Culture Clash of the Titans


A month or so ago when I read the flurry of articles and other items condemning "Avatar" and Hollywood in general for unleashing a plague of paganism on the world, I kind of dismissed it with a laugh. But considering the number of movies that could be construed as pagan or animistic or Wiccan or whatever that have been released since then and which are in the works I kind of think they might have a point, though it's probably not the point they intended.

Films like "Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief,"  "How to Train Your Dragon," and the inevitable new Harry Potter episode coming later in the year. All kids movies, too, including "Clash of the Titans," opening on Friday( Good Friday for God's sake!), the remake of the camp classic 1981 film starring Laurence Olivier as Zeus and the special effects of the legendary Ray Harryhausen.

On the face of it, a ludicrous mishmash of half-baked mythology. But examined more closely it's more subversive and more twisted than the ill-fated movie adaptation of Phillip Pullman's "The Golden Compass."

 At first it seems like the antipagans might be right and the film seems to be posing the polytheistic religion as a better alternative to our Godfearing monotheism, with Liam Neeson all bright and shiny as Zeus and Olympus looking like it's even more fun than the Disneyworld afterlife of "The Lovely Bones." But then you've got Perseus, the bastard son of Zeus from when he was sneaking around John Edwards style and getting a mortal pregnant, denouncing the gods and asserting that humans can get along very nicely without them, despite the fact that he is a demigod himself. So the movie is agreeing with the anti-pagan monotheists.

Or is it? Could the gods and Olympus in this case stand for the organized monotheistic religions of the present day? In that case the film would be making an argument for secular humanism, an even more pervasive godless abomination than paganism.

On the other hand, the film dithers at one point into a battle between Hades and Zeus, representatives of Satan and the Judaeo-Christian God, and therefore a 3-D version of "Paradise Lost."

Or Zoroastrianism.

Jeez, I miss the days when they were all "only a movie."

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