11.25.2010

My Movie Quadrant

I have found that few Christians share my stance on the subject of entertainment.  I think most Christians view entertainment from the wrong perspective, and therefore have been unable to converse meaningfully about it.  Christians think that it is always what they take in that affects them, but I think it is how they take it in that really affects them.

The problem may be that we have been brought up to think that entertainment has nothing to say, which is patently false.  Entertainment has plenty to say, whether we acknowledge it or not doesn't matter, there is always a battle going on for our minds.  I'll take two equally horrendous movies as examples, Whatever Works and Facing the Giants.  One movie is a comedy by Woody Allen, the other is a "inspirational 'Christian'" movie. Both have a worldview which they (quite blatantly) want you to adopt by the end of the movie.  In Whatever Works the worldview is that individuals should do whatever possible to make themselves happy, which is couched in humorous dialogue and situations.  Facing the Giants attempts to make you believe that all problems are temporary; should you have enough faith, in the end everything will work out in your favour, you'll even be given a new truck!  This is communicated through god talk and (unbelievable) situations.

If one understands what these movies are trying to do (i.e., instill an Epicurean/Word faith mindset) and why these views are wrong or damaging, then most of the power that the films have has been crushed. But the unfortunate thing is that most people will sit and watch these movies judging whether they are suitable based on the amount of swearing, violence and sexuality is in them.  They have a total disregard for the worldview that a movie is trying to convey to its audience.  It is this disregard that allows for worldview and ethics to be challenged and subverted.

Therefore, when watching these two movies, someone may be appalled at the Woody Allen flick because of its use of swearing and sexuality, and yet find Facing the Giants a wonderfully uplifting movie, unaware that their concept of God has been subverted to a thing more closely resembling a vending machine than the Christian God.


With that said, let me propose a new method of rating movies:

My movie rating system, rather than being a straight line (good -> bad) would be closer to a quadrant.

With the x-axis representing the scale to which a movie depicted an accurate Christian worldview and the y-axis depicting the entertainment value.

So, both of our sample movies would (in my opinion) end up in the same quadrant, #3, because they both had a poor worldview and were both not very entertaining.

Whereas The Little Mermaid (for little girls) would end up in quadrant #2 because, although the movie has been proven to be entertaining, the story of a rebellious teenage girl whose willing to forsake family and Father to get what she wants can't really  be considered a moral story.

If you can place a movie you watch into a quadrant you'll be more aware of the views and values that each movie is trying to push and thus be able to think about those thing more intelligently.