Like there are dirty limericks carved into the side of gas station bathrooms with more artistic and spiritual merit, and for anyone who doubts me I’d challenge you to watch God’s Not Dead 2, which premiered on the first of this month.
As much as you might pray otherwise- no, this is not some elaborate April Fool’s trick. This wretched, pandering slog of garbage is absolutely real, the hellspawn of 2014’s disturbingly popular (and obliviously sacrilegious) God’s Not Dead.
Look, as much as I’d like to pour out seven bowls of wrath upon this nasty, ugly product of a nasty, ugly franchise, I’m not going to. There are people who’ve already done so with more eloquence than I could muster, and I legitimately think I’d have a stroke if I tried to convey my repulsive and rage to this unholy dreck. If you’ve got a shred of artistic judgment or basic morality, you can see what makes this movie bad.
So let me ask this instead:
What would a good Christian movie look like?
Here’re some of my ideas-
That Dark Battle
The God’s Not Dead franchise has a habit of using death and disease to hamfistedly make its points. Is the prideful atheist looking down her Ivy-League nose at these simple, humble Christians? Smite her with cancer! Haha! She’s not so high-and-mighty now that she’s facing a slow and painful death! Thanks, God!
Think that’s a bit cruel?
It’s OK! She converted and has been miraculously cured! Because no God-fearing person has ever died of cancer and no atheist has died of anything else!
I **** you not- that happens in the first God’s Not Dead.
Mr. David A.R. White- On behalf of everyone who’s ever lost a loved one to cancer, allow me to say a heartfelt “****. You.”
For all the flak I give France for their issues with bigotry and Islamophobia, I really have to tip my hat to these students. These are high schoolers coming out across the country to demand justice from their government, and lo and behold, they got responded to (in a way that didn’t exclusively involve tear gas). This took some guts and ingenuity I wish the youth in the US had- I don’t know the last time high schoolers protested independently on any issue (since the 70s, at least), and I really wish the same tradition of dissidence existed over here as it does in other countries.
And now back to the subject of the night: Is there artistic merit in Adventure Time?
EVAN: Whoa. You’re gonna shameless-plug your friend and then let me discuss the topic? Say something about it, haha.
GORDON: Is there artistic merit in beloved Cartoon Network show Adventure Time? Well, let’s break down what we mean by “artistic merit.” Evan?
EVAN: Is it worthy or deserving of being called art? Alternatively, does the show have the admirable qualities or attribute that art has? I guess a question to answer your question is: What is art?
GORDON: Well, let’s not try defining “art”. We’ve been trying to do that ever since we first started scratching pictures of fat ponies onto cave walls, and I doubt we’re gonna solve it in the next half hour or so. Let’s instead focus on the “merit”- what is it that makes ANY show good?
EVAN: Here’s a factor that relates directly to Adventure Time: Accessibility. How accessible does a show have to be to be good? Does it have to be accessible to be good?
GORDON: Are we talking about mass appeal here?
EVAN: Eh, sure, why not.
GORDON: Well, we gotta address that then. I mean, Twilight and the work of Michael Bay are popular, but they aren’t good. At the same time, you can’t just have a show that only you find funny, and then still call it good, right?
EVAN: You’re right. So is there a magic number of people we have to reach when it comes to a show being good? I shudder to remember Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and how much our one friend used to love it.
GORDON: What’s worse is that my dad is into that show for some unfathomable reason. But the point is, a good thing ought to be popular to some degree, but popularity can’t be the sole element.
EVAN: Okay, so how about execution? How well the show pulls off whatever it’s supposed to be doing. Adventure Time is a show about a boy and his magical dog that is also his brother adventuring in a colourful post-apocalyptic fantasy world, but it works. They pull it off. I personally think this has a little something to do with its easy-to-digest ten minute segments.
GORDON: And there’s really no way of arguing with that- the story-telling is spot-on, but there’s gotta be more than that. The same can be said (and this is gonna give Evan an aneurysm), to some degree, of the copy-paste work of Seth McFarlane.
GORDON: What I’m saying is that McFarlane’s shows are both popular and (for what they are) well-executed, and yet we can both agree that his shows aren’t really “good,” at least, not anymore than a bag of chips is “good” food.
Therefore, there’s got to be another element at play, right?
EVAN: Ugh. I can’t even look at the chat window I’m so offended you would say something like that. I wish he would be “well-executed.” Share your other element if you must.
GORDON: Uniqueness. The show has to be unique. It’s not enough to go through the motions (as McFarlane’s shows do), you have to actually be able to make your show something that can’t be seen anywhere else.
EVAN: Something to make your stuff stand out of the crowd, okay, that’s fair. So I guess we can see how Adventure Time stands up to the criteria we’ve come up with.
Accessible? Eh, I’d say so, for its demographic and older.
Popular? Yeah, again for who I’ve stated.
You want to let these nice people know if it’s unique?
GORDON: Soooo Unique. If you can find anything remotely similar to it made in the past decade, I will slap Evan on the ears and vote for taxing the homeless.
EVAN: I mean, like I said: Boy. Magical Dog. Colourful fantasy world that is also post-apocalyptic.
EVAN: What more could you want?
GORDON: Vampire rocker girls?
EVAN: I would not mind.
GORDON: Oh wait, we’ve got that too.
You want D&D references spliced in with Science Fiction and elements of Gothic Horror?
EVAN: I think we could go for some.
GORDON: WELL WE’VE GOT IT!
EVAN: I think it’s clear that we think Adventure Time is a good show, but one thing that’s been painfully clear with this entry of E> is how much trouble it’s been doing this. Might I suggest a little something?
GORDON: Go for it.
EVAN: Let’s just choose our own topics for a little while, just to really get back into the swing of things. Keep things casual, going back and forth, avoid the heavy questions. And then we can ease our way back into all this.
GORDON: I am inclined to agree with you on this one.
EVAN: Yeah? Awesome. Anything in particular you wanted to casually discourse about next time?
GORDON: Well, I don’t think my suggestion about the Disney takeover of the Star Wars franchise was all that bad, even if Adventure Time did win by a landslide…
EVAN: I kinda wanted to talk about Deadliest Warrior.
GORDON: That would be likewise awesome. Let’s do that.
EVAN: Yes. Awesome. I’m going to post this because we are men true to our word and we promise an E> every Wednesday. We shall discuss Deadliest Warrior in a week. Or this weekend, maybe, just to get ahead. I mean, whatever.
GORDON: Good night, everyone.
EVAN: Yep, sorry this wasn’t as awesome or decent as usual. But we will be back! With a vengeance. And remember:
In a pretty dramatic change of scene from my last field report on “Extreme Midget Wrestling”, last night I attended a production of the musical “Wicked.” Now as much as we here at the CWR try to maintain general neutrality in the culture war, the simple fact of the matter is that we do have bias, and as far as yours truly is concerned, the theater is hostile territory.
The musical was being done at the Smith Center- a performance hall in downtown Vegas, which isn’t really “down” anywhere because it’s about dead center in the middle of the city. Incidentally, the “inner city” is actually situated on the outskirts of town- but that’s all beside the point. The lobby of this place is fancy, as you might expect. Marble floors, ornate chandeliers, gigantic plaques with the names of wealthy supporters etched into them. And all packed to the brim with women in painful high-heels and impractical dresses, and men in expensive slacks and lopsided orange tans and flashy white smiles that you can only buy from the dental surgeons that other dental surgeons go to. These are the white people black comedians make fun of. The five-minute-warning bell goes off and panic sets in, as everyone hobbles towards the doors. I move along with the crowd and taking my seat up in the top-tier of the balcony. Clearly someone was a little trigger-happy with the bell, ‘cuz it’s easily half an hour before the theater goes dark. I try to make use of the time to get better acquainted with the rest of the audience.
Down below me is a guy wearing a polo shirt and carrying a pair of binoculars around his neck- he knew what he was in for. To my left are two women- no lie- comparing jewelry to determine whose diamonds are “shinier”. The program isn’t so much of a program as it is a magazine with a few pages on the musical nestled down on page 32. The rest of it is full of ads for such upcoming attractions as Cabaret Jazz (sung by white people), “A State of the Union Conversation: An Evening with Frank Rich and Franz Lebowitz”, and “Dr. John & The Blind Boys of Alabama Performing ‘Spirituals to Funk'” (Dr. John is also white). In fact, the only non-white guy I can find in there is a construction worker in an ad for some building project, tucked away between pictures suggesting your life might not be complete without Lexus cars and MJ diamonds.
The musical does at long last start, and- coming from a guy who hates musicals- this was really good. There’s not a whole else to say about it- if you want a summary, go to Wikipedia- if you want to see it, sneak in- because tickets to these things are ****ing expensive.
This I do have to comment on, though:
The flying monkeys always have been, and always will be, terrifying. I don’t care who you are or how tough you think you are- the flying monkeys are the stuff nightmares are made of.
If you can see the musical- go for it- just don’t see it with this crowd. They’re giggling like idiots at every single malapropism.
They didn’t laugh so hard at “Thrillifying”, so I thought they had gotten it out of their system by the second hour in, but then along comes “Scandalacious” and they’re roaring with laughter, so no- **** these guys.
Can anyone tell me what’s up with that one munchkin in a dress? He’s not playing a female character or anything- he’s just wearing a dress. I ain’t judging or anything- I just couldn’t figure it out.
To whoever made all those “wicked good” puns as we were walking out, I will find you and slap you in the mouth. You have been warned.
There’s not a whole lot else to be said. I had a good time, but these people- they were in heaven.
GORDON: Welcome back, ladies, gentlemen, and persons who defy conventional gender roles, to another edifying episode of Evan and Gordon Talk. Our topic for tonight: Hipster Racism.
Evan- if you’ll offer a quick definition.
EVAN: Uh, I’m going to leave you to that, actually. Gordon sent me this link to check out, and the bit about “hipster racism” is actually quite short [appearing at about 00:00]. The speaker, China Miéville, had a lot of amazing things to say, and I lost it in there somewhere. [I’ll probably be writing more about the lecture on Friday]
GORDON: Essentially, “Hipster Racism” or “Ironic Racism” are jokes or comedy with traditionally racist content, funny not because they put people down, but funny because of how utterly atrocious and ignorant they are. Similar to a dead baby joke.
The question we’ll be dealing with tonight is this: Is ironic racism still just racism?
EVAN: This strikes a similar chord with a conversation I had with . . . a friend of mine, where he called Arab people “towelheads.”