Media of all types is very powerful, the views of the writer or director come through in the story and are intended to convince us of something or help us to see an issue or lifestyle in a new light. I believe this is accomplished primarily through the use of well developed characters and humor. When we get to know the characters in a story we may find it difficult to see the character flaws that they have. Because of our fondness, it may be difficult to acknowledge the immoral decision they make. Just like in real life, we may find it difficult to admit when a loved one is in a state of serious sin, because we love them. We must love the sinner, but hate the sin, that is God’s attitude with us.
A well made movie can make a profound connection with the audience either through laughter, characters or both. Laughter draws us into the story, it causes us to let our defenses down for a little while and make light of a difficult topic or situation, it eases the tension that we may associate with a given topic and many times, makes it easier for us to accept. The 80‘s sitcom, Three’s Company, made fun of homosexuality and made this objectively immoral lifestyle more familiar to us and thus easier to accept. Cheech and Chong, The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont High and many other movie’s comic portrayal of recreational drug use made “getting high” attractive to many viewers. Movies like Arthur, Bachelor Party, and many other’s depiction of excessive drinking convinced more than a few viewers that getting drunk was just plain fun and thus no harm, other than a hangover, could come from it.
Well developed characters, who are complex and possess qualities similar to our own serve to draw us into a relationship with them. There are characters I recall from movies and TV shows I watched growing up whom I almost feel like I know personally. Ferris Bueller, Indiana Jones, McGyver, the cast of Cheers, the cast of Friends, etc. For me personally, I came to know and loved many of these characters, I identified with them and thus I started to adopt their views and beliefs, even those that conflicted with the views and beliefs of the Catholic Church. My kids and I read books and watch movies together and we talk about the characters like they are real, mentioning how so and so from a book or movie handled a particular situation. Fortunately for my kids, the media they consume is a positive influence on their behaviors, and more times than not, it provides them with positive role models who assist them in living out a virtuous Christian life.
We are profoundly shaped by the media we consume, the more time we spend with it, the more it shapes our attitudes, values and life choices. The effect is intensified the younger the viewer is. Be careful little eyes what you see and hear, they are the portals into our souls.
I have written a review of the new movie entitled The Way (by Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen) at the Catholic Sistas blog. This movie is being marketed heavily to the Catholic community and for the most part it has received favorable reviews by Catholic movie reviewers. My review is less favorable, so check it out and let me know what you think.