MOVIES: Why I stopped going to movies

by Phil Boatwright, posted Friday, April 15, 2016 (3 years ago)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) -- Guess what question this film critic of 30 years was asked the day after the Academy Awards: "What'd ya think of the Oscars?" Well, for the first time since John Wayne won a golden statuette for "True Grit," I didn't watch the Oscars.

Sadly, after three decades reviewing movies I simply dread entering the local Cineplex, let alone watching Hollywood congratulate itself for something I refuse to view.

Sounds like an old fogey statement but let me explain why I, albeit a lover of movies, hesitate to support today's releases. I'm speaking of Tinseltown films, not those made by movie ministers of the Midwest.

Cinema is the quintessential art form, combining the essence of all others. Like parables, movies can teach, uplift and entertain more effectively than any other artistic expression. (All those taking oboe lessons may disagree.)

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us there is a time to laugh and a time to dance. The verse can be interpreted to support entertainment as an elemental part of life. But much has changed in my many decades of movie-viewing. Frankly, I'd be embarrassed watching many of last year's movies with my mom, or on a first date, or with Jesus by my side.

Changes in public sensibilities are reflected by the movies, but their makers also feel a compulsion to take moviegoers further in an R-rated direction. Today's film audiences are subjected to a methodical sway that neither regards our Savior nor respects the views of those who do.

We who have outgrown superhero movies are still bombarded at the Cineplex by an endless parade of Caped Crusaders. In non-comic-book films, social issues are presented from a decidedly one-sided perspective. As society increasingly wanders from religious tenets, masters of the movie medium are determined to advance the secularist proclamation, "God is no longer relevant."

I still love movies, but it seems accidental when I stumble upon one that entertains without the aid of abusive content. When's the last time you saw a major studio release that didn't misuse God's name? Seen a comedy lately? Toilet humor rules. How about a drama? Serious film subjects without R-category content are few and far between.

I fear sounding snobbish by saying the cinematic art form as a whole dumbs down or crudes up the culture. I don't think every film needs to be "King of Kings," "Judgment at Nuremburg," "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "It's a Wonderful Life." But, sadly, the oft-stated complaint is true, "They don't make movies like that anymore."

Am I suggesting that all movies and their makers are evil, or that you shouldn't go to movies, or that I will never again go to movies? No, I'm not.

There are many good, well-meaning, even religious people in the film industry. However, if you've studied the industry from its inception, it's easy to see that with each decade newcomers to the media community have pushed the envelope when it comes to redefining moral standards. They've taken baby steps, furthering us from class, social decorum, and reverence for the Almighty.

Perhaps we have evolved into beings capable of processing any amount of abuse Hollywood puts before our eyes. But is that what our Creator intended for us? The Bible is God's guideline for our lives and it applies to every part of our lives, including how we entertain ourselves.

Hollywood (generally) isn't feeding that part of me that will live on. The humanist who discounts spiritual fulfillment by way of the cross may argue against my sensibilities, but I can't escape the following verse:

"Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them." (Ephesians 5:11).

While many complained about a lack of diversity in movies nominated for Oscars this year, Hollywood may not be considering the big picture. You know who's really underrepresented in the art of movies, don't you?

Sure you do.

Phil Boatwright, in addition to writing for Baptist Press, reviews films at http://moviereporter.com/ and is a regular contributor to "The World and Everything In It," a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group.
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