Whatever Is Pure: Cedarville Requires Professors to Apply Philippians 4:8

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Wayne Wilson's picture

Jim wrote:

My take on  Schindler's List, Titanic, & Saving Private Ryan: Best not viewed in Christian College setting

However I consider all worthwhile viewing for the overall message:

  • Schindler's List: We viewed as a family when it was broadcast. An important anti-Nazi, holocaust (the reality of) film
  • Titanic: I took my family to the theater. Important message about the brevity of life & mans' hubris w regard to technology. I personally found the nudity (albeit brief) unnecessary / gratuitous
  • Saving Private Ryan: I took my boys. So many positive messages about sacrifice & patriotism. One of my 2 boys later served 6 years in the USMC (Iraq war) and now is in the MN National Guard (Lieutenant) and is an Afghanistan vet. 

Jim,

In your opinion, was the enormous global popularity of Titanic because of a message about "the brevity of life", or the glorious immoral sexual relationship?  

Bert Perry's picture

Wayne, you know about nudity clauses because they make the papers and it's a touch point for you. Reality is that this is a model document from the Screen Actors Guild.  Yes, you'll notice various things appropriate to on screen violence, accomodations, food, and more are covered, and agents and PR representatives work hard on these things to craft the image they want for their client.  The more draw a person is at the box office, the more stringent the requirements, right down to what color of M&Ms are in the jar in their Airstream on set.

Now let's get back to brass tacks; the new Cedarville policy prohibits the use of some of the movies you recommended, and I note that those movies feature huge amounts of violence.  OK, let's ask a question for you; why is it totally wrong to see nudity (whether or not adultery exists or is even implied), but representations of brutal murders are A-OK?  Did God take something out of the Decalogue when I wasn't looking?  Is immodesty a bigger deal now than murder for your movie-going pleasure?

Or, as we would infer from the subject matter of the Bible (which features plenty of descriptions of nudity, sex, and violence), does the appropriateness of subject matter in a work of literature or film depend on what is to be achieved with it?  Does the nudity and violence in Schindler's LIst differ materially from that in Halloween?  Whether you like the Supreme Court's "redeeming social value" construct or not, it is a reasonable explanation of why the sexual situations in Scripture differ quite a bit from those in romance novels.

And really, given the miserable record of most "Christian" movies of the past 30 years or so, I would argue that Christians who want to do film can ill afford to ignore films that won multiple Oscars, and if we act as if the objectionable elements in them are the same as those in, say, a slasher film or a romantic comedy, we almost guarantee the filming of God's Not Dead 3.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

TylerR's picture

Editor

This bit of pushback from Cederville's administration is hilarious:

“Faculty have the sense that policies should be originated by them or driven by them. That’s very much a part of academia—no question about it,” he said. “But Christian schools are distinct. In our handbook, these sorts of policies are driven by the board of trustees.”

“The [Cedarville] administration is not serving the students as much as the parents who are sending the students and the trustees and donors,” another student said.

I appreciate this firm stand. The article continued:

Cedarville president Thomas White launched a campaign last year to bring greater “biblical wisdom and intentionality” to the roughly 1,000 days that undergrads spend at the university.

“God’s Word commands us to be in the world but not of the world,” he wrote, mentioning Philippians 4:8 as a guiding principle. “We must learn about sin, but we should not experience all forms of it. We must teach other worldviews, but in such a way to commend the truth and rightness of the biblical worldview.

“I suspect we are all in agreement on these things, but I commend them to you for your thinking as we move into more hostile waters culturally.”

An English professor from another Christian institution illustrated the other side of this issue quite well:

I've also seen verses like this, [if] unevenly applied, have two results: keeping young people from being able to discern the difference between depicting and glorifying sin, and keeping young people from being able to discern between excellence and safety,” she said. “So I'd love to see Christian colleges not focus only on all of Philippians 4:8, but also other passages—such as Acts 17:16-32 [Paul at the Areopagus in Athens]—when they think about their standards.”

Another professor, Karen Prior, remarked:

“It’s important when teaching in an evangelical Christian university to know your audience,” she said. “Contemporary evangelical Christian students do not have a robust theological understanding of art and literature. So I recognize that most students—and some administrators and parents—need to learn how the study of secular literature is not only compatible with a biblical worldview, but demonstrated by a biblical worldview.” 

CT did a good job with this article.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Wayne Wilson's picture

Bert, the straw man arguments are getting wearisome. Is that really the choice? Schindler's List or God is Not Dead?  Have you never seen A Man for All Seasons, or To Kill a Mockingbird (as mentioned above), Mrs. Miniver or How Green was My Valley?.  Good taste and incredible art have never been at odds. In fact, great directors under the Production code said the limits on what they could show made them work harder and be more creative. It was after the code was in place Hollywood started making really great films, and it only took a few years. 

If someone wants to learn about the Titanic, and doesn't like books, why not see A Night to Remember, a superior and far more historically accurate film than James Cameron's bloated melodrama? 

Film can effectively address sin and the human condition while not assaulting the audience or wrecking the souls of performers. We just saw Water, a powerful condemnation of pagan beliefs behind child marriages and child prostitution in India. Could it have included nudity and sex? Yes, sex was the primary subject of the film. Did they do that? No. 

On violence, yes, sex and violence are different in their nature and in the experience of the viewer and the performer. Can film glorify violence? Absolutely, and should be rejected as well. Anything designed to glorify sin should be rejected. Christians should not amuse themselves with Pulp Fiction.  But not all violence is evil, as in heroic action to stop evil by law enforcement or on the battlefield. (Glory is a good example) You may want to read the book Ultra-Violent Movies for some insight on extreme violence in film. Directors thought over-the-top violence would have a cathartic effect, but they were very wrong. On the other hand sexuality and nudity are inherently shameful, and violate the performer.  Peeking through the keyhole or getting video of someone showering is not the same as a police officer fighting a criminal. Can you see that? You are violating the performer when you patronize their shame. The effect on performers is well documented. Just recently, A-list actress Jennifer Lawrence said this in a recent interview about her PG-13 sex scenes:

Jennifer Lawrence mentioned she did her “first real sex scene a couple weeks ago” for a film called Passengers. She was visibly shaken up talking about it, calling it “a bizarre experience.” How did she get through it? “You drink. You get really, really drunk; but that led to more anxiety,” she said. “He was married...I knew it was my job but I couldn’t tell my stomach.”

As Lawrence noted about her scene, “you don’t know what’s too much; you want it to be real, but...” But not too real

My question is, how is a godly man's stomach not turned at this being required of her? Simulating sex with another woman's husband?  Yes, Alfred Hitchcock believed actors were cattle, but should a follower of Jesus Christ?

Do you have any limits, Bert on sexuality if the story has a redeeming message? Would you watch a woman's breasts be fondled? Her legs open and a naked man lying between them? Bending over and being pounded?  That's how Hallie Berry won her Oscar in the "redemptive" Monster's Ball. Do you have any limits at all?  have you ever wondered why your heart is not grieved for such things?  Have you seen so many nude actresses it just has no effect anymore? 

A couple last points: Scripture is not a movie. Ever hear the expression "the medium is the message"?  It is meaningless to say something is recorded in scripture so it should be depicted in explicit detail on film without blinking.

Finally, I recommend reading Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art. He is not a believer, and thinks film should be subversive. But he explains well how nudity and extreme violence in film overthrow religion and societal norms. Seeing what is taboo destroys the idea that there are norms. It was written years ago, and what he spoke of then is now the norm. Think about it. 

 

Jim's picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:
Jim, In your opinion, was the enormous global popularity of Titanic because of a message about "the brevity of life", or the glorious immoral sexual relationship?  

Neither

Don Johnson's picture

TylerR wrote:

I appreciate this firm stand. The article continued:

Cedarville president Thomas White

Your mentioning Thomas White reminded me that he wrote a chapter in a book I recently reviewed. The book, First Freedom, is on religious liberty, It is a dry book to read, took me forever, it seemed. But some of the chapters are very good, including White's on religious freedom and the university campus. He demonstrates a really thoughtful approach.

I think that you are seeing the same as this issue is coming out. It's impressive.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

Bert Perry's picture

Do you have any limits, Bert on sexuality if the story has a redeeming message? Would you watch a woman's breasts be fondled? Her legs open and a naked man lying between them? Bending over and being pounded?  That's how Hallie Berry won her Oscar in the "redemptive" Monster's Ball. Do you have any limits at all?  have you ever wondered why your heart is not grieved for such things?  Have you seen so many nude actresses it just has no effect anymore? 

To be honest, I was wondering where your fixation on nudity and sexuality in the movies is coming from, Wayne.  For my part, I've not seen any nudity in film since I saw Schindler's List in the theater.  Overall, I can count the movies I've seen featuring nudity on my fingers, most of them prior to coming to Christ.  Do the math.  

(thanks for the unfounded accusations....maybe consider repenting of that?)

And you are just not getting it with the limits.  It's really simple; is there a redeeming point to the overall theme, and do the components contribute to, or distract from, that theme?  IMDB tells me that Monster's Ball is about the ambiguities of race and capital punishment, among other things.  As the brother-in-law of a former prison guard who became bipolar, I'd guess due to the stress, suffice it to say that you're going to have some difficulty making that point without some violence, intoxicants, sensuality, and cursing.  Killing people leaves a mark, and that mark shows up in suicide, alcoholism, and sexual looseness quite often.  

Not a fan of Thornton's tuckus or Berry's decollete, and it's definitely arguable that you don't have to show everything, but you've got to have some hints of what they're about to do.  And that's why I'm not in favor of simply looking for "objectionable thematic elements" or simply at the MPAA ratings; it really does not tell you what is redeeming or not about a film or book.  

There are some times when you cannot (true story) simply say "we cannot read that book because it features a witch" and the like.  The book in question was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.   I still cringe when I remember that.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

AndyE's picture

Personally, I can't think of any good reason for including nudity or actual swear words in a film.  I think any amount is gratuitous and unnecessary. Same with art (for nudity) or books (for swear words).  A director, artist, or author should be able to communicate effectively without resorting to such bawdiness.

Kevin Miller's picture

Larry Nelson wrote:

Fourth Baptist Christian School did Harvey  in the late '70's---I couldn't give the exact year without looking through yearbooks.  The school also did Arsenic and Old Lace  around that same time.

I was in the production of Arsenic and Old Lace at Fourth. We did edit the play before we presented it. For example, we couldn't have the little old ladies serving wine in a Christian school production, so we changed it to poisoned tea. (I guess it was okay for them to kill people, just as long as they didn't do it with wine.)

The production of Harvey took place a year or two after I graduated in 1980.

Wayne Wilson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Do you have any limits, Bert on sexuality if the story has a redeeming message? Would you watch a woman's breasts be fondled? Her legs open and a naked man lying between them? Bending over and being pounded?  That's how Hallie Berry won her Oscar in the "redemptive" Monster's Ball. Do you have any limits at all?  have you ever wondered why your heart is not grieved for such things?  Have you seen so many nude actresses it just has no effect anymore? 

To be honest, I was wondering where your fixation on nudity and sexuality in the movies is coming from, Wayne.  For my part, I've not seen any nudity in film since I saw Schindler's List in the theater.  Overall, I can count the movies I've seen featuring nudity on my fingers, most of them prior to coming to Christ.  Do the math.  

(thanks for the unfounded accusations....maybe consider repenting of that?)

And you are just not getting it with the limits.  It's really simple; is there a redeeming point to the overall theme, and do the components contribute to, or distract from, that theme?  IMDB tells me that Monster's Ball is about the ambiguities of race and capital punishment, among other things.  As the brother-in-law of a former prison guard who became bipolar, I'd guess due to the stress, suffice it to say that you're going to have some difficulty making that point without some violence, intoxicants, sensuality, and cursing.  Killing people leaves a mark, and that mark shows up in suicide, alcoholism, and sexual looseness quite often.  

Not a fan of Thornton's tuckus or Berry's decollete, and it's definitely arguable that you don't have to show everything, but you've got to have some hints of what they're about to do.  And that's why I'm not in favor of simply looking for "objectionable thematic elements" or simply at the MPAA ratings; it really does not tell you what is redeeming or not about a film or book.  

There are some times when you cannot (true story) simply say "we cannot read that book because it features a witch" and the like.  The book in question was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.   I still cringe when I remember that.

 

Bert, you are a master of evasion. 

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

The article says there was no particular incident that sparked this change, so I'm assuming this isn't a response to a professor using a text or book that contained "passages that are clearly pornographic, erotic, obscene, or graphic." And quite frankly, what is and isn't "pornographic, erotic, obscene, or graphic" is subjective. 

But seriously, are we talking skipping over Chaucer, Homer, Dante, Virgil, and even Shakespeare? Just how obscene is too obscene?

Literature and film studies are about more than entertainment. Literature, and now tv and movies, impact culture significantly. Writing and producing shows and movies is a craft, and I can't imagine studying these subjects without delving in to some books, movies, and television that would not meet the Phil. 4 criteria.

I guess I understand not allowing obscenities/profanities in plays put on by students, if for no other reason than to prevent parent-induced migraines. . . but overall, this feel like an unnecessary edict. Sort of like including a clause in your church covenant that the congregation is not allowed to rob banks. Who's planning to go there?

IMO it sounds silly to say "No professors were planning to assign erotica, but now we have a rule that they can't." Okey-dokey.

Maybe they are trying to put up a fence to keep out the "academic Left", but I don't think it's a Lefty move to read Ovid, James Joyce, Cormac McCarthy, or Toni Morrison for that matter.

I feel like we are missing a big piece of a puzzle.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Writing and producing shows and movies is a craft, and I can't imagine studying these subjects without delving in to some books, movies, and television that would not meet the Phil. 4 criteria.

So we are free to disregard Phil 4 for educational purposes of teaching a craft? Which other of our Lord's commands take a back seat to education? And how do we decide that?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Thanks for excising that one part of my post and not taking it in context.

So--exactly how do we decide what is and isn't "pure" or "lovely"?

Does it mean we can't write or read any story that depicts sinful acts?

What about non-fiction? Is it wrong to study crime, mental illness, popular culture, or the lives of people who committed evil acts, or history's atrocities?

Perhaps what we should be looking at is how sinful acts are depicted and the messages being conveyed by the story/author. And what a coinky-dinky. That's what lit class is for.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I think Disney's The Little Mermaid is just about the most horrid story EVER. When most people think about harmful or objectionable ideas, they think in terms of the obvious--obscene language, crude humor, explicit or perverse sexual situations, excessive gore. These things are obvious and usually unnecessary to conveying character and plot. I'm not defending the study of literature or movies that are obviously immoral in their themes or content. And it seems like this wasn't a problem at Cedarville. So why make a rule for a problem you don't have?

In addition, the absence of these obviously objectionable elements doesn't mean a story doesn't contain problematic themes. So how do we learn or teach without reading, watching, and discussing?

Larry Nelson's picture

Kevin Miller wrote:

 

Larry Nelson wrote:

 

Fourth Baptist Christian School did Harvey  in the late '70's---I couldn't give the exact year without looking through yearbooks.  The school also did Arsenic and Old Lace  around that same time.

 

I was in the production of Arsenic and Old Lace at Fourth. We did edit the play before we presented it. For example, we couldn't have the little old ladies serving wine in a Christian school production, so we changed it to poisoned tea. (I guess it was okay for them to kill people, just as long as they didn't do it with wine.)

 

The production of Harvey took place a year or two after I graduated in 1980.

I pulled out the yearbooks from 1974 - 1979 & 1981 yesterday afternoon.  (My sister in Illinois has my 1980 yearbook at the moment.)

Here are the plays Fourth produced during those years:

1973-1974: Tom Sawyer

1974-1975: Peter Pan

1975-1976: The Man Without A Country

1976-1977: Cheaper By The Dozen

1977-1978: The Miracle Worker

1978-1979: Arsenic And Old Lace (A couple of photos of you in character, by the way.)

1979-1980: (unknown)

1980-1981: Harvey

Greg Long's picture

Bert Perry wrote:
...It is also worth noting that these movies got their rating by extreme violence.  Is that OK, but nudity is not?  As I recall, both adultery and murder are mentioned in the Decalogue, no?  Someone I knew joked, after The Passion of the Christ came out, that he wondered "does a movie contain enough graphic violence for discerning Christian viewers?"

Really, it's telling that the outrage on some peoples' part regarding Schindler's List is not people getting their brains blown out and standing in the shower terrified of the Zyklon B they knew could come out of those shower heads, but rather that some of them were naked.  Seriously?   Sometimes the fundamental preoccupation with immodesty and nudity makes me wonder how we ever go shopping...

Bert, there is a difference between violence and nudity--the violence is fake, the nudity is not (that's not to condone all violence in movies, as you noted much of it is gratuitous and harmful to the soul). John Piper addresses this very question in the following article, which I highly recommend:

12 Questions to Ask Before You Watch Game of Thrones

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Bert Perry's picture

The nudity is real, and the violence does not actually physically injure or kill the participants.  Usually.   That noted, a quick Google search will reveal that yes, indeed, there are certain guidelines for portraying acts of violence to minimize the emotional damage done to the actors and actresses, too.  Let's be blunt here; if we acknowledge that violence damages our soldiers when they fight, we must also admit that simulated violence can also be damaging.  The actors are, after all, trying to persuade the audience that someone is really being killed.  

Moreover, no less than Army "Killologist" Dan Grossman has noted the role of popular media in conditioning people to kill.  If we don't think violence in movies harms the viewers, we are kidding ourselves (violence bothers me far more, personally), and that ought to "jar" us out of the position that we ought to consider Exodus 20:14 exponentially more important than Exodus 20:13 for determining Philippians 4:8's definition of "pure".

Really, sometimes it seems that we're elevating 1 Timothy 2:9 above Exodus 20:13.  Um....really?  Exposing the image of God is worse than destroying it?  I can't go there, even conceding that immodesty/nudity is real in a way that the violence is not.  

(and one thing Cedarville gets right is to put them in the same bin....gratuitously imitating murder is every bit as bad on screen as gratuitously imitating sex, and the MPAA code also rightly puts obscenity/Exodus 20:7 up there....though not verses 4-6 so much, of course)

And again, it matters what the context is.   The nudity of Schindler's List illustrates the barbarity of the KZ--with the showers, and even the mistress scenes show a man--a psychopath really--whose drive to murder is so strong, his idea of "afterglow" is to shoot some innocent people.  National Socialism gave carte blanche to promote psychopaths to positions of responsibility--approve or disapprove of the scenes, they have everything to do with the plot and central message.

(when you're shocked by the violence as well as by the nudity, you are likely to get that point)

 Now, those of you who have seen a Friday the 13th or Halloween movie; can you say the same about the use of nudity, sexuality, and violence there?   Shouldn't a university policy deal with these differences?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Greg Long's picture

Bert, you'll find no argument from me that gratuitous violence can be mentally and spiritually damaging. But I agree wholeheartedly with John Piper's article.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Bert Perry's picture

As far as I can tell, Piper simply assumes that a certain level of "uncoverage" is impure--he makes no attempt to derive that from Scripture.  That's simply a tautology.   For that matter, too much of the debate here is basically Scripture-free--we simply quote Philippians 4:8 and assume we know what "pure" means in light of Scripture.  And then, unmoored from the piers of Scripture and logic, we wonder why we get a lot of personal attacks.  Well, duh.

(to be fair, Wayne does hint at the general shamefulness from the OT, but that's about it here....this should trouble us)

So while I tend to live about the way Piper says in that article--never watched GOT, etc..--I cannot get, Scripturally, to the point of arguing that nudity in the arts, to include movies, is always wrong.  99% of the time?  Absolutely--as I've noted above, it's the cult of Aphrodite then and now, with hints of the brilliant Hebrew word picture in Leviticus 18.  Clear violation of Matthew 5:27 and the like--just an incitement to lust.  I personally wonder how many of the models for nude art over the ages (male and female) were the lovers of the artists or their patrons.   

But 1%, or perhaps just 0.01% of the time, there's something that actually says something.  And for things like Schindler's List , I plead; don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Doesn't mean we go full out for whatever else is out there; it simply means that if clear incitement to fornication/lust is not there, it may in some cases be permissible.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Wayne Wilson's picture

 I personally wonder how many of the models for nude art over the ages (male and female) were the lovers of the artists or their patrons.   

But 1%, or perhaps just 0.01% of the time, there's something that actually says something.  

Wow. That is most certainly not worth the price.  

Larry's picture

Moderator

I don't think there was anything in your post that would change my question, is there?

So--exactly how do we decide what is and isn't "pure" or "lovely"?

By knowing God through his word.

Does it mean we can't write or read any story that depicts sinful acts?

No.

What about non-fiction? Is it wrong to study crime, mental illness, popular culture, or the lives of people who committed evil acts, or history's atrocities?

No.

Perhaps what we should be looking at is how sinful acts are depicted and the messages being conveyed by the story/author. And what a coinky-dinky. That's what lit class is for.

The issue is prurience and impropriety in presentation. It is one thing to read 1 Sam 12. It is another thing to see it enacted on the screen. But lit class can do all those things with using prurient material that violates Phil 4:8 (and a host of other passages), can it not? What do we need to know that can only be learned by violating Phil 4:8?

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I generally agree with what has been said here about nudity and nakedness, and don't think we should be using it as art.  Nevertheless, from at least one example in scripture (already mentioned above), we know it can be used for good.  Isaiah apparently did so for 3 years:

Isaiah 20:1-4 wrote:

In the year that Tartan came unto Ashdod, (when Sargon the king of Assyria sent him,) and fought against Ashdod, and took it;

At the same time spake the Lord by Isaiah the son of Amoz, saying, Go and loose the sackcloth from off thy loins, and put off thy shoe from thy foot. And he did so, walking naked and barefoot.

And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia;

So shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered, to the shame of Egypt.

This text has been discussed in this thread, but if Isaiah took the sackcloth from off his loins, it's pretty clear he was naked, just as the scripture says he was.

Of course, this is a special command to a prophet, and I'm not saying we just take it for an example.  However, we should be honest with the text.  Nakedness is generally a shame (at least after Eden), and we should avoid it, but it clearly cannot be evil of itself, otherwise the Lord would not have commanded Isaiah to do it either.

Dave Barnhart

Bert Perry's picture

Wayne Wilson wrote:

 I personally wonder how many of the models for nude art over the ages (male and female) were the lovers of the artists or their patrons.   

But 1%, or perhaps just 0.01% of the time, there's something that actually says something.  

Wow. That is most certainly not worth the price.  

Yup, by no means is the prospect of educating people about the realities of government sponsored mass murder, bearing the possible gain preventing it in the future, worth a few minutes of on screen nudity--and nudity of a sort that if anyone sees it as titillating, I would strongly recommend that person get some professional help.  One can quibble over whether certain scenes were absolutely necessary, but if one denies that it contributed to the plot and message, may I suggest reading William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?  Or maybe something by Solzhenitsyn?

Unless, of course, you're blaming Schindler's List (1993) and related Holocaust movies for all nudity in movies, which was brought back to "respectable" theaters by movies such as Promises! Promises! (1963).  Which has, ahem, a few problems with the principle of "causality", to put it mildly. 

And really, Wayne, I would recommend you cool it on how you describe those scenes.  You are first of all completely failing to understand any context, so it's for starters a straw man argument, and further more the way you describe things is...ahem....laden with emotionally laden, perjorative terms.  It's almost like the spoofs of badly written romance novels, or when Dave Barry mocks 50 Shades of Grey.  Maybe....take some steps that you do not become what you despise in your enthusiasm for your cause?

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Wayne Wilson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

 

Wayne Wilson wrote:

 

 I personally wonder how many of the models for nude art over the ages (male and female) were the lovers of the artists or their patrons.   

But 1%, or perhaps just 0.01% of the time, there's something that actually says something.  

Wow. That is most certainly not worth the price.  

 

 

Yup, by no means is the prospect of educating people about the realities of government sponsored mass murder, bearing the possible gain preventing it in the future, worth a few minutes of on screen nudity--and nudity of a sort that if anyone sees it as titillating, I would strongly recommend that person get some professional help.  One can quibble over whether certain scenes were absolutely necessary, but if one denies that it contributed to the plot and message, may I suggest reading William Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?  Or maybe something by Solzhenitsyn?

Unless, of course, you're blaming Schindler's List (1993) and related Holocaust movies for all nudity in movies, which was brought back to "respectable" theaters by movies such as Promises! Promises! (1963).  Which has, ahem, a few problems with the principle of "causality", to put it mildly. 

And really, Wayne, I would recommend you cool it on how you describe those scenes.  You are first of all completely failing to understand any context, so it's for starters a straw man argument, and further more the way you describe things is...ahem....laden with emotionally laden, perjorative terms.  It's almost like the spoofs of badly written romance novels, or when Dave Barry mocks 50 Shades of Grey.  Maybe....take some steps that you do not become what you despise in your enthusiasm for your cause?

Thank you, Bert, for the advice. I will give it all the consideration the strength of your evasions deserve. If you are suggesting that I need professional help for caring about performers, it reminds me of those who thought mad that fellow who tilted at windmills and treated the common harlot like a lady. I accept the accusation.

And yes, Bert, I cannot discuss the issue without emotion, thank God. I worked in Hollywood for 14 years, and know that industry very, very well.  The toll on performers is very real (more real than a Spielberg movie) --- the loss of virtue, the regrets, the pressure to compromise their own values, the tears, the shame, the loss of shame, the disbelief when some actress learns her sacrifices for art will forever be available on pornographic online sources. It’s all very real.

I admit I cannot understand how any man of tender conscience can read the words of Jennifer Lawrence without emotion. If you can, I pity you. I really do. There is something wonderful about godliness and manliness that is missing.  I want to suggest you read Wilberforce on the Christian’s duty to performers, the application of the law of love, which he thought just as serious a matter as the slave trade. I would like to think it would awaken something in you, but I fear you will assign it to the long list of saints you reject who have cautioned the church about such things. It is sad you think no one has anything to teach you… beyond Spielberg, that is.  

Amazingly, sometimes context is not a sufficient excuse for human actions. In performance art, there is more than one thing happening. There is a message, and there are methods. Both are important, for a message can come right along with a destructive method.  Stripping a woman for entertainment purposes sends a message all in itself, and may enflame the heart with wrong desires. David beheld non-sensual PG-13 nudity, did he not, glancing over the palace walls? Every tawdry, filth-laced sitcom with a warm hug at the end should be enough evidence for you that a wholesome message may be more than lost in all that leads up to it. In a drama, the story’s message is never the only consideration.

It’s very sweet that you think a movie could prevent a future holocaust. I suspect that had Schindler’s List never been made, the world would go on its course without much change.  In fact, if I remember correctly, Arab nations were willing to have the film shown in their theaters if the nudity was cut out. Spielberg, at the time, declined. If you choose to think perhaps ISIS would have had compassion on the Syrian Christian and Yazidis had the film been shown, what can one say?  Maybe so. But one thing is for certain, holocausts still happen. Schindler’s List is, after all, just a movie.

And the truth is, it is something of a sanitized version of the holocaust, delicately avoiding the kind of horrors its victims testified to.  Schindler’s List can be forgiven for tidying those things up. Showing the effects of fear shock on the delicate nudes Spielberg posed in the showers would be too much for most viewers. But, it is a fair question, if that is too much to portray, perhaps the nudity itself could be tamed with no loss, as it has in so many other fine films. 

Schindler's List serves primarily as a kind of victim hagiography that skirts around some of more serious lessons about human nature that the actual events reveal. You mention the psychopath in leadership, but more telling are the average people who made the whole system function, including the camp inmates themselves, who willingly did horrific things to each other in order to stay alive.  I think if every High school student were made to read Friedrich’s The Kingdom of Auschwitz, far deeper lessons would be learned than the simple emotional response to this movie.

I will skip over your foolish comment about holocaust movies and the collapse of film standards. It’s nice that you are trying to catch up on your knowledge of film history, but ignorance is a poor basis for humor. 

TylerR's picture

Editor

If people want to learn about the Holocaust, have them read excerpts from Martin Gilbert's book Holocaust. I was 13 when I read about a young Jewish woman, hiding in an attic while SS officers ransacked the house below, who was accidently suffocated her infant child as she tried to stifle the child's cries, lest she betray them both. That made in impact that Schindler's List never did.

There are plenty of movies that convey important issues without stooping to nudity, and foul language. When artists are forced to work within the boundaries of a moral code, they find ways to adapt.

  • I think, again, of Twelve O' Clock High as an example of a war movie about an important topic (the horror and stress bomber crews faced in WW2 Europe) that had no nudity and no foul language and no violence. It was made in 1948.
  • Think of the HBO movie Path to War (2002) about the leadup to the Vietnam War. There are perhaps three swear words throughout the entire film, and with some warning, you can mute the video and miss them. But, it is a truly excellent film. People should watch it.

I don't think gratuitous violence, nudity and language helps anything. I think artists can produce compelling art which tells a real story without any of these things. I also think Christians should be careful what they watch. The fact it doesn't bother many people is a sign of how de-sensitized we have all become.

Tyler is a pastor in Olympia, WA and works in State government. He's the author of the book What's It Mean to Be a Baptist?

Wayne Wilson's picture

TylerR wrote:

I don't think gratuitous violence, nudity and language helps anything. I think artists can produce compelling art which tells a real story without any of these things. I also think Christians should be careful what they watch. The fact it doesn't bother many people is a sign of how de-sensitized we have all become.

Yes, setting a standard should not ask "Does this bother me?" but rather "Should this bother me?"  We are indeed living in a desensitized world.  

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Larry wrote:

I don't think there was anything in your post that would change my question, is there?

So--exactly how do we decide what is and isn't "pure" or "lovely"?

By knowing God through his word.

Could you vague that up for me?

My comments are directly related to the article and Cedarville's new rules. That's my context. I'm not arguing for "violating" Phil. 4:8, or using clearly objectionable materials in the classroom. Here we have a university, where some students, I assume, are going to want to study literature--so--how are they going to define and apply the term "pure"? Especially when everyone draws the line of "objectionable" in different places. Canterbury Tales is rather bawdy, for instance. I can't imagine a school seriously saying "We are offer English classes/degrees, but we have to skip Chaucer because his works contain objectionable elements" and "We can't read Paradise Lost because there are sex scenes and Adam asks Raphael to explain what sex is like in Heaven."

I think claiming Phil. 4:8 as your standard for your school sounds great; it's impressive. But when people make these kinds of declarations, and then when you ask how they are going to draw the line, you usually get non-answers like "Where God draws the line." Ok, yeah, whatever.

Bert Perry's picture

Wayne, so nice of you to twist my words and suggest I was saying that someone needed a psychiatrist if one cared about the well being of actors.  No, what I said was that if anybody found the nudity in Schindler's List titillating (or otherwise "sexy" in some way), they needed professional help.  The two concepts are NOT the same, and yes, I stand by what I actually said.

And you owe me an apology for twisting my words.

And so nice of you as well to suggest I don't care about actors' well-being, as if carving out a narrow niche for acceptable violence, language, and nudity in movies somehow means I don't care about the vast majority of actors whose work is not touched by that narrow niche.  No, Wayne, I no more accept blame for the victimization of Jennifer Lawrence, who did not appear in Schindler's List or any movie where I'd view her nudity as acceptable, than I do for the victimization of Judy Garland or Marilyn Monroe, both of whom were dead soon after I was born.  I've commented here on the victimization of actors, so your comments are completely out of line.

Your statements on the movie are beyond bizarre as well; we are to assume that the existence of atrocities in Islamic nations where you admit the film was not shown prove it's ineffective in educating people about the Holocaust?  Seriously?  By the way, it wasn't just the nudity, but rather being "too sympathetic" to Jews.  Something one would expect, really, given that Mein Kampf sells briskly in many of those places.  

And the movie being primarily a "victim hagiography"?  I guess that's why the movie closely follows the career of a Gentile, is named for him, and ends at his grave.  Seriously, Wayne?  And the notion that the shower scene didn't show "fear shock"?  Stevie Wonder could see that, Wayne!  (it's evident in the sound as well as the closeups of faces...)

And the people who made the system work?  OK, first of all, you're blaming the victims for doing what it took to survive, and second of all, it's worth noting that when Eisenhower ran the occupation of Germany, most German adults were subjected to films that make the emotional impact of Schindler's List look tame in comparison.  They, and their children, got the message.  I've talked with a few of them and their children, and they are uniformly grateful for what Ike did.

Sorry, but there is a place for ordinarily "objectionable" elements in film and literature.  It's not to be used gratuitously, but there is a place, and Cedarville will be poorer for it if they fail to acknowledge this.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

Wayne Wilson's picture

Bert Perry wrote:

Wayne, so nice of you to twist my words and suggest I was saying that someone needed a psychiatrist if one cared about the well being of actors.  No, what I said was that if anybody found the nudity in Schindler's List titillating (or otherwise "sexy" in some way), they needed professional help.  The two concepts are NOT the same, and yes, I stand by what I actually said.

 

Well, then I apologize. I really just wanted you to restate your view that "if anybody found the nudity in Schindler's List titillating (or otherwise "sexy" in some way), they needed professional help." So if a teenage male was asked by Mom and Dad to sit down and watch his first R-rated movie on NBC, for example, and before anything related to the holocaust occurred he suddenly found himself watching  a nude man and nude woman having explicitly filmed sex, and something stirred in him of a sexual nature, or gave him sexual thoughts later of a sexual interest, he needs professional help, correct? That is your view? And if, later, he sees many more scenes of lovely topless women at Nazi parties, or a lengthy bit of dialogue with a beautiful topless woman, and he has any sexual thoughts, or later memories that tended to feed his flesh, he needs professional help. That is your position.  I wanted you to make it clear. I appreciate your doing so.

And so nice of you as well to suggest I don't care about actors' well-being, as if carving out a narrow niche for acceptable violence, language, and nudity in movies somehow means I don't care about the vast majority of actors whose work is not touched by that narrow niche.  

I apologize again. You only limit your care of actors to those who fall outside your very ill-defined "niche." At one point your niche was whatever the Supreme Court found to have some kind of literary or artistic merit, other times your "niche" is just stuff you want to see.  It's hard for me to sort out.  You did mention earlier having an interest in William Wallace.  Does Braveheart fall inside or outside the niche?  I would like an answer to that question.

Your statements on the movie are beyond bizarre as well; we are to assume that the existence of atrocities in Islamic nations where you admit the film was not shown prove it's ineffective in educating people about the Holocaust?  Seriously?  By the way, it wasn't just the nudity, but rather being "too sympathetic" to Jews(link is external).

Thank you for finding that article. I was too lazy to do so. It completely confirms what I said: ["We will not cut `Schindler’s List’ for any reason. On other movies we’ve made requested cuts, but we won’t with this," Tom Pollock, chairman of the MCA Motion Picture Group, told the Hollywood Reporter.]

And the movie being primarily a "victim hagiography"?  I guess that's why the movie closely follows the career of a Gentile, is named for him, and ends at his grave.  Seriously, Wayne?  And the notion that the shower scene didn't show "fear shock"?  Stevie Wonder could see that, Wayne!  (it's evident in the sound as well as the closeups of faces...)

Clearly you had no idea what I was referring to. I'll let it pass. see Shoah.  There was nothing like what happens to humans in Schindler's List.

And the people who made the system work?  OK, first of all, you're blaming the victims for doing what it took to survive.

Some believe survival matters at any cost. Some don't. You fall in the earlier category apparently.   Schindler's List is simplistic in dealing with the moral dimensions of concentration camp survival. If you can't understand, it's too bad. I am simply pointing out that the film is not particularly deep. Read "The Kingdom of Auschwitz."

Yes, Ike did the right thing. He did not subject the Germans to Hollywood movies as I recall, but documentary footage, which is more powerful. I appreciate your pointing it out. Reality is better than anything Hollywood makes for the movie-going public. It's the same documentary footage that was used to great effect in Judgment at Nuremberg, and Schindler's List would have been a better work had it followed course, without the stream of casual nudity unrelated to history or the holocaust.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bert Perry's picture

Wayne, you want to talk about evasion, you can shave.

One more comment and I'm done with you.  If "what would a testosterone-addled teenager do in this situation?" is our criteria for what is, and is not, acceptable in life, then exactly what is acceptable anywhere?  Testosterone addled teen boys can, of course, lust after women wearing burqas.   Or, as the song hints, men wearing burqas.  

Sorry, I'm going to go with a better principle; that when the Bible clearly describes certain things, we ought not decide that those things are impure in their very essence, and that goes for movies, too.

Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.

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