The Evil Golden Compass!!!11!!1! (Part 1)

19 08 2011

If you know me, you know I like books–particularly the science fiction-y, fantasy sort of books.  A couple summers ago, I found a list of the best sci-fi books on the interwebz and began reading some of the titles.  Among these were the excellent books Dune and Ender’s Game, while Andromeda Strain was just a gigantic waste of time.  I started this because I had read, as but a young 8th grader, the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit.  By that time I had also read quite a few Star Wars books, including the fantastic New Jedi Order series.

This geeky rambling has a point.  My freshman year of high school, I read the books Eragon and Eldest.  I loved them.  They are kind of like my Harry Potter…I am likely to die of happiness when the final book comes out November 8, though I won’t be happy at all the extra vowels in words like ‘color’ that are likely to appear in the UK edition.  But I digress.  I finished Eldest and thought, gee, I need more awesome books.  My mom found this series online and suggested I read them because they got good reviews.  The first book looked like this:

I'm on a bear! Awesome!

The series was called ‘His Dark Materials’; it was a trilogy of books that included The Golden Compass in addition to The Subtle Knife and The Amber Spyglass.  It was pretty awesome.  I loved it, and the best part for me was that the books were all finished.  So I didn’t have to wait.  Boo-yah. The series was about a young girl named Lyra.  Lyra is given a truth-reader (the Golden Compass), and sets out on a grand adventure to find her friend.  Things quickly hit the fan and suddenly her best friend is a gigantic polar bear king and she is running around in different realities.  The third book culminates in a gigantic battle for freedom, going all last-episode-of-Fringe-season-3 on everyone (if you didn’t get that reference, don’t worry).

The 2nd best thing about them was that New Line Cinema, the same studio that developed The Lord of the Rings, was making a movie on it, due out December of 2007.  I was ecstatic.  I probably would have been more ecstatic had the previous year’s movie production of Eragon been more than a disgusting pile of cowpies and guacamole.  But I was still pumped.  No way could this rendition be as bad as Eragon.

However, disaster was about to strike.  Back when Harry Potter was first a thing, there was a bit of hubbub about him being a demonic, evil, magic user-person and that the series encouraged witchcraft and Satan-worshipping.  Never mind that the demonic, evil, magic user-person was the bad guy and that his type of witchcraft was depicted as bad.  Never mind that; Harry was evil.  Evil Harry just sort of shook his head and got on with his successful career.

Unfortunately, Golden Compass was not so lucky.  Religious folk, mostly Christians, from everywhere deemed this (and the book) to be the worst thing ever:

I'm on a bear! And now he has ARMOR!

Here is evidence that the movie is evil.  (You aren’t obligated to read both, one or part of one will do fine)

http://snopes.com/politics/religion/compass.asp

http://www.pluggedin.com/upfront/2007/sympathyforthedevil.aspx

Now you have read why it is evil.  Unfortunately, that is total Bos taurus feces.

First, though this isn’t directly a part of the criticisms of the story, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia is not the best series in the world.  Yes, it has Christian imagery and whatnot.  Yes, it is a good story.  No, disagreeing with its quality or ideals is not inherently a bad thing.  For the record, I think Pullman’s series is on a whole more intriguing than Lewis’s.  Lewis is not God.  Sorry.  Pullman doesn’t like Narnia and I respect that.  They are indeed similar, and their biggest difference is a matter of perspective and philosophy.  Narnia is nostalgic about childhood and innocence, lamenting that we must leave that unique life.  HDM (His Dark Materials) is about the excitement and fascination with growing up and losing one’s innocence, and encourages us to continually mature.

This is not the central issue, though.  The central issue is how Pullman and HDM deal with religion, spirituality, and the Christian heritage.  Pullman is an atheist, and rejects Christianity and religion.  This is reflected in HDM; the bad guys are the church (which acts similar to the Spanish Inquisition and takes its cue from Catholic miscues) and the citizens of heaven.

After years of thought, this is the conclusion I have come to.  The criticism of the movie/book is unfair because of three reasons.  First, the Christians that attack this book don’t understand the complexities of stories like this.  They take it at what it looks like and think, “it must be bad!”  Second, these attackers don’t realize the implications of attacking this book.  And, thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, most attackers don’t have any idea what they are talking about.

I will expand my criticisms of the criticisms in part 2 of this post next week.  But I thought you should know the ending:  largely due to the extreme negative hype, the movie did not do well.  The creators hoped to do the other two stories, but it didn’t happen, and they will never be made.  This is very sad, because the movie was superb.  I loved it, and I thought it was one of the best, if not the best, movie adaption of a book I’ve ever seen.  It was quality entertainment in the face of a bunch of half-chewed ideas being spewed out of producers’ mouths nowadays.   I am still bitter about this, 4 years later, because the movie’s death is so sad in multiple ways.

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2 responses

2 09 2011
The Evil Golden Compass!!11!!1! (Part 2) « Something Clever

[…] I wrote about the evil book and movie The Golden Compass previously here, I talked about the background of the book and of the movie and whatnot.  At the end, I condensed […]

9 09 2011
The Evil Golden Compass!!11!!1! (Finale) « Something Clever

[…] Ideas…percolate.  That’s a fun word and I enjoy using it.  Percolate.  Anyhoo, in Part 1, I mentioned at the end that there were three issues with the attacks on the book.  Then, in Part […]

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