For some reason, it seems easy for book and movie audiences to accept the idea that evil is real.
Especially in the supernatural stories that have become cultural phenomena – like the “Twilight” and Cassandra Clare’s “The Mortal Instruments” series – authors and moviemakers dabble freely in vampires, werewolves, demons and more, and their audiences readily accept that there is a force for evil beyond human eyes.
Perhaps it’s just the natural result of watching the evening news: Seeing the corruption of our leaders, the shamefulness of greed, the horrors of war, death, crime and pestilence would lead anyone to believe there is something or someone driving humans to do evil.
But if audiences “educated” to believe there is no supernatural and all the cosmos is explained by science can nonetheless accept the existence of the demons, why not also the existence of God?
Few places have this disparity and seeming contradiction in logic been more evident than in the new film in theaters, “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” a movie based on the novel by the same name.
The film follows the coming of age story of Clary Fray, who discovers she’s no ordinary teenage girl, but a descendant of the Shadowhunters, a race of angelically gifted part-humans (with a reference to the biblical Nephilim) infused with angelic blood in order to battle the constant threat of demon activity on earth.
The tale is imaginative on one hand, as it reveals a secret supernatural world at work in Manhattan, and a bit cliché on the other, relying on a teenage love triangle in a world of vampires, werewolves and other creepy crawlies.
The movie is mostly entertaining, if a bit long, and has some intriguing and colorful characters who nonetheless are given a laughably bad script to work with. There were a few times in my theater when the audience laughed out loud at the corny dialogue … in moments when it wasn’t supposed to be funny.
The story is clearly a tale of the times, with a teenage good girl trying to decide just how “bad” she can be, geeks, hipsters, coffee, smart phones, religious multiculturalism, universalism and multiple assertions that being homosexual is OK. Really. It is. Just in case you missed it. It’s OK, and only oppressive old people who want to do really bad things to you if they find out who you really love are keeping you in the closet.
But what’s really telling about the story is that it paints a world filled with supernatural evil and supernaturally equipped humans, but no supernatural good. Nor god, for that matter.
In fact, at one point in the film, the primary Shadowhunter and Clare’s love interest explains that all the gobbledygook about Shadowhunters being borne of angel blood is probably hogwash, that modern Shadowhunters know better than to subscribe to all that superstition and that in his years of fighting demons on a regular basis he’s “never seen an angel.”
Furthermore, it’s revealed, churches, synagogues and temples (I don’t think the movie said “mosques”) are really all depositories for Shadowhunter weaponry and – by implication – not really places that link in any way to any real god of any kind.
So why the ready acceptance of supernatural evil, but no room at the inn for God?
Perhaps it’s just political correctness.
Or perhaps, as was stated before, the existence of evil is obvious because people everywhere have personally experienced it. But of God, far too few people have had any personal experience.
And if that’s the case, the blame for God’s absence in the movies doesn’t belong with the moviemakers, but with those who have experienced God and are keeping it to themselves.
- “The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones,” rated PG-13, has roughly a dozen obscenities and profanities, all lighter in nature.
- The film contains a several lewd jokes and sexual references, some short skirts, slightly suggestive dancing, shirtless guys, homosexual references, a man in underwear and a passionate kiss. A couple of nightclub scenes are sexually charged, but there is no nudity or sex scene.
- Violence in the film is pretty heavy and often bloody as the Shadowhunters with whips and blades battle several species of baddies. Significant action sequences permeate the movie.
- As you might imagine, the movie is doused in religious and occult symbols, imagery, characters and more. A significant theme of the film focuses the “good” Shadowhunters using tattooed “runes” on their bodies to give them special powers or abilities, and the “bad” Shadowhunters using pentagrams and such to summon demons. A warlock, witch, tarot cards, spells and other occult elements are also prominent. While all these elements are mostly a background part of the fantasy world, “The Mortal Instruments” especially glamorizes rune tattoos, which may become popularized by the book and film.