CAP Movie Ministry all upset over “Beowolf.”

Another fun link from another SEB regular, Bog Brother, leads us to the ChildCare Action Project (CAP) which bills itself as…

The #1 Christian entertainment media analysis service on the Internet!  We give you OBJECTIVE tools NO ONE ELSE CAN to help YOU make an informed moral decision for yourself whether a film is fit!

With a build up like that you just know that there’s fun to be had on every single page, but in this case BB directs us to their review of Beowulf which starts off with the following:

“Beowulf” (2007), PG-13 [HARDCORE R-13*] … quite probably the most heinous culprit for stealing childhood from children ever made.

First we have The Golden Compass being such a huge danger to young Christian’s beliefs that the AFA tells parents to run away from it and now we have CAP Ministries saying that Beowulf will steal your child’s childhood! EVERYBODY PANIC!!!

A quick note on the double rating you see above. It seems the folks at CAP Ministries have their own system of rating movies which involves six Investigation Areas that they assign 100 points each. Then they subtract points for every sinful thing they see on screen and when they’re done that final score will determine what rating they feel the film deserves.  In the case of Beowulf the official rating is PG-13 and the CAP Ministries rating, in the brackets, is R-13. They claim this provides them with an objective rating of the movie…

The CAP Model relies on fact, not speculation—it is as objective as any human evaluation system can be. Either an example of unacceptable activity or behavior was present during the investigation or it was not. The CAP Model makes no attempt to evaluate whether any justification for an unacceptable activity/behavior was present.

However, any evaluation involving human factors must provide allowances for subjectivity. The CAP provides for a certain amount of subjectivity to account for varying degrees of severity of unacceptable activity/behavior. For example, witnessing after-the-fact an act of violence is not as graphically extreme as witnessing the mechanism and/or instrument of violence in action. Each example that is so graphically extreme must be given more weight against compliance with Christian ethics because of the more severe impact on the observer. The Investigator is therefore permitted to account for severity by assigning a point loss from one to three points as described earlier.

… while conveniently ignoring the fact that determining what is and isn’t “unacceptable activity” is largely a subjective process even when trying to use the Bible as a guide. They spend quite a bit of time going over how they devised their scoring system and some of it makes for some amusing reading so I invite you to peruse it at your leisure, but right now I want to get to their review of this child endangering film.

So what’s got these folks all riled up? Primarily it appears to be the amount of nudity in the film:

Nudity is rampant. Full nudity. Male. Female. Frontal. Side. Rear. All angles. Though the male-specific anatomy is always kept in the shadows all other tissues and anatomy associated with it are seen in amazing anatomical detail.

I will not argue the nudity in this film. That the filmmakers used what looked like metallic plating over portions of the nude witch does not excuse the nudity. The viewer can tell only her pubic hair is missing. Does the gold plating on jewelry change its form or features? And that the nudity is in CGI does nothing to lessen its influence because of the graphic attention to detail used. It is grasping for the MPAA to approve this film for younger audiences just because the nudity is CGI animation rather than live actors and actresses. If that were justifiable reasoning I guess photographs of nudity would have to be approved for yournger audiences since a photogprah is no more than a piece of paper with chemicals on it. And what about live character nudity onscoreen? It is no more than visible light photons modulated by a film strip of chemicals.

Damn, this is starting to sound like my kind of film! I’ve not seen the film myself so I’m not sure just how much nudity is actually in it, though I have seen the scene with Angelina Jolie and it is admittedly about as close to nude as you can get. Though hardly any worse than many of the comic book characters you’ll see these days. I suppose I can see where it might be considered risqué for the particularly prudish out there and even Angelina has said she’s a little shy about the nude scene even though it’s not actually her.

The nudity seems to be a big issue for the fellow that wrote this review, though, and I found the following particularly amusing:

Beowulf the movie, based on the epic poem of the same name, is quite probably the most heinous culprit for stealing childhood from children ever made. It does seem rather reaching to say the parent poem (text) presents nudity. I have read lots of poems but never have I seen nudity in a poem. Even the nudity in some Bibles was not there when the inspired pen was put to paper; man put nudity in the Bible, not God. That some church approved nakedness in the Bible does not make it acceptable to God. Indeed God speaks darkly and shamefully of nakedness (the display of nudity) more than 40 times from the Old Testament to the New Testament. His Word even advised preists not to build an altar with steps lest the wind expose their nakedness to the people below [Ex. 20:26].

This guy is so anti-nudity he even argues that the Bible has been corrupted by man. Makes you wonder if he showers fully clothed and with all the mirrors covered up.

From here he decides he’s not going to waste any time bothering with a description of the plot, but opts instead to start referencing scientists he feels supports his viewpoint that this movie is particularly harmful, something he’ll come to do a couple of times in the review. First it’s a couple of psychologists that have said it’s difficult for people up to the age of 16 to fully separate fantasy from reality or to anticipate the consequences of their actions and then says we shouldn’t be showing them movies like Beowulf though he fails to say exactly how it supposedly steals their childhood.

From there he goes on to give brief summaries of how low the film scores in each of the remaining five Investigation Areas—which, when you put the first letters together, spell out WISDOM—and the film fares poorly in each one. He revisits his nudity obsession again then goes on to deplore the amount of drinking in the film, the various offenses to God in the film (a witch, a demon, Odin being a “false” God, etc.), and the general murder and mayhem that comes with any good drama featuring monsters.

Basically it sounds to me like the guy wouldn’t be happy with anything short of the Pretty Princess Ponies Totally Inoffensively Bland Movie as being appropriate for anyone under the age of 30. So what could possibly have earned the best possible CAP score, that is a score of 100 thusly making it a must-see by this Ministries standards? So far there are four films to get that coveted score and I’ve only heard of one of them. They are:

  1. Who Gets the House? (1999) – This had a couple of stars in it, but I have no recollection of it ever being in theaters.
  2. Baby Miracle Volume 1: The Story of Creation (2004) – An attempt to indoctrinate toddlers in Biblical nonsense before they can even say their own fucking name.
  3. Grandpa Friendly’s Workshop: Making Friends (2002) – Another bit of predigested pap aimed at the toddler crowd, though thankfully nothing to do with indoctrination.
  4. Mary Poppins (1964) – Which surprises me somewhat as I always considered Mary to be a bit of a witch, but the CAP folks argue that she could have been angelic.

Now as much as I enjoy Mary Poppins on occasion, and I’m pretty sure I could make an argument that it has some very subversive ideas in it, the rest of those films aren’t the sort of fare your average teenager, let alone anyone else, is going to have much interest in. For that matter, the vast majority of films listed in the upper 90’s are either aimed at toddlers or so bland as to make a cardboard box into a more interesting thing to stare at for 2 hours.

The point being that there’s nothing really objective in the ratings the CAP Ministries folks are handing out and they’re no substitute for being a good parent and finding out about a film on your own prior to making decisions on what’s appropriate for your kids. Not all thirteen year-olds are the same and maybe yours isn’t ready for a film like Beowulf, but that may not be true for someone else’s thirteen year old. If you’re really worried about it then go see the movie ahead of time and judge for yourself.

17 thoughts on “CAP Movie Ministry all upset over “Beowolf.”

  1. Beowulf was so awesome. As usual, Hollywood took a few liberties with the storyline, but I think the changes were beneficial. I probably wouldn’t take a young child to see it, not because of the nudity, but because of the Grendel scenes. He’s one disgustingly scary monster and the death scenes were quite graphic.

  2. I memorized a bit of Beowulf years ago for a performance, and was amazed how foreign a language Old English is.  Even knowing Middle English and Middle German doesn’t help much- I could only understand about every tenth word.

    Thus my admiration for Benjamin Bagby is immense: he has memorized, and performs, the whole thing, to be sure not in one go.  For a sample of how Beowulf might have been experienced before Hollywood, check this out.  No nudity, and a bit slower-paced than the film promises to be, but achieved with simpler means: a scop and his lyre.

    This is not to disparage good filmmaking: I love the cathartic shakedown of a good flic.  Lyra, in The Golden Compass, agrees: there’s a funny scene in the book where Will takes her to a cinema in our world, and she exclaims that it’s better than anything the philosophers in her world have come up with.

    But there’s something special about good storytelling.  I remember sitting spellbound for a good hour in Sproul Plaza, listening to Spalding Grey tell his “Swimming to Cambodia” story.  And one of my favorite films, “My Dinner with Andre”, has no action: it’s just storytelling.

  3. Oops, Lyra’s cinema experience was in The Subtle Knife, not The Golden Compass, now that I think about it.

  4. Even the nudity in some Bibles was not there when the inspired pen was put to paper; man put nudity in the Bible, not God

    So Adam and Eve were originally not nude?  So “man” decided to make up a whole story about how they were originally nude and told not to eat fruit from a tree, but they did and suddenly discovered they were nude and clothed themselves?  So “man” not only committed original sin, but made the whole thing up as well?  If that’s the case, then Original Sin isn’t real and therefore Mary isn’t the only one who was born “Immaculate.”  Holy crap there goes half the church docterine… How far does the rabbit hole go?

    What a dumbass.

  5. So Adam and Eve were originally not nude?  So “man” decided to make up a whole story about how they were originally nude and told not to eat fruit from a tree, but they did and suddenly discovered they were nude and clothed themselves?  So “man” not only committed original sin, but made the whole thing up as well?  If that’s the case, then Original Sin isn’t real and therefore Mary isn’t the only one who was born “Immaculate.” Holy crap there goes half the church docterine… How far does the rabbit hole go?

    Well, here’s another theology twister, though more of a question:

    Would you (insert Christian’s name here) be willing to save Jesus from the death on the Cross if you were given the chance?  Another way to put it might be, would you be willing to sacrifice Jesus yourself, given the knowledge (as you claim) that the only way to be saved is through the sacrifice of Jesus?  If the answer is yes (willing to sacrifice him), why is Judas, whose actions were needed for the ultimate result of Jesus being sacrificed so vilified?  Judas is seen as one step removed from Satan himself by some people, but if you believe the whole salvation schtick, then Judas should be praised for what he did, he made salvation available, right?

    Also, I heard that some Christians claim that the crucifixion was not really the fault of any human agent, Roman, Jewish or otherwise, but the end result of Satan working against God.  In this case then, I guess it could be said that Satan is responsible for the salvation of Christians? 

    Anyway, I saw Beowulf, and I agree that it could be rough for a 13 year old, but I don’t think it’s worse than Natural Born Killers, which got a 12 (Beowulf got a 7).

  6. 1.  I’ve never really thought of Beowulf as a “children’s story,” so I’m not sure how any cinematic rendition of it could be considered a “heinous” stealer of childhood. 

    2.  The Judas question is an interesting one (and ties into the whole perception in some orthodox corners of Adam’s sin (and Eve’s, too, I suppose) as “beautifully necessary” as it led to Jesus’ death and humanity’s salvation, which seems kind of goofy, if you ask me).  I’d say that you could argue that Judas is sinful here because he doesn’t act to save humanity through Jesus’s crucifixion (etc etc etc) but out of a base motive (greed, whatever).  Whereas, arguably, if Judas had been a willing co-conspirator, he might have been seen as a cool guy (a la Abraham, who was willing to sacrifice Isaac based on what the voices in his head told him to do).

    So Judas (in the traditional twirling-moustachio form) doesn’t get any extra credit because he didn’t intend to see humanity saved (the Gospel of Judas notwithstanding), any more than if someone steals my wallet and I turn out to be the millionth customer at Wallets-R-Us and win a trip to Hawaii, the original thief doesn’t get a metaphysical pat on the head for it.

  7. I used to know a guy who with a bit of persuading (mead) would perform Beowulf, and if ‘persuaded’ enough (this is in a Dark Age Re-enactment society) would do it in Anglo-Saxon.  I got the basic story at school when I was somewhere between 7-11, but that was the kids version. 

    From what I hear the film bears as much resemblance to the edda as a Mel Gibson movie does to history.

    Intersting they reverted to a pagan myth- Odin etc. No doubt the original story used Norse gods, by the version that has come down is a Christianised version- by the time it was written the Anglo Saxons had been converted.  I’m guessing the wuss who is whining doesn’t watch any world cinema, in case a different god gets a mention. And yes, their would be a lot of drinking, it was the culture.  The beer wasn’t as strong as modern beers, plus it was one of the cheif ways of killing water borne infection- everyone would have drank ‘small beer’.

    He didn’t like the monster- bit fucking difficult (scuse my middle German) to make a movie with a evil monster in if there’s no bleeding monster.  Pillock.

  8. I cant find it right now but there used to be a disclaimer somewhere on that site stating that they are not affiliated with LandoverBaptists or WBC (Fred Phelps). Speaks volumes that they felt the need to put that up.
    Also whats the deal with fundies objections to nudity? Do they think that our dangling parts were created by Satan?

  9. Also whats the deal with fundies objections to nudity? Do they think that our dangling parts were created by Satan?

    Well duh!  Dangling parts can lead to dangerous things, just like dancing, drinking alcohol, holding hands, watching too much TV, the internets, drinking too much coffee, smoking cigarettes, eating meat on the fifth Wednesday of any odd numbered month during a lunar eclipse…why, the list is simply endless.

  10. Yes, I do believe that many fundamentalists (of various religious traditions) believe that either our dangly bits were, in fact, created by Satan, or that anything having to do with them outside of the proscribed reproductive duties (possibly with some pleasure in passing, though that’s hardly a reason to be doing it) is Satanically inspired.

    I think they’re kind of goofy in that, but, then, a lot of them would consider me Satanically inspired, too.

  11. Why is it all these SUPER AWESOME HAPPY GOD FEARING media groups can’t seem to create a web page that’s easy to navigate, or even to look at? What’s with all the spinning crosses?  And where the hell are the dancing Jesus’ when you need to them!

    Hail Satan…

    Oh crap.. Sorry everyone, I just watched Beowolf and have been stolen.  Hail Satan… Damnit!  I’ve been mastrubating since I got home and can’t seem to stop. The time of the dark lord draws nears… The reckoning is upon us… Oh god oh god I saw a naked person today, hail Satan! Shit.  Oh shit now I’m swearing, mastrubating and blaspheming! Hail Satan, boobies, shit! Oh well… Might as well start handing out blow jobs to perverts at the bus station for coke money.

  12. For some reason, all I can hear is the voice of Stan Marsh from South Park as I read that one.

  13. They did the Judas as a not-bad guy thing years ago – it was called Jesus Christ Superstar.

  14. believe that …our dangly bits were, in fact, created by Satan,

    Hence the phrase- “Getting the horn”.  Is that a pitchfork in your trousers, or are you just pleased to see me?

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