In Defense of Beauty and the Beast: A reply to John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds wrote a critique of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast here, and here. Dr. Reynolds has been tremendously influential in my own intellectual formation, and I am nearly always in agreement with him. So I was somewhat surprised by his critique of Disney’s Beauty and Beast.

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Batman and Violence

One critical response or obstacle some people may have to making any connection between Batman and Jesus is that Batman seems to be such a violent and vengeful character. Someone may think, “How can you uphold someone who is so aggressive and commits such violent deeds as a Christ figure?” I can certainly sympathize with that critique, so let me try to offer a few different responses 1. Batman does not go out on the streets of Gotham because he wants to commit violence. Bruce Wayne isn’t sitting in Wayne Manor thinking, “I really just want to get my hands bloody tonight.” In other words, he doesn’t get his thrills from committing acts of violence. He sinks down into Gotham to rid the city of corruption, evil, wickedness, and uses physicality as a means to do that because sadly in the case of Gotham, it has become infected with such great evil and it is so widespread that Batman has to use extreme tactics to expunge out the infection. It cannot be solved easily or neatly, rather it takes great suffering and pain.  2. Given… Read More »Batman and Violence

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The Dark Knight and Human Nature

If you ever look up philosophical/psychological perspectives on Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, you would immediately come across arguments about whether the films are “liberal” or “conservative” particularly as they relate to the question of human nature. Questions concerning anthropology such as, “What are humans fundamentally?” “Is human nature essentially good or essentially evil?” “Is there even such a thing as an established human nature or is it malleable and constructed individually or culturally?” are important questions and undoubtedly emerge in Nolan’s three Batman films.  Some argue that the movies present a nihilistic worldview, (the rejection of any objective meaning or principle, life is ultimately void of any real purpose) as presented through the character of the Joker. Others think that the Batman trilogy puts forward a humanist worldview as it displays the greatness of the human spirit to overcome and triumph over struggles as presented through Bruce Wayne or the passengers on the ferries. Others think the story is about the battle between the humanist and the nihilist, one trying to convince the other that human beings are fundamentally evil or fundamentally good. I… Read More »The Dark Knight and Human Nature

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Why Man of Steel Was Disappointing

I absolutely love Superman. I want to be clear about that. I grew up watching Superman on TV and reading the comics and so forth. But Man of Steel was not Superman, it was some misfired execution of a bad idea stormed up in the minds of Zack Snyder and David Goyer (with Christopher Nolan’s permission). I was so eagerly anticipating the release of a really good, new Superman film, Man of Steel (especially after the flat and awkward Superman Returns) trusting it would be amazing because it seemed to have a great creative team (Nolan, Goyer, Snyder). Man of Steel was the most disappointing film of the year for me. There are number of reasons for why I thought the movie was bad but let me list 5: 1. The setup on Krypton felt long but also too fast, and was just awkward overall. I would have either liked to see more of a backstory with Jor-El, the Council, and Zod, that didn’t feel rushed (like what was done in Superman The Animated Series) or none at all. 2. We never saw Jonathan and… Read More »Why Man of Steel Was Disappointing

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Why I Hate Horror Films (And Think You Should Too)

I believe in objective goodness. I believe in objective truth. I also believe in objective beauty …and horror films are not beautiful. They are (objectively) ugly.  Strangely, many Christians have no problem believing in the objectivity of goodness and the objectivity of truth, but many of them don’t consider beauty to be objective. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” right? No, of course not. Just like truth and goodness isn’t up to me to decide, neither is beauty. When we see a mighty waterfall pouring down a cliff, it moves us (as something independent of us)  not just to feel like the waterfall is beautiful to me, but to say, “That is beautiful!” When we hear an amazing symphony by someone like Mozart or Beethoven, we say, “It is beautiful.” Similarly, if we saw rats eating and defecating on another, the response we would have is something like, “Eeeww! That is gross. That is disgusting,” not just “I’m having feelings of grossness.” Or what if someone looked at heinous sin, and found it beautiful, would they be (objectively) wrong? Or what if someone… Read More »Why I Hate Horror Films (And Think You Should Too)

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