Christians’ Media Intake

By | April 24, 2005

I recently ran across an article and some comments (I think there had been more, I’m not sure where they went) regarding movies in light of our Christian faith. While I certainly imagine it to be somewhat controversial, I think it’s something that’s good to discuss:

I now offer some of my thoughts. People seem to usually take one of two sides. Either, “I won’t see anything that has anything ‘bad’ in it.” or “I’ll see most anything for entertainment and/or in order to be culturally aware, but I’m discerning and won’t let it affect me.” (Note, good and bad are somewhat subjective, and can also mean different things in different contexts.) I’ve been thinking some about this recently. Not long ago I happened to see a couple of films with some friends that, along with another incident, made me want to become Anabaptist (Amish, Mennonite, etc.). I have generally leaned toward the latter school of thought, as I’ve been trying to run from the “uptight” rules of conservative Christianity. While I suppose there has all along been certain things that I didn’t want to see, I hadn’t put much thought into it recently, nor made much attempt to avoid it. Now I’ve decided to try and bring back a rule that I came up with several years ago but haven’t stuck too closely to. That is, I want to have a reasonable idea about what is in a movie before I watch it, so that I can make a judgement as to whether it is something that I want to view or not.

Anyhow, there are a couple of problems that movies make especially evident. First of all, there aren’t any easy black and white answers. With few exceptions, a movie isn’t clearly all good or all bad. It seems common now days to have many crude references or other objectionable material in G-rated “family” films. Stoner turtles in “Finding Nemo” is one that comes to mind. On the other hand, there are often times really cool themes in darker movies, such as “The Matrix”, “Dare Devil” and “Almost Famous”. To put it another way, much of the time there are bad parts in good movies, and good parts in bad movies.

We certainly need to be aware and discerning of the messages that are being show in movies. With that level of awareness, we are able to pick out the good from the bad. But at the same time, can’t this still affect us? It seems that though we may catch some of the bad philosophies, we are probably missing more. In either case, I imagine that it’s difficult to tell how we are subconsciously being affected by the repetition of themes coming from media. (In my thinking, the Matrix is really a true story about our society, with media being the matrix. There are a half dozen or fewer companies which control over 90% of the media: movies, TV, music, radio, magazines, etc., which nearly everyone is connected to in some way. They in turn use that control to affect the way people think in order to make money off of them—in reality, to suck the life out of them. These companies don’t care about any negative side effects of the philosophies they’re injecting people with.)

So, I believe that there must be some line, although it’s tough to figure out, because there is a lot of gray. It should also be pointed out that I don’t believe that the line will be the same for everyone. Everyone has to decide, though the decision would do well to be influenced by wise counsel from fellow believers.

photo credit: movie-clapper-icon_500x500 via photopin (license)

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  • ladyofglass

    I think that you’re right about the line being different for everyone. I personally stay away from movies with steamy-scenes/nudity, but don’t have much problem with romance-movies (or chick flicks). I know a lot of women, though, who can’t watch a “chick flick”, because they get too idealistic. I know some who try to stay away from intense violence, some who try to stay away from bad language… I think that some people avoid certain movies for the wrong reasons–they’re “afraid” or they think it wouldn’t “look good” if they watched that particular movie. I suppose everyone just has to have their own convictions. And it’s hard to make a blanket statement based on ratings… especially with the consideration that “The Passion of Christ” was rated R… and yes, I know Christian parents who didn’t let their children see it because it was rated R (sorry, but that fact makes me roll my eyes, personally).

    So in short, I don’t have a real answer, but I think you picked a great topic (and I’m partial to it, since I just got a job at a video store! 😉 ).


  • MBroaddus

    yeah, we’ve had several go arounds with barbara. we at the hollywood jesus web site are probably the opposite extreme of her.

    everyone has to draw their lines for themselves. themselves. and then not make their line the universal standard for everyone.

    • ladyofglass

      You host the hollywood jesus website? Vera cool, I don’t think I’ve been to it, but I’ve heard of it.

      • Just to clarify, Maurice doesn’t actually host Hollywood Jesus, but he is one of their reviewers.

  • ladyofglass

    Wow–I hadn’t really read the bars on the side of the blog that you linked to here, but I’m a little caught-off-guard, I think. GOD’S favorite movie reviews? Does that mean that if you disagree with them, you’re disagreeing with God? God has favorites?

    I think I have a problem with that.