OK, I admit it. My television isn't going to be wearing out from overuse any time soon. Commercials for "E.D.", along with prominent sexuality and violence have persuaded me that most television (and movies) really aren't worth my time. From time to time, I wonder whether I would return if this objectionable content was removed and...shot, of course. Is there something on worth watching? Should I spare the RCA from the firing squad?
This series of articles (by my favorite seminary president) asks, but does not completely answer, the question. The argument is twofold, but oblique. First, the historical position by Christians is that we don't belong in the theater--this really only changed in this century, at least among Protestants. Even among Catholics, appreciation of the theater is something of a Renaissance and modern era phenomenon.
Probably more persuasive is that the theater has unique power, more or less, to manipulate emotions. Dr. Bauder notes that he was once persuaded to cheer for the murder of a character; my children get afraid when it's evident that Archibald the Asparagus might drown. Even great stories, like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, are drastically changed in the retelling--I noticed about half a dozen changes from the book in the promotional poster alone.
Are we better to experience this? Are we better to learn to withstand the emotional manipulation, or not? Do we become less vulnerable to manipulation in real life, or do we simply become callous to real emotions?
I am reminded of a friend's perspective on roller coasters. Having fled Serbia's recent civil war, she noted that her countrymen didn't ride them because they'd had enough excitement already, thank you very much. Maybe we'd start to think the same way if we stepped away from the television, too.
Oh, and married men, don't forget that turning off the television may have other benefits.
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