Tag Archives: Television

On Not Watching Game of Thrones

Kevin DeYoung wrote a post in early August on how he couldn’t understand why Christians would choose to watch Game of Thrones. No amount of awesome cinematography, great dialogue, or storytelling could outweigh the soul-damage done by the graphic violence and exhibitionist nudity. DeYoung followed this post a couple weeks later with a list of reasons he still wasn’t convinced and how he didn’t need to watch the show to know it was something to avoid.

We’ve talked about the show briefly here and not in an entirely negative way. What little I know of the story does appeal to me. The castles, costumes, landscape, dragons, and walkers look amazing. But DeYoung’s points are largely the reasons I don’t want to see it.

I remember seeing a conversation with a couple actresses about how much the show featured female nudity and why couldn’t they expose more men. They were willing to run with that, even mock-campaign for it. Men should have equal access to being full frontal, they said.

DeYoung wrapped up his thoughts like this.

On occasion I’ve stumbled upon a few minutes of PG-13 movies I used to enjoy as a teenager (like the Naked Gun series). I’m appalled by the things that didn’t tweak my conscience then but do now. We are so awash in sensuality that many Christians have no idea how compromised they’ve become. . . . Only in a hyper-sexual, pornographic-saturated culture like ours could we think that graphic sex scenes are no big deal, or somehow offset by a brilliant screenplay.

“Whom does it serve?”


Puritan church drummer

Sohrab Ahmari’s The New Philistines, which I reviewed last night, sparked a few thoughts under my follicles.

I noticed some years back that my interest in movies, once keen, was waning. Taking the trouble to make the trip to a theater just didn’t seem a good exchange. Whatever the old rewards had been, they were diminishing. And today, although I have Netflix and Amazon Plus, I don’t use their streaming services a whole lot, either. If I decide I want to view a movie, as often as not I can’t find anything I care to click on.

I used to watch television all evening, every evening. I liked some shows better than others, but I could always find something to amuse me. Then gaps started opening up, where there was nothing I wanted to watch. And now I’ve reached the point where there’s zero network programming that I watch regularly.

Ahmari’s book illustrated why those changes happened. I grew more and more aware – unconsciously at first, but consciously more and more – that everything coming out of Hollywood, big screen or small, was propaganda. In the legend of the Holy Grail, one of the questions asked of the seeker of the Grail was, “Whom does it serve?” With modern entertainment, even the most trivial, that question always applies. Each offering is in service of something. And that something is always some social or political cause.

In the days of the Puritans, it was often complained that people got religion shoved down their throats, that everything turned into a sermon.

Ahmari’s The New Philistines might have been called The New Puritans. Because in the 21st Century, the sermons never end.

The Cross in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The third season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. came to a close this month on an interesting Christological note. I’ve been a fan of the show since the beginning and never had the complaints I read from others that it was too slow, didn’t have enough super powers, and whatever else. It’s a good show, and it didn’t get canceled like Agent Carter did (which is another good show, great show even, and it stinks that it’s cancelled.) The most recent season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. focuses on a vision one of the agents has of someone’s death, and central to that vision is a cross pendant.

I doubt I can keep from spoilers.

The season opens with the vision. A ship in space, the arc of the earth through the cockpit windshield, the cross pendant and necklace suspended in air, and a S.H.I.E.L.D. logo on a sleeve. No face or identifiers of who, if anyone, might be in that aircraft. We learn after a few shows that an Inhuman (a substitutionary word for “mutant” with its own extraterrestrial history) has the ability to foresee details of a death when he touches someone. This ability brings him into contact with Daisy Johnson (Chloe Bennet), the Inhuman agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. who is working on putting together an Inhuman tactical team, and when they touch each other, they see the vision of the cross on a ship in space.

“I’ve seen the future,” she tells her team, “and one of us is going to die.”  Continue reading The Cross in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Jessica Jones: Don’t Fight Your Demons Alone

I was a big fan of the “Daredevil” series that released last year on Netflix. It was more brutal than I’m used to, but the story ran deep. Tying up the series with Kingpin paraphrasing part of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan is the kind of deep water I hope to find in most shows I watch. So when the next installment of this street-level view on the Marvel universe came out with “Jessica Jones,” I hoped to see something similar. But no. (The spoiler flag is on the field.)

Krysten Ritter on the set of 'Jessica Jones'“Jessica Jones” is not the story of a moral crusader. It’s the story of a survivor of emotional and sexual abuse. Granted, she’s a unique survivor of a unique type of abuse. Jessica (portrayed by Kristen Ritter) has super strength, endurance, and the ability to fly—brought on through a chemical exposure a bit like the first step Matt Murdock (Daredevil) took in his origin story. Her abuser is not only a master manipulator, like at least two other characters in the show, but a man who can control people’s minds for several hours at a time.  Continue reading Jessica Jones: Don’t Fight Your Demons Alone

What If We Called It Befuddling Tales?

From our Tell Us That Story Again desk come these headlines:

    • Greatest American Hero is returning to TV under the direction of Rick Famuyiwa, Phil Lord & Chris Miller. Lord and Miller are the men behind The LEGO Movie and several other laudable efforts.
    • Col. Steve Austin is returning to the screen in 2017 as The Six Billion Dollar Man. There’s a rumor he will have to deal with hundreds of angry cowboys before wrangling thousands of deadly aliens. And there may be ninjas too.
    • Amazing Stories 1952-08CBS is going to return to classic Star Trek and create new stories with familiar characters. Rumors say a recurring storyline will have the Enterprise crew wrangling a pesky cyborg on Earth.
    • And believing the public may be tiring of all this new stuff and have a hankering for the return of a classic favorite, the sci-fi/fantasy series Amazing Stories has been approved for a return. Furious D spells out how the show might work and some pitfalls to avoid. I’d love to see a series of individual episodes that touch on a larger story, which may eventually take over every episode, but if it’s truly an anthology series with different kinds of stories, then they may want to break it up a good bit.

We Are What We Read

Rosaria Butterfield describes her rejection of lesbianism, three heresies related to homosexuality, and the importance of what and how we read to our worldview.

In short, we honor God with our reading diligence. We honor God with our reading sacrifice. If you watch two hours of TV and surf the internet for three, what would happen if you abandoned these habits for reading the Bible and the Puritans? For real. Could the best solution to the sin that enslaves us be just that simple and difficult all at the same time? We create Christian communities that are safe places to struggle because we know sin is also “lurking at [our] door.” God tells us that sin’s “desire is for you, but you shall have mastery over it” (Gen. 4:7). Sin isn’t a matter of knowing better, it isn’t (only) a series of bad choices—and if it were, we wouldn’t need a Savior, just need a new app on our iPhone.

The Optimism of Phineas and Ferb

Disney’s Phineas and Ferb is a terrific cartoon and tonight it will air its final show. Luke Harrington eulogizes it. “Don’t waste your time. The day is a gift. Create something. It’s such a wide-eyed and pure message that it almost feels out of place in contemporary animation, and I can’t help but think that might be part of why it took co-creators Dan Povenmire and Jeff “Swampy” Marsh the better part of 16 years to sell a studio on the concept.”

Phineas and Ferb could never be more relevant

If they could think it, they could do it, and everything turned to gold in their hands. Summer belonged to them as their creative domain. Luke sees their almost endless hope as good material for hoping in Christ.