Wednesday, June 07, 2006A few days ago, Dr. Albert Mohler reprinted this article December.
Typical of much these sotrs of articles, Dr. Mohler rehashes another piece, this time an article by Warren St. John. St. John is something of a minor celebrity around here, having written the marvelous Rammer Jammer Yellow Hammer. I had the pleasure of having with Warren about a year and a half ago.
The gist of St. John's piece is the rise of "Neandrethal Television," these sorts of violent, anti-hero sort of shows. I know the type well, and I'll admit to having a soft spot for shows like Lost. I won't try to condone the coarse behavior and language of these shows, but I won't apologize for authenticity.
What I find particularly grating is for Mohler to write passages like this:
"Hollywood, we are often told, is a mirror of America. The rise of this amoral programming, revolving around themes ranging from rampage to relativism, should serve as a dire warning of where this culture is headed. A society whose young men celebrate violence and moral ambiguity is headed towards something even worse."
Where this culture is headed? Has Dr. Mohler been so busy with the SBC that he never saw Deathwish or Dirty Harry? Did he miss Chinatown or the Godfather? This sort of programming may be new on television, but it's not new to the culture. Not by a long shot.
Even more troubling is Mohler's inability (or refusal - pick your poison) to see that even crude and violent television has redeeming qualities. I'm not saying that the Sorpanos or Deadwood should serve as a sermon series, but discerning adults can find much to discuss. That's not to say that one is wrong to avoid such shows, but Mohler and others like him are taking a terribly strict view of things when they suggest that profanity, violence and even nudity make a show or movie unwatchable or incapable of redemption. This is simply not true. While the Church should not encourage crudeness, the suggestion that family unfriendly material proves that we live in an awful culture is unnecessary. It comes across as scolding, trite and even a bit boring.
It's true that these shows present a warped form of masculinity, but they are merely a reflection. Nothing more. The problems in our culture are much deeper, and wringing our hands over a vulgar television show is beside the point.