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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    New Line ad claim: Golden Compass "entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching." (includes picture)

    Sometimes, words fail me. Sometimes, I hate being really right:

    Behold how New Line Cinema is promoting it's new movie The Golden Compass, which it is well-known at this point is based on a series of Anti-Catholic books. [This image was sent to me by a trustworthy source. However, I have not been able to confirm a specific URL where it is currently being used (dynamic ads are difficult to pin-down). If someone finds one, please send me the URL or screenshot. update: Some possible confirmation found - scroll down.]

    Okay, presuming that the advertisement is genuine....

    First, the ad conflates the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the official leadership body of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting. They aren't the same.

    But this first point is a minor complaint compared to this advertisement's claim, in quotation marks, that this movie is "An exciting adventure story entirely in harmony with church teaching".

    This line never appears in the USCCB's Office for Film and Broadcasting review.

    The actual quotation reads as follows (underlining mine):

    To the extent, moreover, that Lyra and her allies are taking a stand on behalf of free will in opposition to the coercive force of the Magisterium, they are of course acting entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching.

    (the previous part of the artificial quotation about the "exciting adventure story" appears elsewhere.)

    A spokesperson for the Catholic League observed in response to this problematic line:

    In what the League calls "mind-boggling", the USCCB review actually congratulates the screenwriter for portraying the characters as demonstrating "free will" for their opposition to the Magisterium and then suggests that this is a reflection "entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching"."

    ... The League countered: "Nazis are portrayed as having free will in movies, too. Should the screenwriters of this film be commended for reflecting Catholic values? Free will is indeed a Catholic value, but it is the object of free will that carries moral weight."

    Never when I began covering this story back in August did I think I would see New Line Cinema actually claiming its movie The Golden Compass to be "entirely in harmony with Catholic teaching."

    And even when I reported that New Line Cinema is approaching Catholic publications to advertise their new film did I suspect they would jump way beyond claiming the movie to be neutral and instead promote the idea that it is in fact "entirely in harmony with Church teaching."

    I mean, I didn't think they they would be that stupid. To make the obvious semantic point:

    The advertisement makes the universal claim that the entire movie is "in harmony with Church teaching." Even the problematic review warns that the film contains "anti-clerical subtext, standard genre occult elements, a character born out of wedlock...."

    So are all those things now "entirely in harmony with Church teaching"?!

    As the advertisement stands, it is a bald falsehood, and the U.S. Bishops should speak out against New Line Cinema for attempting to mislead Catholics about the character its movie.

    In a way, this is a "good" development, because it takes what (up to this point) has been somewhat arguable problems and makes this a very clear case of grave misrepresentation.

    For all my previous posts on this story, click here.

    update: I found a nibble:

    On BeliefNet's CrunchyCon blog (of all things?) I found this advertisement. I've taken a screenshot of it for verification. Judging by the font and accompanying art, I believe this lends credence to my original post's claim that New Line actually produced the original false advertisement as well.

    And of course, they could still be running that previous ad elsewhere on the internet. It's also entirely possible that the New Line advertising staff read blogs like this one or CurtJester, and that they've quickly withdrawn the first (more offensive) advertisement.

    This new advertisement still falsely claims the blanket endorsement of the USCCB, which I've already noted does not express opinions on movies except through its Office for Film and Broadcasting, which contracts various people to write the actual reviews.

    I think this second advertismenet is a good sampling of what we can expect "quite a few" Catholic publications to publish in the next week, as I previously reported here.

    So, are Catholic newspapers and publications going to cast their lot in with New Line on this one? Are the U.S. Bishops going to sit back and let New Line claim their wholehearted endorsement of a movie which contains "elements of the occult" and "anti-clerical subtext"?

    I don't need to dabble in the occult or have any sentiments of anti-clericalism to have a strong feeling that some scrambling is going on behind the scenes at 3211 4th Street.

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