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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

Whip It

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

The hard-edged world of women's roller derby provides the setting for the coming-of-age tale "Whip It" (Fox Searchlight). Rather than serving as a forum for feminist self-expression, as first-time director Drew Barrymore seems to intend, the rough and tumble of the showcased competition—with its skimpy outfits and bruising smackdowns calculated to delight boorish male fans—comes across as more exploitative than empowering.

Throwing herself into this ostensibly liberating underground sport is restless small-town Texas high school student Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page). Since her strong-willed, socially ambitious mother Brooke's (Marcia Gay Harden) fondest wish for Bliss is that she become the queen of the local beauty pageant circuit, Bliss carefully conceals her new enthusiasm both from Mom and from her amiable but henpecked father Earl (Daniel Stern).

With the support of her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat), and despite not having skated since she was a little girl, Bliss gains a spot on an Austin-based team known as the Hurl Scouts, becoming the protege of their captain, Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig). As her skills improve and her star rises, Bliss—who now goes by the moniker Babe Ruthless— discovers romance, falling for derby fan and local rock singer Oliver (Landon Pigg) whom she meets at one of the Scouts' matches.

Barrymore's genre-blending debut—partly a sports drama and a romantic comedy as well as a chronicle of teen maturation—in which she plays Smashley Simpson, another of Bliss' colorfully nicknamed teammates, is buoyed by heartfelt performances from its principals.

But, though Shauna Cross' script, adapted from her own novel of the same title, has Bliss grapple with the negative consequences of premature freedom—and come to a better appreciation of her parents—it also, at least partially, glamorizes her irresponsible sexual experimentation.

The film contains nongraphic nonmarital underage sexual activity, brief partial nudity, underage drinking, occasional irreverence, a few uses of profanity, some sexual humor and references, about a dozen crude terms and much crass language. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is L—limited adult audience, films whose problematic content many adults would find troubling. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

______________________________
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.




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Athanasius: Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church. 
<p>Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism. </p><p>When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that Arianism would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case. The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul. This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles reminiscent of the life of St. Paul. </p><p>After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops. Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius I called a synod to review the case and other related matters. </p><p>Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism. </p><p>Among his ascetical writings, his<i> Life of St. Anthony</i> (January 17) achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.</p> American Catholic Blog Suffering is redemptive in part because it definitively reveals to man that he is not in fact God, and it thereby opens the human person to receive the divine.

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