For: severe pervasive moral confusion and immorality, fatalism, and extreme paganism including blood sacrifices
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a simple case of abomination before God. Its sole message is to love sin—the stealing, the revenge, the treachery. Love the government for its bias. Love the girl for her relativism. Adore her lover for being ready to give his life for the proposition that someone can be a pirate and a good man. Enjoy the blood sacrifices to pagan gods. To love the movie is to love those things. And those things aren’t just a little out of bounds, they’re abomination.
Severe Pervasive Moral Confusion and Immorality
Pirates of the Caribbean continuously declares “pirate” and “good man” to be overlapping circles, but emphatically maintains the traditional definition and criminal and immoral associations of piracy. The villain pirates engage in pillaging and plundering, the theft and destruction of ships, arson, kidnapping, hostage taking, and murder, and are strongly negatively portrayed for this. However, the “good” pirates also engage in every single one of those crimes, and are portrayed as morally unassailable.1
Main “good” pirate Jack Sparrow tells the villain pirates that “the deepest circle of hell is reserved for betrayers and mutineers,” and the plot revolves around his quest for vengeance against those who previously betrayed him and left him to die.2 Jack’s obsessive quest, however, involves the deliberate, calculated betrayal of dozens of innocent men to their deaths, making Jack himself, not the villain, the worse betrayer.3 Jack’s treachery is meant to be amusing.
In addition to his more serious betrayal to the death of several innocent men, Jack is shown engaging in numerous illegal, immoral behaviors, verbally promoting self-centeredness, and boasting of being consistently dishonest. In spite of his (biblically speaking) wicked character,4 positively-portrayed characters argue pointedly throughout the movie that Jack is truly a “good man”. In his entire moral history, Jack’s sole “good deed” of rescuing a drowning woman takes place at the beginning of the movie, is not even known to most of the characters, and is followed by taking the woman hostage and threatening to blow her brains out. Aside from that one severely mitigated positive action, Jack does not do a single thing that is not directly tied to his personal gain. Over the course of the movie the other characters have their lives put in jeopardy or even ended by Jack’s selfish ambitions. Jack is nevertheless universally defined by the positively-portrayed characters as “good”. The same goes for main character Will’s pirate father, whose repeated description as a “good man” is always directly tied to his piracy. Learning to “accept” that his father “was a pirate and a good man” is a major moral theme for Will.
Characters who view piracy as inherently wrong, and therefore view pirates as inherently wrong, are portrayed as prejudice and unenlightened. Soldiers are ordered to shoot a man based merely on his pirate-like appearance. Naval officer Commodore Norrington’s claim that pirates are “vile and dissolute creatures, the lot of them,” and aversion to letting British navy ships fall into the hands of pirates, are portrayed as narrow-minded. Will initially makes intense anti-piracy statements which he later repudiates.
Characters’ occupations as pirates are repeatedly used not just as an explanation but as an excuse for immoral behavior. For example: “You cheated.” “Pirate.” — “What sort of man trades a man’s life for a ship?” “A pirate.” — “You’re pirates. Hang the code and hang the rules!”
The movie emphatically portrays pirates as being bound together by a code of honor which elevates them above non-pirate criminals. Adherence to the code is used as proof of individual pirates’ goodness. However, while the villain is negatively portrayed for claiming that the code is morally relativistic, the positively-portrayed pirates and other characters go on to claim the exact same thing, and even use the villain’s own language on multiple occasions. Characters are positively portrayed both for keeping the code and for not keeping the code, depending strictly on what they and their friends feel like in the moment.5
Jack teaches Will that “the only rules that matter are these: what a man can do, and what a man can’t do,” referring strictly to mental and physical ability.
Leading lady Elizabeth is outraged when the villain pirates kidnap her and ravage the town, and yet thoroughly enjoys singing a pirate song that goes, “We kidnap and pillage and don’t give a hoot. A pirate’s life for me!” Her song also specifically rejoices in extortion.
When Jack is captured and sentenced to hang for his numerous crimes, Will attacks the garrison in a rescue attempt. Risking the deaths of numerous innocents is portrayed as morally preferable to resigning Jack to his legal, anticipated, voluntarily courted punishment. Will declares, “If all I have achieved here is that the hangman will earn two pairs of boots instead of one, so be it. At least my conscience will be clear.” Elizabeth also steps into the line of fire and declares her allegiance to Jack. Will and Elizabeth are instantly pardoned and even blessed by the authorities for their illegal stand.
The governor, Elizabeth’s father, initially responds to Jack’s impending execution by stating that “Commodore Norrington is bound by the law, as are we all.” Immediately after Jack escapes, however, he climactically changes his mind and advises Norrington to throw off the constraints of British criminal law, participate in “an act of piracy” himself, and accept that “piracy itself can be the right course.” Norrington takes this advice, and he and the governor are portrayed as having finally made a noble, heroic decision.
The movie ends with Elizabeth’s father reminding her that her beloved Will is only a blacksmith. Elizabeth smiles and replies, “No. He’s a pirate.”
Will is told, “pirate is in your blood, boy, so you’ll have to square with that someday.” He himself later goes on about the blood curse (see Extreme Paganism Including Blood Sacrifices, below) requiring “my father’s blood. My blood. The blood of a pirate,” and considers his own bloodstream inherently tainted not just by piratical tendencies but by actual guilt of the crime of piracy, by virtue of being descended from the criminal. This ultimately is portrayed as true when Will’s blood appeases the heathen gods for his father’s crimes.
In a complete reversal of the biblical Atonement, Pirates of the Caribbean claims that Will is able to pay for his father’s sins precisely because he, the son, has (sinful) pirate blood, too.
Extreme Paganism Including Blood Sacrifices
The heathen gods are not just mute idols in Pirates of the Caribbean. They have actual power, and they use it to make human beings immortally undead.
It is explained that the heathen gods cursed a chest full of Aztec gold, so that anyone who removes a piece of gold from the chest “shall be punished for eternity”. The only way to end the curse is to return all of the gold to the chest and for each cursed man to offer a sacrifice of his own blood to the heathen gods in payment for the greed and violence of Cortés’ army against the Aztecs two hundred years prior.
The positively-portrayed characters not only believe in the power of the heathen gods, but unhesitatingly participate in the blood sacrifices, which prove effectual. One positively-portrayed character even voluntarily takes on the curse in order to access the (also effectual) supernatural power of the gods.
This entire schema is aggressively pagan, and is an abomination from beginning to end.6
1 Main pirate Jack Sparrow admits to having sacked a port city, and to planning to “raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasley black guts out.” Jack and Will are shown stealing and intentionally damaging British naval ships. Jack’s list of crimes at his execution includes “arson” and “kidnapping”, and he is shown taking a woman hostage and threatening her life. Jack is also willfully responsible for the deaths of dozens of innocent men. Jack also engages in theft on multiple occasions, and is seen consorting with prostitutes.
2 Incidentally, personal vendettas are forbidden in scripture. See Romans 12:19 for example.
3 It is important to note that, while Jack’s initial scenario was not followed to the letter, his original plan still entailed pitting innocent, unsuspecting mortal men against the invincible undead, with no escape. The villain adjusted the outworking of the plan, but the ethics of the situation were not affected. That Jack himself did not physically participate in the men’s deaths only puts him on a level with his nemesis, who obviously did not actually kill Jack, himself, either.
4 See Deuteronomy 17:2-6, 25:16, Psalm 37:21, Proverbs 3:32, 12:5, 6, 22, 17:5
5 The point is not that the pirates’ code should have been considered inviolable, but that if it was not morally inviolable it should never have been positively portrayed in the first place, let alone used as a measurement of a person’s morality.
6 Deuteronomy 7:25, 17:2-6