Friday, November 25, 2011

Abortion & Fairy Tales: Shrek & Moral Anarchy

Do you know what an ogre is?
It's a demon, not just a monster, but a demon that eats children. Odd hero for a children's story, isn't it? But this isn't a children's story, this is a story for adults, and what we have become by our own choice. What is it in our society that eats children?
Abortion. Plain and simple.
When there is a man who permits his children, his offspring, to be killed while still in the womb, then you can have a "hero" like Shrek because an insect-eating, ear-wax pulling, slime-bathing monster is exactly what anyone who would let their child be killed in the womb is spiritually: an ogre. All that Shrek does symbolizes the appetites, and instead of living in the Garden of Eden, he lives in a swamp. That is the illustration of his soul because when a man doesn't feed his soul, he's feeding his appetites (if you are not advancing in the spiritual life then you are digressing in the spiritual life). The 2001 animated Shrek is a perfect example of how silent symbols speak loudly throughout the film, but if we don't know what they are saying, we will be pulled into the swamp with Shrek.
Shrek is dressing up as a "hero" when he's really an anti-hero. Little Red Riding Hood  symbolizes the maiden who falls in love with a man who "dresses up" his wolfish desires in something harmless (the traditions that Grandma represents) but he's hungry for the young maiden's virginity (big eyes, big nose and big teeth symbolize the appetites). That the fairy tales have been thrown out in Shrek symbolizes that they are dead because no one is interested in the morals and consequences they teach.
The film opens with a book. Usually, one would say there is a fine line between the Bible, which is sacred Scripture, and fairy tales, stories which encode secular values and norms of society. In Shrek, however, that line at best is blurred, the makers putting Scripture on par with fairy tales. We can, then, basically take this book in the beginning of the film, yes, to be the Bible. In its talk of a "lovely princess" and "Love's first kiss," the dragon guarding her in the highest tower, we get all the basic, traditional symbols of romance and Shrek intends to destroy them all.
The capitol from The Song of Songs of the 1100s, Winchester Cathedral, England. The illumination depicts the royal couple, in balance and harmony with themselves and each other. It's not that royalty alone is called to this great spiritual achievement, but each of us in our respective vocations in life, thereby becoming royalty spiritually and in heaven. Lord Farquaad is the mockery of this life.
What are the traditional symbols and what do they mean? Since Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror, Mirror are about to be released, this is an important topic, as we can view what devices they retain,... and abandon (please see A Few More Upcoming Films for trailers and discussion). The princess symbolizes the soul, male and female, it is the soul in a state of grace awaiting "the Bridegroom" Christ to come and claim it. The image is a particularly important one for men because, what is a man supposed to desire more than anything else? A wife and family, so symbolizing his own soul as a beautiful, graceful princess would (hopefully) make him realize how desirable his soul being in a state of grace should be to him. The tower in which she is sleeps is both a fortress to protect her from tainting, worldly pleasures and an exercise room of prayer and self-examination, thus the tower symbolizes the "highest" good which one can pursue, perfection of the soul. The sleep of the princess is the slumber spoken of in that loftiest of all wisdom books, The Song of Songs.
Pentecost, the Apostles and Virgin Mary, Duccio, 1308, tempera on wood.
What does the soul wait for? "Love's first kiss." The awakening of the princess, symbolizes the awakening of the soul after the spiritual labors are completed so it can be called to fulfill its destiny, that great purpose God has for it. Love's first kiss is the Breath of the Holy Spirit, such as the one which the Apostles received at Pentecost. It is at this moment that the soul comes to life and is capable of doing God's Will (for more on the importance of the kiss, please see The Kiss and the Soul: Gustav Klimt).
So, back to Shrek. As these images occur in the film, this is the meaning of ancient tradition and its purpose. Then, when these iconic symbols of the princess are finished, we hear Shrek's voice saying, "Like that's ever going to happen," the page is ripped out and we hear the flushing of the toilet, and we realize that we are in an outhouse; forgive the expression, but Shrek's view is, "The spiritual life is a bunch of crap." We have seen this before, very graphically, in Quentin Tarantion's Pulp Fiction in the character of Vincent (John Travolta) who refuses to acknowledge that he and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) were saved by a miracle (please see Pulp Fiction: A Study In Plato and Aristotle for more). In German, the word "shreck" means "terrible," (for those fans of Nosferatu, the actor playing Count Orlock was named Max Shreck, please see The Undead: Nosferatu). In English, we can say, we would "shr(i)ek" if we knew what he really was: an ogre.
It may seem as if I am grafting my moral views onto the film and there is really nothing harmful in it; one reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes even said they appreciated the film's morals; they didn't list what morals those were, however, I think there is a specific character who does support my reading of Shrek: Donkey. All the other "fairy tales" being rounded up by Farquaad's men are secular tales; do you know of a fairy tale with a talking donkey? I can only think of a Bible story (this is the blurred lines between Sacred Scripture and fairy tales) and that's the story of Balaam and his talking ass.
Balaam and His Ass by Rembrandt, 1626, oil on oak panel, Musee Cognacq-Jay, Paris.  Behind Balaam are two men and a white horse: the two men symbolize God the Father and God the Son and the horse is the Holy Spirit. The other two people standing in the background behind the drama of Balaam are the true prophets of Israel of whom Balaam is pretending to be, the symbols of which are in his bag.
Balaam is always described as being a wicked man and is associated with unchastity. As he travels to attempt delivering a curse against the Israelites, he is stopped on the road by an angel of the Lord which only Balaam's ass can see. As the donkey tries to go around the angel, Balaam punishes the donkey who is given the gift of speech so he can reprimand Balaam for his stubbornness in not seeing the angel. The angel then appears to Balaam who tells him the only reason he didn't kill him is because of the donkey. In terms of Shrek this is interesting because the ass is given speech to praise God and do good, Donkey babbles on and on about nothing to the point of being annoying. Where the ass saves Balaam from being killed by the angel, Donkey "saves" Shrek from the dragon by marrying the dragon. But if Shrek had to contend with the dragon honestly (overcome his appetites which is what we should all be doing) Shrek would grow in stature and overcome being an ogre, so rather than save Shrek, Donkey has condemned him.
If Shrek is a man who allows his children to be aborted, what does that make Princess Fiona? Princess Fiona sees a bird and sings while the bird whistles in reply; Fiona sings so shrilly that the bird explodes; she glances at the nest and takes the (now orphaned) three eggs and fries them. The blue bird represents the Holy Spirit (the bird is the Spirit and blue is the color of wisdom) and singing out of tune with the Holy Spirit reveals that her heart is not in tune with God, just as she is revealed to be an ogress. She eats the eggs (the babies) revealing, then, that she, too, is an ogre.
But Fiona has a choice, she can choose her true love. To Fiona, Lord Farquaad is not an eligible candidate (we will discuss this below). Fiona's true love is her appetites. When she is in the "light of day" (truthfulness, a state of grace) she's the lovely princess; when it is night (temptation and spiritual trials) she's a child-eating ogress. Since she has the same disgusting appetites that Shrek has, she "loves" him because life with Shrek is going to be an easy road, symbolically speaking (it's the spiritual life that is the hard, narrow road less chosen). (It should be noted that one of the feature songs in the film is Joan Jett's Bad Reputation which has lines such as, I don't give a damn about my bad reputation, a girl can do what she wants to do; this is Fiona's theme song). This makes more sense when we examine the not-so-sensible Farquaad.
Why is Lord Farquaad so short? Symbolically, he doesn't measure up to standards. What standard would that be? Christianity. He is not a prince, but supposedly he's the ruler of a kingdom, and not being of royal blood he has to marry a princess to really have a kingdom. This is basically the status of all of us coming to Christianity: none of us measure up, that's why Christ died on the Cross. Through Grace and the life of prayer, the study of piety and going to Church, and a constant working of overcoming our sins, we will inherit the Kingdom with Christ, the bride being our souls in a state of grace and the Church to whom He weds Himself. Farquaad is Shrek's understanding of what Christians are, i.e., Christians who say they are but don't follow Christ.
Farquaad is an extremist in all he does. Why does he want to get rid of the fairy tales? Because it's not the Bible, but at the same time, he doesn't read the Bible, either. Being hairy and sleeping in a bed with a zebra skin on it, signifies for us that he's a man of appetites and this is what prohibits him from being able to advance spiritually. How do we know this? His love of comfort keeps him from embarking himself on the quest for Fiona, which would help him to grow in stature because then he would have to acquire the virtues that help us "to grow." Farquuad using the Magic Mirror like a television for the Dating Game validates that he's incapable of advancing spiritually and, like Shrek, he doesn't value the spiritual life because the mirror should be used for the truth of "self-reflection" and not the self-deception of flattery.
Regrettably, Shrek is an accurate reflection of men in Christian society today. Because we fail to live up to the standards of Christianity, like Lord Farquaad, we lower the standard for everyone and produce men and women that are ogres, i.e., an abortion society, where people live the way they want, regardless of consequences, and abort the fruit which could aid them in overcoming their spiritual lethargy. We shouldn't point fingers at others, but take note of how others see us, and begin the worthwhile spiritual exercises the Lord calls us to perform so, like St. Francis, we may preach the Gospel at all times, and use words when necessary.