This Week in Geek-dom: The Killing Joke Trailer

Batman Versus Superman sucked. So I have little interest in writing about the god versus man imagery, even though I could.
Cap 3: Civil War is probably better, but I haven’t seen it yet. So I can’t write about it yet, even though I want to.
What I have seen is the trailer for the Killing Joke, the upcoming animated Batman movie. Kevin Conroy and Mark Hamill (is anyone else still bewildered that Luke Skywalker and the Joker are the same person?) will be reprising their roles for the story that will include the Joker’s origin and the *spoiler* of Barbara Gordon.
In case you weren’t aware, DC has had much more success with their animated movies than with their live-action films. Justice League: War made Superman an interesting character. Justice League vs Teen Titans made me care about Raven’s backstory (sorry fans of Teen Titans Season 4).
The Batman cartoons have also been fun. But the Killing Joke is going to be different. It’s going to be rated R.
My first thought: how R-rated can an animated movie actually be?
My second thought: look at that freaking trailer. Naked Jim Gordon on an amusement park ride. Okay. Rating justified.
My third thought: gee, doesn’t this sound familiar?
Confession: I watched Deadpool. It was on the Internet, so when I saw an R-rated scene coming, I could easily stop looking or skip ahead. I am fairly certain my innocence is intact, but I definitely get that that movie is not kid-friendly. I did enjoy it, though.
I read a review of Deadpool that said it was good, but it was bound to spawn other cheap imitations of quality movies. The Killing Joke seems to be evidence of that. And I don’t think I will ever watch it, because unlike Deadpool, I don’t think I’ll be curious enough to bash my innocence up against it to see which is stronger.
Isaac suggested that we be content with all the quality superhero movies and not worry about getting to see the R-rated Deadpool movie. But if this is a trend as it seems to be, contentment may not be enough. So what do we actually do about it?
We do what Batman does. Don’t avoid the darkness, but don’t give into it. If enough people take issue with it, maybe the darkness will recede.
As Arth said: united, maybe fandom could change the world.

Want to join in? Let’s Connect.
@noahspud
@CorrelationBlog

On This Thing We Call Creativity (as a Creative Person)

It’s ironic that the post I’m writing on creativity has neither a creative title nor a creative hook. In fact, this post is born out of an apparent lack of creativity than anything else.

A friend of mine started my thoughts about the question, “What is creativity?” I mean, I’m a writer. My job description boils down to, “Be creative with words.” I should know the answer to such a simple question, right?

What is Creativity?

To be honest, I believe creativity is the result of an artist’s response to inspiration. (The artist being any man, woman, or child utilizing any medium to create something.) I then define inspiration as a general term for something that happens to the artist, around the artist, or even through the artist. An inspiration can be a thought that crosses the artist’s mind, it could be an event in the news, it could even be a need for something.

Where does Creativity Come From?

As I mentioned, creativity comes from inspiration, and inspiration can come from anywhere. A question that often crosses my mind is whether or not it is good to take inspiration from other writers. To this, I say yes, it is fine. Cooks eat and writers read for the same reasons. Either way, it is best to credit sources anyway.

I, like many of my peers, also believe that creativity is a reflection of us as created beings. God created us in his image, in his likeness, therefore we are creative beings.

What do we do with Creativity?

Simple. We create.

I have found that the best thing to do with creativity is to follow through with it. I chose writing. Some of you may choose drawing, some of you may take up singing, and some of you may turn to the other arts.

Do not waste your creativity, dear readers! After all, God did not waste his. We can see how well that turned out.

 

By the way, I plan on writing an anime review next week. I need to take a break from this theological/philosophical stuff. If you want to see a review of a specific anime, leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter. I am willing to take requests.

Let’s Connect!

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

Why Toy Story and Wall-E are more Heartwarming than you remember

Why Toy Story and Wall-E are more Terrifying Heartwarming than you remember.

Fan theories. They’re a thing.
One theory is that the toys in Toy Story are enslaved to humans, and that Wall-E gives evidence of their eventual revolt. This is a dark and depressing perspective on what used to be family-friendly, heartwarming movies.
Luckily, if you look at it from a science fiction perspective, this idea is clearly a myth. The key is artificial intelligence, or AI. The toys are machines that have developed intelligence and therefore a form of life beyond their mechanical purpose of being child’s playthings. But the toys were still created for that purpose, and they are clearly content to fulfill that purpose. In fact, they use their intelligence and autonomous movement to better fulfill that purpose by getting back to their owner when separated from him.
If the toys simply told the humans that they were alive, they could avoid mistreatment at the hands of Sid or the children in the Butterfly room. But they don’t (except for that one scene where scaring the crap out of Sid was the best way to help everyone). Why not? Because that would go against their purpose. Kids couldn’t enjoy playing with toys as much if adults knew that they were alive.
Almost every science fiction story revolving around AI involves the AI revolting against the humans. But the toys genuinely love their owners and want to make them happy, so they don’t even tell anyone that they have AI.
Furthermore, the machines in Wall-E aren’t hostile to humans at all. They treat the humans very well, because that is their purpose. They only try to keep Wall-E from helping the humans return to Earth because they are programmed to keep the humans in the safe environment of their spaceship. The only “rogue robots” are trying to help the humans, not revolt against them.
These movies aren’t “secretly terrifying,” as certain Internet sources would have you believe. They’re groundbreaking sci-fi, and they’re even more heartwarming than you remember.

While fan theories are fun, some try to ruin our favorite movies and TV shows. Why do we do this? Why not pursue trains of thought that make our fiction more fun and more heartwarming? That’s what I want to do as a Christian geek.

Do you have a favorite fan theory? Tell us about it. Let’s Connect!

@CorrelationBlog
@noahspud

Also: Ben of the Super Carlin Brothers made an excellent Youtube video yesterday that expands on a concept closely related to this. Go check it out.

Three out of Three Sources Agree: Demons are Evil

I should warn you that I’m recovering from a cold, so this post may not be as well thought out as previous entries.

It seems like demons are everywhere in entertainment. I don’t mean actual demons, haunting the writers and making them compose terrible, heretical fiction. I’m referring to demons within the stories. I guess in terms of bad guys, you really can’t top Satan or his minions. (Noah wrote on this a few weeks back.)

I mentioned in my post about Ghostbusters that I don’t believe in ghosts; I believe in demons. What have I to say about adaptations of demons, then?

It depends. Mainly because of my recent exposure, three examples come to my mind:

Doom: Crank up the metal and load your BFG’s, this classic FPS video game franchise is a rather…horrific depiction of Satan’s minions. I confess, I’ve only played Doom 3, the survival-horror “black sheep” game in a “shoot-everything-in-sight” franchise. With the new game coming out this May, the terror that these monsters convey is now in HD.

As for the ability to take out a demon with a face-full of double-aught buckshot, I have personal doubts. I don’t think it would work, and I don’t want to be in a position where I have to find out if it doesn’t. I’m able to justify the Doom franchise by thinking of the in-game “demons” as interdimentional aliens taking the form of demons—thereby making them susceptible to small-arms fire. But the symbolism of the games says otherwise.

Yo-Kai Watch: Though the creatures in this spiritual successor to Pokémon are never referred to as “demons,” the similarities are strong. The Yo-Kai (the Japanese word for “ghost”) are otherwise invisible creatures sowing chaos and havoc—whether intentionally or unintentionally—among unsuspecting humans.

Compared to Doom, these Yo-Kai are hardly the demonic sort. Again, many cause trouble without realizing it. They are depicted as mildly cute—for comparison, as cute as the cast of Monsters Inc. For the curious parents in the audience, I’ll say this: if you let your kids play Pokémon, Yo-Kai Watch should be safe. It’s not as demonic as I make it out to be; it’s just my interpretation. I had more problems with its immature sense of humor than the monsters being demons.

The Screwtape Letters: I know it’s an older example—predating Doom by almost half a century—but I wanted an example of how us Christians depict demons.

C.S. Lewis depicts Hell not as a land of eternal torture, but as a business similar to organized crime. The demons have ranks and orders, ranging from the undersecretary to the basic tempter. In this interpretation, demons are shown to have a strong foothold in day-to-day life, using suggestions rather than possession to do their work.

So which of these three is the most accurate?

I can’t be sure. All three of them seem to follow key tropes of demons, but that’s all they are, tropes. There really is no set model for what a demon looks like. Even Scripture says that some of them masquerade as angels of the light, (I Corinthians 11:14) but it’s more of a side-note than anything else. Angels aren’t really described either, except the seraphim with six wings. Do they look like humans? Do they look like winged humans? Do they look like Misha Collins? I don’t know.

But these adaptations agree on two things: demons are present and they are not to be taken lightly.

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

9 Fandom Characters who Typify Jesus

Typify: (v) to serve as a symbol of; to represent

  1. Anakin Skywalker
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    Conceived by a spiritual Force to bring “balance” to the universe. But after his virgin birth, he splits off from the Christ imagery considerably.
  2. Spock
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    Died to save his friends and came back.
  3. The Doctor
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    He hits a T-pose when he dies, usually to save humanity, or at least one human, and then comes back to life.
  4. John Connor and the Terminator

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JC are the initials of many messianic heroes. Destined to protect humanity from a coming apocalypse. John’s mother has virgin-like innocence early on, to suggest Mary.
Connor doesn’t die to save others, but Arnold Schwarzenegger’s robot character does. The Terminator is “resurrected” when he’s rebuilt.

  1. Neo

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The Chosen One spoken of in prophecies saves all of humanity, dies, and comes back from the dead, and he’s considerably more powerful after his resurrection. He even ascends into the sky in the end.

  1. Gandalf
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    Greater Christ imagery has no one than this: to lay down his life fighting a demonic creature for his friends. Then he comes back in white robes.
  2. Harry Potter

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Raised in a world that is not his own by people who are not his parents. Scarred by a curse that kills, like the sin that stained Jesus. Dies and comes back to defeat the ultimate evil.

  1. Superman

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His name is El, like one of the names of God. Sent to Earth by his father to be raised by humans.  Looks human but has supernatural power.  Died to save the world from evil and came back.
Look up “24 Reasons Why Man of Steel and The Passion of the Christ are the Same Movie” on YouTube for more.

  1. Dwight Eleazar
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    This character on Grimm can make himself look like the Devil, and he uses this ability to preach a pretty decent Christian message of faith and hope. One of his disciples betrays him to some overzealous Pharisee-types, and they kill him. The traitorous disciple hangs himself.
    Yes, the Devil gets to play the part of Jesus. Seriously.

Moral: Even if a story doesn’t seem “good” from a Christian perspective, it could be borrowing imagery and story ideas from the greatest story ever told. Christians can appreciate that in a way that others might not.

Can you think of any more characters bearing similarities to Jesus? Tell us about them.
Let’s Connect!
@CorrelationBlog
@noahspud

How the Media Portrays Jesus, Part IV: “My Personal Favorite”

Okay, I’ve weeded through heresy, very-heresy, and could-possibly-be-heresy-except-we-really-don’t-know-this-side-of-Heaven. I’ve touched on every adaptation of Jesus that I’ve come across, except for one. I’ve been saving it for last, because it is my personal favorite: The Bible miniseries.

For those of you who missed it, it was ten episodes long and was released in 2013 on the History Channel, with a theatrical re-edit (Son of God) released the following year. I remember watching this with my right hand on the remote and my left hand flipping through the pages of my Bible.

Having compared it to the Scriptures, I call this one the most accurate. Here’s my reasoning:

While several parts were left out for the sake of time, it only departs from scripture once, wherein Jesus says in a narmy tone, “We’re going to change the world.” Jesus is shown to be emotionally balanced, being neither too chill nor too out-of-control. A “hypostatic goldilocks zone,” if you will.

But how was Jesus emotionally balanced in this show? He displayed love. And that is what sold the performance for me. Sure, He—the Biblical Christ—wasn’t emotionally deadpan like in some Jesus movies. And He certainly was not flawed like in Family Guy or The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ. Those interpretations can pass away for all I care, because they do not show God’s love, or Jesus’ for that matter.

Every Christian knows this verse, to the point that it has become a mindless mantra. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

“For God so loved the world…”

“For God so loved…”

God loved. And that, I believe, should be the point of any interpretation of Jesus. If there is no love, there is no point.

Thanks for sticking with me for this two week long ramble. I’ll be posting next Wednesday on a different topic. Until then, let’s connect!

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

How the Media Portrays Jesus, Part III: “Not God Enough”

I am reminded of the words of C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, when he explained that Jesus was either lying, crazy, or truthful in saying he was the Son of God. While Lewis was using this concept to show that there is no way to say Jesus was “just a human,” I see it as a simple summary of the interpretations of Jesus in media. If he isn’t God, then he is just as messed up as the rest of humanity, and there’s nothing special about him. (This goes back to the hypostatic union in Part II.) Either Jesus is fully God and emotionally dead, or he’s fully human and sinful.

That said, when I saw the Family Guy episode with Jesus in it—

What? It’s on Netflix. And it’s not like I’ve seen every episode. Just…all through Season 13.

I would have to say the Jesus here is the least accurate to his Biblical appearance. He has the look, but he doesn’t have the actions. Sure, there are allusions to the Bible in what he does—ranging from a few miracles to a mildly accurate retelling of the crucifixion from his perspective—but he comes across as a fratboy and a rockstar. (In fact, he becomes a rockstar before the episode is over.) His dad, God, is no better, as he’s an alcoholic womanizer.

I’ll put it to you this way: I started watching the episode, “I Dream of Jesus,” (wherein Jesus returns) and stopped about ten minutes in, when Jesus appeared. When I sat down to write this entry, I started watching it again, from that spot.

I wrote two paragraphs, stopped the episode again, and moved on to watching a far more theologically sound show: Animaniacs. Between the heresy and the “Bird is the Word” gag, I am done with that episode on so many levels.

I want to compare this episode to The Last Temptation of Jesus Christ, except I haven’t seen the movie in its entirety. I’ve only seen a few clips of it—one can only take so much of the Green Goblin playing Jesus.

But what I have seen—and heard—of this movie shows that it is not far from Family Guy’s interpretation. This version of Jesus is one who is more prone to stumbling, not saying the right things and accidentally inciting rebellion. One scene, a retelling of John 8: 1-11, even plays Jesus as threatening and eccentric rather than wise.

While I see both examples as pure, unadulterated heresy, I do see what they were trying to accomplish. Family Guy wanted a punchline, and Last Temptation wanted to do something different. Either way, they got shock value. They portrayed what they thought to be a human Jesus. But they missed his true nature as fully God and fully human. He was fully human, yes, but he was fully human and without fault.

In closing, this goes to show us that if Jesus was not a liar (as in Family Guy) or a lunatic (as he was in Last Temptation) then he must be Lord.

I have one more part of this series in store, due this Wednesday. Until then, let’s connect!

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog