Maleficent: Textbook Postmodern Deconstructionism

Natalina’s review of the film Maleficent: Sympathy for the Devil: Review of Disney’s “Maleficent” went viral attracting the scorn of atheists and lots of nice kudos as well. I’ll commend the reader to read it and just add a few technical points.  Make no bones about it, this is a postmodern deconstruction of Sleeping Beauty. Those big words are important and I will quote from some real pros in order to explain them to you.  Recall that the original tale “Sleeping Beauty” had clear moral categories and children could easily identify the hero and the villain. That moral clarity is the target of subversion. Postmodernism questions any claim to moral truth and asserts relativism as its only absolute albeit it is hanging in midair. Screenwriter Brian Godawa explains:

hollywood_worldviews

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Postmodernists focus on “deconstructing” a belief by uncovering the various hidden or unconscious cultural prejudices that shaped it, rather than determining the verity of a truth claim. After all, if there is no transcendent truth or objective reality, then no belief or worldview about reality can be verified. Propositions about reality are reducible to personal agendas or biases, so all debate or inquiry reduces to the uncovering of these biases. Postmoderns will even go so far as to say that personal identity is also an illusion, because we are constructed by our society.  (Brian Godawa. Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment, Kindle Locations 1269-1273).

When one has a working knowledge of these techniques, it makes it simple to see what the movie producers are attempting to do: subvert objective moral categories. This goes much further than entertainment and plays out in religion and politics. New Testament scholar Peter Jones has done a masterful job exposing how this has transformed Western culture. Please consider how this is playing out in terms of spirituality:

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Postmodern deconstructionists said there is no metanarrative (overarching worldview), but religious pagans didn’t seem to hear them and are busy constructing a new one to explain everything. In other words, we are seeing not a breakdown of law and order, but a redefinition of it; not unrestrained immoral behavior, but a justification of it; not a laxity about sexual perversion, but a legalization of it; not a materialistic rejection of God, but a spiritual redefinition of God that turns Him into the goddess. Intellectual Neopagans dismissed the term “New Age” as narcissistic, focusing only on personal bliss and freedom. Today’s spiritualists are “progressive” or “integral,” eager for a coherent worldview to save the planet. The new systematized paganism includes:

  • a powerful spiritual experience, based on the subconscious, that provides an exit from rationalism;
  • a resolution of the conflict between science and religion;
  • an end to religious strife;
  • a compelling analysis of Western philosophy and a critique of rationalism, materialism and consumerism that is as sharp as some Christian versions;
  • an enchanted, passionate, environmentally-informed view of nature;
  • an all-encompassing geopolitical vision of planetary harmony; a destruction of the illogical church/state wall of separation and the spiritualization of life in the public square;
  • a theory of planetary economics;
  • an all-inclusive, cradle-to-grave, spiritually inspired educational policy;
  • a powerful, therapeutic psychology that delivers from anger and greed and proposes an experience of rebirth;
  • a liberating redefinition of ethics, namely eco-ethics;
  • a radical liberation from narrow heterosexuality into the pleasant paths of pansexuality;
  • and an evolutionary account of history and human significance.

Thousands of progressives in academics, the media and politics, along with liberal church leaders are joining to produce a pagan cosmology to repair our deconstructed world. Such a worldview, proposed as “timeless perennial truth,” is full of exuberant, infinite possibilities.

People are attracted to the new cosmology not only because it proposes progressive ideas and behavior, but because it explains and justifies them, so that they can be adopted in good conscience. Having absorbed the worldview makeover, which appeals to freedom, civil rights and progress, people respond: “Oh, I get it. Why not? Makes sense to me.” (Peter Jones. One or Two: Seeing a World of Difference. Kindle Locations 614-636).

I hope it is becoming clear that Maleficent is much more than a revamping of an old fairy tale. The writers certainly do have an agenda and they can propagate it worldwide through an entertainment medium and most people do not even realize they are being manipulated. Pantheistic monism, what Jones calls oneism is the overarching pagan spirituality of our time.

One-ism believes that “all is one” and shares the same essential nature. Theologians use the term “consubstantiality.” As you probably know, “con” means “with” in Latin, and you know what “substantial” means—“substance” or “essence.” In One-ism, everything shares the same essence. In a word, everything is a piece of the divine. (One or Two,151–157.)

In contrast biblical theism proposes a transcendent creator God. Paul draws this distinction within the context of Roman paganism: “because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.”(Romans 1:25). In Disney’s world there is no creator God, magic serves in the role of an impersonal divine force from within nature.  It is a oneist cosmology in which evil becomes good and good becomes evil and there really is no distinction – all is one. Jones explains:

In the make-believe world of One-ism, distinctions are anathema. All distinctions, like true and false, right and wrong, good and evil, Creator and creature, Christ and Anti-Christ, are considered relative, meaningless notions. The goal of the mature spiritual person is to “join the opposites,” to create unity out of difference and so to take control of life. True spirituality means creating your own reality by making an amalgam of your dark and light sides. (Jones, One or Two: Kindle Locations 2084-2087).

Of course the above describes exactly what happened in the film. In the end, the hero and the villain are the same person: Maleficent. It’s textbook postmodern deconstruction designed to subvert objective morality, replace it with postmodern relativism and promote the new pagan spirituality.

About Cris Putnam
Logos Apologia is the ministry of Cris D. Putnam. The mission of Logos Apologia is to show that logic, science, history and faith are complementary, not contradictory and to bring that life-changing truth to everybody who wants to know.

Comments

  1. Hugh says:

    Is the word “Decontructionism” found in the title of the article what you really mean?

    • Cris Putnam says:

      There was a typo, it was missing an ‘s’ I fixed it

      • Hugh says:

        No harm, no foul.
        IMO, this movie is nothing more than a retread of Hegelian Dialectic. More sinister and perhaps least understood is the thematic gnostic “world view”.
        Regardless, Disney will market this movie to young and impressionable minds knowing full well of the movie’s latent intent – 2Ti 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
        And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

  2. Jeannine says:

    Brilliantly written. I couldn’t agree more with you and i will not be taking my children to see this garbage.

  3. Michael Sean says:

    Thanks for this Cris. I read the article Natalina wrote and some of the responses. I was suprised at the amount of negative responses the article attracted, but with the Disney corperation’s huge PR machine I wouldn’t be suprised if some of the criticism was from Disney themselves.

    As someone who has a degree in film history I concure with practically everything she wrote. Disney is a very sinister organistaion who continue to produce some pretty strange films, ith siniters messages.

    In Christ,
    Michael

  4. JT says:

    I had huge reservations about not seeing this film at all, the first thing was the fact they had Angelina Jolie playing the lead role, then the more I looked into the plot it began to disgust me just as much as the main actress. Some guys just love her, but not this one. Something about her just makes my skin crawl any time I see her. I love many of Disney’s films, but they are putting out a lot of hugely questionable films lately!! This is definitely one of their films I will not see!

  5. Lisa says:

    I saw this movie & my take on it was about love & forgiveness, she was played by a man, got mad, made a curse, then realized her mistake & tried to make it right. This movie (to me) was not about being an atheist, but was about making a mistake, then trying to make it right. Was all the “witches ” in Salem really “witches”?? I think not. Just because she has horns makes her the devil or an atheist? No. Think about all the “good” fairy tails…Cinderella, Pinocchio, Beauty & the beast,,…all filled with magic & they were about love, even forgiveness, but is there an atheist label on them? Nope. Bottom line ppl. It’s a movie, a good movie about love, mistakes & forgiveness. How is it different? Because the character has horns? She’s a “fairy” just like the “fairy” god mother in Cinderella

    • JT says:

      If this was a brand new movie about a brand new character this would be a little different story. The undertones of the devil, antichrist, etc. are there, but the average movie goer is not going to have the discernment to see those things, so lets look at this from a different view. One of the main problems is they took the villain from sleeping beauty who was evil, and killed, and turned the villian into a hero. Lets take Beauty, and the Beast from your example, and do the same thing, it would be called Gaston, and you would see how he was wronged by Belle, and misunderstood, so rather than dying he would make things right with Belle, and she would accept him thus making the beast terribly jealous, and Gaston would just have to have him killed this time with Belle’s approval, and she would marry Gaston instead, and there you have the same story line of “sometimes a villain can be a hero”. It completely destroys the original story line, and re-writes who wins, and who is even good, and evil in the stories. With this you basically get the line of calling evil good, and good evil. Can’t get much clearer and simpler than that.

      • Cris Putnam says:

        “They took the villain from sleeping beauty who was evil, and killed, and turned the villian into a hero.”

        As I demonstrated by quoting screen writer Brian Godawa’s book Hollywood Worldviews, that is a known technique that is intentionally deployed to deconstruct morality. The intent is not in question. It’s obvious to folks who have studied writing. The people who are objecting do so from emotion and lack of education.

        “With this you basically get the line of calling evil good, and good evil. Can’t get much clearer and simpler than that.”

        You are correct and it is done on purpose to accomplish that goal, no educated person (even postmodernists) would deny it. That’s why it is really sad to see uninformed Christians defend the movie. They are defending a worldview that seeks to destroy everything they claim to believe. “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;”(Ho 4:6)

        • JT says:

          Cris, I agree with you 100%, and would only like to add the following 2 verses to Hosea 4:6.

          Proverbs 1:7
          “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”
          Job 28:28
          “And to man He said, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom; And to depart from evil is understanding.”

          I believe all the signs, and warnings are clearly present to those who fear, and respect the Lord, but so many today refuse to acknowledge Him, or any of His teachings! Thank you for spreading the word, and I pray that people will begin to come to knowledge, and wisdom by fearing, respecting, and loving the Lord!

        • Amen

    • Cris Putnam says:

      Lisa — you are missing the point. She is a witch who practices sorcery. Is there any place for God in the movie? Does anyone ever acknowledge God? No… it’s pantheistic monism. You need to wake up because you are deeply deceived if you cannot discern it.The original story was quite clear on good and evil but this tears down moral categories to make what was clearly evil seem not so bad and the evil character becomes the hero. This is a postmodern deconstruction of moral categories.

  6. Michael Sean says:

    If Disney had a history of making straight forward films wtih no underlying subtext, maybe they would get away with Maleficient being a straight down the middle morality play. However it doesn’t.

    Atheism isn’t the spirit behind this film, gnosticism is. It mirrors a cultural meme that is currently deeply entrenched in our society; everything from Ancient Aliens, commercials for breakfast cerial, to Katy Perry videos. The message seems to be aimed straight at young girls. They’re not messages of empowerment either.

  7. Kachina says:

    I was not only disappointed with the plot twist; I was disturbed by the undertones I saw. What I took from it was that men are no longer necessary. Based on this film alone, any man who is trying to act as the protector is vilified and the only men allowed to remain are those who are submissive and subservient to the women. The women were able to take care of themselves and didn’t need the men to bring peace to the world.
    It is part of the much larger pop culture idea of the feminization of men. Which is must be part of your philosophical idea of one-ism.
    I also couldn’t help but think that Maleficent reminded me of the ancient tales of Lilith.

  8. mytakeonit says:

    Maleficent makes me uneasy because I know what it was designed to do. I totally agree with this article. I am tired of Disney’s mixing good and evil in current films…remember in Wreck It Ralph how Ralph says, while doing a great, heroic act, “I’m bad, and that’s good. I’ll never be good, and that’s not bad. There’s no one I would rather be then me.” How confusing for kids is that? But Maleficent takes it to a new level. She didn’t just wreck a fake brick building on a video game. She cursed a baby. But it was really just because she was the hurt, misunderstood victim.

    The thesis-antithesis-synthesis pattern is nothing new. It is the philosophy of German philosopher Hegel. In philosophy it is known as Hegelian Dialectic. Hegel greatly influenced Karl Marx. Francis Schaeffer wrote some deep and almost prophetic stuff back in the day about how this mindset was captivating the west…he couldn’t have been more right.

  9. Maria Osso says:

    Brilliant article! You have interpreted what most find difficult to understand, that is postmodern deconstructionism, in a logical succinct format.

    I agree with mytakeonit as the root of PM deconstruction is Hegelian Dialect. Not to promote my books, but I wrote about its pervasiveness in,”Superficial Society”, 2nd edition, and in churches in “Synthesis.”

    More light needs to be shed on this.

    Thank You and God bless!

  10. Nice answers in return of this difficulty with genuine arguments and telling the whole thing regarding that.

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