Purity in Entertainment
My uncle Dave had a roommate in college who thought the word grotesque was pronounced, not grow-tesk, but grottaskew. In all fairness, if there is a more grotesque way to say grotesque, roomie found it.
Pronunciation aside, what does grotesque mean? I don’t need to define it. Like tinkle, buzz, or murmur, grotesque sounds like what it means. Well, sort of. There’s a word for this: onomatopoeia. [Funny, onomatopoeia is most certainly not onomatopoeic.]
But I digress. Massively. The word grotesque has been on my mind. I and my scholastic companions were yesterday exhorted to avoid “grotesque entertainment standards.” These were jestingly defined as standards that allow movies, music, or entertainment of any sort that we would not be comfortable with our mothers experiencing.
There is a problem with this definition. My mother is the most admirable woman I know, and I love her exceedingly (I also miss her, but that’s another story). However, she is not always the arbiter of my entertainment tastes. My mother prefers movies where the most violent acts are a spurned dinner invitation, a hastily plunked-down teacup, a icy stare from the Vicar. I like movies with a bit of shootin’ (by the good guys, of course). Similarly, though she is a paragon of elegant motherliness and a gourmet chef besides (I miss her chevre won-tons and grilled-cheese casserole SO VERY, VERY MUCH), she prefers Springsteen, Carole King, and whosoever doth appear on A Prairie Home Companion to the Foo Fighters, Radiohead, or Broken Social Scene. She’s more gardening and knitting, I’m more gokarting and computing.
So, much as I respect mater meus, she’s not always my standard for entertainment, and we’re both fine with that.
However, Doug Wilson, was right to say that we must be careful in what we hear, see, and do. And as his son is fond of saying, “If you read stupid books, watch stupid movies, and listen to stupid music, congratulations: you’re stupid.”
Nasty movies can lead us into sin. Especially when we let them redefine the norm. Is extramarital sex the norm? Sure, in our culture. In our movies, absolutely. In the Twin Cities, Moscow and Pullman, yes. In the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul, totally. In the Twin Cities, Sodom and Gomorrah, yes. However, in the City of God, no friggin’ way.
Creation is contained within the Creator. All our normals and abnormals must come from Him. And guess what? Entertainment culture (is that redundant?) may declare that extramarital sex, perverted sex, and infanticide are normal, accepted, and praiseworthy. They aren’t. We sin, but that doesn’t make it normal. Sin is so grotesquely abnormal, and so alien to the Goodness of God that it deserves death. I’m not afraid to say it. I’m also not afraid to say that I’m a wild hypocrite: I watch bad movies sometimes, and I listen to bad music sometimes. It’s a war, and I lose some battles. So do you. But this is a war we can’t lose. Let’s keep fighting.
So what are we fighting? Movies with gratuitous sex and violence, that’s a given. Many movies glorify an immoral lifestyle, but not all of them succeed. When a movie is more a work of art then it is a portrayal of sin, it is worth watching. So no, that lame-ass R-rated comedy probably does not qualify. The Godfather? Maybe.