How the Objectification Double-Standard Hurts Guys Too

Well, I try to write relevant things for this blog. I keep as up-to-date as I can with geek culture. But since Batman Vs. Superman is out and nothing else should be coming out until next week, I have no other choice.

I’m opening this proverbial can of worms and giving my own thoughts on objectification.

Objectification, by my definition, is the demotion of someone or something into a mere object, typically one intended for sex. While many blame the writers and directors of a movie/TV series/video game/anime for objectifying women, I see the act of objectification as something done by the audience. Not that the writers and directors are beyond making it easier for us.

Objectification, likewise, is a major criticism against media, made by Christians and non-Christians alike. Aside from it’s clashing with the ever-present nostalgia filter, Transformers and TMNT were panned by the audience and critics because they objectified actress Megan Fox. In Star Wars, the two movies that are appreciated the least out of each of their respective trilogies are the ones that coincidentally had the lead actress in some kind of revealing garb.

Some of you may be saying, “Yes, I get it. Objectification is bad. Let our women be people.”

I agree with you, but what about our men? Our actors are objectified as much as our actresses. Maybe not in the same way, but again I see objectification as an act done by the audience. This is the “Objectification Double-Standard”: a man can walk past the camera shirtless and everyone’s fine with it, but heaven forbid if that lady shows another inch of skin…you get the idea.

One problem that critics and audience members have with objectification is that it shows the director’s views on women. But, with the double-standard in mind, I think it shows our views on everyone. TV, film, etc. paints a world where all the women are supermodels and all the men are muscular warriors. This poses a problem for both guys and girls, because we are being shown how we need to look to be universally accepted as a man or a woman.

The fact that objectification is an issue shows that our views on what it means to be a man or a woman need correcting.

But, that’s just my thoughts on the subject.


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How to Be a Christian Vigilante

On Friday, March 18th, 2016, Netflix blessed its users with a second season of their popular show Daredevil. Were I actually caught up on the show, I would rejoice with the fans. However, I’ve been focusing my attention on Gotham, so I can’t say anything. And I put aside Arrow to watch it. Also, Batman Vs Superman comes out soon. I thought it would come out in May, alongside Civil War.

It’s worth mentioning the obvious: Superhero movies are everywhere these days. The heroes who once lived in obscurity are now household names. Because they’ve been going strong since the 60’s, they’ve been setting the trend for what it means to be a hero.

Of course, no self-respecting screenwriter would use the word “superhero” in casual dialogue. Instead, the word that is tossed around is “vigilante.” I believe it is a much better word. “Vigilante,” by definition, is someone who takes the law into his or her own hands. This is all good and fun, until that person starts using a corrupted form of justice. In fact, it’s because of this that a lot of comic book adaptations either have the hero being a target of the police or correlating with them.

So, with all this talk of superheroes and vigilantes, I’ve been asking myself, “What does it mean to be a Christian vigilante?”

I did my usual digging through the Bible to find verses and passages about being in relation to the law. I found quite a bit in the book of Romans, no surprise. While my concordance lit up Chapter 7, I was drawn to Chapter 13. It opens with Paul saying, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.”

Well, that answers our question. Work in line with the authorities, and you too can be a Christian vigilante.

But that’s not the end of it. In writing that last sentence, I thought of the book of Judges. It’s basically a hundred years of average people going in and overthrowing the authorities, often by killing them. But what did those authorities have in common? Well, it was time for them to go. And they were not under God.

I guess, in the end, being a Christian vigilante boils down to Micah 6:8. “Seek justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.”

That said, I’d like to see who you think best exemplifies the traits of a Christian vigilante (or superhero) in the comments or on Twitter (@Isaac_Trenti). Let’s connect!

Kara Zor-El, Defender of Feminism

Arth seems to have retired from the Correlation. She will be missed.
But without our one female writer, if we want to talk about feminism, a guy is going to have to write it. Keep that in mind, I guess. Now let’s talk about Supergirl. (Little to no spoilers.)
I’m a huge fan of this new Supergirl show, for many reasons. The inclusion of Hank Henshaw and his secrets is just fantastic from a geek standpoint. There’s also the inclusion of red kryptonite and a solar flare and Black Mercy. All of it is even better because it’s Supergirl, not Superman.
When Superman was created he was the ideal for humans to strive for. Comic book readers and movie watchers of that time didn’t mind that he wasn’t relatable. Modern viewers do mind, though. He’s just too powerful; it’s hard for us to care about him as a character. Supergirl, on the other hand, we’re more likely to care about, for three reasons.
1) Her story is better. She remembers her planet and her people because she wasn’t a baby when she left Krypton. But when she gets the chance to join her people, she still chooses Earth and humanity.
2) Her motivations are more meaningful. She had a purpose: help Kal-El. But because of technical difficulties, Ka-El is already grown up. She’s left on a new planet, knowing her people are dead, with no purpose. A few years later, she chooses to be a super heroine on her own.
3) She’s a girl. In the cape, she is trying to protect a planet that tends to distrust aliens. But in the glasses, she is a woman trying to make her way in a man’s world. This makes her relatable.
I’m not a super feminist, but I do appreciate non-anti-feminism when I see it. The female characters are strong and independent and no one makes a fuss about it, so we can actually appreciate their strength and independence.
God created men and women equal. Deborah and Samson were both judges, and one of them is famous for screwing up. It’s the dude. The dude is the one who screwed up.
But no prophet ever said “Behold, women can be strong and independent.” Our fiction does not need to declare it, either. We’re supposed to recognize that on our own.

Subbed vs. Dubbed and the Debate of Translation

In my review of The Seven Deadly Sins, I brought up the Three Rules of Anime. Rule #2 is, “Subbed is better than dubbed.”

But why is that?

I could give a plethora of reasons, ranging from voice actors to minor dialogue changes. But my main reason is that subbed retains the story the best.

How do I figure? I blame 4Kids for changing a lot in their dubs. I do admit, there are some groups like Funimation and Studio Ghibli that are responsible about their translations, but I still trust the original Japanese because it is what the original writers intended.

But why is this important to me? Because I believe that the best translation is the most accurate one. Usually when translation comes up in conversation, two things come to mind: anime and the Bible.

My preferred translation is the NIV, mainly because it is the one with which I am the most familiar. However, as I’ve visited various churches, I’ve noticed that role of universal standard has shifted to the ESV. So, what is the difference between the two?

ESV, from my understanding, is a word-for-word translation. Every word in Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek is translated directly to English. NIV, on the other hand, is a blend of word-for-word and thought-for-thought. If a Scriptural translation is completely thought-for-thought, it ceases to be a translation and becomes a paraphrase, like the Message.

That said, how does this correlate to anime and the argument of “dubbed vs. subbed?” Well, the ESV is like a subbed anime. The quality of the translation is better because space is not an issue. If someone speaks the original language as well as the translated language, then inconsistencies in the translation become glaring. The Message (and other thought-for-thought) is more like a dubbed anime. Anything that an American audience won’t understand can and will be changed.

That said, ESV is more trustworthy. Yet I still use the NIV. It still maintains its credibility as a translation, but it also acquiesces to my intellect as a 21st Century American, and not a 1st Century Israelite. The NIV, were it an anime, would be a very well-done dub.

I will close with a “joke” about Bible translation: “If the Word of the Lord is the Sword of the Spirit, then the KJV is a broadsword, the NIV is a chainsaw, the ESV is a katana, and the Message is a stick.”


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Sherlock, the A-Team, Fight Club, and Adam and Eve

I have Asperger’s syndrome, and as one of the effects of that, my brain is constantly working at high speeds. When I’m bored, I tend to talk to myself because my brain needs to be doing something. When I write those things down, I get blog posts like this.
Sherlock Holmes also has Asperger’s Syndrome, especially Steven Moffat’s version. His brain is constantly working, and he puts it to good use. But when he’s not putting it to good use and he gets bored, that can be a little dangerous (shooting the wall, shooting up, and so on).
The A-Team helps people at great personal risk so they can feel something called the jazz. A more technical term for the jazz is the call of the void. This is why people invented thrill-seeking activities like bungee jumping and roller coasters. It’s also a version of this urge to do things.
Fight Club is about this same call of the void. People work off their stress by punching each other. They feel this urge to do something and want instant gratification.
The point of all this is that humans have an urge to do something. This goes all the way back to the beginning. God spoke into the nothing to create and do. He made people in his image and that means we also have that urge to do.
The musical Children of Eden has an interesting version of Eve eating the forbidden fruit. Eve calls that urge to do something the “spark of creation” and uses it as her reasoning for eating the fruit. She wants to reach out beyond her boundaries and do something.
Herein lies the issue that inspired this whole blog. Our creative nature is a very good thing, and allows us to enjoy fandoms like Sherlock and the A-Team and Fight Club. It also contributed to the original sin. But that doesn’t mean all creative endeavors are bad. In fact, we’re capable of truly appreciating the good ideas because we’re capable of having bad ones.
When done right, I believe fandoms are one of the best uses of our God-given creative nature.

“Who You Gonna Call?”

You know that feeling you get when you walk into a room, see an elephant standing there, and don’t feel obligated to talk about it?

For some reason, that’s how I feel about the upcoming Ghostbusters movie. For those of you who haven’t seen the new trailer, this movie puts two scientists, a nerdy spiritualist, and their street-wise friend into a car loaded with unlicensed proton packs and awkwardly-placed slime jokes…again. The difference is that it’s now four women.

In case you’re wondering, that’s the aforementioned elephant.

I have nothing against girl-power movies. I like a well-written and strong female character as much as the next guy. This isn’t against the new movie, though that is what inspired this. This is about the franchise as a whole.

As I feel my generation did, I watched Ghostbusters for the purpose of getting in on the jokes and references. Unlike my peers, I had difficulty actually laughing at it, maybe because I took it too seriously.

You see, I have a different stance on ghosts than some. I do not believe in ghosts. I believe that when we die, we go to heaven, or we go to hell. No purgatory. No limbo. And no haunting anywhere in this world.

“But Isaac,” I hear you say, “how do you explain all the ghost sightings?”

I’ll put it this way: I don’t believe in ghosts. I do believe in demons.

As such, the film poses some interesting philosophical concepts, namely the use of technology to combat supernatural powers. The Bible gives us a different set of rules. In Luke 9:1, Jesus gives the Twelve “power and authority to drive out all demons,” and Paul points out in Ephesians 6:12, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against…the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

However, even though we do have strength over demons, I do not believe we should seek them out and stop them. Remember that Peter refers to Satan as “like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (I Peter 5:8) Should demons come, we should be ready, but we are not to go looking for a fight. There’s a reason Peter opens the above verse with “Be alert and of sober mind,” and not “Let the hunt begin, my brothers!”

Chalk it up to my inability to suspend disbelief for two hours; these are just my opinions on Ghostbusters.

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Geeky Yet Christian-Compatible Award 2016

There were six movies in the running for the Oscars this year that are of interest to me as a geek: The Martian, about life on another planet; Mad Max: Fury Road, about dystopias; Steve Jobs, about one of the greatest geeks ever; Spectre, about secret agents; Ex Machina, about artificial intelligence; and Star Wars Episode VII, for obvious reasons.
Getting an Oscar is a well-recognized sign of your movie’s popularity, which is a well-recognized sign of your movie’s quality. We at the Correlation may have different definitions of quality than the judges of the Oscars.
Mad Max: Fury Road is rated R for intense violence and disturbing images. As Christians we take issue with those things. “I shall set no vile thing before my eyes” – Psalm 101:3. But as geeks, we are predisposed to love this movie for the exact same reasons: awesome action scenes, breathtaking visuals, and a fun dystopian story. Tis a frustrating paradox.
Ex Machina is rated R for nudity, language, sexual references, and the most understated and adorable violence I have ever seen. Nudity and sex are understandable in the story; it’s about a couple of sexually deprived nerds creating life, Adam and Eve style. The story is fun for geeks, and the Genesis parallels could be enticing to Christians. But this movie actually makes a mockery of God.
I would say Star Wars Episode VII is the best movie on this list, for both geeks and Christians. It is an expansion of one of the greatest narrative mythologies in history, and it is really, really good. It also involves faith in a higher power, good defeating evil, a weapon more powerful than a double-edged sword, and a cross.
And so the Correlation Award for Best Geeky Yet Christian-Compatible Movie goes to… Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens.
If this blog is still around next year, maybe we’ll do this again. (Hint: that’s your cue to spread the word so we have motivation to keep going until next year.)

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