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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Moan is Right

Now that we need the Legion of Decency
more than we ever did, it's gone. I didn't realize how badly we needed it until I went to actually read what the bishops have to say about the current crop of films.

I turn my back for one second and when I look back I find this from "Anonymous":
"Sister" would do well to go the the website of the US Catholic Bishops (www.usccb.org) and click on "movies."

The implication is that I didn't know about the fact that the US Bishops review films and give recommendations. I do know. But I will admit that since I really never go to films myself, I haven't bothered to see why so many people complain about what we are left with since the Legion faded. It's a far cry from the old Legion and it's pledge, which I will now repost as a reminder:

+ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. I condemn all indecent and immoral motion pictures, and those which glorify crime or criminals. I promise to do all that I can to strengthen public opinion against the production of indecent and immoral films, and to unite with all who protest against them. I acknowledge my obligation to form a right conscience about pictures that are dangerous to my moral life. I pledge myself to remain away from them. I promise, further, to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy.

The bishops, God love them, have some guidelines. Guidelines. No pledge, no prayer. Just reviews and warnings that you could be offended...maybe.

To give you an idea of how squishy the bishops' movies reviews can be, I offer you "Black Snake Moan."

In my neighborhood there is a giant movie billboard right on the main thoroughfare where children on their way to school (and nuns on their way to the grocery store) are treated to a giant scantily clad woman in chains at the feet of a man who holds her captive. She seems to have some level of enjoyment in wearing next to nothing and chains. I can't even post a picture of it here for fear of the scandal it may cause. The bishops seem to think this film has some redeeming qualities.


I'm not sure why the title and the poster wouldn't cause the bishops to give the film their big thumbs down, which is the big "O". That stands for "Morally Objectionable." I'm not sure why they don't use "MO". Perhaps the police have that copyrighted.

Let's play let's pretend again and say that the film actually does have redeeming qualities. But let's use the old pledge as our guide. Just from the billboard alone, the movie glorifies crime and criminals, as, last time I checked, it's illegal to keep a woman in chains for any reason unless you work at Fulsom Prison. Even if you work at Fulsom Prison, the woman that you have in chains will be modestly dressed and wear sensible shoes. I believe the billboard woman has no shoes along with the other items of clothing she is missing.

Seeing the billboard is, I am quite certain, at the very least, a near occasion of sin for many and an actual sin for many more. And what about the actual woman who is on the billboard like that? Keep in mind that when you knowingly cause someone else to sin you are responsible for that sin yourself. You commit a double sin, so to speak. Imagine what has been piled onto that poor girl's soul!

I promise to do all that I can to strengthen public opinion against the production of indecent and immoral films, and to unite with all who protest against them.

Given that the very poster for the film is indecent, I'm not sure how we get to drive to the movie theater, purchase a ticket, and see if we all agree with the bishops that the film has some redeeming qualities.

I promise, further, to stay away altogether from places of amusement which show them as a matter of policy.

Especially since we're not supposed to go to theaters that show indecent films.

We've gone all squishy.

We'll say a prayer for the intercession of St. Agnes. If only a big pile of hair would miraculously grow and cover the whole billboard.


buckeyepride said...

Excellent post, Sister.

It's tough to find good movies anymore. It's sad how things have gone south so quickly.

Unknown said...

The state of movies is one of my biggest pet peeves. Why a "family" show rated "G" has to have "shut up" "stupid" "idiot" along with burping and flatulence and potty humor is just inconceivable to me. (Other than it makes kids laugh. Well, I guess anything for a laugh, huh?)


buckeyepride said...

You know, I completely agree, debbie. My father-in-law's entire inventory of humor consists of "fart jokes." Needless to say, it gets old quickly.

Anonymous said...

We rented 'Night at the Museum' last week-end. There really wasn't anything terribly offensive to Christians. The kids we have at home are 12 and 14. They both enjoyed it. Sorry Sister there were no nuns but I do recommend it for families.

Anonymous said...

we liked that movie as well, but hated the whole divorce/visitation/stepdad thing. I had to explain divorce to my 7 year old which I hated doing. Otherwise the movie was great fun and we liked it.

Unknown said...

I was wondering about Night At The Museum. The last movie I bought, Happy Feet, went out the door when I actually watched it myself. (I deserve corporal punishment for buying something on dubious recommendation.) With 8 kids in all and 4 under 11, a parent has to be very vigilant. Thank you for reprinting the Decency Pledge, Sister. We will remember to pray it.

Shae said...

We also liked Night at the Museum.

Monica, I am surprised that by age seven you had not already had to explain divorce to your child. Unfortunately, in an age when half of marriages end in divorce we cannot shelter our children from it. At least you were able to have a teaching moment and could explain how divorce is an abomination of God's intentions.

Also, there have been several good movies lately.

"One night with the King" (the story of Esther) "Nativity Story" and "Amazing Grace" all come to mind. Why don't we show Hollywood with our pocketbooks that we are willing to pay for quality entertainment. This makes more sense than griping.

buckeyepride said...

Agreed, Shae.

One problem, though. We all apparently are showing Hollywood with our pocketbooks, and apparently a lot more people are showing Hollywood with their pocketbooks that it is OK to make the types of movies that we don't find acceptable.

It's just another opportunity to be good parents and teach our kids about right and wrong, I suppose. Forgive me for griping.

Anonymous said...

Sister, speaking of movies, I would like to know your views on _The Passion of Christ_, Mel Gibson's movie. I read your post on Mel Gibson's drunk-driving sins, and you alluded to the film, but I don't see a post about the movie itself.

At my church a proposal to show it to a youth group meeting was nixed because it is so violent, and one mom whom I respect very much referred to it as a "religious snuff film," by which she meant that it shows someone --namely the Lord-- being tortured to death.

What about that? Is it not as much a near occasion of sin for those who are tempted to wrath, hate and violence (not to mention lack of charity toward Jews), as a picture of a woman in chains is one for those tempted to lust?

I have not seen the movie, nor have my kids. And, what do you think?

Jen said...

Sister: I just read this review of the movie on www.imdb.com:

"There were excellent performances in a first rate drama by the two leads and by others: and secondly, the marketing for this movie will only bring disaster. We saw a lurid poster with chains and suggestive commentary implying some sort of wacko sexual relationship between Samuel Jackson and Cristina Ricci, whereas the movie has some real depth and some thoughtful ideas. What's sad is that people looking for near porn will be drawn in to see the film and will be disappointed because it will be too "heavy" for them, while the people who would really enjoy it wouldn't be caught dead walking into the theater showing it. Too bad. A good film wasted."

If that's true, it won't be the only film to have fallen victim to really bad advertising -- something the director doesn't always have control over. (M. Night Shyamalan's excellent films often have this problem; they get advertised as horror films and target exactly the wrong audience.)

Perhaps the Bishops weren't entirely out in left field on this.

Tallulah Morehead said...

"There have been several good movies lately. 'One night with the King' (the story of Esther) 'Nativity Story' and 'Amazing Grace' all come to mind."

You think of "The Nativity Story", a movie about a woman who gives birth to a baby not fathered by her husband, in a stable yet, as a "Good movie"? May I remind you that the World's Most Popular & Respected Former Nazi, the Pope, refused to attend the Vatican premiere of "The Nativity Story" since they had chosen an actress to play the Virgin Mary who was unwed & pregant at the time of the screening. (She's since given birth to her adorable little bastard.) The movie is too evil and sinful for the Pope to attend but YOU recommend it, Shae? Hmm, one of you is infallible, and it isn't you. It's the Blessed Man who thought Hitler had good ideas until the war was clearly being lost.

I'll have to check out "One Night With the King," as I had no idea that Esther Rolle even met Elvis, let alone spent a night with him. I suppose Mary Tyler Moore had moved on by then.

Meanwhile, I'm still boggled by that 7 year old who didn't know what divorce was. Poor child. Divorce is all that stands between me and bigamy. As Oscar Wilde said, "Divorces are made in Heaven." Without divorce, Hope is impossible.

See you at the movies.


Laura Michele said...

SMM, I know this has nothing to do with movies but can you post about Adoration. Are there certain prayers we can say during. I find my mind wandering to my to-do list instead of meditating on the Eucharist.

Anonymous said...

Regarding movies that were advertised one way, but actually went in a nicer direction, I felt the same way about the recent Adam Sandler Movie "click." To watch the previews, you would think it was a typical "dirty' comedy, in which he can use a remote control to watch female body parts jiggle. However, the movie itself had some great lessons on life and priorities. Again, it was a case where Hollywood is so sexed up that they feel they have to show you one thing in a commercial or preview to draw you in, instead of focusing on the fact that you could learn something from the movie.

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

My 12 year old daughter heard an ad for "Nativity Story" and pointed out that they start the ad by saying, "...Two ORDINARY people..." explaining the miraculous things that happen to Mary and Joseph. She said, "that's not right, mom, they WEREN'T ordinary! Mary was chosen to be the mother of GOD!" Which makes me wonder if we will see this movie.

Anonymous said...

Ohhhh Sister, the media is reporting the Pope is saying to excommunicate Mexican politicians who voted to legalize abortion. Would some US politicians be next?

Anonymous said...

Mattnsue, Hollywood pumps out schlockfests with "meaning" multiple times a week, fifty-two weeks a year. It's Hollywood Screenwriting 101: Keep the audience emotionally hooked. Even action films have cheesy moral lessons.

As for Black Snake Moan, it felt like a first or second draft. It aimed for depth, as Jennifer suggested it may have, but it certainly didn't achieve it. At least not most of the time. It's a movie about the blues, and, being a movie about the blues, it's full of sex and violence, or at the very least, sex and violence's emotional equivalents. Obviously, if you have a problem with those elements, don't rush out and see it.

Anonymous said...

if any of you have even understood black snake moan you wouldn't be making nasty remarks.