two lies all the adventure we've been waiting for. Of course, we could overlook this because, after all, Mother Gothel is really just a wicked captor bent on using Rapunzel for her own ends. But, the fact is that Rapunzel's actions are carried out in the understanding that this is her mother and it's really not until the last few minutes of the film that she finds out otherwise. Theirs is the relationship which is modeled throughout the film as mother/daughter. Parents are sinners, just like their children, but one person's sin doesn't excuse the sin of another.7If we're prepared to say that Mother Gothel's sins are inexcusable, we must be prepared to say the same of Rapunzel's.

But the story marches on, and we find that rebellion has it's rewards as romance fills the air. We also find out that children's movies are a great way to ensure a break down of morality in the future. We see this in a number of ways- running away from home with a complete scoundrel, camping out in the woods with said scoundrel, an unbiblical view of love, emotional enticements (e.g. smolder), and also, within the dialogue.8 In the beginning, Flynn steals the tiara of the missing princess(Rapunzel) in order to fulfill a utopian, childhood dream. The tiara bounces around until it comes into Mother Gothel's possession and as she confronts Rapunzel, the lines read like a teenage romance about losing one's purity. Mother Gothel tells Rapunzel that the only thing Flynn is after is the tiara and as soon as he gets it, he'll leave her. Then later, after they've 'fallen in love', Rapunzel tells Flynn that she has something to give him(the tiara)- she was scared to give it to him before, but she's not scared anymore. Though we're talking about a tiara now, we won't be in a few years as similar lines are heard in teenybopper films. To a great extent, the things that we watch and listen to as children are the most influential in forming our character and worldview, in defining who we'll become as adults. It's those who control the education of children that will control the future of nations.9 But, education isn't merely academics, all of culture is educating and it, in turn, flows from underlying religious beliefs. Tangled is schooling it's viewers in the acceptance of immorality.

It's no surprise then, when we find that our hero is really nothing of the sort. Even among his fellow thieves, he commands no respect. Then again, Rapunzel doesn't appear to be in much need of rescuing anyway. Their relationship is one of mutual, self-serving interest. He's a helpless, sensitive, emotional male- an accessory to the capable, brilliant, amazing Rapunzel. And, because she's an emancipated princess who knows how to get her man, in the spirit of Indiana Jones she wields her 70 foot hair, pulling off all kinds of daring feats and rescues. But, as the film climaxes, we're assured that this is all okay. As Rapunzel is offering to rescue Flynn one more time and give her life for his, he pulls a clever move- picking up a shard of broken glass, he cuts off her magical hair, sending the wicked Mother Gothel spiraling into old age and oblivion and assuring us that we modern women can have our feminism AND the heroism of men(of course, Rapunzel's magical tears do have the last word since they're required to bring the now deceased Flynn back to life.)

In the end, Rapunzel is finally reunited with the king and queen and as the film closes, we discover some final lessons- that good governments reward sin and indulgent parents are real parents. Flynn is embraced, his thievery ignored, and welcomed, as Rapunzel's new husband, a prince in their kingdom. His fellow thugs realize their dreams, too, and all of this was achieved, of course, without good character on anyone's part; by the end of the film, we're left without a single good role model in sight. The credits roll and that's The End.10 Or is it? While the intellect may recognize danger, a film that appears as innocent and adorable as this delights the emotions. We exit the theater and, as our bodies go back to the real world, our minds are still in false one. In this make believe world, freedom is equated to license and duty to bondage. But, this so called freedom is nothing more than bondage to sin. The reality is that we live in a world governed by a sovereign Creator and only a life lived on his terms leads to blessing and freedom.11 Tangled is aptly called a fairy tale, because in the real world sins have their rewards and a life of unmitigated bliss is not one of them. Packaging all of this in a humorous, expertly crafted children's film is ingenious, really. As such, it is heedlessly given the stamp of 'wholesome entertainment' and we, leaving our discernment at the door , imbibe the beliefs of a culture that is at war with God. Among children, though, one brilliant exhibition isn't enough. They'll consume it, again and again, until, through sheer repetition, their souls are imbued with depravity.

All photos copyright Disney.

Posted by~Andrea Reins

1 http://www.newsweek.com/2007/11/17/princess-power.html

2 http://family.go.com/video/becoming-cinderella-879200-v/

3 An interesting discussion on dominion can be found here.

4 It is interesting to note that the things Rapunzel does are considered by many as quintessential traits of stay at home daughterhood. (Not recommended for young readers) Here is an excellent article on the wise use of time.

5 This is youtube, click at your own risk.(Tangled soundtrack,'I See The Light')

6 Jer. 1; Ex. 3-4; “Man was created a mature being, not a child. This is a fact of central importance. We thus cannot make child psychology basic to an understanding of man...Humanistic psychology looks backward to a primitive past in order to explain man, whereas Biblical psychology looks neither to the child nor a primitive past to explain man but to a mature creation, Adam, and to God's purpose in man's creation...Man's sins and shortcomings represent not a lingering primitism or a reversion to childhood but rather a deliberate revolt against maturity and the requirements of maturity. By ascribing to man, as humanistic psychologies do, a basic substratum of primitivism and racial childishness, this revolt against maturity is given an ideological justification; the studied and maturely developed immaturity of man is encouraged and justified. If man is reminded rather that he was created in Adam into maturity and responsibility, his self-justification is shattered. It has become commonplace for persons seeking counselling to discuss, not their problem, but their childhood, their parents, and their environment in order to “explain” their present “situation”, that is, their failure. The fact of mature creation is one of the basic and most important facts of a Biblical psychology. It is a fact of incalculable importance.” Revolt Against Maturity-pgs.6-7, R.J. Rushdoony

7 Eze. 18

8 Jn 14:21; “Love is a living active principle of obedience to the whole law.” Matthew Henry, Rom. 13:10; “Love works no ill to the neighbor, and love means the keeping or fulfilling of the law in relationship to other men. Love is thus the law-abiding thought, word, and act. Where there is no law, there is also no love.” Institutes of Biblical Law, vol.1, RJ Rushdoony

9 "He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future”-Adolf Hitler; “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.”-Vladimir Lenin; Deuteronomy 11:18-25

10 This, fittingly, is what plays as the credits roll. Again, this is youtube, click at your own risk.(and watch the volume, it's a little raucous)

Romans 6

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pocket Kodak No. 1 series II with autographic 120 film

Autographic film allows the photographer to enter his own notes onto the negative. Comments are scratched into paper on the back of the film with a stylus and then exposed to the sun and burned onto the negative. It was invented by H. J. Gaisman. Eastman Kodak purchased the rights in 1914 and produced Autographic film for 8 different negative sizes. They made a series of Autographic cameras and even replacement backs to adapt older cameras to use this feature.

Don't Glorify Depravity

Communism thrives on despair. Men without hope are easily ruled.

Don't present sympathetic studies of depravity. Go easy on stories about murderers, perverts and all the rest of that sordid stuff. If you use such stories, don't place yourself and the audience on the side of the criminal, don't create sympathy for him, don't give him excuses and justifications, don't imply that he 'couldn't help it'.

If you preach that a depraved person 'couldn't help it', you are destroying the basis of all morality. You are implying that men cannot he held responsible for their evil acts, because man has no power to choose between good and evil; if so, then all moral precepts are futile, and men must resign themselves to the idea that they are helpless, irresponsible animals. Don't help to spread such an idea.

When you pick these stories for the purely sensational value, you do not realize that you are dealing with one of the most crucial philosophical issues. These stories represent a profoundly insidious attack on all moral principles and all religious precepts. It is a basic tenet of Marxism that man has no freedom of moral or intellectual choice; that he is only a soulless, witless collection of meat and glands, open to any sort of 'conditioning' by anybody. The Communists intend to become the "conditioners."

There is too much horror and depravity in the world at present. If people see nothing but horror and depravity on the screen, you will merely add to their despair by driving in the impression that nothing better is possible to men or can be expected of life, which is what the Communists want people to think. Communism thrives on despair. Men without hope are easily ruled.

Don't excuse depravity. Don't drool over weaklings as conditioned "victims of circumstances" (or of "background" or of "society") who "couldn't help it". You are actually providing an excuse and an alibi for the worst instincts in the weakest members of your audiences.

Don't tell people that man is a helpless, twisted, drooling sniveling, neurotic weakling. Show the world an American kind of man for a change.

~Screen Guide for Americans, The Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, Beverly Hills, California.

Turmoil In The Toy Box

"In many instances, there really is no problem with the toy itself. the real danger lies in the occult and violent images connected with the toy which are conveyed to the child via cartoons, television and movies. As a child watches these shows, he sees the producer's idea of the toy's capabilities. He watches the toy as it displays certain "powers" and projects certain images through the cartoon or movie. Then, when the child plays with the toy, he visualizes the toy with the pre-programmed "powers" and characteristics; thus, if the toy displays certain occult characteristics, occult images are being programmed into his mind. It is far better for a child to use his God-given imagination to bring life to a toy, than to have the toy manufacturer determine that toy's characteristics. As we discuss some cute and innocent toys, I will be more specific about those which have been negatively influenced by television or films."

Communists & Non-Political Films

“The purpose of the Communists in Hollywood is not the production of political movies openly advocating Communism. Their purpose is to corrupt our moral premises by corrupting non-political movies — by introducing small, casual bits of propaganda into innocent stories — thus making people absorb the basic principles of Collectivism by indirection and implication.”

Ayn Rand, Screen Guide for Americans, 1947.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Airport Security, Nakedness, and Authority: Part I

With the installation of body scanners at many airports across the nation, people are being forced to confront the issue of nakedness at a very personal level. When John Doe is standing in line at the security checkpoint, he must decide whether or not he will go through a machine that produces an image of his naked body and sends it to airport security personnel for viewing, should he be randomly selected. Is it prudish for us to be uncomfortable with this kind of a procedure? Are the body scanners really a big deal? Even if I don’t like the idea of going through a body scanner, is it worth it to do so for public security?

In the biblically-based Jewish and Christian traditions, nakedness (outside of the private, intimate marriage relationship) is a shameful thing. This belief goes back to the book of Genesis. When Adam and Eve sinned, they were ashamed of their nakedness and tried to cover themselves with fig leaves. God clothed them with a more adequate covering of animal skins. This established the principle that human beings should be clothed.

In addition to the account of the Fall, there are other Biblical passages that illustrate the shamefulness of nakedness. Many of the Mosaic laws speak to this issue. Over and over again, the Bible stresses the importance of modesty and purity in dress and behavior.

Read the rest here.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Privatizing Air Security

By the same token, these new procedures will not actually keep us safe if terrorists are so inclined. Just as the government's security protocols did not stop the underwear bomber, so too will these new procedures fail in their ostensible purpose. And when the next incident occurs, I am confident that Thiessen and others will applaud the next invasive step on the slippery slope toward a police and surveillance state.
In reaction to the growing public anger at the TSA and its "freedom fondles," some pundits are rushing to the bureaucracy's defense. An illustrative example is Marc Thiessen's call for Americans to give thanks to the "men and women of the TSA who give up time with their families during the holidays to keep us safe from terror."

As we'll see, Thiessen's defense of the TSA is internally contradictory. Moreover, his endorsement of a government monopoly (on the design of air security) ignores all of the economic arguments against such an arrangement. As I pointed out in an earlier column, the only way to strike a proper balance between the (possibly competing) goals of customer privacy and safety is to allow competition among airlines in a truly free market.

Read the rest here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Contact Your Governor

Americans’ right “to be secure in their persons . . . against unreasonable searches and seizure”—a principle of liberty guaranteed by the US Constitution’s 4th Amendment—is being violated by the Transportation Security Administration, a branch of Homeland Security, through the nude full body scans they are conducting and their invasive pat-downs of the private parts of innocent citizens.

It is important that Americans contact their respective governors, senators, representatives and local officials and urge them to take prompt and resolute action to check the federal government’s abuse of power and to bring a speedy end to the TSA’s violations of our liberties and usurpation of our nation’s Bill of Rights.

Sample Letter & Governor Contact Information

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

8 Things You Can Do to Protect Yourself Against TSA Tyranny!

Knowing your options and your rights can go a long way in helping you to avoid a tyrannical overstep by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), an arm of the Department of Homeland Security. Further, determining a wise and clear plan ahead of time in light of the new TSA policies will better prepare you to protect the sanctity of you and your family as you travel. Finally, avoiding a conflict, whenever you can do so without conceding your constitutional right to privacy or violating your conscience, is usually the most prudent course to pursue, though you must determine what your plan will be should you reach an impasse with the TSA.

Click here for 8 practical considerations to help you accomplish these goals.

Monday, December 06, 2010

TSA Tyranny: Starting and Ending with Money

"When a government has a right to invade the bodies of its citizens, security has trumped freedom"

Are you enraged by an agency that thinks it can play god by unconstitutionally subjecting citizens to appear naked before its bureaucrats? There is great cause for hope if we will understand and leverage the power of economics to fight TSA tyranny. Economics has long borne the ignoble moniker, the science, but economic principles lend insight into the source, effects, and solutions to the TSA’s overreach.

The Source of TSA Tyranny: Follow the Money

Read the rest here

True Loyalty vs. TSA Treason

"We must not equate lawless policies with liberty"

Face reality, good citizens. It’s not wise to question the tyranny behind the TSA’s groping of innocent travelers or gawking at your loved ones’ naked bodies. Never mind the Constitution; we must abridge your liberties in order to protect you from harm. Show loyalty to America—these new measures are for your good.

We live in a world turned upside down. Our rights are being violated in the name of keeping us safe. And in this new Orwellian reality where civil liberties are being trampled on in the name of the Patriot Act, and loyalty to our country is being measured in terms of willing compliance with tyrants, we must wake from our confused stupor and look to the past.

What Americans need to know is this: Our Founding Fathers decried these specious arguments and warned the citizenry not to fall prey to them.

Read the rest here.

Friday, December 03, 2010

3 Minutes and a Free Subscription!

If you haven't already heard, the Navigating History: Egypt project has just recently launched! It's a 6 episode adventure history series designed to teach not only history, but culture, current affairs and the ideas that shape them, all from a solidly Biblical perspective. This has been a really fun and fascinating series so far...something that would be a great springboard into a larger study of history and culture. Each video episode is followed by live Q&A session with new articles, videos and/or updates posted to the site for subscribers each day. All of the content will be archived for subscribers, so if you're just signing up you can still go back and review what you've missed. Episode 2 is about to begin, so hurry on over and sign up!

As an added bonus, the Navigating History team has just announced a special offer! Here are the details-

The Navigating History Subscription Challenge

Get five of your friends to sign up for Navigating History: Egypt and receive a free subscription worth $49.99! If you already have a membership, you can choose instead to receive a $35 e-code coupon for the Western Conservatory online store. There is no ceiling to this offer--if 50 of your friends sign up, you receive $350 in store credit.

Enter this challenge with as little as three minutes of time invested. Here's how:

    1 - Spread the word about the Navigating History: Egypt Online Tour to your friends
    2 - Tell your friends to type your name in the "Referred by" section of the sign-up page when they subscribe--this is how we keep track of who has recommended whom. It's your job to make sure your friends understand this if you want a free subscription!
    3 - That's all!

Is there a faster, easier (and cheaper) way to secure a subscription to an online event that is unlike any other? If you find one, let us know. We look forward to navigating the history of Egypt with you!

Here are some creative ideas for spreading the word:

- Talk to your friends about it-- strike up conversation at church or at work about the Navigating History adventure

- Send the www.navigatinghistory.com link to your emailing list

- If you have blog, post about Navigating History and this promotional deal!

- Post on Twitter, Facebook and Google Buzz about the event, and link to videos and articles on the NH site, or the NH vimeo account.

- Invite your Facebook friends to join the Navigating History page and include a personal message asking them to list your name as the referrer.

Final Day To Save + Bonus!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Ah, the Life Recommends...

Think No Evil

Love, Paul tells us, thinks no evil. We on the other hand love evil, and so think it all too often. We think ourselves wise, that we can peer into the souls of our family, friends and neighbors. We discern evil motives, then pass judgment. And relationships are destroyed. In this conversation we are encouraged to practice a judgment of charity toward others, and a judgment of skepticism not only of our own motives, but of our ability to read the motives of others. In this conversation we get to the heart of what causes tongues to wag, and remember that we will be known as His disciples by our love for each other.

Visit BlueBehemoth.com and get your copy of "Think No Evil"

Free Message - Christian Response to TSA Outrage

Revelations of the TSA’s new invasive security procedures have shocked Americans as stories have circulated of the most demeaning violations of personal privacy. TSA agents are now requiring a growing percentage of air travelers to subject themselves to full-body scanners that render an essentially naked image of them for the TSA to see, or to opt-out and be touched in their private parts by a bureaucrat. Innocent men, women, and children are being groped, exposed, and humiliated by government agents. The TSA’s actions are simply outrageous.

But how should the Church respond? What steps should Christians take to protect their families from these egregious new policies?

In this timely message, Doug Phillips and Wesley Strackbein outline the theological, moral, and constitutional issues involved and give practical counsel on how Christians can navigate through the difficult questions of air travel in light of the intrusive TSA procedures.

Now through midnight tomorrow (CST), get a free copy of “TSA Outrage: How Should the Church Respond?” with a purchase of any amount from Vision Forum. Simply shop www.visionforum.com and the free CD will automatically be added to your cart.

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