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CULTURE DIGEST: Bush assassination film ‘a new low’; Columbine-simulating video games under fire

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Fierce opponents of President Bush have exercised their freedom of speech by comparing him to Hitler and Mussolini and by calling him names such as “evil maniac,” “terrorist” and worse. A head of state even referred to Bush as “the devil” and received applause at the United Nations.

But Jeff Jacoby, a columnist for The Boston Globe, noted that Bush-hatred reached a new low in a British film called “Death of a President,” which won an award at the Toronto International Film Festival “for the audacity with which it distorts reality to reveal a larger truth.”

The film has been purchased by Newmarket Films, which handled Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of The Christ,” and is expected to reach theaters in the United States.

Death of a President depicts a sniper shooting of Bush in October 2007 during a trip to Chicago by blending archival footage of Bush into fictional scenes in a documentary style, the Associated Press said. Through special effects the president’s face is superimposed onto the body of the actor playing him.

“This is Bush-hatred as a snuff film,” Jacoby wrote Sept. 11. “The fantasies it feeds are grotesque and obscene; to pander to such fantasies is to rip at boundary-markers that are indispensable to civilized society. That such a movie could not only be made but lionized at an international film festival is a mark not of sophistication, but of a sickness in modern life that should alarm conservatives and liberals alike.”

Jacoby added that he can’t help wondering whether some who see the film will be inspired to carry it out.

“John Hinckley, in his derangement, had the idea that shooting the president was the way to impress a movie star. After seeing ‘Death of a President,’ the next Hinckley may get a more grandiose idea: Shooting the president is the way to become a movie star,” Jacoby wrote, referring to Hinckley as the man who shot President Ronald Reagan in a failed assassination attempt.

“I’m thrilled that the film is going to be shown both here and in the U.S. in the near future,” Gabriel Range, the film’s director, said. “That’s proof that people can see beyond the premise and see that it’s a film about this post-9/11 world that we live in.”

BOOK EXPLAINS 5 LANGUAGES OF APOLOGY — Gary Chapman, author of the popular book “The Five Love Languages,” has co-written a book titled “The Five Languages of Apology” with Jennifer Thomas, a fellow psychologist.

“From our observations as marital therapists, we notice a deafening lack of persuasive apologies,” Chapman and Thomas wrote. “We believe that the shortage of apologies with impact may be a central factor in the epidemic of crumbling marriages that we see today. But the good news is that the art of apology can be learned, and the concept of the five languages of apology can enhance relationships not only in marriage but in parenting, in families, in dating relationships and at work.”

Thomas told the Orlando Sentinel newspaper that the idea for the book came from an argument with her husband in which she said, “I’m sorry,” and what he wanted to hear was “I was wrong.” She realized then that there are more ways than one of apologizing.

According to the book, the five languages of apology are: expressing regret (I am sorry); accepting responsibility (I was wrong); making restitution (What can I do to make it right?); genuinely repenting (I’ll try not to do that again); and requesting forgiveness (Will you please forgive me?).

The authors say the key to good relationships is learning the apology language of the other person and being willing to speak it, and the book includes a self-assessment test so readers can determine their own apology language.

“Nobody’s perfect. There will always be times when we offend people,” Thomas told the Sentinel. “That creates barriers in relationships. The barriers remain until we do something active to clear them.”

When apologizing to a group of people, all five forms of apology may be needed, she added, in order to successfully convey sincerity.

COLUMBINE VIDEO GAMES UNDER FIRE — Jack Thompson, the attorney who represented the parents of three teenagers killed in the Paducah, Ky., school shooting in 1997, is continuing his efforts against violent video games because of their influence on unstable youth.

One of his main concerns now is the October release of “Bully,” a video game that teaches teens how to “navigate through the tricky and sometimes brutal social pitfalls of high school,” according to iTnews.com, an Australian business news site. Thompson calls the game a “Columbine simulator,” referring to the massacre at Columbine High School in Colorado in 1999.

“Bully puts the player in the position of a new kid who has to confront bullies, deal with teachers, get the girl and avoid detention at a corrupt boarding school,” iTnews.com reported, adding that the main character wields a baseball bat during his journey.

Thompson said his life was changed when he spent time with victims’ families in Paducah, where investigators believe the shooter, 14-year-old Michael Carneal, had spent hours playing video games that simulate violence.

“I believe people are going to be harmed because of these games,” Thompson said. “This is not just some effort by some 55-year-old guy dictating entertainment taste for other people’s children. I’ve got a dog in this hunt and I know where their skeletons are. I think this is the most ridiculous game anyone has come up with.”

Thompson has lobbied legislators to pass laws banning video games that train youth to seek revenge over classmates by using violence.

The Toronto Sun reported Sept. 14 that the man who recently killed a woman and wounded 19 people at Dawson College in Montreal before being killed by police said on a website that his favorite video game was “Super Columbine Massacre,” a game downloadable on the Internet.

Kimveer Gill, the 25-year-old shooter, regularly posted on goth forums, the Sun said, and signed his posts as “Fatality666” and finished all his comments with “Life is a video game and you gonna die sometime.” On a blog, he reportedly wrote, “Give them what they deserve before you go.”

On the day he went on the shooting rampage, Gill wore a black trench coat and had his hair cut into a mohawk, the Sun said, just like the Columbine shooters.

HIP-HOP CHURCH REACHES NICHE MARKET — Headz Up Fellowship is a Southern Baptist church in Sun Valley, Calif., led by a student at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, and it’s finding success in reaching out to unbelievers through hip-hop music.

Pastor Patrick Via, also known as DJ Elder, started the church a year ago and has made celebration nights, where popular hip-hop artists share their testimonies, a staple of the church’s outreach efforts. Kurtis Blow, a hip-hop pioneer, has been a featured guest.

“Jesus went around telling stories in parables so that people could relate, and that’s what we do today,” Blow said. “My goal is to bring kids to Christ. Hip-hop is a great avenue.”

Hip-hop recently surpassed sales of both rock and country to become the nation’s top-selling format of popular music, and it also reaches an international audience.

“I’ve been involved in all facets of hip-hop since 1981,” Via said. “This is absolutely huge here. It’s a lifestyle, a culture.”

Lives are being changed at Headz Up, and Don Overstreet, a Southern California church strategist for the North American Mission Board, commended Via for tapping into an audience with a relevant way of reaching them.

“Throughout history God has raised up people to minister to a new generation,” Overstreet said. “That’s what He is doing now and it’s Via’s real heart cry to reach these people for Christ through hip-hop.”

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  • Erin Roach