Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Christians and Violent Media

Should Christians watch violent movies?

The question has been raised before, but it gets my attention now because it's directed toward a movie I really want to see: The Hunger Games.

The premise of the story is that each year twelve subjugated "districts" are required to send one boy and one girl (12-18 years old) to fight to the death for the amusement of their rulers. Twenty-four enter; one leaves. The battles in the arena, as well as many other things that befall these children, are quite brutal. Given the movie's PG-13 rating, I expect a lot of the violence to be off-screen or at least toned-down, but it's impossible to take all of the edge off of children killing children.

Should we let ourselves (much less our kids) see things like this?

I find myself wanting to ask a few follow up questions:

1. What in the Bible specifically forbids our watching violent movies? I think you can make an indirect case from passages such as Phil 4:8, but without someone more direct, I don't think we can make an absolute rule.

2. How much and what kind of violence is OK? Why is football acceptable (if it is)?

3. Why is the violence in the Bible OK? It is the most violent book you'll probably ever read. Judges alone is probably the most violent thing you'll ever read.

4. Does is matter how the violence is handled? In some works violence is fun or funny and made to look attractive. In others, such as The Hunger Games, the reader/viewer is supposed to be horrified. You're supposed to look at the people in the story who enjoy the games and wonder what is wrong with them. And you're supposed to ask if you make any questionable entertainment choices yourself (Saw anyone?). Does that matter? I think it does.

For myself, I'm going to choose to see this movie. I am not going to allow my kids to see it until they are much older. When they do read and/or see The Hunger Games, we will talk about man's inhumanity to man, the importance of protecting those you love, kindness to enemies, desensitization, and the corrupting nature of power. It will be a wonderful family time, and I don't think there will be anything wrong with that.

1 comment:

JonathanCatholic said...

In my opinion, violence is something that mature Christians (adults and teens) should be aware of and shouldn't shy away from, especially men but also women as well. The fact is that wars happen, violence happens. It wasn't intended that way by God, but that's how human beings have made a mess of things down here. What would happen if a man were required to fight in a war for the freedom and protection of those he loved, his family and fellow countrymen, but were sheltered from violence and gore his whole life, childhood, and time of maturing into a man in his teens? Bad results.

I think it matters the kind of violence as well. Is it gruesome, hellish horror movie type violence, sadistic and demonic? or is it war? or is it martyrdom? for example, the Passion of the Christ is violent, but for the mature viewer, you have to understand that it is no more violent (probably less violent, in fact) than the Passion and Resurrection that is our Faith, whole and entire. It's impossible in this fallen world of less than ideal circumstances to run from violence, it will find you at one time or another and in one circumstance or another. Best to not shy away from it, while still walking the fine line of thinking on good things.