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Objectifying Margot Robbie: A Highlight of the Last Decade

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A few weeks ago, many film critics released their lists of favorite movies, not just from the previous twelve months, but from the previous ten years. James Berardinelli, whose reviews and commentary I read on a regular basis, catalogued eighteen cinematic highlights from the last decade. One of these films was The Wolf of Wall Street, which he thinks “may be [Scorsese’s] most enjoyable all-time production.” He goes on to say, “This is delightfully re-watchable (and not just for the Margot Robbie scenes).”

That throwaway line is revealing. For those not familiar with the movie, Margot Robbie plays the main female lead, a character who is sexualized and objectified by the screenplay, the characters in the story, and the eye of the camera itself. According to Berardinelli, the delightfulness of the movie is due, in large part, to Robbie being in various stages of undress. There is more to the movie than just that—but certainly no less.

THE “ART” OF OBJECTIFICATION
We can’t dismiss Berardin…

FROZEN, Olaf, and Damning with Faint Love

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From my review of the original Frozen:

Olaf, the anthropomorphic snowman, is the comedic highlight of the film. Practically everything he said or did had me in stitches. I don’t want to exaggerate, but Olaf may be my favorite Disney sidekick, right up next to Pixar’s Dory.
My opinion has not changed. Olaf’s antics in Frozen serve to caress my funny bone like a giddy six-fingered tickler. The prospect of seeing and hearing more from him in Frozen 2 is exciting.
As we prepare for another narrative romp with the world’s favorite magical (literally) princess, I’m reminded of a scene in the original film that has stuck with me ever since 2013. For reference (and your viewing pleasure), here is the clip:

I’m sure you remember this segment. Olaf sings of his eager anticipation of summer’s arrival, when he’ll “find out what happens to solid water when it gets warm.” He imagines all the enjoyable activities he’ll participate in, blissfully unaware of what summer will actually do to him.
Near the en…

SHE HAS A NAME (2016) – Film Review

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While researching and evaluating films for inclusion in my upcoming online course, I came across this movie. The trailers intrigued me, primarily because of two factors: 1) the quality of the production looked higher than your typical independently-produced project, and 2) it looked like a film that highly regarded the sexual dignity of its actors. That was enough reason for me to check it out for myself, and I had enough thoughts to warrant a belated movie review for this 2016 film.

The film’s synopsis, as listed on the movie’s website, is simple:
Jason, a lawyer, poses as a john to build a legal case against a ruthless pimp who is trafficking girls in Asia. He meets Number 18, a girl forced to work as a prostitute in a busy red light district whose testimony is key to his case.
As a reminder, I rate movies based on three criteria: objectionable content (C), artistic merit (A), and my personal opinions (P). (C-A-P. Get it?)
CONTENT (C): 9 out of 10
With a nightclub being a major set piec…

“More Like This, Please”: How Good People Perpetuate Rape Culture

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Early American slavery wasn’t a tragedy simply because it was a societal evil. That was bad enough. What made matters worse was that so many good people did nothing to stop it—probably in part because it is uncomfortable to confront such a pervasive and culturally-ingrained practice. And yet, the silence of good people, in order to avoid discomfort, spoke volumes to those enslaved—not only to their discomfort, but to their humiliation—and, in many cases, to their death. For too long, too many in society just didn’t care—or, at the very least, didn’t care enough.

In light of that reality, read the following 2017 quote from Sarah Polley:
The only thing that shocked most people in the film industry about the Harvey Weinstein story was that suddenly, for some reason, people seemed to care. That knowledge alone allowed a lot of us to breathe for the first time in ages.
That is a heartbreaking statement. Whereas a majority of us were shocked by what Harvey Weinstein had done over the years, th…

An Exciting Announcement about My Next Public Work

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With the publication of my essay “When Art Becomes Sinful” in the book Cultural Engagement (Zondervan, 7/9/19), I am now working to further promote an often-overlooked message that seems to hit a nerve every time I write about it. Toward that end, I am creating an online course that will help people find greater clarity and freedom in addressing entertainment choices with hypersexual content (nudity, sex scenes, etc.). This material will enable Christians to better understand, evaluate, and engage with sexualized media.

Some content from previous blog posts and articles will be repurposed, but a large portion of the material in this course will be completely new. Beta testing of the course will commence in a month or two, during which a select and generous group of authors, pastors, and artists have agreed to provide me with feedback.
As it now stands, this material will be divided into 12 lessons. Each lesson will include the following components:
1) Video content
Video introductions wil…

CULTURAL ENGAGEMENT is Now Available for Purchase

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It’s not every day you get to announce the official release of a book you contributed to.

As many of you know, I’ve had the privilege of working with Drs. Joshua Chatraw and Karen Swallow Prior on an anthology about Christian engagement with cultural beliefs. Dr. Prior asked me to contribute an essay a year and a half ago, and it has been a tremendous pleasure and privilege to be involved in this project.

The book, Cultural Engagement: A Crash Course in Contemporary Issues, releases today. It explores nine controversial topics—sexuality, gender roles, human life & reproductive technology, immigration & race, creation & creature care, politics, work, the arts, and warfare & capital punishment—from a variety of angles. Contributors to the book include Makoto Fujimura, Rod Dreher, Rosaria Butterfield, Andy Crouch, Joe Carter, and Katelyn Beaty.
There is a wide range of beliefs represented in this book, not because all positions are equally valid, but because there needs to …

When to Question Your Entertainment Choices

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Entertainment isn’t inherently shallow, but we can be shallow in our response to it sometimes. One such way is viewing and treating entertainment as nothing more than a simple tool for proselytizing. This belief has led to a plethora of shallow faith-based movies that are just thinly-veiled sermons.

Another shallow way to respond to entertainment, as Trevin Wax once pointed out, is to subscribe to the idea that “all sorts of entertainment choices are validated in the name of cultural engagement.” Wax then rightly asks, “What’s the point in decrying the exploitation of women in strip clubs and mourning the enslavement of men to pornography when we unashamedly watch films that exploit and enslave?”
These are excellent questions, and after mulling them over for quite a while (the above-linked article was published over five years ago), I have attempted at least a partial answer in my newest article for Reformed Perspective: There is a line that shouldn’t be crossed, somewhere between the qu…