Summer blockbuster season gets me riled up. Every year since we were teenagers, my friend and I have been lining up on opening day for the most anticipated movies, shamelessly buying into the pomp and circumstance surrounding the spectacle flicks, and spending hours waiting in line chatting it up with other hardcore fans. How we communicate online has started to lengthen and replace the line-up talk; instead of talking to people walking out of the early show, we’re reading more reviews; instead of analyzing and chatting the film over at Tim’s, we’re sharing clips, tweets, and blogs with hundreds of viewers around the world. This should make the conversation better, but instead, we often miss the point entirely or (even worse) we lash back with harsh criticism, becoming more a part of the problem than the solution.
I was struck by one article that featured a preview clip for The Hunger Games. For those who don’t know much about the books (shame on you!) the story takes place in a world where twelve districts are oppressed, enslaved, and exploited, all for the excessive lifestyle and comfort of the wealthy people of the Capitol city. You can read the full article and watch the clip here, but since I know I have about 300 more words before I lose your attention, I’ll cut to the chase. The blogger’s analysis of the clip is as follows:
The brief clip does an efficient and effective job of laying out the conflict between the beleaguered tributes and the cruelly indifferent Capitol citizens. While some of the story’s antagonists are out-and-out malevolent, most are rather like these Gamemakers — passively oblivious to the suffering of Katniss and people like her.
All I could think after reading this was how one little sentence is all the writer needed to get the point – as if I could add just a little more that would reveal what the author was trying to do with these books:
… This is, of course, similar to the way that we spend and consume more than our share in North America, with no regard and little desire to know about the human cost of our comfort.
There was another post a little later that previewed the upcoming Bobcat Goldthwait film God Bless America. It’s a comedy about a lazy, disillusioned man, who is fed up with the status quo, and feels insulted by all the horrible people that pop culture has produced. When he is diagnosed with a terminal illness, he decides to go on a murderous rampage, tracking down all the celebrities, reality stars, and terrible people that disgust him so much, and spending his last days on earth killing every one of these people that he can.
For obvious reasons, I’m not going to link you to the trailer for this one, but I want to copy a few comments that were posted under it, with a little more emphasis on the last:
- So what’s currently the wager on how long until this ‘inspires’ a real shooting?
- Seeing them shoot all those people point-blank made me feel disturbed. But then again, I don’t always feel disturbed by the crap put out by the media today, so that’s part of the problem.
- I feel like the punchline is the viewer. Many viewers will praise this film for the acts depicted on screen. In the end, though, if this were reality, one would be praising sick and horrifying events. Could this film be a way for Bobcat to laugh at the hypocritical viewership?
- I think it shows that there are a great many things in pop culture that are strange and horrifying to many of us, and we feel powerless to change any of it because we don’t even know how this stuff got to be so common in the first place.
It’s hard to disagree with how disillusioned these commenters are. It’s the last comment that I connect with the best, though; it’s easy to identify the problems in our culture, but significantly more difficult to change them. We feel powerless to find solutions, so like the filmmaker, we’re critical and crass.
So we have two types of people so far. The first passes over, or is oblivious to, the uncomfortable truths about ourselves; the other sees that there’s a problem, is loudly frustrated about it, but in the end, still offers no solution.
I began to see an alternative at work, however. It hit me at a school staff meeting, during a discussion about how to reach what we were calling the “three percent” of kids. These are the ones who consistently act out, tune out, and generally make life trouble for teachers and classmates. A colleague of mine passionately posed this statement:
Why do we get paid the big bucks? It’s for the three percent. If they needed people to hand out worksheets and teach the kids who want to learn, anyone can do that. We’re here to be the last line of defense for these kids whose parents don’t give a crap, who don’t have any friends because of how they act. We’re here for the three percent.
Once again I couldn’t help but add just a little more:
… thank God he’s called us to be here for them.
I’m still not completely sure what the alternative to obliviousness/idle criticism is, but I think someone who has that passion to act is closer to finding solutions than most. It’s that call to action that is forcing me to put aside the idea that the Christian message is all about answers to life’s big questions; I’m realizing more and more that having all the answers to the universe isn’t as important as our individual calling. Jesus didn’t throw stones at the adulterer, because his hands were meant for something else– something that was for her greater benefit. When we put aside our criticism and move past our shock at what goes on in our world, and we put our hands to good use, we’re finally able to start actually living the Christian message.
The mission of Intersection is to help our readers to see how the gospel of Jesus intersects & transforms all of life in a very real way. Our goal is to destroy the false & harmful dichotomy between 'the sacred' & 'the secular' by presenting a wide range of perspectives that focus on different aspects of life in the city. These stories, reflections, observations, & opinions all have one thing in common—the shared conviction that every arena of life can be holy & beautiful when it is lived out in full awareness of the gospel & in full submission to the leadership of Jesus. Although the Intersection team loves, values, & supports all of its contributors, the views expressed in their posts are ultimately their own & may not necessarily reflect the beliefs & values of New City Church.