A Wrestling In My Soul

The struggle is real when deciding what is and isn't appropriate for entertainment value. These past few months I've been struggling to walk away from two of my favorite franchises and a childhood favorite.

Introduction

If you read my posts regularly you know I have/had a deep love for Transformers and The Fast and the Furious. This year, 3 movies came out in theaters, that not too long ago I probably would have knocked people down to see as early as possible: Beauty and the Beast, The Fate of the Furious, and Transformers: The Last Knight. Yet, I haven't seen any of them!
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Hear No Evil, See No Evil, Speak No Evil

I've been trying to cut out entertainment that should not be entertaining. You wouldn't put spaghetti in your car and you wouldn't eat gasoline. What you feed your mind and spirit, is crucial to your spiritual wellbeing. Watching violence, wizardry, and other ungodly behaviors/concepts, is not good for you; not to mention, I can hardly see God finding it entertaining. There are several proverbs that suggest enjoying—enjoying, not just committing—violence is a trait of the wicked.

So I started testing everything I watch, read, and listen to. I apply the questions employed in Philippians 4:8 when determining if I should watch something. It's hard to break away from things you've always done, particularly things that make you happy. The devil knows what to tempt you with and this year he's been at my door for every single one of these movie releases!

The Movies

Beauty and the Beast

Beauty and the Beast was easily top 5 of my all time favorite Disney movies. Belle is a little nerdy, she loves to read, and she's basically an outcast in society. Despite being a young girl during a time period when girls were supposed to be dainty flowers, she rides off into the terrifying forest to find her missing father and then sacrifices herself to protect him. When the villagers attempt to attack the misunderstood beast, Belle rushes off to save the day. The transformation of the beast into Belle's prince charming is top notch animation, which allows us to forgive the reuse of Sleeping Beauty's dance scene to close the film. Let's not forget the epic soundtrack! These are the things I loved about the movie. What completely passed over my head was the amount of wrong in the movie.

The Plot is Absurd

The entire plot of the movie is about a human girl falling in love with a beast. Yes, we know he's really a man, but she doesn't. Not only is this one step away from bestiality, but it falls under magic and wizardry. On top of that, it doesn't even make sense! The prince places emphasis on physical appearances, so the witch (called an enchantress in the movie to sound more pleasant and less ungodly, though remaining the same thing) curses the man to live in a hideous form. Yet, he still gets to fall in love with a beautiful girl. The fact that the prince changes his tune when the witch changes from an old woman to a beautiful one proves that he was always prepared to woo a beautiful woman—what man isn't? Shouldn't the idea have been to make him fall in love with a woman who wasn't beautiful? Did the beast really learn anything from all of this?

Stockholm Syndrome

If we ignore the absurdity of the plot and pretend that he's a man the whole time, we still have a story glorifying Stockholm Syndrome. Let's not forget that he held her hostage! The turning point of Belle and the Beast's relationship is when he saves her from the wolves after she flees the castle. Belle is thankful that he saved her, but she never should have been in danger. If the Beast hadn't taken her father prisoner, or had let both of them go, she wouldn't have been out at night with no preparation in the first place. If he hadn't been berating her—verbal abuse—she wouldn't have fled. The fact that Belle saw it as "above and beyond" behavior worthy of thanking is classic Stockholm Syndrome. By the time the Beast lets her go, Belle has basically convinced herself that she's there because she wants to be rather than because she's a prisoner.

Prostitutes

Photocredit: Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Oh, and did anyone notice the triplets who fawn over Gaston look like prostitutes? Everyone in the town claims Belle is the most beautiful girl in town, but the triplets actually fit the European standard of beauty—blonde, blue eyed, fair, etc. What's with that? Of course, for the time period and the fact that it's a kids movie they're over-sexualized. Also, if you try to google them, they're referred to as "the Bimbettes." From the images I've seen, they appear toned down for the movie, but since I haven't seen the movie, I can't really say how this played out.

Homosexuality

Most people were ok with the aforementioned problems, and the push back on the 2017 live action film stemmed from the inclusion of an openly gay character. To be honest, it's actually pretty fitting that Disney debut an openly gay character for a remake of Beauty and the Beast. The 1991 original animated feature was the first animated movie to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. It won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy) and won the Academy Award for Best Original Score.[1] It was a highly successful film, and part of the reason I loved it so much as a child is the music. The music makes the movie. From "Be Our Guest" to the theme song, even Gaston's ode to himself, the music gets stuck in your head for days. You know who composed it? Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (they also did The Little Mermaid and a few songs for Aladdin). Mr. Ashman died of complications from AIDS about 8 months before the movie was released. If you watch the original through the credits, you'll notice that the film was dedicated to him. Mr. Ashman was openly gay. From a secular perspective, it's quite poetic that Disney chose that movie to debut a gay character.

I don't know how it was handled in the movie, so I can't really comment on it. If I hadn't had reservations about the message of the movie as a whole (via the points I mentioned earlier), I probably would have still gone to see it and made up my mind about the introduction of a gay character after I saw it. However, with the list of strange and unusual things already brewing beneath the surface, I didn't bother.

The Fate of the Furious

I was disappointed when they announced a Fast and Furious 8. Paul Walker is dead, the seventh movie gave him a nice send off, it's done. Of course, Hollywood wants to make as much money as possible so they had no problem keeping the franchise going. I may not have been so apprehensive if the movies weren't getting more and more ridiculous. WARNING, SPOILERS AHEAD for those who haven't seen the movies. The main characters go from average street racing criminals to taking down the crime lord of Brazil to a top notch team of agents working for the government. If pulling a multi-ton safe through the streets of Rio with a set of Dodge Chargers is do able, surely they can take down an entire plane with a couple cars and a never ending runway. In Furious 7 they parachute cars out of a plane and jump a car through several skyscrapers! What happens in Fate of the Furious? Do they conquer aliens!? It's just too much!

But I like cars that go fast, so no matter how ridiculous, I found myself entertained. I love the diversity of the cast and the seamlessness at which they bond. So, what really stopped me from seeing Fate of the Furious (mind you I saw Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7 in theaters twice each!)? I asked myself what made the movie entertaining to me. Although Dominic Toretto and crew call themselves a family and show loyalty to each other, they're still criminals living off stolen money. Whether they're out to get vengeance or just doing something to clear their name, they're not exactly "good" guys. Plus, if you take away the fighting and violence, the movies wouldn't be the same. Fast and Furious (the 4th movie) opens with an epic scene where a gasoline truck explodes. The scene in Fast Five where they're dragging the safe behind them is what makes the movie, no matter how outlandish. Of course, they destroyed a large part of the city to do it and probably injured people in the process. The reveal that they tricked (re: lied to) Hobbs and managed to get away with (re: steal) all the money is definitely the highlight of the film. I don't remember much about the 6th movie, except Letty being found and the never ending runway. Now the 7th film, I liked because it was tech heavy and it featured a black woman (like myself) being a mastermind of technology. I also liked the Dom and Letty are actually married reveal; which also means that when Dom left Elena after founding out Letty was still alive, he was being truly faithful.

There's definitely some good in the movies, that's why I like them. However, I can't say everything I like about them would be approved by God. So I'm hesitant to watch the 8th installment.

Transformers: The Last Knight

I can describe my experience in the computer science world through the Transformers series. Uncanny, right? I used the movies in the statement of purpose that launched my graduate school experience. When the first movie came out, I was a computer science newbie; I knew nothing about programing or CGI. When the second movie came out (on my 21st birthday at that), I was prepping to go to graduate school to study Computer Graphics. When the third movie came out, I was in graduate school hating life, and I hated the movie. When the fourth movie came out, I had changed schools and advisors and was a lot happier with where I was going; I thought the fourth movie was an improvement and getting back to what I liked about the first 2 movies. The Last Knight, which is the fifth movie of the franchise, debuted the same week I defended my dissertation. Uncanny...

Once again, I asked myself: why do I like Transformers. Sure, Optimus Prime's desire to always take the moral high ground makes him an admirable super hero, but 90% of the movie is gunfire and missile launches. That scorpion thing that attacks in the desert in the first movie is epic. The entire plot is giant alien robots fighting... It's pure violence. I can say I don't watch it because of that, but if you cut out the violence there would be like 10 seconds of screen time. So at the end of the day, I don't think it makes the cut.

The Wrestling In My Soul

The conviction is there, but this is one of those decisions that you constantly second guess. Now that the movies are appearing on iTunes and at RedBox, I find myself thinking, well, what if I just start watching it? If it starts to be too this or too that, then I'll cut it off. Except I already know the movies are violent. I already know what will happen in Beauty and the Beast. It's taking a lot to refrain from watching these movies, but I know it's the right thing.

Are you struggling with a conviction? When God places it upon your heart to do something (or not do something), it isn't alway easy to follow through. Even Moses was afraid to stand before Pharaoh and speak. We have to pray for strength to follow through and we have to surround ourself with friends who will inspire us to maintain our convictions!

References

  1. "Beauty and the Beast (1991 Film)". Wikipedia; visited July 2017

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About

Author Image Author Image I love reading the Word of God. With prayer God's Word reveals so much: from comfort to temperance, from perspective to affirmation. Digging into the depths of the Word, cross-referencing history, language and time differences, is a passion of mine. In March of 2015 I decided to go back through the Bible doing an in depth study on each section I read. Eventually I decided to share my journal of notes as I partake in this journey. I hope you are blessed by God and inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. I love reading and learning about God, nature, and science. I am interested in how it all connects. The Creator's fingerprints are all over his creation. We can learn so much about Him and how we came to be by exploring the world around us. Join me as I explore the world and draw closer to the One who created it all.
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