Archive for the ‘ Media ’ Category

C. S. Lewis: Impact on Americans (Part 5)

This week, I’m sharing some of the comments respondents to my Wade Center survey gave regarding the movie versions of Narnia. For the sake of brevity here, I’m excluding comments on earlier productions, such as a 1979 animated Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe and BBC productions of four of the Narnia books back in 1988-1990. So here is the amended question I asked:

Have You Viewed Any of the Narnia Hollywood Productions? If So, What Is Your Opinion of Them?

The Chronicles of NarniaSome respondents were fulsome in their praise of the recent movies, such as the one who commented simply, “I love them. Excellent films and all seem to follow the book fairly closely.” Added to that was another’s perspective: “I thought these films portrayed Lewis’s books very well. They made Lewis’s characters come to life.” And a third contributed, “I believe they are a creative representation of the Biblical narrative that can penetrate hearts and souls.”

All of these responses concentrated on the substance of the films and a sense of satisfaction that they conveyed the essence of what Lewis sought to communicate. Another thought the quality of the production highlighted Lewis’s themes: “Amazing! I love the graphics, the film quality supported the story line and made it so real to me.”

Others, while supportive of the movies, noted some concerns about alterations of the message and about parts that were omitted and/or the addition of extra material that Lewis himself had not introduced. For instance, one respondent commented, “I have seen all three Narnia theatrical films. I enjoyed all three and thought they were generally well done. I was a little disappointed that they ‘watered down’ the Christian elements a bit, but I still thought they were good films and largely faithful to Lewis’s ideas and vision.”

Prince CaspianAnother seemed to suggest that there are natural limitations whenever one tries to convert a book into a film: “I appreciated how they brought the Narnia books to the big screen and made them understandable and attractive for a wider audience. I don’t believe that the movies could ever have quite the depth of the books but I did appreciate the translation of some elements to visual art.”

Similar in tone was this remark: “I have viewed the first two Narnia films. I enjoyed them, but felt that the content of the Narnia stories is better communicated in book form. Film diminishes the charm of Lewis’s authorial voice.”

Despite those positive and semi-positive reviews, comments decrying the loss of Lewis’s vision and disappointment with some of the decisions on how to communicate the message of the books on screen were more numerous. Here are the most representative samples in this grouping:

Voyage of Dawn Treader 2I have seen all three films based on The Chronicles of Narnia. I think they are well done cinematically, although some scenes hint at a low budget and inexperienced actors.

They maintain the integrity of Lewis’s characters and stories in name and outline, but the deviations therefrom are numerous and sometimes so great as to ruin almost entirely the theological, personal, and practical insights and applications made available in the books.

I watched the Chronicles of Narnia films. I think they were good, but commercialized. I think that C.S. Lewis has saturated the market, which is good, but I believe people begin to miss the depth that he provided. Also, the struggle that C.S. Lewis had with the Christian faith. I believe that the popularity of these movies has brought popularity to C.S.Lewis, but I hope that people explore more of his works and begin to wrestle with the different thoughts and ideas that he presented.

I have been SO upset about the ways in which the movies, especially The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, diverged from the book. The book is my favorite of the series, as it is many others. The movie just took liberties that were “unforgivable.” Wardrobe was good, and Caspian was a “B” also because of things like having the White Witch show up.

I felt very disconnected from the Disney/Walden Media death scene (and movie as a whole) and felt the newer live action films lacked the understanding of the spiritual undertones of the works and Aslan’s character. . . . Disney/Walden’s LWW was the strongest of the recent films. Most people I’ve talked to felt that Prince Caspian was a huge letdown and Voyage could not make up the difference.

How to summarize? Of the three Hollywood films, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes across as the best. There is a strong sense of disappointment in Hollywood’s renditions of Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Finally, there is strong criticism of deviations in the Hollywood scripts and depictions.

Next Saturday, I turn to my final question, which allowed the respondents to say anything they wished about the influence of Lewis on their lives. The survey turned up some fascinating comments.

C. S. Lewis: Impact on Americans (Part 4)

In my 2014 survey, conducted with the help of the Wade Center at Wheaton College, I asked respondents to comment on the Shadowlands films, one produced by the BBC, and the other, more prominent one, by Hollywood.  Here’s the question I asked, along with the responses.

Have You Viewed Any of the Shadowlands Productions? If So, What Is Your Opinion of Them?

In asking this question, I knew most people would be familiar with the big-budget Hollywood version starring Anthony Hopkins (Lewis) and Debra Winger (Joy) that came out in 1993. Not as many, I was sure, would be cognizant of the earlier BBC production from 1985 that aired on both CBS and PBS, with Joss Ackland as Lewis and Claire Bloom as Joy.

Yet that BBC offering won more than a dozen prestigious awards, including the International Emmy for Best Drama and two British Academy Awards. My hope was to get comments that might compare the two, and I did get some, although the majority of respondents were, as I expected, more aware of the 1993 version.

ShadowlandsSome respondents were very pleased with the Hollywood production. As one enthused, “Beautiful story. I saw the Winger/Hopkins movie. . . . I laughed, I cried, I wept when they couldn’t. From the leads to the housekeeper, beautiful casting and wonderful execution.” Another explained, “I have only seen part of the Anthony Hopkins film version, but I enjoyed it. I appreciated being able to visualize Lewis as a person rather than a picture.”

Others, though, thought the Hopkins-Winger version was deficient, particularly in its portrayal of Lewis’s faith and the kind of man he was. As one noted, “It is a good movie, but it is absolutely false in its pale and timid portrayal of Lewis’s robust personality.” Another cast aspersions on the director’s decision on how to portray Lewis: “Richard Attenborough’s film. Serious falsification of Lewis. Simplification and belittling, as if he was a pompous idiot until Joy showed up.”

More than one thought Winger did an exceptional job depicting Joy, but their enthusiasm was tempered by the Lewis persona as shown in the film: “While a good movie on its own (I thought Debra Winger nailed what I think Joy was like), there was much left out, especially in relation to Lewis’s faith. This was a disappointment.”

Others did their best to try to appreciate the good while recognizing the shortcomings. Here are two examples: “It missed much of what makes Lewis so impacting but was entertaining and enlightening into his everyday life”; “It was OK. He didn’t seem like C.S. Lewis . . . not jovial enough.”

Shadowlands BBCThose who saw both adaptations seemed clearly to come out in favor of the 1985 BBC TV movie. One respondent definitely preferred Ackland’s Lewis to Hopkins’s version, while simultaneously praising the production values of the latter: “Joss Ackland has made the best Lewis so far. The Anthony Hopkins Shadowlands was the best film overall, best cinematography.”

Another who preferred Ackland to Hopkins still had kind words for Winger’s portrayal: “I think the actor portraying Lewis in the BBC version was great. I think the actress in the Hollywood version who portrayed Joy was great. I did not care for Anthony Hopkins, felt like he didn’t even try to portray Lewis—just a stereotype of an English professor.”

This comment from another respondent was similar: “The first, BBC, version is infinitely superior in almost every regard. Closer to the facts, and more true to the spiritual journey. The only superiority of the later theatrical film is Debra Winger’s performance as Joy.”

One summarized what seems to be the main complaint for those who were less than thrilled with Hollywood’s offering: “The one with Anthony Hopkins had good acting, good production values, but the script was horrible. The one with Joss Ackland was much better.”

In order to represent fairly the consensus of the survey respondents to the two films, one would have to say that, in general, for those who saw both, they acknowledged the excellent production values of Hollywood’s 1993 version, but were far more enamored with the depiction of Lewis in the BBC version, which they felt was closer to the reality of who the man was.

So much for those films, but what about the Narnia movies that have been produced thus far? How did my respondents react to them? That will be the topic next Saturday.

The Campaign Show

This presidential campaign is certainly a show, if nothing else. I do believe it is something else, however; most of the GOP candidates are at least addressing the issues. But we have had our fair share of strange moments.

When’s the last time the supposed frontrunner for one party was being investigated for federal offenses, the kind that could land a person in prison? The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s personal e-mail server handling top-security matters and the manner in which she enriched her family through a phony charitable foundation has become increasingly serious.

In her last debate with the other erstwhile Democrat challengers, Hillary uttered words that were immediately applied to her by many:

Too Big

The irony seems to have been lost on her. What is particularly galling is that Gen. David Petraeus, for a lesser violation, is being singled out for possible reduction in rank and prison time. Can anyone say “double standard”?

Change Your Name

What’s really funny—in the sense that anything about this can be labeled as funny—is that a man who should be merely an also-ran in this race, Bernie Sanders, is picking up momentum:

Feel the Burn

Sanders, an outspoken socialist (as opposed to the rest of the Democrats who don’t want it to be known that they too are socialists), is ahead of Hillary by double digits in the New Hampshire polling and is about even in Iowa. This is not the way Hillary’s shining path to the nomination was supposed to happen:

Close-Up

The Republican side of the race has attracted even more attention, thanks to the Trump circus. The media just can’t seem to help themselves:

Pied Trumpeter

Trump has taken advantage of the failed leadership in the Republican party to attract a devoted following, so devoted, at least in his estimation, that they will never desert him no matter what he says or does. As he infamously joked a few days ago, he could shoot someone on a public street and his supporters would still vote for him. As I commented in yesterday’s post, the saddest part of that statement is that it’s probably true for a significant segment of his loyal fans.

Yet when his rhetoric is analyzed without bias, there isn’t really much “there” there. Is it possible that may change in the upcoming debate on Thursday?

More Serious

Nah.

No, This Is Not Moral Equivalence

Nicholas ThalasinosNicholas Thalasinos was one of the victims in the terrorist attack in San Bernardino last week. He was one of Syed Farook’s co-workers. Thalasinos was a Messianic Jew—a Jew who had come to recognize Jesus Christ as the Jewish Messiah—and who was deeply concerned about the threat of radical Islam.

Reports indicate that Thalasinos and Farook had argued over whether Islam is a religion of peace, with Thalasinos challenging Farook’s assertion that it is. Apparently, Farook sought to prove he was correct by peacefully murdering fourteen of his co-workers, of whom Thalasinos was probably a chief target.

The mainstream media wants to hide as much as possible the fact that what is occurring here is a jihad against Christianity. Both Christians and Jews have reason to be wary of Islam. For Thalasinos, the threat was doubled because he was both. He paid for his outspoken faith with his life. His reward is that he is now with the Lord.

A New York Daily News columnist, Linda Stasi, wrote an opinion piece a couple of days ago that has garnered a lot of attention. Stasi wrote that Thalasinos was not an innocent victim but the equivalent to Farook on the Christian side. Why? She wrote,

Make no mistake, as disgusting and deservedly dead as the hate-filled fanatical Muslim killers were, Thalasinos was also a hate-filled bigot. . . .

Thalasinos was an anti-government, anti-Islam, pro-NRA, rabidly anti-Planned Parenthood kinda guy, who posted that it would be “Freaking Awesome” if hateful Ann Coulter was named head of Homeland Security.

And for those views, he must die?

Do you see what she has done here? She has cultivated a time-dishonored technique called “moral equivalence.” Leftists used to do this with the Cold War, declaring that yes, the Soviet Union wasn’t wonderful, but that the US was just as bad. The goal was to diminish the evil in the former and concoct evils in the latter.

Stasi has done precisely this. Because Thalasinos fervently believed in his Christian faith and it led him to be in favor of the Second Amendment and become vocally and “rabidly” pro-life, he was just as bad as Farook.

Her “journalism” is the worst kind. Unfortunately, it is gaining ground. The mainstream media continues to search for ways to exonerate the real terrorists and blame others for supposedly making them radicalized. They have staked out their own territory around every Islamic act of terrorism:

Political Correctness Line

There are those, even in the Christian community, who want to deny there is a culture war going on. Some will even blame people like me who comment on what we see happening. It’s a special type of spiritual blindness, and if not halted, will only aid and abet future atrocities.

There is no moral equivalence here. One side speaks out for life and religious liberty; the other uses guns and terror to make its points. We need to see the difference clearly and continue to stand against both the terrorists and those who, by design or unwittingly, make apologies for them.

Islam, Terror, & Our President

Here’s what we know thus far about the murderous rampage in San Bernardino yesterday: the murderers were a Muslim husband-wife team; it was well planned, not spur of the moment; their home was booby-trapped and was like an IED factory.

But we can’t call this Islamic terrorism, you understand. No, that doesn’t fit the Obama administration’s narrative. We must maintain the double standard that both the administration and its media allies have constructed:

Complicit in Murder

As with the Ft. Hood shooter and the massacre he carried out, we must instead call this “workplace violence.” That’s already the theme being pushed by Obama and his people. That, and the real cause of this violence: citizens owning guns. Yes, our commander in chief’s first response to yesterday’s terrorist attack was to call on Congress to rein in gun purchases. They’re the problem, not the people committed to a genocidal religious ideology.

Our president’s own radical ideology doesn’t allow him to admit that Islamism is the actual problem. He’s still wedded to the concept that America has caused all of this by its own braggadocio and interventions in the world. Consequently, this is why he has no genuine plans for combating the terrorism—in the deepest area of his heart, he somehow thinks they are right to be outraged and we deserve what we are getting.

It just so happens, before yesterday’s attack, I had been compiling some excellent political cartoons showcasing the Obama approach to terrorism. Here are a few that pretty well summarize it:

More Boots on the Ground

Not Who We Are

Twitter Attack

After all, he knows who the real enemies are:

Radical Republican Terrorists

Yet has the media ever confronted him about his worldview and where it leads?

Tough Question

What was truly funny—well, I don’t know that “funny” is the proper term—was to see him in Paris, where 129 people were recently killed by Islamic terrorists, proclaiming that those kinds of events only happen in America.

Huh?

And why was he in Paris? Why, he was dealing with the one issue that causes all this terrorism and that is going to destroy the entire world: climate change. Yes, Islamic terrorism is nothing compared to this danger:

Terror Climate Change

How are we going to send those so-called terrorists a message? By attending a climate change conference, of course.

Powerful Rebuke

If our president had his way, the evening news would look like this:

First the Weather

One can only speculate how America would have handled the Pearl Harbor attack if FDR had subscribed to the Obama perspective. Well, one cartoonist did speculate:

InfamyWe’re going to have to put up with this until January 2017—if we last that long.

Lewis & the Omnicompetent State (Part 3)

Last month, I presented a paper to the C. S. Lewis Foundation’s Academic Roundtable at its fall retreat. This is the third installment of that paper, which focuses on Lewis’s concerns that an elite would create a totalitarian state. This installment shows how Lewis portrayed that in his novel That Hideous Strength.

That Hideous StrengthEnter That Hideous Strength, first published in 1945, one year after the appearance of The Abolition of Man. The centerpiece in the novel of the unholy alliance between science and the omnicompetent state is the National Institute of Co-ordinated Experiments, or N.I.C.E., a rather clever way of demonstrating how totalitarianism can put on a humane face. In a sentence tinged with an understated sarcasm, Lewis describes the N.I.C.E. as “the first-fruits of that constructive fusion between the state and the laboratory on which so many thoughtful people base their hopes of a better world.”

As the rather vain and eager-to-enter-into-the-inner-ring Bracton professor Mark Studdock is introduced to the goals of the N.I.C.E. by the devious Lord Feverstone, he is informed that someone needs to take over the human race and re-condition it. Techniques will include sterilization, liquidation of backward races, selective breeding, and psychological conditioning leading to biochemical conditioning and direct manipulation of the brain.

Playing to Studdock’s desire to be part of the new age that is dawning, Feverstone entices him with this promise: “Man has got to take charge of Man. That means, remember, that some men have got to take charge of the rest—which is another reason for cashing in on it as soon as one can. You and I want to be the people who do the taking charge, not the ones who are taken charge of.”

Studdock’s role is to be one of the propagandists for the organization, writing untruths to win over the general public and also to influence the House of Commons. Lewis doesn’t seem to see much difference between the two audiences—both are equally and easily led by the nose.

When Studdock questions how they can pull off a “newspaper stunt . . . without being political,” and wonders whether it’s the newspapers on the Right or the Left that will print his articles, Hardcastle [the head of the institution’s police force] schools him on how to manipulate politics:

Don’t you understand anything? Isn’t it absolutely essential to keep a fierce Left and a fierce Right, both on their toes and each terrified of the other? That’s how we get things done. Any opposition to the N.I.C.E. is represented as a Left racket in the Right papers and a Right racket in the Left papers. If it’s properly done, you get each side outbidding the other in support of us—to refute the enemy slanders. Of course we’re non-political. The real power always is.

As the N.I.C.E. goes forward with its agenda, it engineers riots, getting the government to declare a state of emergency. Then it maneuvers itself into the position of being given the authority to make the rules for the state of emergency.

To top off the plan, the hope is that Lord Feverstone, who already is a Member of Parliament, will receive the post of emergency governor. Then the N.I.C.E. will, in effect, become the new civil government as its power and influence expands. Totalitarian government will then carry out the nefarious plot of re-conditioning the human race.

How did Lewis see the beginnings of this totalitarian state in his own time? That will be the subject of the next installment.

The Media vs. the Truth

Journalists can do a lot of good if they take their calling seriously. I’m certainly in favor of trained journalists who understand the need for fairness in reporting. But what do we get when most journalists are schooled in a university atmosphere of progressivism and either cynicism or outright hostility toward traditional Christian beliefs and/or cultural and political conservatism?

We get what has happened to Ben Carson recently—an all-out attempt to destroy an individual who doesn’t fit the progressive mold. In Carson’s case, from the mainstream media’s point of view, he is such an anomaly that he must be taken down.

A black Christian conservative, in their world, cannot exist, and if such a person does exist, he must not be allowed to succeed. Nothing must stand in the way of the progressive agenda, so while journalists mouth the platitudes of their profession—objectivity, etc.—the reality is something else:

Conjoined Twins

And if there’s nothing bad to report, they will create something themselves:

Pant on Fire

Nothing that they have “uncovered” about Carson’s past has any credibility, yet they somehow find a way to ignore another candidate with the greatest history of lies and corruption imaginable:

Media Trash

Did anyone in the mainstream media follow up on the whoppers Hillary has told about Benghazi, for instance—even before a congressional committee? No, they were too busy concentrating on really important matters:

Lies

Carson, to his credit, fought back, boldly contrasting the treatment he has received with the kid gloves used against Hillary and Obama. I love this picture that has been finding its way around social media:

Ben Carson Congratulations

It’s not just Carson, of course, and the attacks don’t come solely from “professional” journalists. Carly Fiorina has had to counter the snide comments from the ladies women on “The View” who decided to attack her personally. She handled them quite well:

Fiorina on the View

I applaud the steadfastness demonstrated by both Carson and Fiorina in the face of this onslaught. For the sake of truth, those who foster the politics of personal destruction must not be allowed to go unanswered.