St. Stephen's Musings

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:: Tuesday, November 11, 2003 ::

Sex in Films

A reader brings up an interesting question in regards to my review of "The Matrix Revolutions." It is a question I have debated with numerous family and friends and inevitably I always seem to come out the lecher and the loser. I'm willing to stick my neck out and take another beating. The reader asks: How can Christians in good conscience endorse or recommended films that contain explicit sexual imagery? Here is my *very short* answer to this question:

While I found the Zion party scene in "Reloaded" to be *ridiculously* gratuitous, the "cake" scene with the Merovingian to be a little juvenile, and the brief S&M scene in "Revolutions" to be mildly disturbing, I don't see them (or the other examples of sexuality in either of the later two Matrix films) discrediting or destroying the integrity of the films nor my guarded recommendation.

In many ways elements of violence and sexuality can illumine the greater story and help us understand the motivations and psyche of characters in any film. Sex and violence are, undeniable, part of what it means to live in this world. Even Serpahim Rose believed that there were works of fiction that could be used to lead people to Christ. The "sanctified imagination", as Lewis talked about, is a good thing.

The questions one must ask are these: Does *any* representation of sin or evil reduce the power of the story or truth one is trying to convey? How much is "too much"? Does it drive the plot, develop characters, or is it just eye candy? Etc...

Here's another question: What do you do with much of the Bible? If the Bible was made into a movie, much of it would be rated R if not flat out NC-17 and would contain warnings like "Adult themes, nudity, sexuality, violence, torture, and bloody deaths abound." Any attempt to mute, censor, or sugar-coat those parts would do the text and us a horrible disservice.

While this doesn't excuse or explain explicit and unnecessary sexual and violent images in ANY film, one must see through them to the greater point or story that is trying to be told. If one can't do that, then it is better to not watch films, read books, attend plays, or expose oneself to images, stories, or examples of vice.

With any recommendation of a film or book or work of art comes the implicit assumption that those who, for whatever reason can't handle certain aspects, will do the proper research and abstain if needed. Some of us are tempted or distracted easier than others. Like so many things the "weaker brother" element is crucial.

But frankly, even with all this said, I'll admit that from an Orthodox POV many films and books are better left on the shelf and out of my mind. If I spent as much time in prayer, fasting, and works of mercy as I do watching films and reading books, I'd be saint by now.

:: Karl :: 10:07:00 AM [Link] ::

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