I actually watched this movie for this post. I watched this movie. I watched A Matter of Faith. This is a good time to note that I have a Patreon account*. If you like what I do, please share this page with others and, if you can, become a patron. Because, I repeat, I watched A Matter of Faith. My Netflix queue will now have "Because you watched A Matter of Faith" on it. I should be compensated, somehow.

I watched this movie because I've seen other reviews. The two over at The Bible Reloaded did an "Atheists Watch" post on it. The three at God Awful Movies gave it a full breakdown, as did Captain Cassidy over at the Roll To Disbeleive blog. And, they all make their good points. That means that I come to this movie with certain expectations and certain points already being made and expectations set ahead of time. Whether that means my suffering was prolonged or I didn't give this movie a fair chance is up to you to decide.
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Chapter eight, now. Here's where we get something important happening. Winston and Julia, approaching separately to allow for a potential thought that they both happened to be coming, coincidentally, at the same time, go to O'Brien's home.

As an Inner Party member, O'Brien lives in a gated community. He lives in a wealthy community. He has servants and access to things like real tobacco. More will come, but the most important luxury of the Inner Party is that O'Brien can turn off the telescreen.

This is immediately shocking. Julia is so taken aback that she can't speak and Winston is so taken aback that he can't hold his tongue. O'Brien can turn off the telescreen.
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In the Bush era, there was a consulting firm for Republicans that helped with communications. It had a slogan that read "It's not what you say. It's what they hear." Whatever your political position or your opinion on the influence of that firm, there is some truth to that slogan. What is said and intended isn't always going to be what's heard.

That slogan will be the basis of at least two different tips.

Here, the tip is about context. Way, way back at the beginning of this series, I made the point about passing the Turing Test. That was about keeping the conversational context in mind. What had been said throughout the conversation, not just the last line. Take that same basic idea and extend it to cover social context.
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Note: The next tip will be about leaving the past in the past. It may be confusing, but details will clear things up.

One of the reasons that this society that exists at the time I write this tip is a pre-apocalyptic society is that we long for a fresh start. In a part of our collective psychology, we have a desire to burn the whole thing to the ground and start anew, as though the whole thing never happened.
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Well, if I wanted to get through this deconstruction with any kind of speed, Orwell helped me out. In Chapter five, not much happens. Syme disappears, to be commented on by some on the first day, then not commented on at all. The rest of the chapter is focused on re-establishing what we already know.

The rented room is, psychologically, very important to Winston. The owner of the antiques shop likes to talk about the past and Winston has imbued the past with a spirit that I don't think it really deserves. We rehash the fact of Winston having, for a few minutes, had that picture of people who had been vaporized. Julia doesn't care about such things. Despite viewing the Party to be a bunch of liars, she doesn't think to reject what they say except where the Party touches on her life. Winston outright tells Julia that she's only a rebel from the waist down and she finds that brilliantly witty.

Most of that is told in somewhat florid exposition. In storytelling, there's "show, don't tell". Well, I get the impulse to tell. It's quicker. It's easier. In writing, it's hard to be exactly clear on what you want your readers and/or audience to know and to never actually tell them. But, what am I complaining about? I get to move on.
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Setting: Black and white small town. The snow is heavy and cold. On a bridge, a George Bailey stands looking over the edge and thinking dark thoughts.

A voice speaks behind him.: I know what you're thinking, Mr. Bailey.

Startled, George Bailey turns around to see a man in a work-suit and wearing sunglasses.

George Bailey: Who... who are you?

Agent Smith: My friends may, sometimes, call me Htreet. But, you might feel better calling me Agent Smith.
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Here we have another short chapter and even one where we can move quickly past the first bit. Winston rents that one room he thought about earlier and worries more... because that's what Winston does, now, worry.

From inside, his room, he hears a woman, working on some laundry, singing a song. With that, we get a bit more (absence of) color on the nation of Oceana.

The tune had been haunting London for weeks past. It was one of countless similar songs published for the benefit of the proles by a sub-section of the Music Department. The words of these songs were composed without any human intervention whatever on an instrument known as a versificator. But the woman sang so tunefully as to turn the dreadful rubbish into an almost pleasant sound.


There's a quick bit in which Julia informs Winston that they can't meet for "the usual reason. It's started early this time." Winston quickly cycles through feeling angry at being denied something he needs to remembering that this is a biological reaity to wishing that they had been married for ten years (perhaps, in part, so that he would be more intimately familiar with, and able to provide appropriate support, these kinds of issues). It's not much to note but, judging this on the curve you need to apply to Winston, this is pretty good social and emotional maturity.

Then, we move on to the bit that has me interested and, quite frankly, confused.
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No, I'm not saying you're a secret Christian any more than I appreciate others saying that I'm a secret theist. I am asking you to examine what beliefs would make sense in light of certain actions and motivations. We, the non-believers, do that examination. And, it doesn't always work out like you want.

By analogy, imagine you're new at a job working under one of two supervisors. One supervisor, the supervisor everybody claims is the supervisor, is a great supervisor. This supervisor knows who's being productive, cares to get to know ground-level employees as individuals, plays no favorites and is not susceptible to smarm or flattery. This is the supervisor everybody talks about.

Then, there's the supervisor that everybody seems to respond to. Most everybody is careful to, at any moment, look busy. Your fellow employees actually take this as a priority over productivity. Your fellow employees are so careful to avoid being caught saying something critical or insulting of the supervisor that they even refuse to acknowledge that obvious abuses of power or failures of management would be such abuses or failures if the supervisor did them.
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The Prophecy has a nebulous place in film-going memory. If you've heard of it, your primary point of interest is, likely, Christopher Walken. Why wouldn't it be? Christopher Walken has a voice and a cadence that... somehow works with almost any role he takes on. And, there are some lines, here, that work only because Christopher Walken says them.

Gabriel: Do you know how you got that dent, in your top lip? Way back, before you were born, I told you a secret, then I put my finger there and I said "Shhhhh!"

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In the last chapter, we learned that Julia is a more skilled and more experienced rebel at twenty-seven than Winston is at thirty-nine. This chapter picks that up and, in a surprising move considering what more allegedly progressive stories would have, fully admits and maintains that she is the more capable of the two on many a level.

She knows the guidelines. She knows how to have conversations a bit at a time. She knows how often an individual hiding place can be trusted. She knows the ways and the how-tos of having illicit meetings, illicit conversations, how to revel in the illicitness of it all and all for the purpose of illicit sex... (Wow, the porn parody of 1984 won't have to stray very far at all from the source-material.)

We mentioned part of how she gets away with all of this in the last installment. She shouts the loudest with the crowd. She volunteers her time. She presents the image of exactly that woman that Winston hated so much. And, she convinces Winston to do something of the same.
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A couple weeks ago, my brother posted this on Facebook.

Wanna know how to fix racism? Stop talking about it. - Morgan Freeman


I did a quick Snopes check and verified that, yes, Morgan Freeman did say that as he spoke out against Black History Month. Still, my response was as follows.

With all due respect to Morgan Freeman, bullshit.


Facebook isn't really the place for in-depth conversation. It's the place for one person to state one position and other people to react. (In this case, 94 variations on "like", one comment of "Amen", and my aforementioned response which got one like.) So, to make a case against what looks like a tide of support for the "Stop talking about it" method, here's why we have to talk about it.
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If you know the premise of "I Dream of Jeannie", you know the premise of "Bewitched". They're not identical. It's just nigh-impossible to have a conversation about one in which the other does not feature. "Bewitched" came first and "I Dream of Jeannie" came next, on a different network, copying for a similar concept.

Still, what came out is quite different. "Bewitched" shows something of a sense of a culture's understanding of gender norms and class norms (Thank you, Evan Tarlton, for giving me that.) in comparison to "I Dream of Jeannie"'s more aggressive wish-fulfillment (no pun intended).

"Bewitched" is the sit-com about Darren and Samantha Stephens. Darren is an every-day, ordinary, every-man (so long as you limit that to middle-class White Anglo-Saxon Protestants). Samantha is a goddess with nigh-unlimited power to create life from thin-air, invade minds, and subject mere mortals to horrific transformations... or, to use the show's language, a witch.
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Chapter 2 of Part 2 is a short one. We can get through it in one post. It starts out with Winston following his new lady-friend's instructions to the T. The narrator (which I take to be Winston referring to himself in third person) even points out that Winston would be more nervous if it weren't so obvious that she was so much more experienced than he.

...

There are some parallels between Winston and myself that I just hate. Then there are the ones I don't know what to feel about.

Winston and the woman stop at a grassy knoll ("No, it isn't dead, it's a Gazebo.") surrounded by tall saplings. Those saplings are important. Anywhere else, there could be microphones. They're not likely, but they're possible. Here, the woman knows that there isn't anything big enough to hide a microphone. So, by process of elimination, we have a safe spot.

And, here, we get the meat of the fantasy that this woman could represent.
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Just a couple weeks ago, a new commenter over on the Slacktivist comments section offered up forgiveness as the cure-all for social ills. The response was quick and... not to the commenter's expectation. Even backing their claims with the words of Jesus, in the comments of a Christian blog, didn't garner the positive response they had expected. The immediate response involved accusations of oppression and evil.

A while back, in Tip #46, I noted the commenter who, throughout the comments section of an atheist blog responding to my not finding their website convincing on the matter of the Shroud of Turin, repeatedly said "Your (insert something here) is, at best, flawed."
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I... think I can forego my usual explanation for those who aren't aware. I won't. Remember how I'm in love with the sound of my own text. But, I could.

"I Dream of Jeannie" is the classic sitcom about Major Tony Nelson, an astronaut, and the Djin he meets after splashdown from a mission has him long off his expected target. By accident he releases her from a bottle. He immediately recognizes that she is what we call, in modern days, a genie and says, to himself, that he has read about them, and immediately sets to making wishes in the hopes of getting back home and/or back to NASA.

If you have read of the Djin, including the powerful ones that need to be bound inside vessels, you should know that wishes aren't something to rush into. Part of what you should have read involves stories of wicked tricksters. Or, spirits resentfully bound into service. Neither of these bodes well for how they will choose to go about granting your wish.

Of course, you should also know that they're not certain to have great magical powers. They can be spirits of fire or air. That's why the popular image of a genie is that of a person from the waist up and a dust-devil from the waist down.

None of all of that applies to "I Dream of Jeannie", of course. It's just a silly situation comedy about an everyman, his wacky neighbor, and the nigh-omnipotent deity which the everyman controls and eventually marries.
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It's not until now that we're going to get a sense of the character of the woman for whom Winston has, when he's thought of her at all, had a series of strong emotions. That has unfortunate elements.

I've taken opposition to the notion that Winston is the closest to whole of all the characters in 1984, but there is a way of looking at that as true. Winston, after a fashion, is the only character in this book. Everybody else is the roles they play. And, I can't tell the extent to which that is intended.

Is this an unfortunate trope of simplistic storytelling or is this an examination of the ways we become, to each other, mere roles dictated by the society around us?

I don't know. And my readiness to give Orwell the benefit of the doubt is tested by some of what we've seen so far.

For now, we see Winston and this woman, still only known as the dark-haired girl, can only manage to have a hidden conversation by, eventually, finding a way to manage to having, just by coincidence, sat down near each other and not looking at each other.
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This one's going to have to start with a bit of linguistic setup. "Ruined my childhood" has become a phrase used for various reasons. Some of them are obviously... wrong. The adaptation of a beloved cartoon into a bad movie, for instance, doesn't ruin the time you spent, as a child, enjoying said cartoon. You still did enjoy that and you can still look back, fondly, upon the time you spent enjoying said cartoon.

There is a better use of the phrase, one that does describe a legitimate bad thing to do to a person that is, nonetheless, not as bad as the issues surrounding not doing that to a person.

I have memories of enjoying a particular performance of a particular kind of media with my sister, while we were both children. This was, by the good judgment of our parents, child-friendly. It didn't have bad messages. It didn't use bad words. It was a good way for us to be entertained safely. And, until a revelation a couple years ago, I could look upon those memories with fondness. The memory was comforting to me, a place of safe nostalgia.

Then, I learned something. This wasn't a new version of the old thing I enjoyed. This was new information and/or new perspective on the thing that I enjoyed. In light of this new information and/or new perspective, looking back on this thing that I enjoyed is no longer a comforting memory. Now, it is a discomforting memory.

This was not a nice thing to happen to me, personally. But, because other individuals matter just as much as I do, it would have been the greater injustice for my memory to remain unharmed by the new information. Even if the rest of the world found this out and I didn't, I would still be acting in a way that perpetuates that injustice.

This was my effort to state the concept without going into any specifics that might lead the conversation down the road of those specifics.

That said, let's talk about A Spell for Chameleon.
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Earlier in this deconstruction, I likened Winston Smith to a High School burnout. I've read 1984 before and I knew that this lady with the dark hair would make contact with Winston. But, I'd forgotten how. And, I get the importance of why this has to be the way but... having had that thought... I can't think it.

Chapter one of Part 2 eases into the High School sense of things but it fits right from the start.

The woman, still known to us as "the dark haired girl from the fiction department", has had some kind of injury that is common to the fiction department, due to the size of the machinery. And, as a side note, I am curious as to how big and unwieldy a machine you might need or even find valuable in crafting fiction... I think the point is that we don't know how that would work? Perhaps even that it's completely unnecessary to whatever function of a machine? If you have thoughts, please have comments too.
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I thought about making this one of my Evangelizing Advice from an Atheist tips. Then, I searched my memory and found that, while this is a problem in general, it's not, to my experience, so much of a problem in the Evangelizing and Apologetics fields. It needs to be stated (though, I won't be the first), but it gets nebulous in terms of category.

I don't know where the problem with our attitude regarding forgiveness starts. But, I do know one place that typifies the problem, best, and that's in the words of Jesus in the Bible. It's the Parable of the Unforgiving Debtor.

Here's the text, copied from Biblegateway.com, from the New Living Translation.
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I couldn't come up with a Case for Groundhog Day because, while no movie is perfect, I don't see a lot wrong with it. Technically, if I wanted to, I could see a treatment of the love of a woman as the prize for winning and doing the right thing, which is problematic. There are going to be other opportunities for addressing that particular issue.

Instead, I'm going to argue for a different way of viewing Groundhog Day. The title of this post gives it away. Oh, and Spoilers ahead for Groundhog Day and other fictions.
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