I remember the outcry when Martin Scorsese’s last temptation of Christ was released. One of the worst optics I remember was one church group protesting outside a theatre, as the news reporter was interviewing the pastor of the church a drama group where re-enacted the passion behind him. Let’s just say the guy playing Jesus was really getting into the role, screaming out as they acted out the nails going into his wrists, the pastor was getting drowned out so looked back at Jesus and yelled at him “ please will you shut up!” Ouch not a good look for a pastor on the news at 6pm.
Christian outrage is nothing new and possibly not that important in the long game, not that I am saying we shouldn’t get outraged by some of the things we are seeing in this modern world but I guess those excesses have always been there, for me Jesus and his goodness are the things we should be focusing on and not the latest controversy.
The danger in getting offended is we often miss the point by focusing in on one thing, I remember the upset at Harry Potter, we even have a book in our study called ‘A christian’s response to Harry Potter”. Whatever you now think of Harry Potter, by Christians focusing there ire on this they totally missed the teaching of Phillip Pullmans northern lights books on most schools curriculums, Pullman being far more anti-Christian than Rowling ever was.
Which brings us to the latest controversy, Cuties is a film which looks at the sexualisation of young children, today stills and video’s of the film, quite disturbing stills and videos it must be said have appeared on my timeline along with discussed Christians cancelling their Netflix accounts and starting partitions to have the film banned.
I really do get why this has upset so many, the exploitation of children is dreadfully upsetting. The film makers defence is that this is not a film glorifying the sexualisation but holding a critical mirror to the issue, unfortunately by using children in the film and putting them in highly sexualised situations the film will automatically attract the wrong people to view it salaciously, I also question not just the wisdom but also the basic common sense of putting young child actors in this situation, everything about the film screams red flag to me.
But here is the problem, it has taken the Christians awareness that this film exists to stir it into action, the reality is that we have been quietly slipping into this situation for a long time. A pastor friend of mine always used to say that left alone everything swerves to rot. The sexualisation of children is nothing new and is getting worse.
Have we had our eyes closed, pick up a teen magazine, watch youth TV , look at adverts, as far back as 2011 an analysis of popular music videos, researchers found that in 84% of the videos analysed, women were shown to be dancing in a provocative nature (Ward and Rivadeneyra, 2002 cited in Walter, 2010: 33). Look at the fashion clothing kids are wearing today, look at how the internet has made pornography also accessible, look at what is no 1 in the pop charts as I write this blog “WAP” go and google the lyrics to this song but be warned. I could go on but you get the picture.
Have we sleepwalked into this? Moreover how do we combat this? Can we reverse this? While the easiest thing to do is become offended we need to present a compelling case for a counter culture to combat this.
We need to support and promote people and projects that project something different, for some reason the world have been sold a lie that wholesomeness is somehow boring and vanilla and dull, that in order to be out there you have to buy into the sexualisation movement. A lot of that has been our fault for putting some sort of Victorian style prudence with all the attractiveness of Oliver Twist’s gruel upon the idea of wholesomeness.
The bible says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy--think about such things.”
Perhaps in focusing on what is wrong with society rather than championing what is right in following the teachings of Christ we have missed an opportunity. Perhaps we need to tackle head on some of the distructive traits we have seen rise up by offering g a better alternative culture.
The thing is it’s easier to be offended than present a better future, I don’t have all the answers but I know a lot of people doing great work in these areas I can offer my support to.
I have no inclination to see ‘cuties’ I find it depressing that films like this are made and see the harm it can cause, however I am determined to put my energies into finding and promoting the much desired but ultimately allusive
a better future for our kids.