Tuesday, January 11, 2005

ReBoot and Religion

As you can tell by the small icon in the sidebar, I'm a fan of the CG animated series ReBoot. At the end of last week, I finally received my replacement ReBoot DVD. I bought my ReBoot 4.0 DVD a few months ago and then procrastinated on sending back the defective copy I received. I received my replacement DVD via FedEx (thanks Anchor Bay!) and I watched the first of the two movies, Daemon Rising, with my mom.

I had seen the fourth season of ReBoot before, when it aired on Cartoon Network. However, this was the first time I had the chance to watch it since then. One thing about Daemon Rising that I noticed more when I watched it again was the way it viewed religion and belief. ReBoot, as a show, has always pioneered parody and subtle references. The show takes place in a computer, so it's really a geek's show hiding under the guise of a kid's show. There are tons of computer references to be found (some characters even had voices that sounded like old-school modems). An episode in the third season was a full-on Star Trek parody that was written by a Star Trek writer. So, it makes sense that religion would be the next thing the show takes on in a subtle way.

There is so much in Daemon Rising that I'm surprised they could put it all in. First, there is Daemon herself. She is the villain, a virus that looks like a young girl with a French (Canadian?) accent who wants to unify the Net. She has infected the majority of the Net. Everyone she infects serves her willingly, and seems unnaturally "at peace." Getting infected by Daemon is called "receiving the word." She resides in the supercomputer, inside a large cathedral-like space. She even has a halo of sorts around her head (similar to pictures seen of the Virgin Mary). She "cares" about everyone as she asks them about their lives (mainly to further her own plans). She needs Bob to complete her mission and calls him her "messenger." When her infection is complete, a countdown begins that will end up in total deletion. If that isn't enough of a Judeo-Christian mix for you, there is a song sung in the movie that sings her praises in gospel-style.

Now, all of this could be taken as a blanket criticism of Christianity. After all, ReBoot does come from Canada, a country that is pretty secular. However, there is a bit more to this that makes me think that it isn't as clear cut a criticism as it looks. For one thing, the User in ReBoot is referred to the way God would be. The user is (for those who don't know the show) the person who is undoubtedly running the computer inside which ReBoot takes place. There is a dialogue in the movie where two characters talk about viruses. One person says that the User creates viruses and that they are no good. The other person (Bob) says that he doesn't feel that the User would create something that destroys and that viruses can be reprogrammed. This sounds a whole lot like the debate between those who think there are truly bad people in the world and those who feel that bad people can become good. Bob's belief in the possibility that viruses can be good is a driving force of the movie. In fact, one such "bad" character is the reason that everything turns out good in the end. The idea that people can be saved, that they can repent and change their ways is something very important in Christianity. Jesus reached out to the people everyone hated (the tax collectors, the lepers) and ministers continue to do that every single day.

It's a testament to the show's writers and creators that there is so much depth in a 90-minute movie. I don't think the movie is anti-Christianity, but it does raise some interesting ideas. Out of all the subtle references and parodies this show has had, this one may be its best.

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