Ignore ‘Golden Compass’ critics, watch the movie and be the judge

As Dead Week drags to a close and as my body begins to reach the limits of its capacity for freezing weather and final papers, this weekend looks increasingly like a sweet, sunny mirage full of naps, hot drinks and sweatpants.

Since television has been reduced to an alarming level of stupidity and trash, and books take up brainpower that I need to reserve for finals week, I will opt for movies as my mind-numbing vice of choice.

Fortunately, the holiday movie selection this season offers more than the cliché Christmas dramedies. “Juno,” “Margot at the Wedding” and “Atonement” all sound exciting enough for me to venture out into the cold in order to see them. The movie that tops my to-see list, however, is the somewhat infamous “The Golden Compass.”

For those of you who have either been living in a cave for the last few weeks or have been too panicked over finals to participate in pop culture, “The Golden Compass” is the “atheist” movie that has caused fundamentalist blood pressure levels to skyrocket nationwide.

This movie is based on the first novel of the same name (and the same “atheist” designation) in the “His Dark Materials” fantasy trilogy by British author Philip Pullman.

To be fair, the term “atheist” is not exactly correct in this case, since God has to exist in order to be killed, as He is in the third and final book of the series. I think the word religious critics are looking for is “blasphemous.”

Even though the creators of “The Golden Compass” have publicly sworn to gut the movie of all the book’s “atheist” overtones and undertones, fundamentalist leaders continue to call for righteous parents to boycott the film, fearing that children who see and enjoy the neutered movie may then want to read the books.

Children wanting to read! Children encouraged to read by movies! Argh! What is the world coming to?

Okay, maybe that was a little too sarcastic. On a more serious note, I think children expressing a desire to read anything that will not damage them should be supported.

As much as religious extremists might believe that exposure to ideas that oppose their views or dogma may cause irreparable harm to children, this is simply not true.

Instead of boycotting movies that are questionable “faith-wise,” parents who are concerned about the moral welfare of their offspring should read the books and see the movies with their children as well as discuss the issues that interest and concern both parties.

Additionally, I am quite sure that one can appreciate and respect a work that does not exactly coincide with one’s beliefs. From personal experience, I adore C.S. Lewis’ series “The Chronicles of Narnia,” yet I do not identify as Christian.

Censorship is never the answer; instead, critical thinking and an open mind are the best approaches to a scary or unfamiliar topic.

This holiday season, take yourself and your younger family members — and your grandma, if you like — to see whichever movie looks good.

Ignore the critics, go out for cocoa after the movie and talk about the two hours for which you hollowed out your wallet.

Carrie Bass is an art history senior. E-mail [email protected].