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Bronze-level articleCapalert

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Capalert is a website run by ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP), a Christian ministry known mostly for reviewing movies from a Christian perspective. It was started in 1994 by Thomas Carder, who runs the ministry from his home in Texas.

Contents

[edit] Mission

Carder's mission is to review as much entertainment as possible, count all the examples of sin in each, and list them on his website. He feels that by doing this, he is informing all the other fundamentalist Christians about what sins are in the movie. He's mostly concentrated on film, but he's also rated at least one TV show (Dilbert), and he's hinted at covering other media as well, such as video games. He also includes a large "about the pastor" section where he points out that he has been in an adulterous relationship with his previously married and then divorced wife. Apparently biblical injunctions are only for other people. He also has that "coming soon to an airport stall near you" air of protesting a wee bit too loudly about homosexuality.

[edit] Methodology

The Cap Methodology is, to say the least, complicated. If there is one thing that becomes apparent while reading the Capalert website (aside from Carder's odd reading of the Bible and his strange definition of 'objective'), it's his love of numbers.

Every film starts out with 100 points, and each instance of sin causes it to lose points; the idea, of course, being that movies with higher scores are more suitable for Christian audiences (from Carder's perspective, anyway). He categorizes every sin into six investigation areas that form the clever acronym WISDOM: Wanton Violence/Crime, Impudence, Sexual Immorality, Drugs/Alcohol, Offense to God, and Murder/Suicide. He then runs the data he's collected through over thirty[1] calculations on a computer. Apparently, without this, some films would earn a negative score in some areas.

All this is then compiled into his final review, containing five key elements: a traffic light meant to intend its ballpark palatability (incidentally almost always red), a thermometer that shows visually how the movie scored in the six investigation areas, the findings/scoring section that itemizes each sin shown in the movie, a summary/commentary section where Carder discusses the movie and often summarizes the plot, and a scriptural reference section where he cites scripture to back up his assertions. If the movie is a remake or sequel, Carder will also typically include a side-by-side comparison of the thermometer scores that each of the films have received.[2]

There are a few exceptions to this format. Sometimes, he is so offended by a movie (e.g., Dogma[3]) that he leaves in the middle of the film; in this case, he will simply compile a full review with the sins that he saw before leaving. Carder claims that this doesn't negatively impact the report, perhaps under the logic that every sound Christian would surely leave anyway after seeing such an offensive sight as... er, the Buddy Christ.

Carder claims that everything listed in his Findings/Scoring section of a film's analysis is objective[4] and that the Cap analysis model is objective. It can only be assumed that Carder feels that using math makes a film review objective nevermind the fact that what calculations to use, how to categorize the various sins, and even how to interpret the Bible are all subjective in nature.

[edit] Notable reviews

Four movies have earned a score of 0: Scary Movie, Sin City, American Psycho, and Freddy vs Jason.

Four movies have earned a score of 100: Baby Miracle Volume 1: The Story of Creation, Grandpa Friendly's Workshop: Making Friends, Who Gets the House and Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins is notable because it was the only movie to have a perfect score until a few years ago. Poppins is, if you think about it, cut from the same cloth as the vile Harry Potter movies. It has magic, mischief, and children disobeying their elders; all things Carder has taken a strong stand against. Carder has explained it as "Mary Poppins isn't using bad magic, she could be an angel" (even though she's never described as one in the movie or the book). In Poppins, Carder lays down an interesting point: it's not magic that's bad, its the source of the magic. Jesus did magical things, but Carder likes Jesus so he's good. Harry Potter does magical things, but Carder doesn't like Harry Potter so he's bad. Carder likes Mary Poppins, so she's good. Nothing subjective about that.

The Capalert review of the fourth Harry Potter movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is especially notable because it shows a kind of exasperation with Harry Potter and the recent wave of fantasy movies. In that movie review, Carder quotes Mr. Steven Kossor, his Director of Child Psychology Support (he never names Kossor, but he names the position) as saying: "Kids who revere Harry can't help to notice their own impotence by comparison, and yearn for the antidote that having "magical powers" would provide." Carder then goes on to say how bad that is and talk about Jesus throwing himself off a cliff and angels picking him back up. What makes this interesting is that the quote is used again, for the movie Sky High (about a high school for superheroes). In that review, Carder said "Note that none of the portrayals of super powers were wielded to portray witchcraft, sorcery or the like but such was still incorporated into Offense to God due to the portrayal of super powers to do harm and/or control others. As our Director - Child Psychology Support reported: 'Kids who revere Harry [Potter] can't help to notice their own impotence by comparison, and yearn for the antidote that having 'magical powers' would provide.'"[5]

Basically, when he feels like being sophisticated, Carder turns to psychology instead of the Bible to make people not see movies about magic, and arbitrarily applies this to superpowers too. This seems to contradict his earlier statement about Mary Poppins.

The Hellboy review is also notable because Carder interpreted the title character to be the beast of the Apocalypse, and was offended by the idea that he could choose to be good. Apparently free will is an un-Christian value.

[edit] Fun with objectivity

The Capalert website is rife with oddly-classified 'sins' and examples of subjective Biblical interpretation.

In his review of K-19: The Widowmaker, Carder lists "story tension episodes, action violence" under Wanton Violence/Crime, as though such things were both against the law and the teaching of Jesus Christ. No scriptural citations are made to support this.

In his review of Herbie: Fully Loaded, Carder classifies "open mouth kissing" under Sexual Immorality. Likewise, in his review of Disturbia, he classifies "teen girl in teen boy's bedroom without supervision" under Sexual Immorality. 'Nuff said.

Carder is also fond of listing tattoos and piercings under Impudence/Hate, but never cites scripture or otherwise elaborates on it.

[edit] Relationship with the MPAA

Carder is distrustful of the Motion Picture Association of America, who he feels does a disservice to children and parents by rating movies in a manner inconsistent with biblical teachings. This view was solidified by his "discovery" of "ratings creep". Carder noticed that some PG-13 movies had as much sin in them as some R rated movies[6], and calls these moves R-13. Because of this, Carder has created a complicated Cap-to-MPAA rating guide where he notes the MPAA rating and the rating he feels it deserves based on the amount of sin in the film.

Harvard also seems to have "discovered" ratings creep[7], and Carder loves to remind his readers that he discovered it first.[8]

[edit] The Bible

A great many sins are described in the Bible, so by Carder’s standards, children would be best off avoiding this unsuitable material.

Not that Carder will ever admit it. [9]

For example the Bible tells kids (and adults) to hate their parents. Capalert takes off points for any suggestion of rebellion against parents.

"If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother...he cannot be my disciple." - The Lord Jesus Christ (Luke 14:26)[10] Children old enough to read this text can understand it.

[edit] Quotes

  • The House on Haunted Hill

"Some actresses permitted the camera to photograph for public display and for pay their gender-specific parts without clothing."[11]

  • Brokeback Mountain

"...one of the most sly and cunning anti-Christian films ever produced. It violated God's Word not by belittling or vilifying God's Word or faith in him but rather by encouraging empathy for the practice of behaviors that slap the very face of God."[12]

  • School of Rock

"...consider the concept of the CAP Rule of 1000 which states that a movie which presents 100 examples of bad behaviors of lesser severity, each worth only 10 "bads" (such as in PG movies infrequently but almost all PG-13 movies) is just as bad as a movie that presents only 10 examples of bad behaviors but of extreme severity, each worth 100 "bads" (such as R-rated movies)."[13] Huh?

  • Pinocchio

"Geppetto prays to the blue fairy which looks like an angel with wings and all. Geppetto kneels with palms together and head bowed which is traditionally symbolic of Christian prayer to God, but he is praying to the blue fairy. This smells a little bit like the beginnings of the use of initially small and seemingly innocuous tools and tactics to substitute Christian symbolics with "gentle" counterfeitings to draw away from the Christian faith: the beginnings of paganizing Christianity by paganizing the children. [2 Cor. 11:3] Maybe there is nothing to the possible dangers of "wishing on a star" stealing thunder from praying to God, but maybe there is."[14]

  • Lord of the Rings

"This movie is likely another maneuver to capitalize on the new found infatuation of visually oriented youth with bright and dazzling display of the occult, witchcraft and evil. It is another presentation of the "good" using evil to fight evil. And it presents sorcery as both "good" and evil. Violently. Grotesquely."[15]

  • The Nutty Professor II

"While the most foul of the foul words was not noted even once, slack was taken up to the breaking point with at least 67 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Col. 3:8] and God's name in vain both with and without the four letter expletive [Deut. 5:11]"[16]

  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show

"homosexual song/talk/dance/presence/practices" "suggestive eye movements" [17]

[edit] See also

[edit] External links

[edit] Footnotes

  1. Wherein Carder tells people that reviewing movies and griping about them is expensive.
  2. Capalert's review of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2— somehow, Carder managed to sit through all five movies. Poor sod.
  3. Capalert's partial review of Dogma—It's probably a good thing he left after 38 minutes, the whole black Jesus thing would have really pissed him off.
  4. http://www.capalert.com/method/method.htm
  5. Capalert's review of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  6. Carder's PG-13 -> R comparison.
  7. New York times article about the study.
  8. Harvard Agrees with him! Four Years After He Proved It!
  9. here Carder explains why he won't apply the same methodology to the Bible and here we see his review of The Passion of the Christ and his treatment of religious subjects.
  10. http://www.skepticsannotatedbible.com/lk/14.html
  11. Review of the The House on Haunted Hill
  12. Review of Brokeback Mountian
  13. Review of School of Rock
  14. Review of Pinocchio
  15. Review of Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
  16. By now, I think it's obvious that you want to read the review of The Nutty Professor
  17. We can only wonder what it would be like it if he had written a review of the Rocky Horror Picture Show back when it came out. It's also notable that this movie got a higher score than Rebel Without A Cause.
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