30 in 30: Day 13 (in which I talk about ducks and how Chris Weitz is a complete fucking ass and should suffer for destroying The Golden Compass)

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Favorite childhood book OR current favorite YA book (or both!)

My favorite book as a child was Drakestail, which is an old French folk tale. Mom would read it with me, and we’d sing out the repeating chorus of Quack! Quack! Quack! When shall I get my money back? together with great relish and glee. I especially liked that the duck was dating the river. Seemed rather apropos.

The Golden Compass is my current favorite YA book. I haven’t yet read the rest of the trilogy, but the first book is top notch. It is a response to The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and the not-so-subtle Christianity embedded in that story and world. (Seriously, re-reading it as an adult I’m like “Oh, so THAT’S where all those dominant Christian tropes in my brain that I’ve had to train myself out of came from! The obvious sexism in Narnia (“War is ugly when women fight!” um dude war is usually ugly, and tell that to the Morrigan JUST SAYIN), and that children’s Bible some neighbour gave to me when I was a kid which is honestly pretty creepy now that I think about it.” I mean, in general I don’t have a problem with Christianity OR the Bible, but there are very strong tropes of misogyny, racism, etc, within both book (especially when it’s been simplified for kids, like in my children’s Bible) and Church and it takes a thinking Christian to put aside the “This is how things were back then” and see it as an interesting look at history/a repository of facts, myth, religious meaning, etc. Like, it’s possible to read the Bible and take beauty and meaning from it and not hatred and bigotry (especially internalized self-hatred), just like it’s possible to be a Christian and not be racist/misogynist/classist/etc. I’ve seen it happen. Anyway, I digress.)

The Golden Compass isn’t exactly children’s fare (neither is Narnia, in my view, but that’s a different rant). The ending is pretty fucking harsh. (I won’t spoil it here for you.) I had trouble with it in my early 20s. So, while it’s marketed as YA, I wouldn’t class it as YA. I mean, I don’t mean to insult teenagers or anything but I had trouble with the ending and I’m pretty desensitized. So read with caution. Especially if you have daddy-issues, because the harshness of the ending revolves around the main character and her father (no it’s not a Star Wars ripoff).

And under no circumstances should you watch the film. EVER. It was a horrible fucking ABORTION of a film and Chris Weitz should be shot. Him and the guy who made The Last Exorcism I mean seriously I don’t care about the content of films but there should be a law against BAD FILMMAKING WITH NO REDEEMING FEATURES. I mean, it’s not even in the vein of “B Movie that’s enjoyable in its badness” or “MST3K-able” it’s just fucking AWFUL and had me twitching and yelling in the theatre at the film festival which kind of pissed off other moviegoers but I DON’T CARE BECAUSE IT WAS THAT FUCKING BAD.

The movie quite seriously bears almost no resemblance to the book, changes the ending (in a craptastic way), and butchers the story and characters so much as to make it almost unrecognizable. Weitz took an amazing piece of literature that deserved fantastic treatment at the hands of the filmmaking goddess Cinema and sacrificed it on the altar of Her enemy, Kevin Costner (he makes horrible films and he’s a horrible fucking actor). IT IS A MOVIE FORSAKEN OF THE FILM GODDESS CINEMA AND IT BLASPHEMES HER SPHERE OF INFLUENCE. All copies of it should be destroyed and the memory of it should be wiped from our heads.

Anyway, yeah, you should read The Golden Compass, because it’s good, and you should set fire to Chris Weitz with your mind because he deserves it.

Also, ducks rock. Especially ducks who sing in rhyme.

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