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Is it My Job to “Rescue” Women Who Undress for the Camera?

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From a concerned reader (with a few slight edits):

Your argument robs adult women of agency because it says outright that they are not consenting and implies they cannot consent. It infantilizes adult women and asserts that they can only be protected by men with a white knight impulse. We’re getting into an area where women are regarded as little more than sheep, being led by whatever crook is nearest.
As regular visitors know, over the past few years I have focused much of my blog’s attention on how the entertainment industry places pressure on actors to perform nude and/or sex scenes for audiences. It’s a problem that is at once both tacitly acknowledged and blithely ignored. I have argued further that those who suffer most under this burden are actresses.
With my emphasis on women, some readers have responded with major concerns. I am both thankful for and alarmed by this feedback, because the quoted critique above is not what I have meant to communicate. Not at all. I offered a …

SILENCE (2016) – Film Review

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Rarely has a director of Martin Scorsese’s caliber tackled such weighty religious themes head-on with such heartfelt passion. As such, Silence is not an insignificant film. The controversial story has, unsurprisingly, met with a wide variety of responses; it has been called “one of the finest religious movies ever made,” as well as an egregious “subversion of the Christian faith.”
Since the movie came out last year, most everyone has had his or her say. I’m not sure if anything new can be added to the voices that have already spoken. Still, I didn’t get a chance to see Silence until recently, and, for what it’s worth, still wanted to write down my thoughts. [Insert joke about me not wanting to remain silent about Silence.]
WARNING: There is no way to deal with the thematic elements of this film without revealing major spoilers. In fact, I’m going to enter Spoiler Land and set up camp there. I might even start a fire and cook some S’mores. Yes, this could get sticky.
As a reminder, I

Why Compare the Filming of Sex Scenes to Sexual Assault?

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It is near impossible to adequately address a controversial topic in one blog post. Take one (fairly) recent entry: A Tale of Two Sexual Assaults on Jennifer Lawrence. There is much I could have said but didn’t. And by leaving many things unsaid, I inevitably left the door open for people to hear things I did not say.
Based on feedback I’ve received, I want to clarify and strengthen my argument by examining three items: 1) the underlying message of the movie Passengers, 2) the controversial language I chose, and 3) human agency—in particular, female agency.
Please be forewarned that the following material contains spoilers for the movie Passengers.
THE MESSAGE OF PASSENGERS
In a work of art, the message and/or worldview of the artist(s) is shown not just in the story that is being told, but in the way the story is being told. The storyteller’s

The Indecency of Simply Ignoring Indecent Content

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Over the past few years, I’ve posted numerous articles about sex and nudity in films and television. I am grateful for the opportunity to compile material from several of these posts into a new article for Reformed Perspective Magazine. The post went live last week, and it is entitled Here’s the problem with just closing your eyes during the sex scenes. This article is a good summary of some of my main points.

UPDATE: a PDF of the print edition is now available here.

photo credit: ATENCION: via flickr, CC

A Tale of Two Sexual Assaults on Jennifer Lawrence

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The first assault against Jennifer Lawrence was heavily discussed in the news and on social media. The second has received comparatively little fanfare. The first incident resulted in an FBI investigation, subsequent prosecution, and an upcoming sentencing. The legal ramifications of the second incident are practically nonexistent. The overall response to the first was outrage. The response to the second was indifference.

What were these two incidents? The first, as you may have guessed, was the 2014 iCloud hack in which private/nude photos of several female celebrities, including Lawrence, were stolen and published online. The second incident involved the filming of Jennifer Lawrence’s first sex scene (for the sci-fi movie Passengers). Let me set the stage by sharing three similarities between the photo hack and the sex scene.
First, in the aftermath of the photo hack, Lawrence experienced anxiety. “I was just so afraid,” she later said. “I didn’t know how this would affect my caree…

CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR (2016) – Film Review

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When it comes to movies featuring the Avengers, I’m definitely in the minority. My emotional response has wavered only between mild disinterest to outright boredom—especially when it comes to anything related to Thor and/or The Hulk. Similarly, Captain America: The First Avenger left me completely underwhelmed. I loved the character of Cap himself—how could I not?—but found his origin story uninteresting.
That all changed when I saw Captain America: Winter Soldier. With tense action sequences, a healthy dose of espionage, a palpable sense of danger, a deliciously entertaining supervillain, and deft handling of moral/political themes, Winter Soldier rocked my socks off. My wife and I wanted to watch the film again even before it had finished.
The announcement of Civil War thrilled me with the possibility of watching another Cap-centric Avengers film. At the same time, I knew the bar had been set quite high. Could Cap (the superhero) entertain Cap (the moviegoer) as much as he did the …

“God’s Not Dead” and the Bastardization of Christian Filmmaking

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If you’re a fan of the 2014 film God’s Not Dead, and if you’re excited about its upcoming sequel, you and I probably have several things in common. We likely agree that historic Christianity is becoming less and acceptable in the public sphere. We likely agree that many of our nation’s college campuses are becoming more and more hostile to individuals who adhere to any form of absolutes. We also likely agree that there is an increasing need for believers of all types—students, teachers, pastors, filmmakers, etc.—to engage with our world in an effective and countercultural way.
It’s actually because of these shared beliefs that I’m majorly concerned with the popularity of God’s Not Dead (and other movies like it). And it’s because of these shared beliefs that I want to explain my concerns to you.
I’ll put aside most of the artistic issues I have with the film. (For that, I’ll direct you to my cyber friends Steven D. Greydanus and Peter T. Chattaway). My main focus here will be on the mov…