Spartan Girl!


I'm a journalism freshman at MSU, and I hope to eventually publish my own novel one day.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My thoughts on "The Da Vinci Code"

Nearly two weeks after its release, I finally saw the Da Vinci Code. And I liked it. It was interesting, exciting, and made me think.

And guess what? I'm a Catholic.

I honestly am annoyed at the controversy surrounding it. To me, it was a repeat performance of the backlashes of The Passion of the Christ, The Last Temptation of Christ, and even Harry Potter. Recently, a representative of a Jewish group that was so outraged at The Passion admitted that they should have just let the film run its course. But apparently, nobody has learned their lesson if they continue to make deal out of everything that "challenges" Christianity.

Yes, the film's portrayal of sects that kill to perserve the foundation of their religion can easily offend people. Still, IT IS JUST A MOVIE. Yes, some of the descriptions of the religious groups and their rituals are true (or so we are told), but the whole story is fiction! It shouldn't be anything to make such a big deal about it.

In any case, these religious groups make themselves look ridiculous by producing "counter-attack" books and basically saying that Dan Brown is a liar. Did telling everyone not to see it do anything, aside from get more people interested in it? If anything, the controversy resulted in the book being a bestseller, and the movie is currently the top movie in the whole world! It's obvious that not many people are listening to them.

What makes me angrier is that these self-righteous so-called "religious people" give people of all religions a bad name. It's not just about this movie: it's about all the terrible things religion has been used to justify.

I had always believed that religion was about love, forgiveness, and peace. Yet the Catholic Church claims that homosexuality is a sin. Also, as the movie brings up, there is a negative attitude of women in the church.

Think I'm exaggerating? Nazis and the Klu Klux Klan use religion as an excuse to get rid of people they consider to be inferior beings. Look at the Taliban: they claim that any religion that isn't Islam is pagan and use violence to carry out what they consider to be the will of God, when in reality, Islam preaches non-violence! And they also have a negative attitude about women.

Of course, the Catholic church is nothing like those groups, but there are some dangerous similarities. The main problem seems to be that they take the Bible literally.

*Caution: the following may contain spoilers*

And regarding the big secret of The Da Vinci Code, I agree with Tom Hanks. Why couldn't Jesus be both human and divine? What was wrong with him being married and having children? Having a family isn't supposed to be a sin, for crying out loud!

In any case, I guess it's the same as questioning why priests and nuns can't be married, even though it's probably considered a matter of devoting yourself to God, which there also nothing wrong with. And I'm starting to wonder why can't a woman be a priest. The whole Adam and Eve story doesn't mean that women are inferior to men. Everyone, man or woman, can be weak-willed.

You want to know what I believe? I believe in a loving, forgiving God. A God Who loves everyone. A God Who does not reject people because of their gender, race, or lifestyles (so long as their lifestyles don't harm anyone). That is what I was brought up to believe.

So when people say that if you read or see Da Vinci, Harry Potter, or anything else that threatens their precious views, you're eternally damned, then I say if their version of Heaven is a place filled with smug, bigoted, self-righteous people like themselves, then I would prefer to be in Hell.

Everyone has their views. If you don't want to see The Da Vinci Code because of your beliefs, then don't see it. But don't expect to have anyone listen to your rants about everything in it is a lie. Stick to your own beliefs, don't interfere with or badmouth anyone else's.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

There's Nothing Like A Show on Broadway

Last weekend, I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat, almost at the same time I got The Producers on DVD. I enjoyed both shows very much. I had almost forgotten that musicals used to be funny and lighthearted.

Nowadays, Broadway has taken a more dramatic turn. With the exception of several funny musicals like Spam-A-Lot and The Producers, the majority of popular musicals are more tragic. Who would ever thought that one would make turn Les Miserables into the musical? Or that The Phantom of the Opera would transform from a horror genre to a Broadway obsession?

Still, doesn't it seem that those kind of musicals are a little too sad? I mean, real life is depressing enough as it is; I don't need the heartbreaking Miss Saigon to feel even worse. Even Little Shop of Horrors is somewhat of a downer becuase all of the main characters die at the end! The upbeat kinds of musicals are a little corny at times, but at least they won't leave you in tears at the end!

Not that I don't like the sadder musicals. It helps you sympathize more with the characters. In fact, here are some characters whose tragic stories and powerful singing really struck a chord with me:

Eponine from Les Miserables: Who didn't feel bad for her? Sure, when she was a little girl, she was a spoiled brat, but that was her parents' fault! Not to mention how mean they were to poor Cosette. She seemed to change for the better after her family wound up broke and turned into a gang of thieves. And when Marius, the boy she adores, shows interest in Cosette, she doesn't try to fight to keep him for herself; instead, she not only arranges for him to meat her, but also protects Cosette and her "father" from getting attacked by her father's gang! Her famous solo, "On My Own" is one of the most poignant songs in the show. You also have to admire her courage to join Marius on the barracades, even when it resulted in her death. My favorite part in the performance I saw a few years ago was in the final moments of "A Little Fall of Rain", when Marius kisses her right before she dies... :(

Kim from Miss Saigon: Okay, I never actually saw the show, yet I know the story and have the song track, so I can still feel bad for Kim! She had it as bad as Eponine: the guy she loved married another woman! To make matters worse, she had her son, Tam, to care for. Now, I can understand why Chris didn't wait for her--he thought she was dead--but I can't understand why he and his wife wouldn't take the boy with them to the U.S. Yes, they didn't want to take a child from his mother, but just because the wife couldn't accept having her husband's former fling around doesn't give them the right to leave them behind in Bangkok! They should have been thinking about what was best for Tam, and it was clear that there wasn't a future for him in Vietnam! It's pretty sad that the only way for Kim to secure a future for a child was to kill herself! I know it's terrible to think this, but I hope Chris and his wife felt guilty for the rest of their lives for how they handled the situation.

Nala from The Lion King: I really like how the musical deepened her character. "Shadowland" is one of my favorite songs from the show.

The Beast from Beauty and the Beast: I know this musical has a happy ending, but even when the Beast is acting beastly, you can't help but feel bad for him, especially when he sings, "If I Can't Love Her." And it's so sad how depressed he gets when Belle leaves. I cringed when Gaston was beating him and lying about Belle wanting him dead. And it's impossible not to be moved when he nearly dies... or maybe I'm just a sap.

Joseph from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolored Dreamcoat: Again, it's not a sad show. You still can't help feeling bad for Joseph. I always liked the story when I was a kid. Being sold by your own brothers is an all-time low. I don't like my brother, but even I wouldn't sell him into slavery, if only for my parents' sake. It's incredible that he manages to forgive his brothers even after everything he went through...although you can't blame him for that little bit revenge he has with Benjamin, the cup, and the whole groveling sequence. "Close Every Door" is also one of my favorite Broadway songs.

The Phantom: I don't think explaining this one is necessary.

While I do love getting emotional over the plights of these characters, I maintain that there is nothing wrong with happier musicals. We already have TV shows and movies to add to the daily melodrama. A little escape from depression never hurt anybody.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Remakes that are actually good

In an earlier entry, I stated that I don't like remakes. However, I'm going to have to retract that statement. What I meant to say was that I don't like that remakes are all that Hollywood has been churning out, aside from sequels. Seriously, I think there were more than 10 remakes released this year!

However, not all remakes are bad. Some of them, I am shocked to discover, are actually better than the originals. Actually, that's not much of a compliment when the originals are bad to begin with. Here are a few that were actually good, at least in my opinion:

1) The Mummy- I actually saw the original movie with Boris Karloff, and I have to say that that one sucked. It wasn't just the special effects, it was the script, the characters...not to mention that a dog is killed offscreen. I know it was a different time period and they couldn't afford good special effects, but still, I didn't like it. Boris Karloff did make a very creepy mummy, though. That being said, the 1999 remake with Brendan Fraser was entertaining. The sequel, on the other hand, was inconsistant with the original story.

2) The Parent Trap- Back when Lindsay Lohan was fresh and new, and not just another teen star. Not that Hayley Mills didn't do a good job in the original. Both versions were fine, I just liked this one a little better.

3) King Kong (Peter Jackson remake)- I never saw the original movie, nor did I want to, not because of special effects, but because Fay Wray created the horror movie sterotype of the helpless damsel in distress that would forever hound female characters to come. At least in the new one, the character actually cared for Kong. And this movie didn't glorify the movie team that drags an endangered species from its native land in order to exploit it for cash. Honestly, what do you expect a giant ape to do when you take it to New York, make friends?

4) Bedazzled- Again, never saw the original movie. Still, the one with Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley was funny.

5) Doctor Doolittle- Ditto.

So, in moderation, remakes and sequels are good. It's just that there are some movies that you should never remake. If the movie world as we know it were ending, all or one of the following would be remade:

1) Citizen Kane
2) Casablanca
3) Amadeus
4) Animal House
5) Gone with the Wind
6) Star Wars (it's already been done to death with the prequels)

If any of these are remade, we should revolt.