Daily Archives: January 15, 2011

Easy A gets a B

“Ultimately, if you are not a Christian or if you are but can handle a little criticism/abuse, I suggest that you pick up Easy A and watch it.  If you have children between fifteen and eighteen then I suggest you sit down and watch this movie with them, then discuss some of the themes within the movie and how they apply, or do not apply, to real life.”

A movie about a girl who lied and the ever-expanding fallout.

Olive Penderghast is not a Christian.  In fact she doesn’t have much time or care for Christians.  Let me be very clear about one thing, if you are a Christian, and you are easily offended, then you should not watch this movie.  Now as anyone who knows me can tell you I am not easy to offend, and I generally think that everyone else is far too sensitive about most things.  In this particular case I’m referring to Christians being too easy to offend, but generally everyone.

That being said this is an excellent movie with two strong social themes.  The first is a pro-morality theme which endeavors to show the danger in even small lies, promote abstinence, and generally encourage good behavior in teens.  The second is a strong anti-religious theme, specifically anti-Christian, with a slight anti-God subtext.

The movie is a modern retelling of Nathaniel Hawthrone’s The Scarlet Letter.  In Easy A Olive Penderghast, a highschool student currently reading The Scarlet Letter for her English class, takes on the role of Hester Prynne.  Unlike most modern remakes of older books and movies, which keep the setting and characters while exchanging all of the deep and powerful themes for violence and sex-scenes, Easy A changes the setting and all of the characters while keeping the themes and core values of The Scarlet Letter.

Olive, who is portrayed as a generally good young woman, is an A student who cares about her friends and community and does her best to be moral.  However, in an attempt to avoid an awkward weekend camping trip with a friend, she lies about having a date with a college boy (apparently every high-school girls dream?).  This lie then leads to another lie when her friend, Rhi, assumes that Olive lost her virginity to her date.  This quickly becomes a rumor which leads to progressively more volatile lies until the entire school believes that Olive is trading sex for money, even though she is actually still a virgin.

Olive and Rhi while their still friends.

The strongest theme in the movie is centered on these lies, rumors, and the damage they do.  Olive’s reputation is destroyed, her relationship with Rhi broken, and the only people who speak to her are those who want something from her, either another lie or, in one case, a young man who believes all the rumors.  Interspersed throughout the movie are scenes which depict Olive’s family life and her parents growing worry.  One of the highest points in this excellent movie is Olive’s relationship with her family which, far from being the normal dysfunctional and destructive fare, is actually quite healthy.  Her parents trust her, they worry, they fret, they try to be supportive, they constantly reinforce their love for her, but ultimately they trust her and allow her to make her own decisions*.

Olive becomes an outcast in her school community and, being a high school girl, decides to take the most dramatic route possible.  She takes her inspiration from The Scarlet Letter, wearing her A proudly and defying the school that cast her out, which of course only gets her into deeper trouble.

The second theme I mentioned is the anti-religious, more specifically anti-Christian theme, which is, again, loosely based on the theme of legalism in Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter.  The movie has a number of Christian characters, none of them particularly desirable people.  Marianne, who is an average, Hollywood style, overzealous Christian who has no concept of healthy social interaction with people outside of her social circle, vacilates between persecuting Olive, in a manner reminiscent of the Westboro Baptist group, and half-hearted attempts to ‘reach her for Christ’, which generally consist of alternately screaming at her that she’s going to hell and crying on her shoulder.  Marianne’s boyfriend is the fourth year senior Micah, who is currently engaged in an illicit affair with the school guidance counselor.  Her best friend Nina, really just a jerk, is the other primary Christian in the movie.  However, Marianne’s father, though only in two scene’s, also provides a major commentary against Christianity.  He is a pastor who can brook no disagreement, as seen in his discussion of hell with Olive, and has major moral issues of his own, as seen at the end of the movie.

Just for the heck of it a poster from the inspiration for the movie.

The movie is an excellent example of well-crafted social commentary.  It’s primary theme, morality can and does exist outside of religion.  To be moral it is not required that one be religious and to be religious is not, necessarily, to be moral.  I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, despite it’s anti-Christian theme, because it was well-done social commentary with a very strong, very positive message about morality.  In fact the only message in the movie that I had a problem with, portrayed in only one scene, was the message that God is absent in our times of crisis.  Ultimately, if you are not a Christian or if you are but can handle a little criticism/abuse, I suggest that you pick up Easy A and watch it.  If you have children between fifteen and eighteen then I suggest you sit down and watch this movie with them, then discuss some of the themes within the movie and how they apply, or do not apply, to real life.

If I were grading this movie I would give it a B, perhaps an A-, for two reasons.  First, there is no example of a positive Christian in the movie, not one.  While I understand the theme the movie fails to portray the reality of religious character because of this.  Secondly, and this is a personal judgment, I deeply dislike the message that God is absent and so that detracted from my over all enjoyment of the movie.

*Really, I wish more Hollywood families could be portrayed this way, it might do something to help repair the average American family.

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Among The Neshelim: My first novel, Among the Neshelim, is now available from Smashwords here, and Amazon here. Print copies are not yet available, but will be soon.

Among the Neshelim

by

Tobias Mastgrave

Understanding. One little word, and yet it means so much. We spend our lives pursuing it in one form or another. We long for it, seek it out, and break ourselves trying to find it. But it is always a rare commodity.

Chin Cao Yu, priest and scholar, has sacrificed all he held dear in its pursuit. Now he undertakes the journey of a lifetime, a journey among the mysterious Neshilim, a people of power unlike any he has seen before – all for the hope of understanding. This journey will turn upside down the world he thought he knew and challenge all of his dearly held beliefs. Has he found the ultimate truth or the ultimate lie? And what will he do with it when he learns?

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