Since I’m having such a hard time finding time to talk about a movie at the moment, I wanted to take a minute to talk about the issue of controversial movies, especially those aimed at the Catholic Church. Every so often, one of these movies will come out – and some are clamoring to go see it, and others are immediately digging their feet in and trying to convince everyone not to. What’s sad is, all the controversy almost always gives more credit than is due to these type of debates. Now, I’m not talking about pornographic or those that are just downright morally offensive. I’m talking about those that are fiction, but appear to take jabs at the Church.
So, here’s my typical strategy… use these sort of films to open a discussion! If you haven’t seen what all the hype is about, it’s hard to counteract it. Most of these movies are at least moderately entertaining, or no one would watch them. I usually wait until they come to TV or some other inexpensive or free venue, and I watch them. I remind myself (and you) to keep in mind the background of the film. If it’s fiction, remember that! Next, what issues did you have with the film, or what issues have you heard were problematic? Do some research on those things if you can’t answer them outright and proceed from there. Now, when people try to tell you things like “If you wanna know about the history of the Catholic Church, watch The DaVinci Code!” You can answer, with some understanding, what points were true and what points were not. I mean, when even the History Channel debunked The DaVinci Code, there are lots of points to be made. But do it calmly. Try not to let things get heated or flustered. That detracts from your point. Now when you hear about the bad guys, known as the Magisterium in the Golden Compass, you’ll understand why many in the Church saw it as a slam. What about a movie like the original “The Exorcist?” Why did the Church take issue with it? Go through the list.
Offer alternatives when you can. The perfect example is The Exorcism of Emily Rose – which was highly regarded as the best portrayal of an Exorcism that Hollywood has produced versus The Exorcist which deals with a doubting priest. If they see a film that paints a pope, saint or other figure in a negative light, surely if they’re worth arguing over, there is another one out there that is in line with what we understand to be true.
The key is to use them to help educate. They’ve already seen the film, in most cases, so which would you rather, help them understand the right way to see the Church, let them keep thinking that what they saw was true, or worse yet, add fuel to the fire by being hateful and demanding?
So, here’s the next question I get… what about letting your kids see these movies? For example, the Golden Compass was marketed toward kids. I got numerous e-mails about why not to let your kids see them, and many wanting me to send out something to our whole church. I suggested instead that they sit down with their kids, explain why they didn’t want them to see the movie, and if possible – eventually see it together (I do suggest parents screen films first, if possible) and discuss it with their child(ren). Help them to understand that there is a difference between the movie and what we believe – and explain those differences as best you can. That way, you won’t just be Mean Mommy… but you’ve helped them understand another aspect of our faith that they might not have gotten otherwise. And then, you never know… they might not be so fascinated with seeing a sequel! 😉
I hope that helps. God Bless!