Beauty and the Beast

Last weekend, Disney released their live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast. Some Christians and “Christians” have decided to forego watching this particular movie due to the controversial decision of the openly gay director to include a “gay moment.” Others have decided to go on a bit of an absurd crusade against the movie and/or Disney for the same reason. But I would like to focus on a third group – Christians and “Christians” who have both failed to distinguish between these groups and who have thrown all sense of decorum out the window in order to castigate their supposed brothers and sisters for having the audacity to choose not to watch a movie.

According to self-described Christian John Pavlovitz, “conservative Christians have crawled out of the church pew woodwork” to opportunistically and self-righteously squash joy and persecute “the LGBTQ community.” He lambastes evangelicals for this, claiming that their support of Donald Trump exposes this as hypocrisy.

Trumping Hypocrisy

Pavlovitz’ statements are not without merit.

Trump’s widespread support among socially conservative blocs is bewildering, given how well Trump exemplifies moral deficiency and crassness. However, this is only true of enthused support for Trump, of which there is admittedly entirely too much.

But not everyone who supported Trump in some fashion is exactly enamored with the man. We must remember that deciding whether or not to watch a particular movie and deciding whether or not to vote for a particular presidential candidate are two very different decisions. The latter is typically a matter of choosing the lesser of two evils. The former is not. Right or wrong, many people voted for Trump because – and only because – they found him in some way preferable to Hillary Clinton. This author’s mother did precisely that. Her reasoning was that the media would generally operate as a propaganda machine under Clinton, but would fulfill its purpose as a government watchdog under Trump.

Therefore, people like this can “support” Trump and abstain from movies which promote homosexuality with clear consciences. Even if they are mistaken. To call them hypocrites is foolish. Only earnest supporters of Trump who should know better deserve that label.

Filming Hypocrisy

Pavolvitz’ article first came to my attention because a friend of mine shared it. This friend also pointed out that various other sins are rampant throughout film and television. This much is obvious. But this friend also reasons (though not in so many words) that we should afford positive portrayals of homosexuality the same acceptance we afford to positive, neutral, and negative portrayals of other sins. This is wrong.

If we assume that homosexual activity is no different from any other sin, then of course we should treat film portrayals of it just as we would portrayals of any other sin. However, in my opinion, any approach to modern media grounded in biblical teachings would result not in greater acceptance of positive portrayals of homosexuality, but in greater rejection of positive portrayals of other sins – particularly those to which we ourselves are susceptible. Glorification of violence, pervasive heterosexual sensuality, and profanity in various forms would all be prime candidates. I, like many, enjoyed the Bourne movies. But it should bother us that we find the violence appealing. It should even bother us if we do not and yet are willing to overlook it for the sake of our own entertainment.

Whatever movies we watch, we should always ask ourselves: is the entertainment value worth giving the creator substantial influence over my mind for two hours?

Clearly, there are other reasons to watch movies than entertainment, but entertainment is the dominant motivator for most consumption of films, particularly Disney films. This is applicable to all forms of media, but none more so than film and television.

Homosexuality

Homosexual activity (as contrasted with homosexual attraction) is a sin. But in American discourse, it tends to receive disproportionate attention. There are both good and bad reasons for this.

Homosexuality is a current issue. We live in a time where acceptance in varying forms is rising. Some of this is good and some not so much. But the controversial issues – those topics which people are largely divided on – rightly garner greater attention. It is only fitting that we focus more on the sin of homosexual activity than that of murder, for instance, even though the latter produces much worse results. There is no point in discussing the morality of murder because virtually everyone agrees on that point.

Other reasons are not so reasonable. Among those abstaining from this movie, there are no doubt a great many who have failed to abstain from so many other sins – heterosexual immorality, alcohol abuse, or tax evasion to name a few (not to mention indulging in movies which glorify these things). This may be because they do not view such things as sin, which only shows how little effort they have put into actually learning what it means to be a Christian. Or they may know it, but refuse to deal with it because they enjoy it too much. This camp truly deserves the “hypocrite” label.

But most troubling to this author is a third crowd – those of us who know what constitutes sin and who avoid it for the most part but are unwilling to oppose such practices verbally for any number of reasons which usually boil down to some form of fear. However, by and large, the solution here is to cease the timidity with which we approach other issues and not necessarily to be less firm on this one.

Portrayal Matters

I have hinted at it already, but it bears further explanation. The portrayal of a sin matters in determining whether we should accept it in the media we consume. After all, any faithful adaptation of the Bible would necessarily include depictions of murder, rape, theft, sacrilege, idolatry, prostitution, greed, betrayal, and all manner of things. However, there are two major distinctions to be made.

First, these depictions may be intended to convey some meaning, rather than to titillate. A scene in which Bathsheba enters David’s chambers is all well and good. But an adaptation which shows the full act without restraint would, I think we can agree, cross the line. I don’t profess to know exactly where the line falls, but there is a line.

Second, depictions of sin can be positive, neutral, or negative. That is, they can glorify, merely convey, or condemn the actions they depict. Racism in the original Birth of a Nation (aka The Clansman) is an example of the former. A fair amount of profanity in football and war movies could constitute neutral depictions. Racism in Remember the Titans or Blazing Saddles exemplify the latter.

For this reason, I contend that there is no inconsistency, no hypocrisy in abstaining from Beauty and the Beast while watching, say, Saving Private Ryan.

Conclusion

It is not my intent to convince anyone to avoid Disney or Beauty and the Beast. I myself may watch it if it becomes available on some filtering service. To boycott Disney over a single moment in one movie is somewhat ridiculous; it is typical of the too-common tendency to treat massive organizations as though they are single-minded individuals with no internal diversity or disagreement. As for avoiding the film itself – well, by all accounts, the homosexuality has been overblown in the media. Even so, simply abstaining from the movie is not tantamount to a “boycott,” which usually has some effect on the object of the boycott as the goal.

But more importantly, the idea is not to create a comprehensive list of movies people “can” and “can’t” watch. My points are mainly these:

  1. It is absurd to criticize anyone for merely choosing not to watch a particular movie.
  2. We in America who call ourselves Christians need to seriously rethink both the quality and quantity of entertainment media we consume.

The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!

Final Thoughts

In addition to Pavlovitz’ article, I also came across this photo:

beauty_and_the_beast

This image is rife with inaccuracies, sarcasm notwithstanding, so let me briefly summarize:

  1. The woman falls in love with a person who merely has the form of an animal. Case in point: Beast is intelligent and capable of abstract thought and communication.
  2. The witchcraft is a pretty neutral depiction, and in any case is a mere hand-wave necessary for the plot (rather than some unnecessary add-in due to the director’s worldview).
  3. The depiction of homosexuality is not a neutral depiction merely “acknowledging that gay people exist” but an endorsement of homosexual attraction. We need no more proof than the openly, actively homosexual director describing the scene in question as “deliciously gay.”

Edits

  1. 2017-03-28 14:53 EST – Partially rewrote the Conclusions section for greater clarity.
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Check Your Privilege

This post is a work of opinion.
Any resemblance to actual ideologies,
logical or nonsensical, is purely coincidental.

The Enemy

Nearly since the dawn of recorded history, one particular demographic has consistently enriched themselves at the expense of all others. They have conquered “lesser” peoples, devised systems of government and economies which dramatically favor themselves. They have repeatedly pillaged and plundered, invading sovereign countries in the name of “colonization” and stealing not only their land and resources, but culture and identity as well. To this day, they deny any sort of widespread privilege afforded their ranks in spite of the efforts that we, the enlightened beneficiaries of higher education, undertake to rebuke their abusive ways.

I speak, of course, of the dreaded Urban Man.

History

To find proof of the nefarious legacy to which the modern Urban Man is heir, one need look no further than well-known historical events. Well over a thousand years before the Common Era, the Urban Man is said to have sought to commit rapacious sodomy against the guests of his neighbor.[1]

Just after the dawn of the Common Era, the Urban Man’s messiah, himself an itinerant resident of various cities, began appropriating the culture of the oppressed agrarian Jews to further his moralistic propaganda.[2] And his successors continued his urban-centric focus in their ministries, from their Pentecostal launch[3] to their insidious establishment in the greatest political center of the day[4]. To this day, his followers build their power bases in urban centers around the globe. They project this power far and wide, such that their religion has even become dominant among the subjugated rural peoples.

In the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, the agents of the Urban Man sought out and subjugated new lands. They exterminated populaces with the diseases and weaponry they had perfected in their European urban centers for just this purpose. They took land from the indigenous peoples and, as is ever their desire, founded yet more urban centers upon the new continents. But factions arose within their ranks and the Urban Man of the so-called New World threw off the authority of their European masters.

Never content with their own culture, governments, and lands, these newly independent urban invaders continued the practices of their forebears, even inventing new ways of robbing their victims. Their new government appropriated aspects of the indigenous governments[5]. Over the course of the subsequent centuries, the Urban Man has appropriated the culture[6] and, as ever, the lands of the “lesser” rural peoples.

Modernity

The bigotry and abuses of Urban Man continue in our own day and age. He has, admittedly, lessened his propensity for theft and slaughter. But his privilege continues unabated in other forms.

It is obvious that political protests inherently favor Urban Man. What victimized agrarian has the resources and time to participate in such actions? And even if he does, how often do such rural protests attract the numbers or media attention of their counterparts in Washington or New York?

While on the subject of the media, it is another area in which the urban privilege shows itself to the extreme. Media groups and corporations almost invariably are headquartered within dense population centers. And they constantly cater to their urban masters. It is obvious to the rational observer that stories regarding the goings-on of vast metropolises dominate the news cycles.

Television and films, of course, also exhibit this bias. If a police drama takes place in an urban city, it will invariably be made to appear exciting and interesting. More rural settings, in contrast, are mostly portrayed as dull and uneventful. And it is worth noting that there remains only one demographic group in modern media which can be widely portrayed as unintelligent, perverse, and utterly undeserving of pity. That group is the rural poor.

This bigoted favoritism is even evident in our own laws and tax codes! The overwhelming majority of government spending benefits the peoples and corporations of cities and towns. To them goes funding for public transit, major thoroughfares, and architectural projects. Even the government funding of ancestrally rural practices such as farming mostly benefits the city-based corporations which own most agricultural land in the modern era.

Conclusions

In light of these egregious violations of Justice, it is imperative that modern society takes several actions to right the wrongs perpetrated by the Urban Man. These are as follows:

  1. Guilt
    Whenever possible, an Urban Man must be subjected to constant reminders of the sins of his progenitors. No amount of reparations or apologies could ever alleviate this guilt, but it must be instilled in him to facilitate other reforms. An Urban Man’s personal guilt or innocence is immaterial. We need only concern ourselves with the actions of the Urban Man of decades and centuries past.
  2. Reparations
    As this deserved guilt works through the ranks of Urban Man, the case can easily be made that his rural victims are owed some reparations for the injustices of the past. But such demands for reparations must always be framed in such a way as to avoid any possibility of the Urban Man fully repaying his debt to society. He must be kept always in a state of guilty shame in perpetuity.
  3. Marginalization
    It is only reasonable to assume that Urban Man will resist these changes. This is easily dealt with. Whenever Urban Man voices disagreement with these progressive virtues, an accusation of Urban Privilege should be sufficient to discredit him and avoid overly-complicated – and boring – tête-à-tête with respect to any arguments raised on his behalf. The simple expression “Check your privilege” should suffice to accomplish this.

Opposition

Despite the plain truth of the evidence we have put forth, many are unable to see past their urban privilege and conjure all manner of fallacious arguments. Let us address these absurdities.

Some will claim that many an Urban Man is actually quite poor. That he has difficulty finding any way to escape his poverty. This is, of course, patently absurd. The myth of the urban poor has been repeatedly debunked. After all, does not even the lowest of these urban “poor” enjoy many benefits in substantially greater availability than his rural victims? How many agrarians enjoy public water fountains? How many rednecks reside within walking distance of all the necessities of modern life? How many impoverished islanders have readily available Internet access?

Regarding the systemic bias written into our laws and taxes, many of the privileged townies will argue that they receive the bulk of the government benefits because they pay the bulk of the taxes. While this is true, it is utterly immaterial. They clearly are only able afford the bulk of the taxes because of past thefts perpetrated against their rural victims.

Another absurd claim originating within the urban camp is that of denying their own heritage. Many city residents, when confronted with the realities of their own privilege, will claim to be descended partially or even primarily from the historically victimized country folk. They are unable to fathom that their urban status and ancestry is more important than their supposed rural pedigree. Except, of course, if they embrace reality and join us in the fight for Justice. Then, and only then, may they properly identify themselves as heirs of the victims. Indeed, such solidarity absolves even those without rural ties – and even those who falsely claim such ties. These are our allies and must be afforded every privilege in the fight against privilege.

Lacking any rural heritage, a denizen of the depraved city may claim that he enjoys many a personal friendship with the rural folk. He may even have the temerity to claim that these acquaintances oppose the march of progress towards achieving Justice! These claims may be summarily disregarded. Such a man clearly “protests too much.” In the unlikely event that such an injustice-loving rural man does exist, he must be exposed for his class treason. Any metropolitan ancestors must be uncovered through genealogical research and publicized as proof that such a man is no true member of the rural community.

One final ridiculous claim is that much of the rural population is descended from the historically oppressive urban population. Such a fact is merely the product of rape and can be ignored with a clear conscience. These claims regarding cross-breeding lead to the regressive argument that reparations and the placement of blame become hopelessly unfeasible due to the impossibility of distinguishing the heirs of the oppressed from the heirs of the victim. Not so! Distinguishing the former from the latter is as easy as identifying whether or not the rural man is on the right side of history in our quest for Justice.

If any of these counter-arguments fail to convince – or if any other unforeseen argument should surface in one’s fight for Justice – the simple accusation of Urban Privilege is enough to absolve oneself of all burden of proof or obligation to afford the privileged any rights of expression. Anyone who says otherwise is clearly a bigot.

Disclaimer

Clearly, this author has no love for the “white privilege” concept or especially for the various ways in which it is used to shut down discussions. That being said – and despite the satirical nature of this post – it is not my intention to say that the concept is 100% without any basis in truth, nor that history does not matter in determining the proper course for the future.

Please take this for what it is – a satirical criticism of the manner in which authoritarians and Social Justice Warriors attempt to shut down their opposition, and some of the arguments they use. Nothing more.

Engagement

As always, I welcome any criticisms or disagreements in the form of comments, messages, emails, or smoke signals. But be advised that (a) I may ignore or remove profanity or ad hominem attacks, and (b) the First Amendment does not in any way prevent me from doing this.

Footnotes

  1. Genesis 19
  2. Matthew 13:24-30 (among many)
  3. Acts 2
  4. Acts 28:11-31
  5. Iroquois Constitution
  6. Example

Edits

  1. 2017-03-03 12:26 EST – Corrected spelling error in History section.