Compromises

My dad can be brutally honest sometimes. (In case you wondered, that’s where I got it. And from my mother and grandmother and…) I was musing the other day on why I like things I shouldn’t, and he said, “It’s because your appreciation of entertainment outweighs your moral worldview.”

Ouch.

But it’s true, and it’s something that most of us do. Our morals say that this and that is wrong, and our political view disagrees with a lot of stuff that Hollywood throws at us too… but still we watch, and enjoy, many movies.

Most movies stand for everything I do not believe, as a conservative and as a Christian. But I still love so many of them. I have fun watching a movie and at the end of the day that matters more than my values. I accept that in this respect, I am shallow. But I’m not sure it is supposed to be this way. In earlier times, Christianity influenced every aspect of a believer’s life, including their choice of entertainment. Now, it is no longer like that. Rather than saturating ourselves in our belief system, we make compromises. We shouldn’t, but we do. And we don’t really want to change.

My values system would mean giving up every movie in my collection that glamorizes anything I know to be sinful. Many of the cute romantic comedies I enjoy would have to be removed because in some of them the two people are living together outside of marriage. Some adaptations of classic novels would have to go, because of various adulterous subplots (even though I only collect those that do not glamorize such things). My costume dramas would be weeded down considerably. There are a lot of films I love in an edited form, but I still am supporting the people who made it by purchasing their product. And you know what? I have no desire to change. I don’t want to get rid of my edited set of The Tudors, even though I have to sacrifice historical outrage in order to enjoy it, on top of ignoring the content that was in it. I like it as entertainment. I lived on that series for four years, laughing, crying, and beating my pillow over it.

Sure, some movies are cautionary tales, but some movies I don’t like because they are deep or profound or spiritual. I just like them because I like them. Like Titanic. Even if the message is pure, unapologetic bunk from the get go, I love it. And sadly, I’m not sure what that says about me.

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17 Replies to “Compromises”

  1. I often run into the same problem and I think every movie (or even book) loving Christian does. There are some movies with troublesome content I love because they are just cute (basically, I’m just lazy watching these), but there are other movies (and sometimes books) I really like because they have quality, whether it be interesting character development or a historical story from an era that I love or just a great story that questions your worldview or great acting, but still have content. A related problem is that I tried watching Christian movies sometimes, but very often despite their moral ‘rightness’ they just don’t have a lot of other qualities: character development, storywise or acting. I read a comment in a Christian opinion magazine this week which summed up what I sometimes feel about Christian movies, though it was a bit crude: Christian movies are like porn movies in that the acting is bad and there is always a happy ending (this was said by a Christian movie producer BTW). Increasingly, I feel this way about Christian novels as well, sometimes they are just so unrealistically happy/everything-ends-well etc.

    But, I must say I feel lucky to be a period drama fan, as this gives me a great many movies with both moral and storywise quality to enjoy!

  2. I’m not religious but there are times when I will avoid movies that I feel are wrong.

    I struggle with this sometimes too. There are movies I don’t watch because some topics hit a little too close to home and other movies I’m willing to give them a pass because of how well they’re made.

    I watched “Something Borrowed” and I hated it. I thought it was weak, I thought the main characters were weak including the male lead, nobody wanted to make any hard decisions and everybody ended up getting hurt.

    The girls also lost their friendship. If someone is willing to cheat with you during a relationship, then they will probably cheat on you. I didn’t understand why the guy didn’t want to tell his fiance that he liked her best friend. What a weak man. I didn’t get why Rachel NEVER told Darcy that she loved her fiance. Instead they went behind her back. Ugh.

    Infidelity is something that hit our family pretty hard, my parents ended up divorcing over infidelity and they’ve since remarried but it’s still a wound that I’m very sensitive to at times. My bf and I ended up working at the same company. I was unemployed for 2 months and he got me an application from his company so I could apply there. I got hired in a different department.

    Anyway, I found out that there was a woman in his department that was hitting on him. I was really irritated when that was happening, but he dealt with it in a very professional manner. Sometimes when the movies hit a little close to home, I’m all like, “I don’t respect these characters” and I avoid the movies.

    Sometimes I will watch movies like “There Will Be Blood” and while I don’t agree with everything the characters do, sometimes its interesting because of how well it is made. It doesn’t mean that I will follow their actions.

    Sometimes filmmakers act like audiences are stupid but I don’t need to have everything spelled out to me. So there are times when I avoid movies especially when it comes to something more personal. I also tend to avoid most horror movies as they tend to give me nightmares and I’m in my late 20s.

    1. Well said, Jaime.

      I saw “Something Borrowed” and “liked” it but like you I also found its total lack of morals annoying – to put it mildly. Reviews said that as a viewer you couldn’t connect to the characters; I say, that is a good thing in this case!

      You can appreciate a movie for its production values but sometimes you have to recognize it isn’t the kind of movie you want to be watching, and that is okay.

    2. Whenever I do violate my judgment and see a movie I can tell from the trailers is not worth the time spent watching it, I feel bad about it later. I recently sat through that Julianne Moore / Steve Carrol film about marriage. What a disgusting film. I felt like I needed a shower at the end of it. There was nothing redeeming in it whatsoever, just flagrant immorality at every turn. I saw the trailer for “Something Borrowed” and won’t bother seeing it — why, when I know I’m going to dislike all the characters?

  3. WOW! That was a good post and while your dad might be brutally honest, he’s totally right.

    Rissi made a very good point above. With movies and TV shows that I have been watching lately, I watch for the good qualities of them. And I skip the parts that really drive me up the wall because of how unnecessary they are. However, I admit to having a double standard. I love “The King’s Speech,” even though the language is not one I allow in my vocabulary. I adore “Castle,” even though there is innuendo…..I just pray that the Lord keeps me grounded in what I know is and is not right.

    And I must say, I appreciate the edited “Tudors,” although it is abysmally inaccurate!

    1. Thank you. I didn’t mean for it to be “accusing” — because I do it too. The important thing is to be aware that we are doing it. Is a particular movie “good” according to our Biblical standards, or according to the world’s? Most times, it will be the latter.

      Sometimes, our conscience pricks us… and sometimes, we have to prick our conscience. The less I am around negative content in entertainment, the more it shocks me the next time I watch it. When I get to a point when I no longer notice it, that’s when I have a problem.

      I LOVE The Tudors. No rhyme or reason, I just do. =D

  4. I understand your overall point, and I agree that most of what Hollywood provides us as entertainment is not very biblically sound. If one chooses to rid themselves of all of the “sinful” aspects of a movie or text, then there are some parts of the Bible that must be taken out as well.

    The Old Testament accounts tell stories of pillaging, rape, incest, and adultery. After Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, Lot’s daughters get him drunk, have sex with their dad, and get pregnant. David, one of, if not the most central character of the Old Testament was a hero, but also fell in love with a married woman, slept with her, and used his power to have her husband killed so he could take Bathsheba as his wife.

    As a Christian, I try as hard as I can to take my faith seriously. Being consistent with my faith/values is a core characteristic I seek in myself. Whether it be on moral issues, or even on the silly and mundane stuff, being firm on what is right and what is wrong can be a daunting task.

    I would caution you not to be so cut and dry in certain aspects of your belief system. For if God is everywhere, and God uses everything for his good, then seeing God through things one would not normally consider to be of God is possible.

    Great post and keep up the good work.

    1. I don’t disagree with you. After all, I can watch “Priest,” which is about vampires, and see heavy religious symbolism in it. Same goes for a lot of other things. I find it sad that so many people don’t do that — strive to look deeper, to see what is “good” under the superficial aspects of entertainment. But then, we also tend to ignore negative messages and content as well, because we “like” it enough to “overlook” it. (Which is pretty much my point of this entry… I’m not pointing fingers, and I’m not saying we should give up all entertainment; I’m saying that in many cases, our choices are less based on our faith as our taste.) I will also bring up the point that God has no mandatory rules for everyone when it comes to entertainment; He expects us to have personal standards based on our own tendency to sin. If watching something with a ton of bad language makes you more likely to swear, you might want to avoid it. If nudity causes lustful thoughts, you should steer clear of it. Etc.

      However… the Bible is not for entertainment. I think there IS a distinction between God’s Word, which is for our edification and deeper understanding of Him, and what we choose to read/watch/hear for “fun.”

      Thanks for your comment. =)

  5. There are many movies and TV shows that I adore that also contain negative elements in them. I come from a very conservative family (so conservative that once upon a time magic was considered offensive… things have lightened up considerably since then) but my personal exploration of film as I have grown older has led me to a much less restrained outlook on entertainment. There are some rules that I won’t ever break, for instance I would never watch heavy sexual content, extreme graphic violence, the occult, and I tend to stay away from movies with a lot of swearing. But now just because a movie has a few cuss words, a sexual scene, or a few instances of violence, I won’t avoid it entirely (the mute and fast forward button are great resources on occasion). Every movie I watch, I watch because I researched it and thought that it might offer some benefit to my life (some nugget of truth, some insight on life, something positive that will benefit me and others, something that will make me think “God, what marvelous imaginations you gave us”). That is why I almost always enjoy the movies I choose to watch, I know my tastes and I know as much about the movie beforehand as possible.

    1. something that will make me think “God, what marvelous imaginations you gave us”

      I like that. =) It’s true, sometimes I watch something and go, “This is brilliant… I’m actually sad I didn’t think of it!”

      It’s good to be informed. Then at least if you choose to watch it, you are “owning” your decision. (Sadly, that isn’t always the case when it comes to television / BBC productions… which is why I review a lot of them. That content information needs to be out there.)

      Sometimes, a movie is right in my line of taste. I know a lot about it, and it should be to my liking… but it isn’t. Some movies promise too much and don’t deliver enough. Like The Iron Lady. Good trailer. Great premise. Didn’t deliver. Was downright dull.

  6. I’ve always said: There is not going to be a movie that doesn’t clash with you in some way. You are better off making the decision to either watch movies with discretion and pull what IS good from them while being critical of the bad or forgoing them at all.

    1. That is very true; you need to be aware of the “bad” and take note of it, but at the same time you shouldn’t compromise. We all compromise. Probably too much.

      But I’d disagree that there are no movies that don’t clash with you in some way. I happen to have a rather large collection of them on my shelf (Wives & Daughters, North & South, Pride & Prejudice, Little Women and so on). 😉

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