Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Children's programs- KTV's New Cyrano 2022- Reviewed

(Media Study South Africa)

Jean Chalopin, who brought about stories like "Inspector Gadget" also created another interesting series for children. Cyrano, the main character, in Cyrano 2022, set in 2040, where an ominous totalitarian government "rules" large parts of the civilized world, is a rebel. His singer friend Roxy, and others protect him from government attacks among others, in this highly romanticized cartoon, with a four armed monkey who seems a bit too intelligent for his species.

While it is undoubtedly violent, and seems fascinated with the music industry, and odd childish fantasies of rebellion, and a rebel's integrity, and wit, and seems to have no problem with lies, or enjoying fighting- this adaption of the French series by the same name, seems to appose genetic modification, and instill some basic values such as honor and integrity, even if the integrity, or more particularly honor- fought for is not always done so in the most sane manner.

While it seems against human Genetic Modification, with the main character even risking life and limb to save unwilling experiments, it does have a four armed monkey in the show, and genetic mutations do seem to have positive effects in the plots.

Fighting is almost glorified in this cartoon, made poetic, even done with no real reason.

Quite simply, it is a heavily stylized adaption of the glorified rebellion sort of plot- that certainly plays on the same fantasies in boys, as wrestling does.

Do we advise allowing children to watch this show- not in particular, but we cannot see it doing more harm than the thousands of variations of the tough man theme, and at least the main character here is portrayed somewhat as a gentleman.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Multi-choice- a look at DSTV / Mnet's track-record with the church

(Media Study South Africa; c.f. Catholic Watchdog South Africa)

Article by Marc Aupiais

I personally enjoy watching DSTV, I love Carte Blanche, and its power to do good- and not simply because of the French name- and enjoy the variety. What I don't enjoy is the many somewhat suspect movies I have seen on DSTV as regards the Roman Catholic church- from the religious sponsored movie Luther- a completely inaccurate, especially if accurate were Luther's diary of the events, or that of historic sources- depiction of the life of Martin Luther- in which the main Character calls Roman Catholic "friendly" Rome at the time hell, and the pope the devil, or something as bad, to "Saved", and its odd depiction of Christianity, to screening the Davinci Code- to the movie "Breach"- which could well be accurate, as apparently based on a true story- with a main character who is spying on the US, and belongs to Opus Dei it seems. I also think I saw the film Primeval Fear or something on one of their channels- which was not agreeable with my senses, also notable is Kingdom of Heaven and its portrayal of the Church.

A while ago I tried to ask DSTV to add EWTN Global Catholic Television Network, who seemingly supply their service freely- to their television bouquet. I was unsuccessful. There are so many channels with a Evangelical Baptism/Fundamentalist/"Non-denominational denomination" type of feel on their network- that I thought one Catholic, even Anlglican or Lutheran Television station would be just fairness, but I see neither very many Catholic movies, nor many Catholic channels on DSTV.

A channel which is Catholic is Audio channel 170 on DSTV- Radio Veritas- a certainly loyal station, when it comes to obeying South Africa's bishops- which sometimes propagates information contrary to what I have been able to research of history- but none the less propagated by diocesan sources. I also heard it playing music by Justin Timberlake and Madonna (Four Seconds to Save the World) some time ago- but the announcer seemed to be Portuguese, perhaps they thought it appropriate, and the station itself does not claim only to play catholic music- or only music from organizations who promalgate Trinitarian Baptism- as seen in their playing Mormon or other music.

All they promise is the "good news and good music for a change".

One of the problems with Veritas- is that they were interviewing a person from Catholics for Truth, who are hosted on our Archdiocese' evangelism website, who stated-

"As the church became more institutionalised, the gifts of the Spirit became less common and were seen only in the lives of the great “Saints’. Some, such as St Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) initially thought that they were meant only for the early Church, to “kick-start” her, so to speak. However, he later withdrew this opinion in his Retractions, when he himself witnessed the gifts in abundance in his own Diocese. It was apparent to him then that the gifts occurred where people had expectant faith."
http://www.catholic-jhb.org.za/tracts/renewal.htm

The page is now only accessibly in Google cache- as the entire "evangelism" site has been closed down without any warning we can tell of.

Also this is stated in perhaps only slightly different words on the radio station, by a person interviewed. These words were not repudiated. One may use scripturelink to search on this- but the manifest fact was Augustine went to such pains to prove the gifts of the early Christians- because he had no examples to use if EWTN is to be believed.

We ourselves have countered these claims on:

http://scripturelink.googlepages.com/charismaticmovement


This said- Veritas is run by persons within the church, in this I speak of contact I have had with representation of the station- who truly seem dedicated to their tasks- even if those interviewed, or quoted are sometimes doctrinally incorrect- it is good of DSTV to host them.

What point is there in noting this- it lies in believing that what DSTV screens with their news and entertainment is the full spectrum- it is not, nor is it normal for so many films, including a recent screening "Absolution" to be played on a network without any real opposite viewpoint portrayed. It is odd that this should be permitted, and sad that DSTV has not addressed the issue so apparent- in that someone within their buying department or whatever controls their films and programs- has somehow decided to buy rights to such caliber films to screen, and to choose such channels, that it seems some groups are oddly favoured.

All of this said- I still do enjoy watching DSTV- and sadly- just as a certain and in the case of the example, though not DSTV- infamous channel- CBS chose to air Joan of Arcaidia- a clearly Catholic program, so DSTV also has Veritas- more than this it has BBC, whose news is often accurate, and many useful channels. Until a better competitor, and for that matter, one very positive toward faith, and reason- is allowed in the Market- DSTV is still has a wider selection than many.

DSTV's KTV is very well managed- and probably for quality- permit that their programs seem sometimes to be more than a decade old as long as they are suitable, or seem to be for children.

So- ultimately- the weaknesses in DSTV lie in their selection of films, and their over-emphasis on a very small minority religion's perspective in South Africa- while ignoring that of larger groups to some extent- so that this has only appeared on an Audio Channel, and maybe in a few programs on networks they air.


Some links on sources:

Message Board Conversation where some viewers of movies discuss their views. Not all movies in this discussion have relevance
The Film Luther Reviewed
Veritas on DSTV
Radio Veritas
Refutation of statements on Augustine from good sources

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Media Study South Africa- Disney's Camp Rock Reviewed

(Media Study South Africa)

Article by Marc Aupiais

In Catholic circles- Disney is a big no-no- we don't like to use their products, don't like what they do about our religion, and don't like their stances on abortion and homosexuality- or the way in which men in their movies often land up in dresses for some odd reason.

The Jonas Brothers ("Catholic Exchange 13/09/08"; 16/09/08)- who appear in this movie- are noted to the public as virgins- who wear purity rings- something that does not clink well with Disney's usual image- but something positive from "role Models", mind you, Miley Cyrus also apparently wears one, not that she isn't right in this- but that did not prevent the pictures in Vanity Fair of the slightly dressed self! The Jonas Brother's Father is a minister in a Christian church, and purity rings are a sign of a promise of chastity to God. The Jonas Brothers have been publicly slammed by some in their industry for this practice- but seem not to have stopped it.

Camp rock hasn't got such a bad theme- the main character lies to get popular- but eventually, losing much for the lie- turns to the truth, and love of family and more real people somewhat honorably- it is a cute romance movie which causes you to fall in love with the female lead before the end. Parents are portrayed positively in this movie- a big step forward for Disney- even as main characters continue to strike one as oddballs.

Even the bad guys in this movie turn around, and are empathized with.

Of course the idea of going on a camp and falling in love- is neither new, nor utterly healthy- but this movie is an improvement. To be honest- it is in some ways just another mass produced Disney corporate recipe, but however simply they manage to create a cliché plot- they are not entirely bad at this.

One might further note the "bitchy" high school banter between characters- which might be a negative- but once again a step up from some offerings up there from Disney.

This is an acceptable movie to watch in our opinion, however we should be careful that children do not become too attached to the Disney name.

Search on Disney's Camp Rock

Disney's Camp Rock

Vague reference to Camp Rock and the Jonas Brothers

Catholic Exchange
Vague reference to Camp Rock

Search on the "Jonas Brothers"

The Jonas Bothers

Monday, October 6, 2008

Reviewing Nickelodeon's- Avatar- the Last airbender

(Media Study South Africa)

Article by Marc Aupiais

In this, one of Nickelodeon's best programs in complexity of plot, and focus on virtue, and acceptance and rejection of cultural beliefs- we see three friends and companions who go on a journey together to help Aang, the last surviving airbender, and avatar (link between their world and the spirit world of their world)- to learn to master all four of the bending arts.

Kartara, a water bender probably has a small, and reciprocal crush with Aang. Her brother is the other companion, who is always practicle, and sometimes what she might consider lazy.

Points to be watched

Aang looks like a Buddhist monk, and many elements in this programs are eastern- including the appearance of deities("spirits"), and the concept from some system- whereby the moon and seas have spirits which help waterbenders to control the water.

Generally- we enjoy this program- a foundational knowledge of the power of Saints should likely be given to a child- so they see the spirits as saints, and one must be cautious of only one moral issue, other than the eastern belief system- and that is the lightness with which some lies are treated by main characters- even as lying is considered somewhat wrong, or shown sometimes to be of less benefit than truth- there is some danger in this.

Generally, this program is cute and exiting- and parents could watch it with children- and perhaps explain any problems they may have- or even link its moral themes to the gospel. After all- all belief systems of our more aspiring peers have some elements of truth- just out of proportion, or not the fullness of it.

In watching programs like this- a parent may desire to view it like reading a book- see the characters as independent characters, as people- and the cartoon effect wont be so hard.

As it is we truly desire more Catholic programs on television, and this program while morality is a focus, is not a Catholic program- however- this series does emphasize the value of the spiritual world, of discipline and wisdom, and of morals.

As long as Catholic virtues and doctrine are emphasized in the home, such as with daily bible or catechism readings as a family and possibly prayer- and questions- such minor influences of other cultures are eradicated- and one is left with another influence for good morals and a value for peoples, cultures, and the spiritual.

Also- we should remember always to point out- we have got differences with the eastern view- their's is not our perception of the world- but that does not mean we don't see some values in many of their beliefs and practices- this is what we could say to a child- not saying persay that the show is eastern, rather- emphasizing what is similar to our beliefs, and what is different in this show they enjoy- but saying- we enjoy many things that have some morals and values- and some truth, even if they haven't got its entirety.

Always try to make family time important- and perhaps sometimes watch these mad, and even enjoyable programs your children watch- with them- so that you can turn what is a solitary thing into a bonding thing- of course don't try to be a child, or "cool" parent- just be yourself in such things.

For more on Nickelodeon and problems and good points see-

http://southafricancatholic.blogspot.com/2008/10/childrens-programs-looking-at.html

Friday, October 3, 2008

Americanism- and local Talent- we just need to try- and promote what is moral and true, and good!

(Media Study South Africa)

Article by Marc Aupiais

Is anyone surprised that so many of our programs and films, and books are imported?

Or our clothes for that matter- freshly printed from possible foreign child labour- in such a way that we are forced to buy these horrid human rights abuse products- simply because almost all the manufacturers use such, and because the shops almost all buy from these.

Is there such a lack for instance, of animated talent in cartoon production in South Africa, or in the natural talent to act or write?

- honestly- I think the real issue is a lack of infrastructure- why don't we promote talent to write stories, for others to animate, or act out? Why doesn't the industry, or us ourselves- take risks, like any aspiring culture?

Now imports are wonderful things- but what is good of imports generally comes from the better traits of men- whereby we should not import culture from the West, but from God.

We love to promote promiscuity, or abortion (seems like article 2 section d of the genocide (UN General Assembly Voted definition) to me, but then again I am Catholic), or so many things through our media- simply because these channels are open- or because all or most of our media it seems by the results, needs an imprimatur- not from bishops or governments- but to ensure it is "liberal enough", either to do only basic good, or else even to damage us. Yes it is metaphoric, but I am sad to see what is allowed, and what is stifled before it is born.

Yes, perhaps there are conservative people in media in South Africa- but since when did we need to resonate what America does with creating structure? Media used to be, like science- almost the sole domain of conservatism- of Religion.

I hear more on our news about a school shooting, than about genocide against Christians in India, and Iraq. It is odd, is not that we so often also import our views, and media..?

Granted- South African views aren't too superior- they are generally just South African- but what if we were serious about trying to rise above culture, and differences- what if we went to our universal root values- and promoted that- in an honest way- rather than being told how to think?

If there were South African Catholic media efforts, I know there are some which i am pleased by, I would want to support them- if they, like a few we already have- were, and are quality that is. Many of us would love to link to stories on U-tube, or to fiction or fact.

My personal efforts are for re-permiating our cultures in Christian world-view, and in Christ- which is why the news, and views we support are so utterly vital.

So often- when Christianity is marginalized, or becomes about every spectrum of view- we ignore every atrocity- or vote with our ancestors, and into what seems best for us alone. This is not truly of benefit to us.

I sit and write with my spare time- and not so spare time- in order to create a sort of quiet revolution- from insanity- where we somtimes now are, and often were so forcefully made to act as what we truly understand within that we aren't and shown and encouraged in the wrong or weak solutions to world and local problems- into a culture filled with life, where we have true freedom- to be what we truly are below all the twisting of desires from good into something not quite ours, beyond our false hopes.

We have hope in our sacraments- our signs and pledges- our mysteries, which are more than they are- and truly- happiness is in this below every other thing.

I invite others to join me- start to expect more- from others- and simply tell the truth about reality- and be open to debate on this. If you are Catholic and South African- help mold our culture through the media- which has so far been used so often against our views. Secularism is a tool, crafted for industry, not an end- it should not be a diversion to what is right. Let us not let a treaty between good people be abused by nothingness, nor let our "popular conscience" guide us against what our society- deep below- truly longs for, below all this complacent, sometimes fearful compliance, and these other false influences.

We have been lied to that immorality is saner- we have had many casualties- but know- whenever you enjoy a bad program, or anything evil- this enjoyment isn't yours- your true desires have been foulded, and put under false measures- so as to make you think you desire this fake hope. It is the broken slithers of truth behind this evil- so distorted by falsehood- you truly do desire, above this inferior substitution!

Feel that truth below- perhaps resonate this message of mine- do not be constrained by your culture or your media- rather realize. The limit of what is natural is what is moral, what is just.

With our media- let's promote exiting justice- and true representations of the world. Eventually we all should sicken at the banal sins constantly repeated to manipulate us on television. Let us move beyond the banal and pathetic, and manipulative- let us evolve back into art, and amazement.

Do not take bad workmanship- demand higher standards- I certainly try to. If we don't start demanding a turn around now- with our wallets, and our feet, and our voices- where will our children's children be? Our ancestors, whatever slander has been spread about them- at least weren't at risk of destroying the planet as we are. Further- they waited until marriage- because they had the strength to, and did justice and showed true stories- because they were able to.

yes, many of the past's people were evil, as bad as any today- but let us invoke the spirit of those who were good- let us now refuse the revolution towards what is fake- and start again to show who we are in our work, and in our lives.

Surely- let us promote, not local talent, but moral talent- and in this, let us import this from excellency- something we are as capable of excellent skillfulness as any other people- if we ourselves begin the transformation!

Let us begin with ourselves- by manifesting truth- let us begin by challenging what is neither sane nor moral in our land and all lands.

Children's programs- Looking at Nickelodeon

(Media Study South Africa)

Article by Marc Aupiais

While rival, Disney is famous the world over for being slammed on human, and religious rights issues, Nickelodeon is more focused on providing their product and service.

On Nickelodeon, the channel- one sees- often relative violence in adverts for it, where dinosaurs fight for instance- and on ripping the other up- instead of blood- a logo appears within the second dinosaur- or in the violence of cartoons which replace adverts on the channel- which can be violent- and often show some kind of abuse of characters of other characters, or non-sensical hatred of some characters of others- or banal ideas.

This includes a character in a cartoon dressing as what looks like a tyrannosaurus Rex, and stomping another (I am guessing "bad")character to music.

There are also other cartoons in between or inside of programs where a pencil drawing- hard on its luck constantly has bad things done to it, often with the help of a vindictive other unseen character who draws the scenes. This may give a bad image of the script writer of our life making things "unfair", perhaps- just as the trivialization of violence- or the idea of a character pretending to dance while squashing another character- may cause children to see the idea that one can do wrong with an excuse- so long as it appears one is doing otherwise.

Also- there is much pride- and self-love, and victory dances by characters in these- including a gecko- who is chased every now and then by predators.

Unlike Disney- Nickelodeon, to our knowledge, in its own public capacity- does not have controversial stances we know of on homosexuality, abortion or contraception. This makes them possibly a better alternative- than the constant appearance of men in dresses in Disney programs- as well as the positive portrayal of cross-dressing (A manifestation of Lust, except when for necessity, in Catholic belief systems) in Mulan, where Disney slams Chinese culture in the film, which played on their channel.

In fact- Nickelodeon star - Jamie Lynn Spears- decided to have her child publically instead of an abortion (Creative Minority Report 2007).

As for their programs- their's has a vague, plural spiritualism is Nickelodeon programs- whether the existence of ghosts, who seemingly change like human beings (Danny Phantom), something not from a religious point of view, or the vague Eastern spiritualism of "Avatar".

The appearance of "Catholics", or Catholic characters in Nickelodeon programs appears for instance in materialistic "Gina Fabiani" in Unfabulous- where it is noted by main character- Addie Singer- that Gina always paid attention to her before her (Gina's) new boyfriend arrived, even interrupting confession to talk with her. It also appears in girls from a Catholic school enjoying very much their defeat of the main characters in a science fair. It includes catty banter between the Catholic school girls and main characters. The idea of religion winning is also noted as incorrect, when one of the main characters in this, probably "Addie" answers, "Because they have God on their side", to a question as to why the other school's girls always win, and materialistic Gina answers, that they have matching uniforms- which presents a united front to the judges.

Addie Singer's boyfriend, asks her out at his Jewish ceremony for becoming a man.

Nickelodeon seems generally to attempt to instill morals to a degree in children, it is not Catholic morals- as seen in their portrayal of French kissing outside of marriage- or the looseness with which lies are sometimes dealt with.

Some programs also seem to have a very positive portrayal of violence- however generally there are elements of a "good" and an "evil", of a "right" and a "wrong" inside of these programs- and they often are educational.

The vague spirituality apparent in some of their programs is not a problem as long as a child is adequately schooled in their faith's logical basis, and in the saints-

The sort of morals also in Nickelodeon programs also has it's benefits in reinforcement of what is taught in the house- and in their emphasis on doing the right thing.

Overall- we do advise allowing children to watch Nickelodeon over Disney- but also advise parents to take some time to watch with their children- so as to combat anything they dislike.

Avatar in particular does have an Eatern slant in their portrayal of religion, and in the monk-like uniform of the main character. It shows symbols such as Yen and Yang, and could have elements of dualism- however- with a strong moral background- this show is a good substitute for the utter lack of children's programs on television from a Catholic point of view. It is of benefit for children to have some spiritual emphasis in the media, even if at present we are not gifted with our own programs.

It may be noted that in Rickety Spricket: Showbiz Boy- the main character does dress up as a girl to get a job.


As we have determined to do a search on this network- the following are items of some concern- which do need slight consideration from parents, remember this is simply to ensure you know what dangers we have observed:

"June

Nickelodeon’s Toaster Man featured an opening scene on one episode that had nothing to do with the plot. Toaster Man is at a podium, raising what looks as if it were the Eucharist while speaking solemnly. After speaking, he calls out a number with the scene turning to a bingo hall." 1995 Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights

http://www.catholicleague.org/annualreport.php?year=1995&id=19

"August 1

An advertisement on Nickelodeon for an upcoming MTV program, Apartment 3F, mocked the crucifixion, with a comedian on stage referring to the "great abs" of Christ on the Cross"
1997 - Catholic League For Civil and Religious Rights
http://www.catholicleague.org/annualreport.php?year=1997&id=36


"August
Nickelodeon, in an insert in its August issue entitled "The Village Idiot," offered a "humor" item: "The Police Bladder." Among the fictional items was one about a police officer who had been cited for bravery for not relieving himself for 10 hours: "In lieu of flowers, dixie cups can be sent to him at Our Lady of the Distended Belly Hospital."" 1999
http://www.catholicleague.org/annualreport.php?year=1999&id=53

"Boston, Jun 13, 2005 / 12:00 am (CNA).- New York-based cable giant Comcast has refused to run a public service announcement on abstinence on several of its channels, claiming that the ad is not appropriate for young viewers. A Comcast senior manager determined that Catholic Social Services’ 30-second spot is not appropriate for the 6-to-9-year-olds who watch the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and the Family Channel, reported the Boston Standard-Times."
2005
http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/new.php?n=4128

"Social Issues?

When contemporary Christian singer Kenny Marks released a video entitled "The Party's Over," which dealt with the more sobering aspects of teen pregnancy, the major music television networks, including MTV and Nickelodeon, refused to play it because, as their spokesmen alleged, "We're not in the business of promoting social issues."[6] This was despite the fact that Marks' publicist demonstrated that the stations commonly show videos that deal with every other imaginable social issue, including drug use, apartheid, hunger, nuclear war, and crime." (Pro-Life Activist’s Encyclopedia)
http://www.ewtn.com/library/PROLENC/ENCYC126.HTM


"The cartoon, which depicts the pope as a pogo-stick riding brat, has stirred protests from the Roman Catholic church and conservative politicians, particularly in Pope Benedict XVI's native Bavaria." (2006- Viacom owns MTV and Nickelodeon- the cartoon appeared on MTV )
http://www.americanpapist.com/2006_04_01_archive.html

While the problems with Nickelodeon as a brand are fewer than at Disney or simply more seldomly reported in this field of media, owners - Viacom have been so often caught out, that we have determined to let you surf through a search of many trusted Catholic sites on the issue

Viacom and antiCatholicism

And so- just as with Disney programs and many other elements- there is much danger in media for children- Nickelodeon programs which sometimes we find best- are either acted, or above mentioned- Avatar, Danny Phantom, Unfabulous... we don't of course like the cartoons which appear within all of these programs on their main channel- perhaps watching the same on Mnet's KTV is a better option!

Ultimately- a good forming of conscience, which often is done through literature, or recorded programs- and through prayer and bible reading, and catechism reading time as a family- are vital to child development- and one should trust neither Nickelodeon, Nor Disney- to be baby sitters for their children.

Does one let their child watch Nickelodeon, or choose them above Disney- ultimately- that is left to the parent- we will of course, God-willing hopefully be able to review portions of these and other children's programs for future use

A small danger with program Jake and Josh, is the appearance of the character who plays Josh, as a drug dealer in a film slammed by the Catholic league- after his stint in the well known series.


Ultimately- in the modern era- we often endorse companies with bad histories or parts- This is the way that the system has been set up by giant conglomerates, with largely imported programs to choose from, or products from countries with human rights histories not to be proud of. with children- we need to choose the best of the bad options- or else go to the effort to weed out the best of the entertainment options- always remembering the importance of family on value shaping.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

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