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Friday, May 13, 2005

Christianity and her boyfriend, Violence

So, the other day some relatives of mine who are Christians wanted to go see the movie, "Kingdom of Heaven". Before they went to see the film, they wanted to make sure of one thing:
"Does it have SEX in it?, because, we can't go if it has sex."
They check, which is actually quite a helpful website if you want to take your kids to something, but want to know what you are taking them to, first.
So, they click on Kingdom of Heaven and see that under Sex/Nudity the film has been given a "Heavy" rating.
"Oh, no!" They say. Then, they read and see that there's just a scene of two people making out, and breathe a sigh of relief. These are married people, by the way.
Out of curiousity, I checked to see the ranking under violence (blood/gore on SCREENIT). "Kingdom of Heaven" received an extreme for several blood spraying sliced throats, beheadings, decapitations, etc. Now, I'm not knocking "Kingdom of Heaven" for this. Any honest portrayal of the Crusades is going to have to be chock-full of violence. It's just neccessary, and I don't hold this against the film, at all.
What I don't get is, why, in Christianity, is R-rated sex considered so much worse than R-rated violence? As the always cool Bruce Campbell once said, "Why isn't it okay to show a man kissing a breast, but OKAY to show a man cutting a breast off with a chainsaw?"
What's up with this double standard?
I have always been of the opinion (since I could have an opinion) that if the story and the artistic goals of the film need certain scenes to be met, then they are neccessary, so don't think I am just knocking film content, here. My favorite book is chock full of sex and violence, so...
I am just knocking this strange prevailing notion that as Christians, we can watch a woman be cut in half, but we can't see the same woman in her underwear.
What's the deal? This seems to be a singular American notion, as well. In Europe, for instance (and I say this from experience, however limited), violence is abhorred more than sex.
Is this hatred of sex part of American Christianity's Puritan heritage?
I remember the American Church's unprecedented acceptence of the first Matrix film. Many in the evangelical field said the closing shootouts were great examples of "spiritual warfare". I also saw, in many cases, parents taking their young children so they could witness this "example" for themselves. I thought our battle was against flesh and blood?
My first thought upon viewing the Matrix lobby shootout scene was, "Isn't he just killing innocent humans who have no idea what the hell is going on?"
So, why do we make excuses to enjoy violence, yet balk at the thought of seeing breasts, which God created, and which are spectacular (yes, I am pop-culture referencing trash). In my opinion, seeing bare breasts in a film is a lot less jarring than seeing someone get their ear chopped off. Breasts are beautiful, and created by God. Decapitations are not.
Instead of our kids growing up with a natural respect for the God created beauty of the human body, they are growing up with repression and guilt. Meanwhile, we show them videos where Bible quoting super-heroes beat the shit out of "demons." Where is the reason in all of this?
No wonder the Church has such a problem with Internet pornography, right now, and no wonder much of the American Church is riding on the shoulders of their new "saviour", George W. Bush, and shouting, "Let's kill all them Arabic Islamic bastards!" Okay, that was a low political blow. Forgive me that if you can, but please listen to the point I am making.
Violence is just natural to us. The prevailing thought of innocent Iraqis killed in combat seems to be a throwaway "too bad for them", meanwhile all forms of sexuality are banished, except in private forms of depravity, where they are reveled in sick worship.
I don't get it. And, no, I am not knocking our servicemen overseas. I hate always having to say this, but obviously, just because I don't believe in a war does not mean I want our troops to die. I want them to all come home safely.
I just wish things here didn't have to be the way they are.
Transmission out...wait, not yet.
This reminds me of a post I made questioning the popularity of "Passion of the Christ" (Check the February archive). What thing about seeing the most brutal recreation of Jesus being flayed and beaten made Christians more excited to see a film than ever?
Just a thought.


Anonymous said...

You bring up some interesting points. Let me give you some food for thought, though...

Sure, some people have a penchant for violence and some have a penchant for things of a sexual nature. I very rarely find a guy who is addicted to the things of a violent nature (although I'm not saying that people out there don't enjoy violence by any means). I have met and discussed with several guys their addiction to pornography and other sexual pasttimes.

I think the reason it freaks people out is that seeing a naked woman can actually cause stirring sensations of what to do with that naked woman (or man, but I keep saying woman because that is what you alluded to, an interesting idea to me. Why aren't we discussing male nudity? It's just as natural as female breasts and, most of the time, Nic, more natural than many of the breasts you'll be seeing in a movie. "Breasts are beautiful, and created by God." Seriously. In a movie? *raises an eyebrow* I, personally, will scream if I hear one more guy talk about how beautiful breasts are and how nudity in movies isn't bad. Note: "Nudity in movies" usually means "breasts, breasts, breasts.") On a completely different hand, seeing someone be decapitated doesn't cause a stirring to run out and kill someone.

Most are probably afraid of individual reaction over the nature of the scene. Sexual situations at too young an age can cause some interesting consequential reactions in children. Created violence doesn't seem to have as hard-hitting an effect on the development. Of course, I haven't had training on what early introduction to violence can do to a child's thoughts and actions, so maybe there's more to it than I opine.

But I do believe that we aren't as open about sex as we might be. I'm not saying we should pop in porn and start showing it to kids, of course. I think that part of your opinion, if I'm reading correctly, is that the reason people take the hidden path of Internet porn instead of broadcasting their sexual desires more openly (as they do their violence) is due to the closed-mouth nature most people take with sexual situations. *pauses* You may be right. *shrugs* But I've been told that my friends and I discuss sex too much. And we don't sit around and discuss it in a peverse way, either, but it a natural, inquisitive way. My belief is that, although I choose not to have sex, I shouldn't have to be oblivious to what's out there in regards to sex. Heck, I know more than most of my sexually active friends, a fact that amazes them to no end. (And a fact that scares me more than they are amazed...shouldn't you know more about what you're doing and what your consequences might be?)

Hmmmm...just some random ramblings from me without thinking as much as probably I should.

-E said...

I think sex makes some people uncomfortable. It makes them feel "weird" and they don't know how to react. It is easier to see some dude on TV chopping off heads and know you won't mimic that behavior than to see some dude make love to some woman. And not knowing if you can control yourself makes a lot of people really uncomfortable.

Stacy Paul Vicknair said...

I'll have to say that on a christian level adultery, whether of the mind or of the body, is a whole heck of a lot easier to commit than violence. Is it right that people hold this double standard? I don't believe so. If you care that much about what you are watching, then I think it should be brought the whole way.

I also agree with you on movie content. If it is necessary for the movie, then by all means use it for the story. I know there are times I've been to the movies with jmeche or someone else and walked out saying it really wasn't needed for _____ or _______.

But Jess up there also has a good point pertaining to the fact that you were talking mainly about female nudity (the kind present in most movies). We're not talking "About Schmidt" or "Sideways" nudity (which I feel both were probably not needed)

-E said...

Post your answers on your blog (any of them) and then let me know where you post them so I can dedicate another post to your supreme sexiness ;)

Chief Slacker said...

Along with everyone else's comments, I think the difference between Male and Female nudity is that Female nudity is much more inherently sexual. Ask any person what they picture what you say "pornography" and they talk about Playboy or Hustler or even Maxim to some people. It's just a biased view that's ingrained with most people: Females are the sexual objects for our society.

Right now the nation is undergoing to right-shift whether we want it or not. Just look at all the crap going on with PBS. PBS! The channel you watched Sesame Street and Mr.Rodgers on. God forbid they show one show that mentions Lesbians.

Basically, I think too many Christians still haven't forgiven Eve for eating that apple. But that's me.

As for the Iraq war references. It's crazy to think that 500+ Iraqis and about 40 Americans have died this month alone in Iraq but it's gotten to the point that few people care anymore. The world is full of craziness.