Tag Archives: sexual

Jesus and Hollywood: What’s the Difference between Acting and Actually Doing, Especially as a Christian? (Pondering Profanity, Sexuality, and Violence)

Seems like a strange pair, but we born-again Christians love our movies and TV just as much as everyone else.  But where do we draw the line?

One of my favorite TV shows during 4th and 5th grade was surprisingly The Dick Van Dyke Show as it was featured in syndication on Nick at Nite.  It was while watching that show (I was around 9 or 10) that it occurred to me, “Dick Van Dyke is kissing Mary Tyler Moore, but in real life, they may both be married to someone else who has to watch them kiss another person.”  To me, that would just be too weird… and wrong.  As much I fantasize about being an actor in a flash-sideways version of my life in some alternate path I could have chosen for myself a decade ago, I have to acknowledge that as a born-again Christian, there would be an exhaustive list of limitations for me as a legitimate actor.  (Granted, Kirk Cameron got around the “have to kiss another woman” dilemma when he used his own wife as a stand-in at the end of the movie Fireproof.)

That’s not to say that there aren’t born-again Christians who act in mainstream media.  For example, there’s the often-mistaken-as-a-Jew-but-actually-just-Welsh-American actor Zachary Levi, who is the protagonist of the hit show Chuck.  He has been outspoken about his relationship with Jesus Christ.  Click here to see what he said in one of his interviews with Relevant magazine.  I am fascinated by his Hollywood success and his commitment to his faith.  I would love to ask him about this very topic today; specifically this question, “As a Christian, what won’t you do in a role?”  (Zachary Levi, if you’re reading this, feel free to comment and help me out.  Thanks.)

Where does a Christian draw the line when it comes to acting?  I would say kissing another person on stage is harmless except when either or both of them is married.  And what about “love scenes” (scenes that involve sexual activity, with or without nudity)? What about profanity? Are there any words you just shouldn’t say?  Personally, I could easily curse on camera before I could say, “oh my God”; because to use God’s name in vain is breaking one of the Ten Commandments, while cursing is simply a fading taboo of shifting rules set by the expectations of culture.  To me, there are plenty far more destructive ways that words can be used that go against the Kingdom of God, like gossip, malicious sarcasm, and belittling.

Here’s where it gets really tricky.  If you think it’s wrong to curse in a role or play a character who has premarital sex, how is that so different from playing a character who is a murderer?  At least by playing a killer, you’re truly just pretending to play a character who is obviously in the wrong.  But by being filmed semi-nude under covers in a bed, you’re sending a subconscious message that sex between two consenting adults doesn’t necessarily have any spiritual concerns attached to it.

So in theory, in 1983, as a born-again Christian, if given the opportunity to have Al Pacino’s lead role in Scarface, would I, should I, could I?  For it’s time, the movie Scarface contained more profanity than any other film in history.  It was originally rated NC-17 for its violent content.  But in the end, (sorry if you haven’t seen the movie but you’ve had 28 years to see it so I feel okay about giving away the ending) all of Scarface’s sins find him out.  It’s obvious that his life of violent crime led to his own demise and in the end, it wasn’t worth it. Does that mean that this movie teaches its viewers not to waste their lives in a mob, getting  involved with violence and cocaine?  In theory, yes.  In theory, it has positive, redeeming value because in the end, crime doesn’t pay.

That’s something I’ve observed about Christian culture.  It seems most Christians are okay with a character doing obviously un-Christian things if in the end they repent: Unlike the character of Stacy Hamilton, played by Jewish actress Jennifer Jason Leigh in the 1982 movie Fast Times at Ridgemont High, who decides to have an abortion and seemingly goes on to live a completely normal life, never regretting her decision.  I contrast that to the song “Red Ragtop” by Tim McGraw, whether the 20 year-old protagonist gets his 18 year-old girlfriend pregnant and together they decide to have an abortion.

However, by the end of the song, though it’s not explicitly stated, the melancholy mood and subtle lyrics of the song itself convey the message “we can’t undo what we’ve done or beat ourselves up over it, but we do regret and it’s definitely a sad thing that happened”.  Rightly assuming that Country music fans are mostly Christians (simple demographics), they helped the song rise to the #2 position on the Country charts.

Entertain this thought: Ask yourself privately, as a Christian, whether or not you would play the role of a character in a play, musical, TV show, or movie who would do any of the following things:

-use minor profanity

-use stronger profanity including racial or gender slurs, up to the “f-word”

-use God’s name in vain, whether it’s by saying “oh my God” or “G.D.”

-play a character who has premarital sex and never encounters any real negative consequences

-play a gay character who never actually kisses another actor

-play a gay character who does kiss another person of the same gender

-play a heterosexual character who jokingly kisses a person of the same gender on the lips, which happens quite often on Saturday Night Live

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and who never curses or participates in any pre-material sexual relationship

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and but does participate in some premarital sex and who does some cursing

-play a serial killer and rapist, though no explicit violence is ever shown on screen and but does participate in some premarital sex and who does some cursing, but at the end accepts Jesus Christ as their Savior and from that point on lives a life in accordance to the teachings of Jesus

How is it any more wrong to play a homosexual actor than it is to play heterosexual actor who has premarital sex?  Though both situations are perceived much differently by the general population, when it comes to my understanding of the Bible’s teaching of righteousness, I don’t see how one is any different or worse than the other.  The way I understand it, Jesus died for all sin.  Sin is sin is sin.  No matter what kind it is, it separates us from God and causes every single one of us to need His grace.

Where do you draw the line as a Christian actor? Obviously to be involved in straight-up porno-graphy is out of the question for any sincere Christian.  But there are so many millionths of the scale to get to that extreme.  On the much slighter end of the scale is a man with his shirt off showing off his six-pack while he rides a horse bareback.  Further down the scale is that same man passionately kissing a woman while in a hot tub, both in their swimsuits.  Next is the same man and woman acting out a love scene in bed and though they are actually naked, they aren’t acting having sex underneath the blankets which strategically cover up certain parts of their bodies.

I remind myself that outside the culture of conservative Christianity, in reality the rest of the world behaves its own way regardless of our censorship.  To imagine a real life group of people who in their everyday lives never cursed or had premarital sex (outside of the conservative Christian world) is to me, simply unbelievable.  Taking away the elements of entertainment that are unChristian-like either makes the TV show or movie either A) unrealistic or B) a Christian movie like Facing the Giants.

I also remind myself that the Bible itself is full of violence, premarital sex, rape, and murder. There is homosexuality.  There are concubines.  There are instances were people cursed (like when Peter denied Christ).  The King James Version of the Bible even contains the words “piss” and “ass”.  If the entire Bible were made into an epic movie, could born-again Christians play every role?

But some point, acting is no longer simply just acting.  It’s doing.  So here’s my final thought about all this.  In some technical, annoying way, are we as conservative, born-again Christians actually hypocrites for being spectators of popular entertainment?

Imagine this: Instead of the majority of the cast of Friends and Seinfeld being Jewish, instead they were all born-again Christians.  Because of their faith-based convictions, none of them were willing to use any profanity or be involved in any situations that involved premarital sex.  I know how beloved these two sitcoms are among the majority of Christians I know.  But imagine a world where Ross Geller saying “We were on a break!” meant nothing to us.

Two Questions for You about This Today:

A) As much as we Christians love our sitcoms and movies, would they truly exist if we didn’t support them with our viewership because we ourselves wouldn’t be willing to play those roles the same way?

B) Where would you personally draw the line in regards to what you would or would not do for an acting role, hypothetically speaking, if you were an actor?

I sincerely would love to hear feedback from you, the invisible reader, on either or both of these proposed questions, by leaving a comment below.  You don’t have to leave your name; you can easily remain anonymous if you wish.

If you’re not a conservative, born-again Christian, still free to answer as well… and please know how aware I am that the content of this entire post probably seems a bit… out there.  For all I know, you may find it either laughable or offensive that we believe premarital sex is wrong or that kissing someone’s spouse is both weird and taboo.  But what good is a religion that has no backbone or reasonable standards, despite how counter-culture those limitations may be? Thanks for reading despite the culture shock of it.

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The Male Sex (Over)Drive: Pornography is Pathetic

Pornography has always been a strange concept to me.  Beyond all its connections to immorality, there is one basic truth that while quite obvious, is evidently overlooked and somehow ignored by so many men across the world: It’s not real.

Those women are not actually happy to be exposing their bodies to countless men who, for a handful of reasons, choose to indulge in pornography- from buying magazines, to frequenting strip clubs, to visiting their favorite waitress at the nearest Hooter’s because they serve “really good wings there”.

And I get it.  Pornographic partakers are looking for some form of an “easy” woman.  They are selfish and lazy, unwilling to involve themselves in the natural and necessary steps to nurturing an actual human romantic relationship.  These men will settle for a nude woman faking a smile while pretending to want sex from him.

While I usually do my best to refrain from coming across as judgmental, I’m willing to call it like it is on this one: Pornography of any kind is simply pathetic.

I can’t help but focus on the thought that “that’s somebody’s daughter you’re looking at”.  It seems unnecessary to point out the familiar (and often true) stereotype that many strippers are single moms desperate to make a living.  And that many women who pose for pornographic magazines were sexually abused when they were young.  Not always, but often.

And despite the subconscious banner in bold Verdana font reading “SHE DOESN’T ACTUALLY WANT YOU- SHE’S JUST DOING IT FOR THE MONEY”, men continue to support the economy of prostitution in all levels- because ultimately any type of pornography is related to prostitution.

Despite the spot-on lyrics of songs like Hall and Oates’ “Maneater” and “Family Man” in 1983, as well as Phil Collins’ “Easy Lover” a year later, men continue to repeat history everyday by continuing to give in to maneaters and easy lovers.  Not just at a minimal pornographic level, but all the way up to cheating on their spouse.

Because it all gets muddled up, somewhere between magazines underneath a teenage boy’s bed to a young single man going to a strip club during a bachelor party to a married man who feels trapped and unappreciated in his marriage and gives in to the first temptress to come along.

It’s all related.  Just different degrees of it.  There will always be maneaters and easy lovers, whether they’re in person or on paper.

If only these men had enough common sense to remind themselves: “There is a legitimate reason this strange woman is eager to jump my bones.  Perhaps it’s not truly sex she wants, but is instead using sex to get something else I’m not yet aware of.”

But I guess there are a good number of men out there who don’t mind knowing that their sexual activity is forced, phony, empty, and most likely taking advantage of a woman in some way.

You Just Cussed: 1/6- The Words “Sucks”, “Crap”, and “Butt” Used to Be Cuss Words

An introduction to the history of “cussing” by a guy who is actually applying what he learned from his English degree.


Something that has always fascinated me is society’s response to curse words. And based on the fact that by far the most read and searched-for post on my site is “Jenny Slate Will Not Be Fired for F-Word Accident”, I take it that I’m not the only one who realizes there are no solid guidelines or expectations when it comes to the use of “profanity”.

And that’s where the fascination comes in. Who makes the rules about this stuff? We do. A society’s popular culture is governed by what truly is accepted or rejected by its people.

Before 1983, if anyone tried to say “sucks” on TV, it would be bleeped out. Bill Maher is credited as being the first person to go uncensored saying it when, as a guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, he proclaimed, “Yeah, airports suck.”

It’s hard to imagine words like “sucks”, “crap”, and “butt” being actual curse words or profanity. I file them under “crossover cuss words”. Because at one time, many people found them to be quite offensive. But now these words have become so mainstream, their vulgarity has diminished.

They are no longer profane; though I wouldn’t use them in a conversation with someone I would call “sir”. Like a preacher or an older person. I also wouldn’t say them while wearing a suit and tie. (That would in some strange way make me feel hypocritical. Suits are supposed to make people professional.)

The invisible rules are set in place by… us. I admit in the back of my mind I do find in a little weird that “sucks” is so mainstream. Maybe I’m the only one who still thinks the phrase originally refered to oral sex.  And if so, I’m quite embarrassed…

But on the SNL skit “Wayne’s World”, one of Wayne’s phrases was “That sucks donkey!” It only makes sense that if a person says something sucks, they are implying it is participating in the sexual act. Because, why else would “sucks” be bad at all?  But no one seems to notice or care so I decided years ago just to go along with it.

These invisible rules of profanity work both ways. Vulgar words can be made acceptable and acceptable words can be made vulgar.