Wednesday, December 12, 2007 Afraid of Atheism?

Cod's mentioning of the Repub's Jesus pushing/pandering reminded of something in the pop culture world I wanted to take up last week. Last week's poll asks:

"Some Catholics say The Golden Compass is anti-church; the filmmakers deny it. Will you see it or avoid it because of this?"

Fair question. The Golden Compass has indeed got a lot of well publicized grief from lay Catholic groups (to my knowledge no ordained Church official has issued any announcement). However, the responses the poll allowed made some pretty clumsy assumptions about potential movie goers, particularly the sort who would frequent
1.) I'll see it and make up my own mind.
2.) I know the books are anti-religion, so I'll pass.
3.) Depends. How different is the film?

Where in this poll is something along the lines of "I'm aware of the implicit attack on establishment religions; and as an atheist, agnostic, or a believer in spirituality unfettered from the dictates of established religions, I have no problem with that position. In fact, I welcome such an 'advanced' idea within a mainstream media offering"?

This poll implicitly embraces the notion that atheistic perspectives are somehow damaging or problematic. Even what I'd call the "progressive" option, which the majority of pollsters selected, implies a decision must be made whether The Golden Compass is indeed dangerously anti-religous or "safe."

Really, the science fiction audience includes a not insignificant portion who have been exposed to atheistic perspectives in their pursuit of science fiction. In fact, quite a lot of science fiction , fantasy, and horror (including most recently the much The Mist) pretty openly declares that excessive God-fearing, not non belief or heterodoxy, is the real problem in our world.

I suppose soft-pedaling the surfeit of atheistic and a-religious perspectives within the genre from which gets its name may well be buckling to the market pressures of perceived "mainstream audience" sensitivities. Still, going back to the notion that some of the best works of the genre strive to appeal to an audience that "knows better" than those sensitivities, I couldn't help but feel was insulting its audience's intelligence in this instance.

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