Those crazy far right Christians … all that pent up sexual frustration… how, oh how to relieve it? Well, if you’re a holy-rolling film critic at Focus on the Family, you pop some popcorn, grab a comfy throw, and curl up on the couch to watch “pornography” – for the greater good of course.
That’s right, FOF’s “Plugged In” movie reviewers felt it was their Christian duty to watch and review 50 Shades of Grey, so they could warn other Christians, who had no intention of watching it, not to watch it. Now I haven’t read the book, seen the movie, or until today, read a review; but even I knew it wasn’t destined for the Christian Worldview Film Festival.
Here are a few of the “revelations” the reviewers gleaned from their “sacrifice”:
…there’s not a thing about it that’s worthy or respectable. And there’s a lot in the movie that can’t (and shouldn’t) even be mentioned here.
Christian’s and Ana’s relationship, clearly, is predicated on an abusive power differential. Even when the two are not engaged in sadomasochistic sex, their dynamic is fraught with a sense of domination and subjugation—of predator and prey.
Ana does shots and gets drunk, staggering a bit. Other characters drink wine regularly, and also quaff champagne and margaritas.
Quaffing – definitely amoral, anti-God stuff there.
This is a love story, it could be said. But any love story without God gets twisted into a broken, heartbreaking jumble. We go to extremes when we try to sate our leaking souls with the stuff of this world. When we don’t understand the love of Christ, we don’t understand love at all. We needlessly hurt the ones we think we love. We confuse words like honor and obey with subjugation and degradation. We have a monster within us, all of us. We make a mess of things.
Holy shit this person’s got some demons.
And what a mess this movie is.
For men, it can push us toward fixation on dark and dangerous fantasies. And that’s before even mentioning the nudity. For women, we’re given the deceptive allure of an abusive protagonist who checks, it seems, many a literary fantasy box: a strong, good-looking, fabulously wealthy and (this is key) broken man who needs to be shown what real love is.
…This is why so many of us are reading and watching. Never mind whether the content contained in Fifty Shades of Grey falls short of or crosses over a legal definition of domestic abuse or pornography; with a cancerous intensity it caters to the cravings and hungers that all pornography serves. Porn rips us away from the real, flesh-and-blood people in our lives. It feeds unrealistic, dangerous and hurtful expectations of what sex and love can be twisted into. As it becomes ever more pervasive in our culture, it damages and abuses us in ways that we’re just beginning to fully understand.
Yikes! The reviewers seem to know a hell of a lot about the effects of porn on the individual, no? As it turns out, not all of FOF’s devotees were grateful for the “sacrifice” the reviewers made in their name; here are a few comments from Plugged In’s Facebook page:
“I will set no evil before my eyes. This should go for reviewers too. There was no need to see this to let people know it was wrong.”
“This description alone is cause for perversion. Shame on you for watching what we all already knew to be wicked and vile. Jesus would NEVER watch this…for entertainment or review…so why would a Christian subject his mind, eyes, ears to such? Stop using your career as an excuse to entertain yourself off the clock, which we all know you did behind a set of closed doors. Do you really believe that you are the epitome of righteousness, in thinking you can walk away from reviewing this smut without getting burned? Wicked.”
Who knows what Jesus would have watched; call me crazy, but I think he was a little preoccupied with persecution and stuff. The behind closed doors thing is probably accurate though; hopefully it quelled the frustrations of the reviewer until the next installment comes out, or it’s time to review Hustler, whichever comes first.
“That was such a good insightful, biblically sound review. I have no plans to see this movie but thank you for informing me in case it comes up in conversation with someone. God bless!”
A “biblically sound review”… of “pornography”… that’s a new one on me.
“Plugged in, Please remove this review immediately. A Pornographic Movie such as this does not need a review and should not be viewed by anyone who professes Christ as LORD. This is shameful and could cause many people to stumble.
How fragile these “believers” are, that a movie review can send them hurtling toward the gates of hell.
“I have heard so much about this book and movie, and the more I hear, the sicker I feel inside. Christian Grey is definitely a man no one has any business being around. He’s also a very broken man as all people who don’t know God are.”
Um, Christian Grey is a made up guy, like that evil-doer Harry Potter; you do realize they’re not real, right?
This is how FOF’s reviewer sees his role in this whole thing, according to the Christian News Network:
…he views himself as being a “watchman on the wall” in regard to Hollywood releases, and that is why he decided to go to a showing of “Fifty Shades of Grey” and write a subsequent review.
“[M]y prayer is that I can craft something that, while not necessarily revolutionary, will help all of us, myself included, think through the issues that swirl around the film,” Asay said.
“I feel a sense of purpose here in that—a calling, if you will.”
I’m sure he got a sense of something, but purpose isn’t the first word that comes to mind. Oddly enough, FOF’s reviewers weren’t the only Christian champions willing to wade into the “cultural swamp”; Christian Today sent a reviewer (emphasis mine):
Well this is awkward. The most sexually explicit, most notorious, most morally questionable film of the year so far was released today, and Christian Today sent me to review it. I’d guess a number of readers would question whether it’s even right that I saw it at all; I subscribe to the belief that we can’t critique culture that we haven’t engaged with…
Yeah, try selling that B.S. to the anti-marriage equality crowd.
The Jerusalem Post printed a warning from Archbishop Schnurr, of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati about the film’s content which leads one to believe he either read the book or saw the movie.
Joe Carter of the Gospel Coalition writes:
Too much has already been written about the stupidity and vulgarity of the novel, so I won’t waste time rehashing why no Christian should engage with that pornography.
You can’t build a fire in your lap and not get burned (Proverbs 6:27)
Now he tells me.
Mississippi Baptist Convention Board spokesman William Perkins declares:
“This is pornography disguised as art. I don’t think a reasonable argument can be made by reasonable people that there’s any art in this at all, I say there’s no art involved when women are abused and mistreated like they are in this film by rich, wealthy men.”
I’m guessin’ he saw it. Christian Magazine Charisma has a report on it, Arrowhead Church invites you to hear “… a Biblical response to the movie 50 Shades of Grey”, Faith Street has reviewed the books; I dare say, if Christians and self-proclaimed “family values” types weren’t buying the books and seeing the movie, it might be languishing on the Barnes & Noble sale table right about now.
Thank God for Focus on the Family and their pious partners; nothing says Christianity like sacrificing yourself to “porn” for the greater good. Oops, intermission, gotta go…
cross-posted @ All Things Democrat