Tag Archives: cars

Shame Day: Sequels For Sequels’ Sake

It should be no mystery to us that a lot of movies aren’t made to be good. As a broad generalization, many of the films put out are intended to simply make money. To really hammer this point home I like to point towards Cars 2.

Cars 2 was a Pixar milestone, and the first of their films to beat its predecessor, Cars, in a particular category. It was the movie that garnered a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes, an abysmal score significantly lower than the first movie’s 74%.

As someone who’s seen every film the studio has ever done, I was disgusted by the fact that they would create a sequel to what was ultimately my least favourite of the bunch, but then I understood-

This really says it all. I’m not really going to explain this any further.

Money money money. $10 billion dollars of Cars toys, bed sheets, clothing, toothbrushes, the list goes on. So clearly sometimes ratings can be down, if profits are up. But what about when this isn’t the case? Continue reading

Old James Bond Vs New James Bond

I have not seen Skyfall– I’m gonna kick things off by stating that right here and now. Nevertheless, I have been following the movie’s development for a while, and the apparent consensus from both the critics and the fans is that “at long last” Daniel Craig’s Bond actually gets back to the spirit of the rest of the series.

Let me break that down a bit.

See, the issue voiced by many Bond fans regarding Craig’s version is that the gritty realism often feels too much like something from the Jason Bourne universe. Many argue that Craig’s Bond lacks the feeling of the older movies, which were (comparatively) more lighthearted and glamorous than the darker and harsher installments we’ve seen over the past few years. This complaint, I’ve noticed, seems to come a lot more from older generations, usually from the 80s backwards, while my own generation seems much more comfortable with Craig’s version. It’s not that it’s about familiarity- after all, there were Bond films while we were growing up, however, I think the whole “New JB VS Old JB” contention really comes down to a shift in values.

I mean, let’s take a look at some of the old James Bonds.

They were off sipping Martinis, flirting with enemy spies, and driving classic cars that turned into planes or submarines or shot lasers and rockets. And all of that was a reflection of the time. The Space Age, where new and innovative technology was bringing us ever closer to a Jetson family standard of living. Those Bond movies were simply a reflection of that era. The same goes for the hedonistic Brosnan Bond of the 90s. The crazy (nearly to the level of cartoonish) villains and schemes, the deus-ex-machina technology (I’m looking at you remote-controlled muscle car) all reflected the materialistic culture that dominated the time.

In the same way, the new James Bond films are a reflection of our own age. The glamorization that marked earlier films would, if applied now, just look condescending. As the economic crisis drags on and as we become more and more acclimated to the issues of unemployment, poverty, and constant warfare, sympathizing with slick government agents in tuxedos driving luxury cars and infiltrating Mediterranean cruises gets pretty dang tough. The bloodied and battered, and ultimately more realistic, Bond that Craig gives us simply appeals more to us. He’s not so much a tour guide for us into the wild and fascinating world of espionage as he a full, tragic character struggling in a lousy situation. The whole divide is demonstrated beautiful in this clip from Casino Royale.

Even the Bond villains are demonstrative in a shift in values. Back in the 70s and 80s, the audience lived with the idea that all life on earth could be ended by a nuclear war. Madmen with doomsday devices simply made sense as the natural Bond enemy. Despite the hype over Iran and, a while back, North Korea, today the idea of a nuclear holocaust is relegated more to survivalist compounds. What are we worried about today? Shadowy cabals of wealthy warmongers manipulating our lives from inside our own governments. Even though Quantum of Solace was less popular as a Bond movie, it’s a perfect example of this similar shift in worldview. What were they bad guys after? A military coup in Bolivia in order to secure the rights to 90% of the country’s water. Even if it’s not too exciting, it’s still believable.

Now none of this is to knock any of the movies (barring A View to Kill, which was freaking awful), it’s simply to explain why there’s been a bit of contention over Craig’s incarnation. The simple fact of the matter is, Bond is going to evolve with time. Surely that’s something to be admired, not complained about…

Christians, Sex, and Marriage, part 2(ish)

A while ago Evan wrote “Christians, Sex and Marriage”, in which he discussed the culture of sex among Christian young adults. Most of them, it was assumed, would be “saving themselves” for marriage, which is (on the surface) a fairly safe assumption, and applicable to a fair amount of Christian students. The culture of silence about sex, however, and the nervous giggles that attend any discussion of it, and the lack of admission that respected, smiling young Christian couples could possibly be doing anything but kissing chastely behind the dormitories makes me want to shout from the rooftops:

Lots of Christian students are having sex. What’s more worrisome is that lots of Christian students are professionals at alternately justifying and denying it.

Even more students are doing everything they possibly can with each other as often as possible without having the kind of sex that potentially impregnates women—and yeah, I think that the long list of not-actually-that-kind-of-sex possibilities is significantly different from the real deal. I also think that it’s sex. I’m pretty sure it would be as defined by our commandment-following-12-year-old selves, at least.

The problem with sex (for nervous promise-ringed young adults) is that it’s a good thing. The other commandments have translated pretty well into a social behavioral code, because one could argue that stealing, lying, murder, etc. are basically destructive things; sex, however, out of all of the commandments, is not.

So sex is super important, is my point, and an essentially good thing. It is one of the most creative things humans can do. It’s taught to us, however, with all the other Evangelical commandments: Don’t be drunk, Don’t do drugs, Don’t have sex. It’s treated, largely, as a thing to be avoided, feared, or even dismissed (“I Love My Future Wife, And I haven’t Even Met Her Yet” shirts, I’m looking at you). Our sex drives, in a vestigial Gnosticism in the contemporary church that saddens me, are seen as shameful things to be suppressed or ignored.

This attitude works fine until we are actually with someone. The main reason to remain celibate was often, basically, “Because the Bible says so,” an argument which weakens palpably the moment you’re alone with an attractive human being who’s attracted to you too. Most of the sex—including the sex leading up to the “real” sex, which, yes, is very different and which, yes, I’m going to continue to assert is still a big deal (commandment-breaking, I would posit, if you’re concerned about such things)—is wrapped up in substantial layers of vague guilt and shame and self-berating.

To assuage our guilt, we also end up deciding upon arbitrary Ultimate Borders of Virginity (which tend towards frequent revision), e.g., “We’re going to keep on all our clothes.” We then realize, e.g., how much one (I guess two) can actually accomplish while remaining clothed. Rinse and repeat with almost any “line” with which we decide to define Purity. I have never seen any line, like “hands above the waist,” work for a couple. Ever. And yet, sadly, it seems to be one of the main strategies of the inhabitants of steamy cars (or, for the carless: stairways, practice rooms, lean-tos, lobbies, cafeteria booths, parking lots, closets, or lawns).

So what we do is immerse ourselves in cycles of guilt and denial and more guilt. This, needless to say, isn’t super healthy. We start to talk about how it’s basically impossible to find a consistent definition of “adultery” as it’s used in the Old Testament. We find out that “fornication” often only applied to women and commandments against it are preceded by things like “don’t marry your dead husband’s brother.” We reassure ourselves that “sexual immorality” in the New Testament, when you come down to it, is pretty vague. The subject of our “Virginity Rocks” t-shirts becomes somewhat more complex than perhaps we once thought, and these newfound nuances conveniently complement our recently emerged interests.

This quick justification, while rather impressive in its ability to persuade even the previously prudest new couples (our argumentative skills and ability to think outside the box can probably be attributed to a strong liberal arts education), is seriously unhealthy. We are taught from an early age to regard sex as plainly Bad, down there with murder and lying and stealing, and so when we realize that it isn’t quite so terrible, it’s pretty easy to renege on our former simplistic convictions. This—not the sex itself, but the quick way in which we flip from “Obviously Not” to “well maybe just a little bit”—is worrisome.

Christian students are deprived of practical conversation about sex. It seems that the contemporary Christian church doesn’t really know what to do with sex besides tell young people to avoid it. Unless the goal is to leave young people confused and ridden with guilt, unless the goal is to communicate an attitude of oversimplified fear and denial when it comes to sex, and unless we prefer a confused silence to more risky and constructive dissenting discourse, the attitude with which sex is approached throughout young Christians’ lives needs to change.