KANSAS CITY, Kan. – What movie would Jesus go see this weekend? I understand that may raise an eyebrow or two, but it’s not meant merely to be an eye-grabber. No matter what we do or where we go, we Christians take Jesus with us. I guess I could end this article with that. But this weekend many of us will be enticed into the local cineplex, oblivious as to the film’s content, and uncaring as to the message we send to Hollywood and those who know us. So allow me to further my point.
I was at a Saturday morning screening of Nickelodeon’s “Fun Size” a month ago, the theater full of little girls accompanied by faithful fathers armed with fun-sized snack boxes. I had committed the same mistake I constantly warn my readers to avoid. I had come in blind, unaware if the film is animated or live action, let alone what the synopsis is or the reason for its rating. I “assumed” it was G or PG. If you read on, you’ll never make that mistake again. Nor will I.
Moviemakers keep dumbing down and crudding up the culture, taking baby steps with each production further away from class or social decorum. Usually it’s a bit more suggestively done, but writer Max Werner and director Josh Schwartz treat the material in “Fun Size” as if it were a sequel to the raunchy 1980’s “Porky’s.” They bear no regard for the sensibilities of the youngest audience members, children who are still watching and expecting the movie’s star, Victoria Justice (Nickelodeon’s “Victorious”), to be in a movie similar to what they see on that cable network. But alas, after viewing this film, they will now be ready for the movies of Will Ferrell and Seth Rogan.
The film is rated PG-13, but because middle school-aged girls see her on repeat episodes of “Victorious” daily, they, like this unassuming film critic, are expecting this movie to be geared to them, not their high school sophomore brothers.
It really can’t be called a comedy despite the fact that there are a few unexpected guffaws (remember what a roomful of monkeys can do with typewriters). But like those primates with keyboards, this film’s writers have amassed a collection of crudities and sexual references without any true wit or comprehension. What they’ve given the audience is something closely resembling smut.
At this point, I had intended to describe in detail the crudeness of the content in order to clarify what parents were subjecting their children to. However, I am afraid that some might find the descriptions offensive. If you want to read the film’s reason for its rating visit http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3829.
But despite the fact that I sensed a lot of jaw-dropping, no one took their kids from the theater. No matter what’s said or done on the screen, there’s simply no outrage left in many of this generation’s parents.
Not having children myself, I must guard against false superiority. I can’t comprehend how difficult it is to rear children these days. But wouldn’t you fire the babysitter if you learned he or she was abusing your kid? If you read what “Fun Size” contains, you’ll be given evidence that many in Hollywood are being abusive. And not just to kids.
In the new film “Silver Linings Playbook,” one particular swear word is used 60 times. How is it that we think crude, offensive or profane language isn’t hurting our psyche? In “Hyde Park on the Hudson,” Bill Murray as President Franklin Roosevelt is seen committing a sexual act. Is nothing off limits pictorially? And in most every other film this year, there was a token gay character. On this issue, Hollywood allows for no debate. (Pretty soon, because of the media’s influence, we who follow biblical instruction will not be allowed to publically debate the sinful nature of this practice. Very soon.)
In Ecclesiastes 3 we are told there is a time to laugh and a time to dance. I believe that means entertainment is an elemental part of life. However, here are a couple of verses we often ignore when handing over our $10 to the box office:
– “I will set before my eyes no vile thing” (Psalms 101:3).
– “Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).
This is where many begin to roll their eyes, thinking that I’m suggesting we go back to the ‘50s. There’s a whole lot of re-writing of the Bible going on these days, with many in the church preferring to believe that only some of God’s Word is inerrant. That’s a column for another day, but I’ll leave you with this: Have we evolved into beings capable of processing any amount of abuse Hollywood puts before our eyes. Is that what our Creator intended for us?
If the Bible truly is God’s guideline for our lives, then it applies to every part of our lives, including how we entertain ourselves.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
So, what are you going to go see this weekend? Keep in mind Who’s going with you.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Phil Boatwright is celebrating 25 years of writing about Hollywood from a Christian perspective. In addition to writing for Baptist Press, he reviews films for http://www.previewonline.org/. He is also a regular contributor to “The World and Everything In it,” a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group.)