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Hijacking Jesus on the Way to the Apocalypse

 

Penelope Thornton

 

June 14, 2010

Put on your flak jacket. Make sure your seat belt is fastened. Pull down your goggles. And don't forget your earplugs.

 

Take a deep breath and steady yourself! Ready? Okay, were going to the movies.

 

 

 

First Stop, 2012

 

No need to worry about the future, because there isn't any.

 

The end is near; the end is here, and it's not a pretty sight. Dad, reconstituted loser dad, zips along at breakneck speed, saving the family as the freeway buckles beneath them in LA. But it ain't just California that's falling off and caving in. It's the whole planet. Holy Mother Earth is a goner due to some strange of combination global warming, and magnetic pole shift.

 

Of course, the trend starts in California. All trends start in California. But the idea is to get to Shangri-La or Tibet, in order to be saved! We've heard this before. That's good news for Buddhists, but what about the rest of us? Sad to say most of us don't get saved. But President Morgan Freeman — St. Morgan (aka America’s Spiritual Presence-in-Chief) for most of us — elects to stay with the un-elect and disappears with the rest of us, under the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier as it flattens what's left of Washington DC. The image of the wise, altruistic Black president who, as a member of the elite could have saved himself but goes down with the ship is one of the most striking images of the film.

 

Warning: This movie is profoundly exhausting. So you may just want to double up on the vitamins before you go see 2012.

 

The political messages are interesting. We are led by a saintly Black president to our inevitable demise. The two structures that you see toppled completely are the U.S. Congress and St. Peter's in Rome. The United States of America and the Catholic Church have got to go?

 

The Chinese are the ones that provide the technology to save just those Chosen Few, including a few White people.

 

The movie is pitched to White people, with the main characters, played by John Cusack and Amanda Peet, and their family life providing most of the human element of the story. But the Whites are living in a world where Indian scientists discovered the problem, the Chinese have the technology to escape the disaster, and there’s a Black president of the United States. Although they have a central place in whatever emotional pull the story has, in the big picture, they are bit players.

 

And there won’t be many Whites around in the future. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only land mass remaining after the disaster, and it is the destination for the arks after things settle down. Now I don't know if this is a reference to the Garden of Eden theme, or Africa as the birthplace of the human race, or simply that the Chinese are doing a lot of investing in the resources of Africa.

 

But the world will re-start in Africa, so that Africans will constitute the vast majority of all humans. Presumably they will all be like President Morgan Freeman — fonts of wisdom and paragons of altruism and morality. The world will surely be a much better place than it is now.

 

 

 

Legion

 

Children, listen to me, I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Psalm 23

 

So opens the film, Legion.

 

The rain is beating against the gray earth. A mad dog is barking as he descends. And who is he that descends?

 

The one who kills two cops and behind whom the lights turn off as he pulls off into the darkness.

 

He is the Archangel Michael, but not as we commonly understand him.

 

The angel is confronted by another angel, or is it in a demon? Or is it Satan?

 

A scene opens up with the usual horrifying physical brutality. He cuts off his wings.

 

Is he getting settled in? So far, the movie reminds me of Blade Runner.

 

He has come to the America of now, ghetto Blacks and uneducated, poor and demoralized Whites.   

 

Meanwhile back at the diner, appropriately named Paradise Falls, the place is full of the fallen. Mother Mary who is with child is a slutty waitress. Her boyfriend wannabe is needy and weak. The sweet little old lady turns out to be a foul mouthed evil spirit, who crawls on the ceiling and is difficult to kill.

 

The lost-souls-gathered-together-in-the-diner is an old theme reworked with what are now getting to be popular clichés of the various types of lost American souls.

 

And Mary is a whore, of course.

 

"‘And why is God angry with his children?’ I used to ask my mother as she was tucking me into bed” says Charlie, the mother of the child to be. "I don't know, I guess He just got tired of the bullshit."

 

Michael the Archangel is fallen. He has come to earth, disobeying God's last command, which is to 'off' the rest of us, because "He just got tired of the bullshit." God's had it so he's doing us in.

 

So Michael has taken it upon himself to save humanity, and he does so by issuing some serious, high-tech weaponry to the people in the diner. He does this so that they can fend off God's hordes of angels, as they come to finish off mankind.

 

Lots of hordes and lots of blood, all to the tune of drones, clanging metal and the deep throb of the musical score. Later “Mary” and “Joseph” escape in a SUV loaded down with quite a cache of weaponry. That leaves the Archangel Michael and the Archangel Gabriel to duke it out down here on earth. More heavy metal and more blood.

 

I won't say anymore, in case you see it.

 

A major theme is a clever marriage of the Apocalypse and the Nativity stories. A lot of things are being turned on their head. The first assault is by an ice cream man. The ice cream man cometh? The Angels inhabit the bodies of wasted humans, much in the way aliens have been doing lately.

 

The only good angel is a fallen angel, who wants to save mankind from the wrath of God. So there's a lot of re-spinning of old tales.

 

The babe has not come to save mankind, but rather, mankind will be safe as long as the child is alive. You could take that to mean simply that as long as we keep having kids, we'll keep surviving — definitely a good message. The Archangel Gabriel was the messenger of God, who came to tell the Virgin that she was with child. This time he's come to kill the kid, not too angelic, at least by traditional standards.

 

Let's say, on a positive note, that Nativity trumps Apocalypse. And in these oh-so-apocalyptic times, that is good news indeed. But what is the message of this movie exactly? Is it Christian? If it is, it's a twisted kind of Christianity.

 

There's a re-working of an old theme with Michael and Gabriel locked in an immortal combat. The two archangels that have come down to earth are very earth-like. They fight it out like a couple of motorcycle gang leaders in a bar in the Mojave Desert, somewhere on the edge. Even the weaponry used is brutal. The mace-like thing wielded by Gabriel is straight out of the Middle Ages or Mad Max. And it's interesting to note that it is presented as good fighting good, and not as good fighting evil because we normally associate any angel with good. I don't really know what it means, and if it's part of the subtle subtext, or what.

 

The fallen Angel, Michael, is not evil. He is not satanic. He helps mankind. He is even willing to sacrifice his life to save mankind. So he's a kind of Christ figure. It is Gabriel, the messenger of God, who is evil and cruel and uncaring. And it is Gabriel, who is doing the work of God, which would then make God evil.  So it does becomes a battle between good and evil in a twisted way.

 

So here is the Nativity story, resurrected to give God a bad name. Apocalypse is undone, and the angels who return are demons, and not saviors of mankind. So there you go, the updated hip, Twisted Sister version. Strange tales in strange times.

 

Chics only: Michael is appealing, and I don't mean just in a spiritual way.

 

Warning: This movie is not recommended for pregnant women.

 

 

 

Eli's coming, hide your heart, dear. 

 

Yeah, though I walk in the Valley of the shadow of death

I will fear no evil

 

The end has come and gone, and we are 30 years past the “flash.” Yes, it's yet another apocalyptic movie. This one called the Book of Eli.

 

Eli, played by Denzel Washington, walks the path. He walks the path through the world after the war, after the flash, after the great hole was made in the sky and the sun poured in, not like honey this time, but dispensing death. Everybody now wears shades, because the sun blinds.

 

It seems the ozone layer is completely gone. So Eli walks across the vast expanse of what was once America the beautiful. Let's do that programming thing. We know we are to be nuked; we know we are to be wiped out.  We know because they keep telling us.

 

Abandon all hope ye who enter the Cineplex.

 

His first encounter is with a gang of thugs using a woman for bait, thrown out into the desert sun to lure in the unsuspecting. The hero, Eli, a kind of Black Jesus figure, is set upon by a gang of brutal, stupid, sub-humans, who just all happen to be White men. But he is protected by the Lord, or else he is just one hell of a shot, because he nails every single one of them.

 

Now this post Apocalyptic world makes Mad Max look upbeat, by comparison. Cannibalism is now the norm.

 

Eli, makes his way to a town run by an evil character played by Gary Oldman. Carnegie rules his town by stealth. He knows where the water is and he's not telling. No, because he uses his control over resources to control the people. Cold and calculating Carnegie, the smarmy snake oil salesman is evil personified. And interestingly enough, he is a sickly, and pockmarked White man. The very name Carnegie suggests power and its abuses. And in keeping with the evil White man stereotype, he abuses his woman and sends her daughter out to whore. He is obsessed with getting a certain book.

 

Now the Bible is the good book, and it is carried by the good Black man, Eli. Carnegie wants it because it can hypnotize, and he can control people through its words. His attack animals are physically repulsive, violent, stupid and to a man, White.

 

The hero, Eli, has been walking for 30 years on the earth; the same number of years as Jesus Christ walked on the earth before his crucifixion. And sure enough, Eli will be crucified. Or rather, set upon by this gang of White brutes and shot as he attempts to continue his walk westward, guided only by the voices in his head and accompanied by Solara, the innocent girl who must escape the brutes.

 

The color tone is sepia and the sound, a high frequency screech and howling winds. But then, this is the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

 

Eli and the poor little White girl, who has run away to avoid being trashed by her daddy and thrown to the mob, even though he isn't her daddy, set off on the journey to the appointed place. And then there's a funny interlude.

 

Standing alone on the desert flat is a rundown old frame board farmhouse. The paint's peeled off long ago. It is the very heart and soul of dereliction. The two head for it. They walk up on the porch, knock twice and immediately fall into a trap door.

 

An old couple have somehow survived these many years and serve them tea in china cups. She winds up their old Victrola. Mind you, the “flash” took place in the time of the MP3, but nonetheless this genteel old lady cranks up the Victrola before cannibalizing the guests. But hell, you know, they’re White folks!

 

But just in the nick of time the bad guys show up and old Carnegie wants to reclaim his daughter from her Black protector for his evil henchmen. But most of all he wants The Book.

 

There is a western style shootout with heavy artillery, and Eli gets shot, and surrenders the Bible, but they continue on. He bandages himself up. Now he's got a hole in his chest the size of a golf ball, but God is great, what can I say?

 

They make it to the end, they make it to Alcatraz, now a library, and Eli dictates the book. It is at this point, you realize he has walked through the Valley of the Shadow of Death without the benefit of sight.

 

The only good characters in the book besides, the child in Banana Republic wear are Eli and her mother, who are both blind. Blind to the evil around them?

 

And you have to understand that the evil Carnegie, the snake oil salesmen, only wants the Bible so that he can hypnotize the mob and use them to his evil ends.

 

The final scene of the movie is of The Book. You see it on a bookshelf with the words, King James Bible, on the spine. And next to it, is a book with the word Tanakh, that is Hebrew for the Old Testament, on its spine.

 

Denzel Washington wrote the movie with Joel Silver, a Jewish screenwriter and producer. Once again we are treated to a favorite theme: A noble Black man will lead us out of the darkness of the White man with the words of God's Chosen People. Jews and Blacks working together to destroy evil White men in the interests of producing a morally uplifting civilization.

 

 

Afterthoughts

 

The themes of these movies are relentlessly morose. All the imagery is bleak. And in two of the movies, the optimistic message of Christianity is turned upside down and served up as prophecy of doom. In the Book of Eli, doom is the desert that the world has become. In Legion the scenes of the shootout at the bar are relentlessly gory. The story itself is a sick twist on the Nativity. It features archangels brutalizing each other with maces. This movie starts out on a cold, rainy, bleak night with a mad barking dog trapped behind a chain-link fence. Then there's the depiction of America as a nation of ghettos and diners, or even worse, a desert full of cannibals.

 

And the funny thing is that America is becoming like this. The degradation of the society is an ongoing project. This is what people spend their time doing. They go to these insane, hyperventilated, over-the-top sci-fi slug-fests called entertainment.

 

And all this stuff gets poured into our minds day in and day out.

 

There is no letting up on the violence, but then added to that is this preoccupation with The End.2012 is the Hollywood spin on the Mayan prophecy, and Legion and the Book of Eli Hollywood versions of Revelations. The promotion and cultivation of fear is a Hollywood staple, using a twist on old themes. In 2012 instead of the visitation of death coming from the sky above, it comes from the very earth beneath your feet, which buckles and erupts for the entire length of the movie. And the heroes again, as with Independence Day, are a Black and a Jew — in this case a Black scientist and a presidential adviser, who appears to be Jewish. Together they usher in the New and Better World.  The White suburban dad is, of course, a loser in 2012, but even so he winds up being saved. The War of the Worlds anti-hero and troubled dad, played by Tom Cruise, is another version of the same stock character.

 

And in the Book of Eli, besides having a Black Christ figure, the Whites in the movie are uniformly subhuman, savage, and beyond salvation. To a man they are absolutely repulsive. No subliminal programming here! Hollywood's war on the White male continues unabated.

 

And then there's the sound. As we know, the soundtrack makes the movie. The dreary beat of the rain and howling dog in Legion and the high-pitched droning and the howling winds keep you on edge throughout the Book of Eli. It's all hideously abrasive. I know I was being tongue-in-cheek when I wrote the reviews, but I am serious when I say that you walk out of these movies exhausted, drained of all feeling.

 

I remember going to movies as a kid and walking out, feeling totally exhilarated and just wanting to dance down the street. My spirit was lifted. The joyful mood would last for hours.

 

Sitting through these movies is exhausting. Even when I am there I don't want to be there. The sounds are irritating. Most of the imagery is bleak and ugly. It's hard to believe this is considered entertainment.

 

And even more unbelievably, Hollywood tries to pass these movies off as Christian movies.

 

The constant depiction of life as brutal, as an unending struggle is played out again and again. I think of the scenes of these pathetic people reduced to cannibalizing each other in the Book of Eli. All the subliminal programming. What am I saying? The messaging is as subliminal as a ton of bricks.

 

What is the point of all this?  What is the perpetual pique of the Hollywood moguls really all about?  Rather than dishing out mindless entertainment, they are making movies that that are full of very mindful propaganda and programming. 

 

We are being told time and again that our civilization is a failure and is going to collapse or be destroyed.  We are told that it is time for it to go.  The Mayan Prophecy tells us that it is inevitable.  The movie 2012, tells us the new world begins in Africa.  Legion tells us our world is rotten to the core and not worth saving.  Christianity is presented as being in a state of self-destruction.  The book of Eli describes a world destroyed by technology of the West, which is to say by White people. 

 

Good guys are Black and Indian scientists in 2012, and a Christ-like Black man in the Book of Eli.  The central White guy is an irresponsible, selfish, divorced dad in 2012.  The Whites in Legion are uniformly bad.  The old lady is a monster, the pregnant girl is a slut, and her boyfriend a nerd.  But the book of Eli depicts White men as either evil or subhuman.  It doesn't get much worse than that!  I am not sure if Hollywood wants to get rid of Whites, and particularly White men, or just relegate them to the bottom of the pile.

 

What is this sick thing, called entertainment, doing to people? It really is changing the way people are and, I would go so far as to say, turning people into animals, except for the fact that the animals are far better behaved. It certainly seeks to degrade our society and it succeeds.

 

Anyway, this goes along with my central thesis that there is no reality — only what we see in the movies and on TV. Media is so big and so overwhelming that it really is creating reality. The media is a giant suction device that sucks people in and they become like it.

 

Think of the changes in society: the crudeness that is the height of cool, and the brutality that people don't even question anymore.

 

Hollywood began seriously trashing Christianity several decades ago. But now it seems that a Christianity in tow is a lot more useful.

 

Legion lectures us that God is finally so fed up with us that he has to destroy his creation, the human race.  Interestingly enough one of the reasons is our 'racism”.  Not listed as reasons are murder, rape, arson, and robbery.  The subtext would seem to be that Christians never practiced Christianity.  The movie uses the themes of Christianity without really ever endorsing the religion.   The central themes and images of Christianity such as the Archangels and the Virgin Mary are presented in such a degrading manner that the movie cannot be understood to endorse Christianity.

 

I believe the message is that Christians were never truly Christian.  At the same time the presentation of the themes and imagery of Christianity belittle  the religion.

 

In the Book of Eli, we are told that it is only Blacks who truly practice Christianity while Whites use it as a means of social control and a way of deceiving and exploiting the common people. The last scene of the bookshelf, with the two books, the King James Bible and the Tanakh side by side, tell us  that Christianity and Judaism are of equal value. 

 

A politically corrected Christianity is now to be tolerated.  Better to lull audiences into thinking that their religion is not just the butt of jokes and has regained some kind of dignity. Better to finish off what is left of our civilization using Christianity as the primrose path. 

Penelope Thornton (email her) is a freelance writer and a serious student of the media and its games.

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