Prairie View

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Alcohol and Movies

Our social circle does not include people who typically drink in our presence. However, in connection with Hiromi’s job, on several occasions we’ve been at events where alcohol was served. We’ve always come home from these gatherings thoroughly disgusted with the absence of good conversation and worthwhile activities. Our purpose in being there was thwarted, and we seldom ended up having a really good time.

Over Sunday dinner recently, one of our boys reported feeling similar emotions in the company of some of his Christian friends. The conversation-stopping element was not alcohol, but movies. Meaningful conversation stops when the movies begin. He especially expressed frustration with the pastime of choice being so thoroughly unimaginative and deadening. Absolutely no creativity is required to plug in and play the latest electronic fascination. Listeners who are so inclined can communicate afterwards almost entirely by repeating movie lines. That zombie-like behavior is hardly a credit to the Father who branded the crown of His creation with a portion of his own vast creative energy.

Like our son, I am currently thoroughly disenchanted with movies. Even those that come highly recommended fail to stir in me an ounce of viewing desire. Although we now have DVD/VCR equipment that resides in our living room much of the time, (It’s such a monster I haven't figured out where to stash it out of sight) to my knowledge, it's never been used to view a "story" movie. I'm sure if anyone began using it for that, I would be able to find a new home for it--maybe inside a trash bag on one of the basement storage room shelves.

I remember one vacation when a story I had enjoyed reading was being dramatized in a movie in the next room. I stubbornly refused to watch it even when the dialog threatened to drown out the conversation I was involved in. I much prefer the word-prompted pictures inside my own head to the pictures someone else has dumped into a media package for mass production and consumption.

On vacation, when my conversation companion commented negatively on one element of the dramatized story, I hurried to defend the book version–a habit which I'm told annoys some people no end. I am so sorry. Specifically, I pointed out that on film, one of the characters seemed very one-dimensional–consistently and predictably distasteful. She had noticed this also. However, in the book, while the character's haughtiness occasionally surfaced, he was easy for me to like because of the redeeming qualities of kindness and caring that shone brightly also. I loved his dignified choice of words whenever he spoke–funny and clever and insightful. But in the movie, he was aloof and haughty, and quite devoid of charm, in my estimation.

I especially resent the way many producers capitalize on romantic elements and rude innuendo to "enhance" a story's appeal. What an author merely hints at, a movie can obsess over, ad nauseum. Enough already.

Exquisitely crafted written passages often disappear in the abbreviated action-oriented genre of film. I miss them.

If the story is fiction it ends up about thrice removed from reality--once when the original author crafted the story out of his own imagination, next when the playwright jerked it over for action and dialog, and last when it was finally performed and filmed, infused with the personality of the actors. What's left is often a poor stimulus for thought and conversation. Failing this, it accomplishes little more than adding to information overload. Color, sounds, and motion do not a great story make. Somewhere there must be a worthwhile idea.

Recently I’ve been pondering the phenomenon that seems to drive people to do anything they are allowed to do, or at least what they can get by with doing, even when doing so is not ultimately satisfying or worthwhile. Why?

What is required is the discernment and fortitude to reject what is not ultimately valuable enough to warrant any significant investment of time, energy, or other resources.

Give me a good friend, a good conversation, or a good book or beautiful natural surroundings. Or just give me the closeness of a Heavenly Father Who gives us richly all things to enjoy. But hold the alcohol and the movies. If you do that, I promise not to hold my nose in your presence.


  • That was a very well written essay that had good things to say. It was challenging and thought provoking at the same time. Well done!!

    By Anonymous thesinger, at 4/10/2007  

  • Fervent Amens from this corner.

    By Blogger Dorcas, at 4/30/2007  

  • I am very curious as to which of your boys that was!

    By Blogger Jewel J, at 5/02/2007  

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