Showing posts from 2019

FROZEN, Olaf, and Damning with Faint Love

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

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

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

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

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

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…

What REALLY Went Wrong with Desiring God’s Critique of CAPTAIN MARVEL

The proverbial hornet’s nest got a solid whack with a stick when Desiring God published an article by Greg Morse entitled Behold Your Queen: The Real Conflict in Captain Marvel. When the piece was initially published, I was concerned. After further reflection, I became more concerned. And after seeing the angry, hurt, and incredulous responses from many women I know, I became deeply concerned.

That concern turned into a lengthy written response, divided into two separate blog posts (here and here). I laid out what I believed were four problematic components of the article.
Because of the great respect I have for those at Desiring God, I personally reached out to Mr. Morse and shared my concerns. He thanked me for contacting him directly, and even offered to schedule a video chat for further discussion.
We were finally able to participate in that video chat just over a week ago. During our conversation (which he opened and closed with earnest prayer), Morse displayed a depth of humility t…

Seth Rogen on Hollywood’s Backdoor Connection to the Red-Light District

As someone who’s not a fan of chick flicks and romantic comedies (like, at all), I was surprised to find myself genuinely intrigued by the first trailer I saw for Long Shot (starring Seth Rogen and Charlize Theron), which played up the sentimental aspects of the story. Subsequent trailers, however, more clearly hinted at the raunchier side of things.

In the end, I decided not to see the movie.
What I did recently see, however, was a video clip from an interview Rogen and Theron gave during their press tour for Long Shot. In a segment on The Graham Norton Show, where they were discussing porn star Stormy Daniels’ dalliances with Donald Trump, Norton brought up the fact that Seth Rogen has actually worked with Daniels before.
After Theron incredulously asked, “What?!” several times, Rogen clarified what his working relationship with the porn star entailed. Below is a (slightly cleaned up) transcript of what he said:
Stormy Daniels is in Knocked Up and The 40 Year Old Virgin. . . . Very earl…

No, HBO Isn’t Porn—and That’s Part of the Problem

Ramin Djawadi has done a superb job of composing the music for HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones. As one who hasn’t watched the show, I only recently binge-listened to the music from all seven seasons. I don’t think I’ve ever done that with any other TV series. From the iconic main titles sequence for each season, to the elegant “Light of the Seven,” to the epic “The Army of the Dead,” Djawadi has created an impressive musical tapestry.

The music from this series is just one example how Game of Thrones is no run-of-the-mill television series. The production values, quality of acting, and narrative complexities of GOT (not to mention its plethora of Emmy nominations) all point to the impressive artistry exemplified by the show’s participants.
Look, I get it. Game of Thrones, in addition to other HBO shows, isn’t just all hype. It is a genuinely intriguing drama, and it understandably has captured the interest of millions of viewers. If not for its graphic sexual and violent content, I wo…