This originally ran on HollywoodJesus.com. You can join the conversation there, or respond below if you’re so inclined. I’m interested in your responses either way!
What is redeemable? What isn’t? What should we watch to better our lives and improve our worldview? What should we avoid because it is filthy, despicable, artless, unredeemable, evil, etc.? If you haven’t asked what you should be watching, I encourage you to stop and think about how you decide what you’ll consider viewing. But to be honest, even the fine writers of Hollywood Jesus don’t always agree about where to draw the line.
On January 6, Trevin Wax, the managing editor of Lifeway’s The Gospel Project, wrote aprovocative editorial about his fundamentalist upbringing and the way it impacted his expectations about what he should watch, and what media was worth his time in general. Wax wonders whether or not we’ve gotten caught up in “avoiding the appearance of being ‘holier-than-thou’ than we do in avoiding evil itself,” but says that it seems like it might be more complicated than we try to make it.
Wax uses a Christianity Today review of The Wolf of Wall Street and his own review of Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables to underscore that the same topics, like greed, violence, and lust, can be presented in different ways, with different results.
And honestly, this led to one of the best discussions we’ve had as HJ Staffers in quite some time.
Alas, the discussion happened on Facebook, and we wondered: what do you think?
Are you of the mindset that I Corinthians 10:23 (”You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’–but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’–but not everything is beneficial”) or Mark 7:15 (”Nothing outside a person can defile them by going into them. Rather, it is what comes out of a person that defiles them”)? Does Romans 14:13-14 (”Therefore let us not pass judgment on one another any longer, but rather decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a brother. I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean.”) speak to your decision-making?
At Hollywood Jesus, we have always taken the approach that we would review what we were each individually called to or inclined to review. I personally made it through the first fifth of Don Jon before determining that it wasn’t the right type of movie for me; Darrel Manson wrote a fine review about how the film asks us to consider where we get our direction when it comes to love and relationships here. Two people of faith and the same movie, and two different responses.
But maybe it’s not the film itself or the rating (there are some PG-13 movies that are raunchier than the R-rated The King’s Speech). Maybe it’s the viewer, and what they bring to watching the film. Have you ever considered that?
What do you consider when you go to see a film? Do its ethics or your ethics matter? What should faithful people watch?