Friday, January 4, 2008

Gay Angels!

Beware of the Golden Compass spoilers...

If I had not heard of the controversy surrounding Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy, the first book of which is The Golden Compass, I might never have listened to the audiobooks. It seems like religious groups that find certain things objectionable would have learned by now to shut the hell up about them because the controversy inevitably increases the popularity of the objectionable music, movie, book, etc. If I hadn't heard that Christian groups are outraged over a novel, and now a movie, in which two children set out to kill God, I probably never would have listened to the entire trilogy. Of course, the movie's got Nicole Kidman in it, who's on my list of female actors who, as anniemcq put it, I'd watch read the phone book. So I'd have seen the movie eventually, and if it engaged me enough, I might have read the books. Or maybe not. But kids killing God? One, I figured it had to be an oversimplification, an unfair characterization of the actual plotline, and two, I wondered how exactly you write a story like that it. So I burned through all three books as quick as I could and enjoyed nearly every minute of it. Thanks for the tip, fundamentalists!

Top Ten Things Fundamentalists of All Faiths Might Find Offensive:

10. The wisest, kindest, most spiritual people in the series are a kind of invertebrate elephant-gazelle that tear around at high speed on wheel-shaped seed pods like they're Hell's Angels.

9. Part of the three-part nature of humans (body, soul, and spirit), the spirit, is physically manifested as an animal, a kind of familiar, known as the person's dæmon. Apparently, this is pronounced exactly like "demon," so I was unaware until today that it was spelled differently. Granted, there's a significant difference between "dæmon" and "demon," but whatever. I still think it's funny that the human spirit is a demon.

8. Only some of the witches are bad guys. The rest are heroic! It's almost as bad as Harry Potter here!

7. There are an infinite number of universes, and in presumably an infinite number of those, humanity is not the supreme life form.

6. The Kingdom of God keeps the dead in a horrible prison camp known as the World of the Dead. No "good guys to Heaven; bad guys to Hell." Essentially everyone goes to Hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200. Heaven's a lie they've told us to keep us meek.

5. The dead are set free and allowed to drift away into their basic atomic components to re-enter the world and become air and trees and PVC pipe again, or whatever. This release is a supreme joy to them.

4. The children may or may not "do it" at the end. Yep, you heard me. Premarital sex! Underaged premarital sex, even!

3. One of the major projects of the Church is to figure out how to separate children from their spirits by using a kind of guillotine. The process renders the children catatonic, but at least they're free of the burden of Original Sin!

2. A pair of male angels are deeply and passionately in love with each other. Yes, in that way.

And the most offensive plot element of the series is:

God is himself completely helpless and senile. He is kept in a crystal box by his one-time lieutenant, an angel who was once human, and who apparently named himself after a Transformer (More Than Meets the Eye!). When the children accidentally kill him by opening his box, he is relieved and grateful. And to add insult to injury, the scene is really only a minor incident in the story.

But behind all of that offensiveness, the truly ironic thing is, the central message is as conservative as you can get: the children learn that they must be kind, be cheerful, study and work hard. The end. Revolutionary stuff, that.

3 comments:

Jennie said...

Holy God, that sounds AWESOME!

anniemcq said...

I was going to get the set for Charley for Christmas, but he beat me to it and pulled out a 30 percent off coupon from Borders and got it himself. Can't wait to give them a read!

Saint Richard said...

I know I'll be using my Borders gift certificate to buy next.

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