Showing posts from 2018

4 Reasons Why the Merging of Pop Culture and Porn Culture May be Affecting You

I’ve been researching and writing about sexualized entertainment for over four years now. One of the most frequent responses to my articles goes something like this: “Nudity and sex scenes don’t bother me.”

While I’ve addressed this argument before, Speculative Faith asked me to write a more thorough rebuttal:
In just the last few years, some of our most popular fantasy stories include material that at one time would have been considered porn.
These include films such as Passengers, Blade Runner 2049, and The Shape of Water, as well as TV shows such as Game of Thrones, Westworld, and Altered Carbon.
Concerns about content like this are often raised in relation to children and teens, whose emotional and physical development make them more impressionable. When it comes to adults, however, we find little concern expressed.
In fact, a lot of people claim to have no issues watching films with explicit sexual content. The material doesn’t affect them—or so they say.
But is this true? And if so, s…

When Sexualized Nudity is No Longer an Oddity

Film critic James Berardinelli recently performed a non-scientific survey of nudity in film and television, comparing various factors involving R-rated films and TV fare. What he found was this: since the year 2000, onscreen nudity in films has dropped significantly, while television (including cable, Netflix, and has experienced an “explosion of adult-oriented content.” Says Berardinelli,

…because the FCC lacks dominion over cable and Internet, there are no content restrictions. [For example,] Game of Thrones can have an exposition dump while naked characters are engaged in an orgy in the background. . . . The Internet essentially ruined the value of gratuitous nudity [in movies] because now anything in a theater seemed tame compared to what could be seen at home on a computer screen.
Wise and winsome Christian commentary is essential in helping believers appropriately engage with our culture on this topic. Toward that end, I submit a recently-posted YouTube video entitle…

How “A Million Dreams” Brilliantly Foreshadows the Entire Plot of THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

Yes, I am still on a Greatest Showman kick. Cut me some slack, though. My wife and I only saw it for the first time just under three weeks ago. The soundtrack still plays almost daily in our home, providing near endless opportunities for our toddlers to daintily prance and spin as they sing along with “The Circus Man” (as they gleefully call him). Besides, for someone who’s as unhip as myself, it makes sense that I would be taken in by such an uncool (according to critics), and yet wildly popular (according to general audiences), movie.

So, what is my point in writing another post about this particular film? To gush like a fanboy who has staked a personal claim to gold-encrusted, front-row seats on the Greatest Showman bandwagon? Not exactly. (That’s just a happy side effect.) The point of this blog post is to…well, point out a unique aspect of the song “A Million Dreams.” After listening to this song a bajillion times (give or take a few), I’ve noticed something extraordinary about i…

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017) – Film Review

I am posting this review five months to the day after the movie’s initial theatrical release. The DVD has been out in stores for almost a month. Most everyone else in the world is now discussing a current, record-breaking theatrical release (something about “to infinity and beyond,” or close to it).
Why am I drawing attention to The Greatest Showman when most everyone else has moved on? There are a couple reasons. First, I only just now saw the movie—at the behest of my wife (for previously disclosed reasons), without whom I would never have given this film the time of day, let alone my undivided attention. And second, timing is not one of my strong suits.
As a reminder, I rate movies based on three criteria: objectionable content (C), artistic merit (A), and my personal opinions (P).
CONTENT (C): 9.5 out of 10
In a recent Forbes interview, actor Hugh Jackman and songwriters Justin Paul and Benj Pasek reveal that they had a specific demographic in mind. Says Jackman, “We knew the reality …

A QUIET PLACE (2018) – Film Review

Full disclosure: I am not a fan of horror films. There’s a place for the horror genre, as author Mike Duran recently explained, but it’s not a genre I typically enjoy. A large part of the reason is that I hate jump scenes; they unnerve me to an excruciatingly unpleasant degree. (Think of a fainting goat, but preceded by a Ringwraith-like scream of fear.)

So when I saw ads for A Quiet Place, I had no plans to see it. Why would I? The last movie I’d seen in theaters that had any real horror elements was Cloverfield—and that was ten years ago. It would take a unique set of circumstances to lure me into a darkened movie theater for a terror-stricken stroll down Horror Movie Lane.
But then the reviews started coming in, and the more I heard from people I follow and trust, the more intrigued I became. Evidently, A Quiet Place wasn’t your typical horror film, for several reasons—reasons that made me think I might actually want to see it. Over the last couple weeks, my excitement grew strong, …

Finding the Gospel in (Spite of) “Red Sparrow”

With the amount of time I have taken to write about Jennifer Lawrence, one might assume either that I am obsessed with her or that I have something against her. Neither is true. It just so happens that my desire to write about loving our entertainers as we love ourselves keeps intersecting with news developments related to Jennifer Lawrence. And so I keep writing about her. #SorryNotSorry

In a recent blog entry, I examined Lawrence’s starring role in the sexually violent film Red Sparrow, and how she claimed in an interview that the movie helped her feel empowered. After being the victim of a photo hack that released nude pictures of Lawrence onto the internet, her choice to go nude (and much more) for Red Sparrow allowed her to reclaim what the photo hack had stolen: her autonomy.

To a degree, I get where Lawrence is coming from. The sexual offenses committed against her in real life took place without her consent, so she turned the tables (so to speak) by willingly participating in si…

My Appeal to Those Suspicious of #MeToo

It was quite a controversial piece, written by a political activist. This piece addressed the entertainment industry, and how women have been especially susceptible to abuse and degradation. To be honest, the hard-nosed emphasis on how women are at most risk of victimization came across to me as a bit sexist: as if women were somehow inferior to men. Initially, I wasn’t quite sure if I could get behind it.

Now, if you think I’m describing a modern-day op-ed, you would actually be mistaken. I am referring, rather, to the words of the eighteenth-century abolitionist William Wilberforce in his mouthful-of-a-title bookA Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians, in the Middle and Higher Classes in this Country, Contrasted with Real Christianity. In section five of chapter four, Wilberforce addresses a problem in the performing arts in particular. Here’s how he begins this section (and I encourage you to read it in its entirety):
It is an undeniable fact, for …

Jennifer Lawrence’s Tragic Sexual “Empowerment”

If asked to pick my favorite actor working today, I would be hard pressed not to choose Jennifer Lawrence. An exceptional thespian, Lawrence is especially skilled at communicating raw emotions through characters facing extreme trials: Ree in Winter’s Bone, Katniss in the Hunger Games films, Aurora in Passengers, and the nameless woman in mother! My admiration for her acting ability has only increased with the passage of time.

As one interested in Lawrence’s development as an actor, I thought it appropriate to examine her most recent project: the sexually violent spy thriller Red Sparrow. In the words of Refinery29’s Anne Cohen, “An actress famous for her reluctance to shoot nude scenes doesn’t just suddenly decide to go full-frontal, which makes this decision worth examining.”
Consider just one sequence in the film, once again in the words of Anne Cohen:
In the late stages of her training as a Sparrow, an elite breed of Russian spies taught to extract information with their bodies and th…

“Shape of You,” Objectification, and Harvey Weinstein

I’m not hip. My exposure to most pop music involves hearing the songs my wife adds to her Spotify playlists. If not for that, I probably wouldn’t know much (or anything) about Adele or Taylor Swift or One Republic or Imagine Dragons. Aren’t you glad she’s in my life? (I am—immensely.)
Being the unhip hipster that I am (you know, uncool before it’s cool to be uncool), I only first heard Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” several weeks ago. It caught my attention for a couple of reasons. First, it’s catchy. And second, it reminded me of Harvey Weinstein.
My mind made an immediate connection between the song’s lyrics and Salma Hayek’s 2017 op-ed for The New York Times: “Harvey Weinstein Is My Monster Too.” In it, Hayek describes how Weinstein manipulated and harassed her. The abuse came to a head when Weinstein allegedly threatened to shut down Hayek’s pet project—the movie Frida (which, at the time, was in the middle of production)—unless she agreed to add a lesbian sex scene to the film, dur…