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Old 09-13-2005, 04:15 PM   #1
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the Passion of the Penguins

September 13, 2005
March of the Conservatives: Penguin Film as Political Fodder
By JONATHAN MILLER
On the conservative Web site WorldNetDaily.com, an opponent of abortion wrote that the movie "verified the beauty of life and the rightness of protecting it."

At a conference for young Republicans, the editor of National Review urged participants to see the movie because it promoted monogamy. A widely circulated Christian magazine said it made "a strong case for intelligent design."

The movie is "March of the Penguins," and of all the reactions it has evoked, perhaps the most surprising is its appeal to conservatives. They are hardly its only audience; the film is the second highest grossing documentary of all time, behind "Fahrenheit 9/11."

But conservative groups have turned its stirring depiction of the mating ordeals of emperor penguins into an unexpected battle anthem in the culture wars.

"March of the Penguins," the conservative film critic and radio host Michael Medved said in an interview, is "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing."

Speaking of audiences who feel that movies ignore or belittle such themes, he added: "This is the first movie they've enjoyed since 'The Passion of the Christ.' This is 'The 'Passion of the Penguins.' "

In part, the movie's appeal to conservatives may lie in its soft-pedaling of topics like evolution and global warming. The filmmakers say they did not consciously avoid those topics - indeed, they say they are strong believers in evolutionary theory - but they add that they wanted to create a film that would reach as many people as possible.

"It's obvious that global warming has an impact on the reproduction of the penguins," Luc Jaquet, the director, told National Geographic Online. "But much of public opinion appears insensitive to the dangers of global warming. We have to find other ways to communicate to people about it, not just lecture them."

In a subsequent interview for this article, he added, "My intention was to tell the story in the most simple and profound way and to leave it open to any reading."

Likewise, the only allusion to evolution in "March of the Penguins" is a line near the beginning, intoned in the English-language version by the narrator, Morgan Freeman: "For millions of years they have made their home on the darkest, driest, windiest and coldest continent on earth. And they've done so pretty much alone."

The movie goes on to follow the penguins as they trek back and forth over 70 miles of ice to their breeding ground and huddle together to protect their eggs in temperatures that average 70 degrees below zero Fahrenheit.

To Andrew Coffin, writing in the widely circulated Christian publication World Magazine, that is a winning argument for the theory that life is too complex to have arisen through random selection.

"That any one of these eggs survives is a remarkable feat - and, some might suppose, a strong case for intelligent design," he wrote. "It's sad that acknowledgment of a creator is absent in the examination of such strange and wonderful animals. But it's also a gap easily filled by family discussion after the film."

Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, told the young conservatives' gathering last month: "You have to check out 'March of the Penguins.' It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy. These things - the dedication of these birds is just amazing."

Other religious conservatives have seized on the movie as a parable of steadfast faith. In Sidney, Ohio, Ben Hunt, a minister at the 153 House Churches Network, has coordinated trips to the local theater to see the film. (He describes the organization as a Christian denomination with nine churches spread over Ohio and Minnesota.)

"Some of the circumstances they experienced seemed to parallel those of Christians," he said of the penguins. "The penguin is falling behind, is like some Christians falling behind. The path changes every year, yet they find their way, is like the Holy Spirit."

Mr. Hunt has provided a form on the Web site lionsofgod.com that can be downloaded and taken to the film. "Please use the notebook, flashlight and pen provided," it says, "to write down what God speaks to you as He speaks it to you."

Not all conservatives find the movie a rebuke to Darwin's theory. "If an Intelligent Designer designed nature," the columnist George F. Will asked recently, "why did it decide to make breeding so tedious for those penguins?"

The American distributors of the film, Warner Independent Pictures and National Geographic Feature Films, insist that the movie is simply a tale about penguins and that any attempt to divine a deeper meaning is misguided.

"We did not have discussions of what should be in from a social, cultural or political perspective at all," said Adam Leipzig, president of National Geographic Feature Films. "We just wanted to make sure that it was accurate."

Or as Laura Kim, a vice president of Warner Independent, put it: "You know what? They're just birds."

Oh, but they have become so much more than that.

Richard A. Blake, co-director of the film studies program at Boston College and the author of "The Lutheran Milieu of the Films of Ingmar Bergman" said that like many films, "March of the Penguins" was open to a religious interpretation.

"You get a sense of these animals - following their natural instincts - are really exercising virtue that for humans would be quite admirable," he said. "I could see it as a statement on monogamy or condemnation of gay marriage or whatever the current agenda is."

Jordan Roberts, who wrote the narration for Mr. Freeman, said he was surprised that the movie had been adopted by opponents of evolution.

Though he acknowledged that "we didn't talk about the battle between evolution and creationism," he added, "I did say this has been going on for millions of years, so I did throw my hat into the ring in terms of the Bible."

As for global warming, Mr. Roberts said only, "I wish the film had more of that."

But to Mr. Medved, the talk show host, the avoidance of such issues was a strong point.

"I think the prime purpose of the movie is to touch people's hearts," he said. "It's very smart to avoid talking about intelligent design or global warming. Why bring it in?"

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/09/13/sc...l?pagewanted=1
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:18 PM   #2
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Quote:
Or as Laura Kim, a vice president of Warner Independent, put it: "You know what? They're just birds."



or as my sister and I say, "Awwwwwwwwwwwww, penguins!"


Although, I think I might try this line the next time we are standing in front of the Sea World penguin house and see her reaction :

"The penguin is falling behind, is like some Christians falling behind. The path changes every year, yet they find their way, is like the Holy Spirit."
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:24 PM   #3
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And yet, these same people scoffed at the monogamous gay penguins:

http://www.jrn.columbia.edu/studentw...-06-10/591.asp

Melon
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:33 PM   #4
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i haven't seen the movie because i'm sure at least one penguin must die, and i can't handle watching animals die in films.

it makes me

i'm a terrible softie when it comes to these things. i was thoroughly traumatized by books like _Where the Red Fern Grows_ and _A Day No Pigs Would Die_ as a child, sobbing through the final chapters.
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:52 PM   #5
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Uh...yeaaaaahhhh...okay...that's...interesting...

Meh. People are entitled to put their own interpretations into anything, so.... I personally think it's stretching things a bit to say that this is supporting these people's values or whatever, but...*Shrugs*.

Angela
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Old 09-13-2005, 04:56 PM   #6
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Originally posted by Moonlit_Angel
Uh...yeaaaaahhhh...okay...that's...interesting...

Meh. People are entitled to put their own interpretations into anything, so.... I personally think it's stretching things a bit to say that this is supporting these people's values or whatever, but...*Shrugs*.

Angela
It sounds like the movie is used as a teaching tool. But with sound bites taken out of context and thrown into the secular world, it won't make sense to most.

Frankly, I don't see the issue here.
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:12 PM   #7
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Re: the Passion of the Penguins

Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
Mr. Hunt has provided a form on the Web site lionsofgod.com that can be downloaded and taken to the film. "Please use the notebook, flashlight and pen provided," it says, "to write down what God speaks to you as He speaks it to you."
If anyone sitting next to me in a cinema tries this I might be tempted to clobber them over the head with a giant bucket of popcorn. That or *accidentally* spill a supersize cup of diet coke into their lap.

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Old 09-13-2005, 05:18 PM   #8
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Originally posted by nbcrusader


It sounds like the movie is used as a teaching tool. But with sound bites taken out of context and thrown into the secular world, it won't make sense to most.

Frankly, I don't see the issue here.

no real issue, just a less serious thread.

it made perfect sense to me.
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:28 PM   #9
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when I saw that movie all I could think was.. why can't male humans be more like male penguins

it's a wonderful movie that everyone should see
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Old 09-13-2005, 05:32 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
It sounds like the movie is used as a teaching tool.
Oh, I don't doubt it was done for educational purposes. I just don't think that if I ever saw it, I'd say that it was supporting those specific things. Not necessarily that there's anything wrong with some of those values, I just personally wouldn't think of those things first upon seeing this movie. I'd just see it as an informational movie about a group of penguins. The interpretations just struck me a bit odd for some reason, is all.

Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
But with sound bites taken out of context and thrown into the secular world, it won't make sense to most.
Eh, it might not make sense to some...

Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Frankly, I don't see the issue here.
As Irvine said, no real issue here, the interpretations just, again, struck me odd.

Angela
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Old 09-15-2005, 01:18 PM   #11
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i thought this was too cute not to post:



Sept. 15, 2005 | Morning Briefing:
Penguin family values: Were the conservative pundits quoted in the New York Times piece on "March of the Penguins" (see Wednesday's Fix) really aware of how the moral role models they were endorsing actually live? Several readers hastened to point out that the movie's stars, emperor penguins, are hardly examples of committed monogamists: "Neither the Times nor your Fix column noted that the 'March of the Penguins' movie clearly says the penguins are only devoted to each other for a year and then do the whole thing over with [a] different partner. That's the monogamy and devotion the conservatives are celebrating?" Indeed, a 1999 article in the Auk, the journal of the American Ornithologists' Union, points out that emperor penguins (A. forsteri) "have much lower mate fidelity than do smaller species of penguins, despite their high rates of survival." It gets even trickier: Penguins can be gay, too. There have been a number of high-profile gay penguins over the past couple of years (Humboldt penguins, as opposed to the movie's emperors), from Coney Island's cute male couple, Wendell and Cass, to the poor guys at Germany's Bremerhaven Zoo -- after discovering three of the zoo's five penguin couples were gay, zookeepers imported Swedish babe penguins to try to make the boys go straight (fourth item). Some penguins have even proved to be real flip-floppers: The first famous gay penguin couple, Roy and Silo of the New York Central Park Zoo, have apparently broken up after Silo went hetero. "They split up, although there are a few other same-sex groupings," confirms Rob Gramzay, the zoo's senior penguin keeper. These must have been the norms conservative talk-radio host Michael Medved meant when he said the movie "most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing." (New York Times, the Guardian, Der Spiegel, Columbia News Service, FindArticles)

www.salon.com

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Old 09-15-2005, 03:00 PM   #12
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there are stupid people in all groups

if any of their faith is based on this

it is on a false foundation
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