CAP Alert Reviews I

Ladies and gentlemen, dear readers and interested lurkers, I’d like to introduce you all to a group that holds a unique place in my memories: the ChildCare Action Project, or CAP for short.

I mentioned in a previous post, A Personal Journey to Atheism, that one of the last things I did before confirming myself as an atheist and humanist was to seek out an evangelical Christian group and invite them to present their best case to me. Well, now you know the other half of the story: CAP was that group. They are one of the principal reasons that I am an atheist today, and for that I thank them.

CAP’s major mission is to review movies from a fundamentalist Christian perspective. I was aware of them before becoming an atheist, primarily because of several humor sites I used to visit that poked fun at them. I can safely say that that mockery was not undeserved. As anyone who visits CAP’s site can see for themselves, their defining traits are extreme paranoia about anything and everything having to do with sex, constant demands for blind and absolute submission to authority, and highly selective use and application of the Bible that is, paradoxically, combined with an extremely rigid and dogmatic interpretation of scripture, almost to the point of self-parody. I can assure readers, however, that they are utterly serious.

I could spend most of my time mocking them myself, as it is so easy to do. Witness the following gems from some of their extensive list of reviews – each listed item is something about that movie which they found objectionable:

The Apostle: “talk of ‘being human’ to excuse sexual desires” (Do the CAP reviewers believe that this is inaccurate, or do they just resent it being pointed out? Do they teach their children that real Christians do not experience sexual desire?)

Inspector Gadget: “I’m gonna kick some b–t.” (Yes, that is an actual quote from the site. You may compose your own joke about the Victorian sensibilities of people who think the word “butt” is a profanity.)

George of the Jungle: “animal urination”
The Incredibles: “marital discord”
Elektra: “question about intercourse”
(Although every single married couple in the history of humankind quarrels from time to time and every living thing that has ever existed on this planet excretes, evidently we must pretend that these things do not exist in order to raise good Christian children. And heaven forbid that people start asking questions about sex!)

Parent Trap: “hidden adolsecent [sic] nudity”
The Aviator: “mammary display, clothed”
(How dare those depraved filmmakers show people who were naked under their clothes!)

The Matrix: Revolutions: “extensive revelry” (Everyone knows that real Christians don’t have fun.)

Office Space: “pornographic background music” (This guy must spend way too much time obsessing about sex if mere background music makes him uncomfortably hot under the collar.)

Pleasantville: “talk of skinny dipping as acceptable” (I hear real Christians don’t shower naked either.)

Scooby-Doo: “punk dress”
Bowling for Columbine: “goth dress”
(Real Christians know that what a person chooses to wear is an infallible indicator of their inner character. That’s why we have the old saying, “You can judge a book by its cover.”)

Ice Age: “‘An eye for an eye’ as justification for revenge” (This is really too much. Have we now come to the point where Christians are criticizing movies for teaching morals that come from the Bible, or is CAP not aware that “an eye for an eye” is a biblical verse? [Exodus 21:24])

Cars: “male car exhibiting rear underside to female car” (There must be some severe repression going on in the mind of anyone who worries about this. What bad end, exactly, is the reviewer worried this will lead to? People becoming mechanics? The attitude expressed here bears more than a little resemblance to those prudish Victorians who allegedly made sure to decently dress up their tables’ legs, lest people get the wrong idea.)

I will have more to say about CAP in future posts, but for now, allow me to focus on one especially disturbing aspect of their beliefs: their apparent advocacy of the idea that authority figures should always be obeyed, regardless of who they are or what they command. At first glance, CAP might object that this is an unfair depiction, pointing to passages such as the following, from their review of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy:

“Humma Kavula (John Malkovich) is a half human, half robot dictator who rules with religion, portraying the people just like the adversaries want people of faith to be portrayed — regimented, unthinking multitudes in mechanical servitude.”

But while CAP’s left hand makes claims such as this, their right hand says something completely different. In other reviews, they have deducted points from movies for things such as “portrayal of authority as stupid” (Final Destination), or “dissidence among troops” (Doom). The latter is particularly disturbing, given that I saw that movie and the incident which I believe the review refers to is one in which a commander orders his heavily armed soldiers to massacre a large group of civilians. Evidently, the CAP reviewer has no objection to that command, but rather, objects to the idea that the soldiers balk at following it. The other comment is similar: apparently any portrayal of any authority figure as ignorant or mistaken is unacceptable in his eyes. And yet he complains that atheists try to depict people of faith as regimented, mechanical automatons? Look to the beam in your own eye first, sir.

But those reviews do not even reach the height of hypocrisy. One candidate for that position is the review of the dark comedy Saved!, which contains the following line to shock the hearts of good Christians everywhere: “The ultimate rebel – Jesus”. Clearly this is a vile smear, because as we all know, Jesus was a clean-cut conservative who wore a suit, kept his beard neatly trimmed, and was scrupulous in obeying the religious authorities of his time. Any depiction of him as in any way shocking, unconventional, or rebellious could only be inspired by hatred of God.

And then there is CAP’s review of Meet the Fockers (the full name of which they refuse to print on their site). That movie contains the following heretical piece of dialogue: “Always question authority”. Given that the CAP reviewer deducted points from the movie for this, one can only assume he believes that there are some authorities which should not be questioned, but should be obeyed absolutely, without dissent or independent thought. And this is the person who has the gall to complain about depictions of Christians as “unthinking multitudes in mechanical servitude”. His own words show that this is exactly what he himself believes and advocates.

The intriguing question is which authorities CAP believes should be exempt from questioning. Presumably, they mean that category to include God; except, of course, that God is not manifest in this world, giving orders from a glowing white throne. Instead, one assumes, CAP intends that Christians should not question whom they believe to be God’s surrogates in this world, such as the Bible. But again, there is the problem that there are many dueling interpretations of the Bible, and it is nonsensical to believe them to be saying that interpretations of the Bible which they disagree with should not be questioned. The logical conclusion is that CAP believes that their own interpretation of the Bible should be believed without questioning or argument.

This attitude parallels other expressions of the same idea in religious thinking, such as C.S. Lewis in The Problem of Pain, which views both this life and the afterlife as a rigid hierarchy of dominance and submission and praises obedience as “intrinsically good”, regardless of its content. No matter what sophisticated language is used to dress it up, this is the morality of a child. By contrast, a freethinker whose mind is not blinded by dogma knows that every authority should be questioned. The ones worth following will be able to answer those questions.

About Adam Lee

Adam Lee is an atheist writer and speaker living in New York City. His new novel, Broken Ring, is available in paperback and e-book. Read his full bio, or follow him on Twitter.

  • SpeirM

    “Humma Kavula (John Malkovich) is a half human, half robot dictator who rules with religion, portraying the people just like the adversaries want people of faith to be portrayed — regimented, unthinking multitudes in mechanical servitude.”

    But they have managed to inculcate that caricature so deeply into the psyches of believers that even today when I hear the word “atheist” I almost instinctively envision either a dull, zombie-like creature or a growling misanthrope–and I are one!

  • Philip Thomas

    Don’t despair, SpeirM. When I hear the word “atheist” I think of my mother, my best friend, and Adam here- all of whom are wonderful, intelligent and good people.

    As for the main story here, the stupidity of mankind continues to amaze me.

  • http://dominicself.co.uk Dominic Self

    - females offering bed to male
    - “oversexed”
    - suggestive eye movement
    - inappropriate touch

    Well I’m glad someone’s finally taken a stand against that infamous bastion of sin… Chicken Run :D

  • lpetrich

    It’s amusing to imagine CAP rating the Bible according to their own criteria.

    Sex and nudity? The Song of Solomon, Adam and Eve, Noah getting drunk and accidentally exposing himself, Lot being raped by his daughters, etc.

    Violence? I’m not sure where to begin. Perhaps with its genocidal mass murders, like where Deut 7 commands the total extermination of the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.

    Suicide? Samson destroying the temple he was imprisoned in, killing some Philistines along with himself.

    Disrespect toward authority? Moses was very disrespectful toward the Pharaoh, Jesus Christ was very disrespectful to those scribes and Pharisees, and the author of the Book of Revelation was very disrespectful toward the Roman Empire, though in veiled fashion.

    And I wonder what the CAP guys would have said about the early Xians’ refusing to worship the official gods of the Roman Empire.

    Disrespect toward religion? The Bible routinely disparages other religions as “idolatry”; Jesus Christ was very disrespectful toward some of the religious authorities in his own religion, those scribes and Pharisees.

  • SpeirM

    “…Lot being raped by his daughters….”

    No rape. They instigated it, not him.

    (Don’t you just hate it when people post quibbles like this that miss the whole point? Dang it, I do!)

  • lpetrich

    They made him drunk and then had sex with him without even trying to talk him into it. Which I think qualifies as a form of rape.

    To clarify, it was Lot’s daughters raping him, rather than Lot raping his daughters.

  • SpeirM

    Well, dadgummit, you’re absolutely right. If I’d just bothered to read what you actually wrote….

  • Fred Flintstone

    “Office Space: pornographic background music”

    They’re not talking about a sleazy saxaphone; while the protagonist is taking back his freedom, they play rap music with lyrics like this:

    “Now all I gotta say to you
    Wannabe, gonnabe, pussy-eatin cocksuckin prankstas
    When the shit jumps off what the fuck you gonna do
    Damn it feels good to be a gangsta”

    You’d barely notice it because the the visuals on the screen are too hilarious to pay attention to the music. There’s some other strong content, like when the characters are worried their crime will be found out and they’ll go to “Federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison”.

  • Fred Flintstone

    More hilarity from CAP:

    Failure to Launch: “one use of the most foul of the foul words”. I guess that means “fuck”, although the movie also uses the word “orgasm”. They also seem to think that Sarah Jessica Parker’s real name is “Bradshaw”.

    X-Men 3: “Unholy resurrection” (Prof. X appears to die but doesn’t really). The movie is also “pro-evolution”.

    Battlefield Earth, the Scientology movie, scores 62, the same as the Spongebob movie.

    I also learnt a new word: “gamming” means to expose your leg above the knee when you sit in a skirt. Nobody else on the internet seems to use that word, but CAP does.

  • Rowan

    Hehe…that was a good read!

    From the introduction to the Da Vinci Code:

    “I am so sorry this report has taken so long to complete, a full seven days after viewing it and a full six days after its opening. I could not hope to list all of the trouble experienced. I fully believe getting this single analysis report published was plagued with more obstacles than any other of the more than 1000 other reports we have done. Hint: It all has to do with lack of donations/funding. Something tells me the adversary did not want this report published.

    That the adversary is actively involved in creating so many obstacles, especially to this report, makes sense since we are fighting the adversary quite probably in his most sensitive spot — his attacks of Jesus through His little ones. It makes sense also since this film has the potential for doing a g-r-e-a-t deal of Spiritual damage to our youth who have become, also by the adversary’s doing, more worldly than ever at younger and younger ages every year. I suspect most of our readers have the caliber of faith and understanding to be able figure this out without me explaining it further.”

    I love the way they couple the warnings against Satan with an appeal for more money!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blog/daylightatheism/ Ebonmuse

    Oh, the CAP review of The Da Vinci Code is going to be a post all its own, trust me. :)

    “Office Space: pornographic background music”

    They’re not talking about a sleazy saxaphone; while the protagonist is taking back his freedom, they play rap music with lyrics like this:

    I’m not certain if that’s what this point was meant to refer to. The CAP reviewer makes it clear in several places that his rating system never deducts points from movies twice for the same thing, and he does list vulgarity and curse words separately elsewhere in the review. I suppose the only way to be sure would be to write in and ask.

  • lpetrich

    “Unholy resurrection”???

    The CAP guys ought not to watch Star Trek, because it has had some dead or seemingly dead characters who later come back to life.

    Like TOS “Amok Time”, where Spock kills Kirk — or so he thinks. Or the movies “The Wrath of Khan” where Spock dies, followed by “The Search for Spock”, where he gets resurrected. I wonder if some “Trekkie” has put together a list of died-and-resurrected Star Trek characters and the episodes where those events happened.

    And they ought not to play certain role-playing games, because in those ones, a character can get the ability to resurrect other characters who have died. I myself have gotten that ability and used it in some of the playing I’ve done.

  • http://thegreenbelt.blogspot.com/ The Ridger

    Gosh, if the adversary is working so hard to keep them from posting that review, why wasn’t it their first priority? Why didn’t they do it for nothing, to get points … er, good karma … er, remove the stone from the path? (Yeah, that’s the right one.)

  • Azkyroth

    Speaking as a parent…

    LOFL

  • Philip Thomas

    I think the whole idea of Magic in an RPG setting would see these good follks running for the hills, Ipetrich.

    I run a D&D based campaign loosely based on the Crusades. Of course, theism is obviously true in D&D: the closest one can get to atheism is a conviction that the gods are not worthy of worship. The question of whether there is a deistic Creator God is left open though…in my campaign that is the main religous difference behind the ‘Crusade’.

  • Dookers

    I love the way they couple the warnings against Satan with an appeal for more money!

    Yup, I agree. My mom read The Da Vinci Code and understood it, even gained new perspectives on Christianity, and then she saw the movie which she said was boring and made no sense unless you read the book. And blaming “the adversary” for something that could mean a computer breaking (I guess…) is just insane, and why not refer to it as “Satan” like other fundies, even though that could more easily be made fun of??!

    And “seven days since I viewed it and six days since its opening”?! How does Tom Calder get into movie theaters early like that? Or did he get the dates messed up? ither way, always remember that whatever Tom says goes, and remember God Calder’s Word! *explodes in sarcasm*

  • FM

    Actually, Dookers, I think he meant that he saw it six days after it was released, and he’s posting this seven day after that…

  • Dookers

    I despise how Cappyman seems to not want kids to become worldly at younger ages, especially as this world gets more and more nuts! I mean, isn’t that agist? But, then again, it was Cappyman who caused me to become worldly and self-conscious like I am today anyways through his seemingly-innocent site back when I was twelve….….damn hypocrite.

    The Cappyman digusts me……damn it. I had a childhood, I don’t need to keep having one till I turn eighteen…remidns me of a story I heard about a girl named Anissa or Aneesa Jones who the producers for a show tried to keep from growing, and they made her play with dolls and bind her breasts in public meetings, and the girl eventually killed herself after the show she was on went off the air. I think that’s what Cappyman is trying to do to us people.

    And then he edits e-mails to make teenagers look intoxicated or gsy or something!

    ….I know advocating violence is probably against the rules here [EDIT: Yes, it is. —Ebonmuse] …and this is a fourteen-year-old typing here. One with strong beliefs, but still a fourteen-year-old.

    I think Gavroche from Les Miserables said it best:

    We may look easy pickings
    But we got some bite.
    So never kick a dog
    Because he’s just a pup,
    Or you’d better run for cover when the pup grows up.

    There’s a kid who wasn’t sheltered by some homophobic full-quivered conformist freak, even if he most likely wasn’t real. From the perfect song to sing to Cappyman and watch him become aroused and his lips to pucker and his whole face to go beet red as he realizes how agist he is and tries to push the sudden realization off of him as he hears about how sparrows and hawks can make a happy home and about how worldliness isn’t necessarily a bad thing, dammit.

  • toofatforyou

    this man is just sad. How can he be allowed to foster children when he has no real job? These reviews cost NOTHING to make no matter what the creep says. $300 per review? thats just ridiculous. How he ever convinced anyone to donate for him is a mystery to me.

    All I can say is I feel bad for his kids. They get sent to live with an unemployed old man who allows no one to have their own opinions and treats even the older kids like babies. I seriously would run away if I were them.

  • Ryan Groene

    “I mentioned in a previous post, A Personal Journey to Atheism, that one of the last things I did before confirming myself as an atheist and humanist was to seek out an evangelical Christian group and invite them to present their best case to me. ”

    If they are so ridiculous, why pick them to present their best case to you. There are SO many Christians out there who could present a MUCH better case than they could. I am a Christian, and I find it utterly ridiculous that they call their system “objective” or that you can determine the morality of a movie simply from the aggregate of single immoral episodes (some of which are hardly immoral; they even took points off of the Passion of the Christ for violence).

  • GCT

    There are SO many Christians out there who could present a MUCH better case than they could.

    No, actually, there aren’t.