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Posts Tagged ‘superman’

In my very first post, I gave some background on what my goals are whenever I engage with a movie or even with a TV show.  However, it was embedded within another review so I decided to repost this and expand upon it as a separate entity as my mini-manifesto on watching movies and TV.

My wife and I love seeing a good movie in the theater or on DVD but how we do that in a manner in which God is glorified? Movies are definitely modern art along with music. Movies heavily reflect culture as it is and where it is going. They also influence culture. Think about movies overall from the past 2-3 years and compare them to 30 years ago. Look at “The Dark Knight” (2008) and compare it to “Superman”  (1978). “The Dark Knight” has significantly less hope, is much more in tune with human depravity, much less clear distinction between good and evil, and just look at how law enforcement officials are portrayed (heavy influence of 9/11).

Don’t be naive. You are being preached to whenever you watch a movie regardless of the movie. You are being pushed in a direction. Will we passively sit back and be manipulated by media? Or will we engage and glorify God in how and what we watch? Will we view with Gospel vision?

My Goals with Movies & TV

#1. When in doubt,  just pass on it.

When in doubt about the makeup of the movie, regarding explicit content that would have the potential to be a stumbling block, just avoid it. I’m not saying I’m perfect with regard to this goal but I usually do as much research as I can prior to watching a movie. I don’t even mind knowing the entire plot. Knowing the ending to a movie doesn’t usually take away from it for me as long as the meta narrative is strong.  There has been a progression in my life with this. There are movies that my wife and I viewed when we were first married (over 8 years ago) that there is no way I would choose to watch now or even take the chance with. This is an area where convictions need to be developed (see Romans 14 and Philippians 4) so that you can walk in faith with whatever media you take in. I definitely have failed with that many times but significantly less and less as my wife and I have grown in discernment. I’m a sinner and I’m in progress in learning discernment with regard to movies. I’ll try to help both you and myself in this area with this blog.

In “The Dark Knight,” the language is pretty clean, violence is high but not gory or glorified, and there is very minimal sexual innuendo.

#2.  Seek out the meta narrative(s).

By meta narrative I mean the overarching big picture storyline that the movie is drawing from. This meta narrative is usually why we like a certain movie or why a movie is so rewatchable and what brings us to tears or draws out other emotions. We cannot be passive when we approach media. I know we all want to just relax and “veg” but if we are passive, our viewing will not necessarily be refreshing in the right things. It does not take much more effort to learn to watch for the meta narrative and for truth about ourselves or God.

Some questions to ask as you watch: What is the slant on human depravity, are people viewed as generally good or generally evil? What is valued by the movie characters and thereby glorified? How are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers portrayed? What is the source of joy for the characters? What is the context (culture, time frame, event) of the film? What  is the main theme that you think the director & screenwriter are trying to get across?

In “The Dark Knight,” human depravity is a major thing that the characters themselves wrestle with. The Joker (Heath Ledger) is full of lies and deceit but his goal is merely to draw out the evil in people and to demonstrate that we are inherently depraved. Batman (Christian Bale) and Dent (Aaron Eckhart) and Gordon (Gary Oldman) try to fight this idea but ultimately get bit by their own sin and struggles at some point in the film, especially Dent who becomes The Joker’s ultimate example. The film is very dark and disturbing because it is a world in which hope is very fleeting and victory is far from assured. Joy is only in relationship with others and even those relationships get attacked throughout the film. What do I think the point of the film is? Escalation will always seem to give evil the upper hand. Good comes through sacrifice, through laying down your life for others. It’s a great film from Christopher Nolan.

#3.  Run to The Gospel

Seek to glorify God in seeing how the meta narrative reflects a truth about him or his character or reveals the very Gospel itself. Can this movie help me to see God more clearly? Does it point out something about myself that I need to understand further? Is there a good example to follow? Why do people gravitate towards this film and what does it reveal about them? Does it give me another illustration of gospel to use in communicating the gospel? These are things I want to be thinking about.

In “The Dark Knight,” the Joker is a clear depiction of Satan. What is his power? Only his words. He barely uses much else and is very simple. His main threats are his lies and his key truth that people are depraved. You cannot even really hurt him as he is completely given over to the chaos, to evil. “You have nothing, nothing to threaten me with. Nothing to do with all your strength.” The Joker helps give the feel of the film such a hopelessness and the stomach punch that it feels like.

I think many believers feel this way in general. We don’t have a hope in the ultimate victory that Jesus promises and guarantees. We feel defeated in this world in our battles with sin and in our battles to help others know Jesus. We feel like Satan and evil have the upper hand in this American culture. So we resign to surviving and to numbness in our own Christian way. We don’t give our hearts. We don’t strive for intimacy with God. We live for comfort and innocent temporary pleasures that get us through the week. Is that right? Is this what Jesus calls us to? What am I actually hoping in? I confess I’m describing myself most of the time.

Then there’s Batman. Most of the film, he wrestles with his own humanity and limitations just as Dent and Gordon do. But then at the end, he comes through in an almost shocking, surprising way. By the end, Dent has turned to bitterness and defeat and run on the path of evil vengeance, killing multiple people. Gotham’s “White Knight” has tarnished everything Batman, Dent, and Gordon have fought for. But Batman steps in for the sake of Dent and Gotham. Batman literally takes on the sin of Dent at the end of the film. “Put it on me,” he says, “You’ll hunt me. You’ll condemn me. Set the dogs on me. Because that’s what needs to happen.” Batman lays down his life, lays down his reputation and takes the consequences of Dent’s sin. Wow. That’s the Gospel! Jesus takes on much more suffering and much more sin but He does it just as willingly enduring for the joy set before him to redeem us.

Summary

As you can tell, I loved the movie, “The Dark Knight,” and so did most of us who have seen it. As I’ve tried to demonstrate, there are some powerful reasons why so many loved it or were haunted by it. Many movies are more complex or more dark or much simpler, just don’t be passive when watching! You don’t have to be super analytical or some film critic to extract the main points and worldview of the film, just ask some of the questions I’ve proposed above. Discuss it with your spouse or friends or coworkers. I’m not advocating you watch movies every night of the week or that you disregard good reading habits. I’m definitely not advocating that you work to desensitize yourself to the violence or sex of many movies. Just trust God to use our modern art, movies, to reveal Himself as you walk in faith to see them.

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