Monday, December 12, 2005

Viewing The World Through The L.A. Times Prism


Times staffers John Horn and Elaine Dutka report:

In its debut weekend, "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" grossed $67.1 million, exceeding both industry projections and the initial weekends for the first two "Lord of the Rings" films. Disney said its $180-million adaptation of the C.S. Lewis children's book about a magical land populated by talking creatures and an evil witch played strongly across the country, attracting a surprisingly large number of adults without children.
Interpreting: Doggone, the movie did well- very well, in fact! And it attracted more than just kids. Isn't that something? Its theme operates on two levels, you know, and one of them is - gasp! - religious!

Horn and Dutka continue:

While the studio said Sunday it did not have data on how many ticket buyers were attracted by the film's Christian themes (the story's lion, Aslan, sacrifices himself to save four children, only to be resurrected to vanquish evil), anecdotal evidence suggested faith communities turned out in droves.
Well, certainly. People didn't just go this movie on their own, did they? They had to be rounded up like sheep and taken to it. That makes the turnout easier to understand, doesn't it? And "anecdotal evidence" is such a handy way to prove such a point.

It seems that viewing the film's success through the Times' secular prism helps secular writers make sense of it. (Forgive me for coming to a conclusion based on anectdotal evidence.) In fairness to the writers, the article is not really an in-depth analysis of why the film did so well. All the quotes in the article are either from marketing people who supported the film or Christian pastors who organized efforts to attend the movie. Even so, I suspect this approach foreshadows the condescension we'll see when one of the Times wise men or women decides to explain it all to us.

By the way, I'm going to see the movie, maybe today, and it won't be because I have been bused to it.

John Yoo

In another Times article Anne-Marie O'Connor profiles Berkeley law professor John Yoo, who has decidedly conservative views on presidential war powers and the Geneva convention. Read the article. It makes Professor Yoo look like a very nice man who, in the view of everyone who knows anything, is simply and terribly wrong. Among the many positions the article cites as examples of Yoo's supposedly extreme views is this one:

"In the war against Al Qaeda, the Geneva Convention doesn't apply," Yoo explained in November on C-Span. "Al Qaeda is not a nation. Under the McCain amendment, all we could do is question peopleā€¦. The real effect of the McCain amendment would be to shut down coercive interrogation."
Well, I haven't seen any legal scholar, left or right, argue that the Geneva Convention applies to Al Qaeda. It clearly does not. But if you read only articles like O'Connor's, you would think that only John Yoo and the people who agree with him hold that view.

And those are today's insights into how the world works, courtesy of the Los Angeles Times.


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