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The “Where is Your God Now” Trope Needs to Die… (Originally posted on Dragon House Studios)

From my sister site Dragon House Studios.

jason

It’s sad that this is supposed to look scary, but all I can think of is “JAZZ HANDS EVERYONE, JAZZ HANDS!!!”

You all know the scene; it’s as old as cinema itself. The big bad is coming, whether it’s an alien, a monster, a demon, or a serial killer. The writers make a point generally of having a very religious person, sometimes a heretic, sometimes a “Bible Thumper”, sometimes a genuinely nice person. Everyone is always dying around that person, and they try to run until they have no options left. Faced with impending doom, then generally kneel and hold up something religious; a cross, a Bible, a crucifix, that sort of thing. They might even kneel in fearful prayer and hopeful reverence.

Inevitably the big bad always kills them, sometimes being as corny as to blatantly state “Where is your God now?” as though the action on the screen didn’t drive that point home well enough. You know, just in case you missed it.

Sometimes the writer likes to do the fake out; have the antagonist walk away and leave that person alone, only to suddenly pop back on the screen and kill them terribly. Because bad guys are jerks. And because it’s supposed to make you go “OOOOH YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE SAFE BUT GUESS WHAT YOU’RE NOT REALLYYYYYY!!!!”

I suppose its supposed to be more scary, and perhaps it was. The first time. Not the first ten hundred.

This scene is as synonymous with horror as the “Only virgins go to Heaven” trope, that has the subtext to the plot being that if you participate in illicit acts then someone with a hockey mask will likely come give you the business end of a skewer.

Michael-Myers-michael-myers-2635432-1024-768

I have a problem with the “Where is your God now?” trope. It’s annoying, and can sour an otherwise enjoyable movie immediately for me. Take Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters for example. Now, I have a famous saying in my circle; never expect more from someone than you know that they’ll give you. Never set expect more out of someone than you know they’ll do. I don’t mean you ought to go around looking to see what you can get out of people, quite the opposite.

What I mean is, if you know an apple tree only produces apples, don’t get pissy with it when you wanted an orange instead. Similarly, some seeds will never become trees, some trees will never bear fruit. Some seeds may only ever become flowers, and flowers are nice so long as you don’t expect them to suddenly become a fruit bearing tree. Some trees will only ever offer you shade rather than sustain you. That’s okay; shade is nice too.

So, what does this have to do with Hollywood? None of these actors or writers to my knowledge have ever publicly acknowledged a relationship with Christ to my knowledge. So–

“BUT THAT’S PRIVATE AND NO ONE’S BUSINESS THEY DON’T HAVE TO SAY THEY’RE A CHRISTIAN IF THEY DON’T WANT TO!!!”

Luke 9:26, “Whoever is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

So…no, if you’re a Christian you do actually have a doctrinal obligation to say it loud and say it proud.

But, I digress.

I don’t expect a Biblical story from a group that I have no reason to expect that from. I don’t expect them to tell a Christian version of that movie, although with changing one simple line they could’ve.

Not a Nephilim. Heck, that's not even a Nephilim born!

Not a Nephilim. Heck, that’s not even a Nephilim born!

See, that’s the thing that makes me laugh. I look at crap like when Devil May Cry and Darksiders get something as simple as what a freaking Nephilim is, which is explained literally in the first like, five to eight pages of the Bible (it’s the class of angel that mated with the daughters of man, not their offspring, and not a half angel half demon hybrid!!!) and I think to myself

A) Does anyone actually do their homework or do they go “Nephilim, I think I heard that word before…doesn’t that mean pancakes?”

and

B) Does anyone even read the Bible?

Also not a Nephilim.

Also not a Nephilim.

Because there’s an entire class of spiritual warriors in the Bible who do everything that Hansel and Gretel explained as “Good witches” and “Good magic”. They’re called the Magi, or Magus in the singular. They called down flaming meteors from the sky, caused the Earth to swallow people, manifested lightning at will, made creatures of warfare appear from will and Faith alone, they were, in a word, pretty badass.

Which is why they’re the subjects of pretty much every Dragon House Studios speculative fiction or fantasy novel in some capacity or another.

So yes, if they wanted to do Hansel and Gretel from a Christian perspective, they could’ve replaced “Good witch” with “Magus” and literally not changed a single thing about the plot, but I digress. While the “there are good witches and good magic” plot bothered me, what made me stop caring about the movie entirely and regret not watching Die Hard instead was one simple, annoying, offensive and over used trope.

“Where is your God now?”

The scene was simple enough. Some witches were abducting children for some obscure and poorly explained ill conceived plot point that involved sacrificing a certain number of kids with forgettable properties to gain the power of a white witch, see “pagan girl Gandalf”, to do…something. I honestly don’t remember what. Or why.

"BLARRRRR!!! GONNA GETCHA!!!"

“BLARRRRR!!! GONNA GETCHA!!!”

So anyways the witches were jackin’ the town up, and then one of the God fearing women in the village holds her cross and begins to pray. The witch of course brutally kills her, because tropes.

Similarly, Jack the Giant Slayer, which was a hot mess for a number of reasons, used the same overdone ham handed plot point of “GOD CAN’T SAVE YOU NOOOOOOOW!!!!” when a giant fell from what I guess is Babel or something and squished them all. Because tropes.

At this point, it’s not even done to drive home a point of fear; it’s just done to be flippant and “edgy.” As my brother would say, it’s just “pandering.”

And unfortunately it sells.

One of my friends brought up the movie last night, Hansel and Gretel. We agreed that it wasn’t great and it wasn’t bad, it just kinda was. Then I, being the only vocal Christian in the group, voiced that the “Where is your God now” scene as well as the “Evil can be good” tropes kind of ruined what little really stood out for me as great in the film, leaving an overall bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t expect much more than what happened, some uncomfortable murmuring, some uncomfortable muttering, a few of them saying they saw nothing wrong with the scenes and a few saying they liked them.

I simply bluntly stated “It’s off putting, and it’s offensive. The scene was done just to do it. I don’t expect a Christian movie from a group that doesn’t profess Christ, but I’d also appreciate it if at the very least they’d stop flipping off my Faith every chance that they get.”

That brought about a stunned silence.

"Hey, ya mind handing me Leviticus when you're done reading it? Don't wanna leave any skid marks in my armor!"

“Hey, ya mind handing me Leviticus when you’re done reading it? Don’t wanna leave any skid marks in my armor!”

“We don’t go out of our way, in our music or our cinema, to do that to others. Yet how many games are about killing God or just flat out lying about what’s in the Bible? How many movies do the same? They’re flipping off my Faith, and I’m frankly tired of it.”

I’m not going to be naive and say Christians never say anything overt or exclusive. However, I have just as much right to stand on my doctrine as anyone else does theirs, and as a Christian I’m honestly tired of it. There’s a myriad of games and movies I might otherwise enjoy were it not for their obsession with flipping off God. Madworld, for example, odd as it might be to hear this from me, is a game I thoroughly enjoyed. The dark, edgy plot, the moody atmosphere, the hopeless struggle of the protagonist trying to make peace with the loss of his loved ones, it was very well written. I was excited for Anarchy Reigns, or whatever they call it in America, and I loved Vanquish as it was based on one of my favorite anime ever (Casshern). However, the same developer makes Bayonetta, a series founded solely on using the Bible like so much cheap toilet paper.

I won’t support Hideki Kamiya or Platinum Studios, and threw out my Madworld and Vanquish as a result. You can easily have a hardcore action heroine that flies in the face of normal conventions without vomiting all over the Bible. Heck, I did it with Rosalia Valentine in The Blackest Rain. And Tea in Ego Clausus: Malevolence. And Aori June in Chosen of the Lord: Soul’s Reckoning.

You can have a supernatural and powerful male without resorting to “Demons and junk”. I did it with Terryn Heart in Academia. I did it was Kaze Sio in Malevolence. I did it with Alexander Rogue in The Witch and The Magi. It’s more than easy enough to do.

You don’t have to do it. It’d be nice, but, the lack thereof is what spurred me on to become a writer. However, at the very least, at the very least…

Can you at least stop flipping off my Faith at every opportunity?

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