“The Ancient One is a white woman? Oh no!”

A few weeks ago, movie trailers came out for Ghost in the Shell, a live action adaptation of an anime, and Doctor Strange, Benedict Cumberbatch’s latest excuse for not doing another season of Sherlock. In Ghost in the Shell, Scarlett Johansson will play a cyborg policewoman who is “supposed” to be Japanese. In Doctor Strange, Tilda Swinton (the White Witch from the Chronicles of Narnia movies) will play an ancient monk who is “supposed” to be Tibetan. And a dude.
People on the Internet weren’t happy that white actresses were playing Asian roles. Critics call this phenomenon “whitewashing.”
“Other ethnic groups are already underrepresented in American movies,” they cry. “Now they’re replacing ethnic characters with white people!”
I don’t want to comment on the anime. That’s Isaac’s territory. When I asked him if he wanted to write about this, he made this face. Without the words, of course, and less adorable.
serveimage
I feel like I can comment on Doctor Strange because recently screenwriter C. Robert Cargill defended the casting decision. Basically, it was a business decision. If they cast a Tibetan actor or actress, China won’t buy their movie for political reasons. For the same reasons, they can’t cast any Chinese actors or actresses. Marvel admits that this is a “no-win scenario,” but they believe they went with the best possible option.

The Bible tells us that God shows no partiality (Romans 2:11) and in Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 3:28). We know that prejudice and discrimination are un-Christian. But how do we apply this to our fiction?
The critics are saying these fictional characters need to be portrayed by Asian people. Is that discriminating against everyone else?
Sure, there’s the issue of being consistent with previous versions of the story. But what if those versions were racial (not even necessarily racist) stereotypes? Should we really use them as the authority?
Marvel is deciding that their ancient master of mystical arts is a woman in the cinematic universe. Why can’t they also decide that she’s not Asian? This is not an issue at all for me, personally.
Whenever someone sees racism or prejudice, I think Christians ought to consider whether it’s intentionally negative before smiting with righteous judgement. In the case of portrayals of fictional characters, critics can aim elsewhere.

Did I just step on a landmine? Any opinions on this issue? Let’s Connect!
@CorrelationBlog
@noahspud

Five Nights at STOP

I was going to write a post on Rick & Morty, but things went sideways on Saturday, May 21, 2016, at roughly 2:00 in the afternoon. I don’t exactly remember the events that transpired, but this was whatever I did either culminated to or started with the following:

The Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise needs to stop.

I’m fighting back every urge to fill this entry with hatred and spite towards the series. If one said that I’m saying these things because I don’t like the games, well…they would only be half-wrong.

I used to be a part of the FNAF fanbase. I watched Markiplier and Jacksepticeye play through the games. I indulged myself in hours of fan theories. The lore and story fascinated me.

Then Five Nights 4 came out. I think it had something to do with the series no longer being a trilogy, but a franchise. Or that it came back in force after 2 and 3. Or  that I met…how should I say this…obsessed members of the fanbase.

I was walking through the aisles of my local department store, and there was a display of FNAF plushies in the toy aisle.

Then it hit me. This game is a video game that I would peg as M-rated (it currently has no rating)…marketed to children. I would be fine with either of those traits were they separate. (M-rated or marketed to kids, not both.)

There may be no such thing as bad publicity, but I don’t care. I know my words may mean nothing, but some things need to be said.

Dear Scott Cawthon,

I am impressed with the work that you have done with the Five Nights at Freddy’s franchise. You defied the tropes and cliches of the horror genre to bring a unique, scary, and quote-unquote “clean” experience.

But you’re a Christian.

And I’m certain that you realize your audience is mostly children.

So, I ask you this: What. Kind. Of. Christian. Intentionally. Scares. Children? When I found out that I was “scary,” I didn’t go around actively trying to scare people. And I still live in fear that I’ll give somebody nightmares. I never thought I’d hear myself say this, but at least Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Dead Space have (or had) the decency to say that their games aren’t kid-friendly.

I understand that there is a difference between a Christian artist and an artist who happens to be a Christian. And your faith does show through your work. Nevertheless, I cannot help but be skeptical when the primary target audience for anything “scary” becomes children.

God bless.

Isaac Trenti

Twitter: @Isaac_Trenti

P.S.: Sister Location? Seriously?

The Doctor Threw the Devil into a Black Hole

Isaac and I have written a few posts about how God, Jesus, angels, and demons are portrayed in geeky fandoms. I’ve left out one fandom in particular because I wanted to save it for its own post. Let’s talk about Doctor Who. (I always want to talk about Doctor Who.)
The most obvious one: the Satan Pit. The Doctor meets a creature known as the Beast and calls it “the truth behind the myth” of the devil. And then he throws the devil into a black hole. And Rose helps, because she’s just so gosh-darn awesome (that was my sarcastic voice).
Then there are the angels. If you see an angel statue in the Doctor Who universe, keep looking at it. Don’t even blink. Because if you do, it might come to life and move faster than you can believe. If you’re lucky, you’ll be sent back in time and forced to die of old age, possibly before anyone you know was even born. If you’re not lucky, they’ll snap your neck, tear out your vocal cords, and use them to scare your friends with your voice.
If the angel you see is a robot, you might be okay. All they do is follow orders and give people information. If their orders are to eliminate all witnesses so their cyborg master can crash the Titanic into the Earth from space…well, then you’re in trouble.
And then there’s Bad Wolf, the goddess of time. To be fair, she never calls herself a goddess or expects anyone to worship her. But she can manipulate time and space and give life to the dead. Not even the Doctor, with all his Christ imagery, can do that. (Except for when he can.)
The devil of Doctor Who is not a fun and likable character like John Pellegrino. But the show still turns angels into villains, like Supernatural and Lucifer. Difference is, this show also makes it clear that it subscribes to the big bang theory and evolution, not intelligent design. That universe is not our universe. And as it happens, Doctor Who is a ripe picking ground for Christian parallels. See these two blogs for examples: Blue Box Parables and Bigger on the Inside.

Fin.

What, you want a deeper point? I just wanted to talk about Doctor Who.

Let’s Connect!
@noahspud
@CorrelationBlog

Star Wars and Scripture: the Debate on the Canon

I’m sure many Star Wars fans were devastated when Disney bought the rights to Star Wars and declared everything except the six movies (now seven), Clone Wars (the animated show, not the anime-esque miniseries), and Rebels to be “non-canon.” Many wept for the loss of the Thrawn trilogy, the Yuuzhan Vong War, and the Jedi Knight video games, especially since they were discarded in favor of Jar Jar Binks, the Cartoon Network show, and four words that send many into a blinding rage: I don’t like sand.

Personally, I was a bit ticked with the discrediting of Republic Commando (one of their video games) and all the time that was poured into these stories and these characters—from which Lucasfilm made a fair sum of money, mind you. But, with the new movie out and the references to my favorite “Legends” media popping up in “canon” media showing up, I have less and less against the “locking of the canon.”

Much like translation and anime, the canon of Star Wars correlates with a far more important canon: the canon of Scripture. We can learn from both canons that, without a locked canon, anything could be accepted as a part of the story. It’s better for preserving that which is sacred.

The reason that the Bible’s canon was locked fairly early during an event called the Council of Hippo in 393 A.D., though it was finished nearly three-hundred years earlier, and most if not all of the Old Testament was tied down before that. From that Council, I can only imagine, came a completed copy of the Biblical canon (plus Apocrypha) and a wastebasket or two of heretical texts, thereby cementing what is true and what is false.

Lucasfilm did something similar to pave the way for The Force Awakens. They took stock of what they had for story and looked at what they needed and what they didn’t need. They were left with six films and two TV shows. However, theirs was a more pragmatic approach. Star Wars was a movie-based franchise before it was book- or video game-based. In the establishment of the canon, then, the movies and TV shows would have higher priority.

A lot of fandoms have locked canons. Lord of the Rings has its own canon. The Marvel Cinematic Universe is its own locked canon, separate from the comic books. DC creates new ones on a shockingly regular basis. I think that by 2012, Star Wars even had a few stray canons of its own. And I like to think that arguments can be made for some of the “Legends” sources. Nevertheless, it’s for the best that Star Wars locked it’s canon.

 

Let’s Connect:

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

Has Supernatural Gone Too Far? (A Brief Summary of the Show’s Mythos)

Supernatural is a very long series of 45-minute horror movies. I’ve pieced together a rundown of the Mythos that Supernatural is working with. They add to it each season; this season they showed us their version of God, and revealed that he has a sister.

According to Chuck (the human who speaks for God), his sister, a.k.a. the Darkness, would destroy things as quickly as he could create them before the big Beginning. God locked the Darkness away so he could create the world as we know it.

The seal to the lock was a tattoo. God put the tattoo on his most trusted lieutenant, Lucifer. According to Death (the horseman of the apocalypse), it was exposure to the Darkness that corrupted Lucifer. He passed the tattoo on to a human named Cain, who became the first murderer.

Lucifer made an army of demons and waged war on heaven. The Archangel Michael put Lucifer in a cage. The demons started trying to bust him out, which brings us to the beginning of the show. We’ve come a long way in 11 seasons. The heroes are in a lot of trouble right now. But God came back in a recent episode.

No show – NO show – that plays with Popular Judeo-Christian Mythology (that I know of) has ever dared portray the Big Guy Upstairs himself. But Supernatural did it. And that’s when I figured they may have jumped the Popular Judeo-Christian Mythology shark. I mean, how can they possibly portray God in a way a real Christian will approve of?

Well…they didn’t do too terribly. In a version of reality where God has an evil opposite, the version of God we got kind of makes sense. And he’s a lot of fun to watch. So I’m going to keep watching and enjoy it until they put God in a cupboard again. Then they’ll be able to use God himself as a recurring guest star. Because that’s what Supernatural has become.

We’ve talked quite a bit about portrayals of Popular Judeo-Christian Mythology on this blog. I am of the opinion that even the stuff that seems sacrilegious is acceptable as long as you remember that that world isn’t real. In fact, if you can move past the “bad parts,” there are some fun truths to be found for Christian geeks.

Let’s Connect!
@noahspud
@CorrelationBlog

On Which Side are You in the Civil War? [SPOILER FREE]

How I’m Doing This: I’ll be placing a “sticker” over anything that I think bears plot significance or take away from the viewing of the movie for the first time. (e.g.: Darth Vader said, “No, [SPOILER]”) Things revealed in clips and trailers will be left untouched, though, so fair warning.

So, I got around to watching Captain America: Civil War last Monday. Much like Noah, I went in Team Cap. Unlike Noah, I left Team Cap.

Look, I’m gonna be honest with you, I usually side with the guy who wants to fight for what’s right, while also factoring in this person’s character. I wouldn’t side with a well-intentioned jerk, even if the other side is a neutral party.

And just so we’re clear, no there will not be a “Correlation: Civil War.” The differing opinions between me and my co-writer are the closest we’ll get.

As for my takeaway from the film, I thought it had a lot of interesting themes. I liked how it wasn’t the Avengers fighting a Norse god or the dark side of the internet, but rather it was [SPOILER] each other.

The part that stood out to me was the scene right before Team Cap and Team Iron Man went to battle in the long-expected clash.

It was in this moment that I realized exactly why I chose Team Cap. Steve knows fully well that there is a greater good for which he needs to fight: [SPOILER]

I guess it’s those things that make it easier for me to choose a side. I don’t stand with the jerks, I stand with the friends. After all, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NIV)

Other things I liked: [SPOILER], Spider-Man, [SPOILER], Tony’s “Iron Glove,” [SPOILER], Wanda’s “you’re-gonna-have-terrible-dreams-tonight” face when Scott calls her “great” and forgets her name, Black Panther [SPOILER], the soundtrack/score,and [SPOILER].

Things I didn’t like: call it a knee-jerk reaction, but [SPOILER].

 

Man, this is a lot shorter without the spoilers. Here’s the “Spoiled Version” for comparison.

Let’s Connect!

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog

On Which Side Are You in the Civil War? [SPOILERS]

So, I got around to watching Captain America: Civil War last Monday. Much like Noah, I went in Team Cap. Unlike Noah, I left Team Cap.

Look, I’m gonna be honest with you, I usually side with the guy who wants to fight for what’s right, while also factoring in this person’s character. I wouldn’t side with a well-intentioned jerk, even if the other side is a neutral party.

And just so we’re clear, no there will not be a “Correlation: Civil War.” The differing opinions between me and my co-writer are the closest we’ll get.

Also, spoilers, spoilers, SPOILERS. Lots of spoilers ahead. I’ll be posting a spoiler-free version for those wanting to go into the movie clean. Here’s a link.

As for my takeaway from the film, I thought it had a lot of interesting themes. I liked how it wasn’t the Avengers fighting a Norse god or the dark side of the internet, but rather it was just a random dude with a chip on his shoulder, pulling strings and turning the Avengers on themselves, getting them to fight each other.

The part that stood out to me was the scene right before Team Cap and Team Iron Man went to battle in the long-expected clash.

It was in this moment that I realized exactly why I chose Team Cap. Steve knows fully well that there is a greater good for which he needs to fight: not just the defense of his friend, but also the threat of a dangerous weapon getting into the wrong hands.

I guess it’s those things that make it easier for me to choose a side. I don’t stand with the jerks, I stand with the friends. After all, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13, NIV)

Other things I liked: Scarlet Witch containing Crossbones’ explosion, Spider-Man, Bucky and Cap clearing the stairwell, Gi-Ant-Man, Tony’s “Iron Glove,” Wanda dropping Vision through the outer crust of the planet, Hawkeye’s dialogue, Wanda’s “you’re-gonna-have-terrible-dreams-tonight” face when Scott calls her “great” and forgets her name, Black Panther (especially with his father), the soundtrack/score, and Tony’s brief alliance with Cap.

Things I didn’t like: call it a knee-jerk reaction, but the spider-signal in the second post-credits scene. Stupid idea, stupid concept, doesn’t fit with Spider-man’s character. No. Just no. Stop. Marvel. Stop. Don’t ruin Spider-Man: Homecoming like this.

Let’s Connect!

@Isaac_Trenti

@CorrelationBlog