Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Porn in the Library (Part 2)

My previous post sparked quite a debate.  Here is my response: 

1)  Porn Definition

Argument: Though this film was marketed as if it contained NC-17 material, the content of the film does not actually merit that rating.     

Response: In the film Superbad, a similar R-rated sex comedy, the camera shows boys viewing pornography. [I have not seen the film myself; I obtained this information from reviews.] In one scene the camera shows a naked woman on the cover of a porn magazine, and in another the camera shows a porn video on the internet.  Now of course this did not earn the film an NC-17 rating; R-rated films have sexualized nudity in them all the time. Knocked Up is certainly no exception, and shows naked women in several scenes. So are these films not pornography? Are we to assert that a Playboy magazine is pornography, while a video tape of the same magazine somehow is not?  This is sheer hypocrisy.  How can we honestly claim that a sexualized, degrading image of a naked woman is porn when it appears on the centerfold of Playboy, and yet maintain that a sexualized, degrading image of a naked woman is not porn when it appears in the scenes of Knocked Up

Regardless of what the unrated version does or does not add, I maintain that this film constitutes pornography, and therefore the possession of this film is a violation of Biola’s written standards.    

2)  Positive Elements 

Argument: This film is different from a porn magazine because the storyline provides some positive elements.  The parents, for example, do not abort their child. 

Response: Out of all of the R-rated films in Biola’s library, I targeted Knocked Up in part because I thought that surely no reasonable person could possibly argue that this film had any redemptive elements. If the centerfold of Playboy had a notice on the bottom of the page which read, “Don’t forget to recycle,” would that make viewing pornography acceptable?  I am glad that the characters in Knocked Up are not as bad as they could have possible been, but it hardly follows that Christians are therefore permitted to watch them have sex. 

3)  Educational Value 

Argument: These types of films may have educational value for the students in the film department.

Response: This is really an insult to the entire academic enterprise.  Knocked Up has as much educational value for film students as Playboy has for journalism students.

4)  Cultural Engagement

Argument: Students should be allowed to view mainstream films so that they can engage with culture.

Response: So students should be able to watch everything shown in theatres, from Hostel to Superbad? Great. So why stop at the theater?  Plenty of people in our culture read Playboy. How can we possibly engage those in our culture if we have not viewed Playboy ourselves? Of course, this is nonsense. You do not need to immerse yourself in sin to engage the culture; you need to immerse yourself in the gospel. You already know all you will ever need to know about sin.

5)  Christian Freedom

Argument: I do not struggle with lust, so it is alright for me to watch this film. Those who struggle with lust should avoid Knocked Up, but these weaker Christians should not attempt to limit my freedom.

Response: You are probably self-deceived, but that is beside the point. I am not arguing that viewing Knocked Up will lead to sin; I am arguing that enjoying a film like Knocked Up is already sin. The goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus. This means that we should seek to be like him, both in actions and in affections. If you enjoy Knocked Up, if you find this material humorous and entertaining, then you have already failed to put on Christ.

6)  Other Media

Argument: If we censor Knocked Up, where do we draw the line? Will we remove any film or novel with sexual content? How much is too much? 

Response: The problem here is that this is really a blanket argument against any censorship, and Biola’s library already endorses censorship. I asked the librarian if they would stock Playboy, and he said they would not. They draw a line already; I am simply asking them to be consistent. Furthermore, even as an argument against censorship, the reasoning is flawed, for the existence of a gray area is no evidence against the existence of black and white. The fact that Christians may legitimately disagree about some films does not imply that they are therefore free to watch any film. Just because we cannot be dogmatic about every film does not mean that we cannot be dogmatic about any film.

Now I realize that I have been pretty brusque in shooting down these arguments. I hope you will understand that I am not trying to be mean, but I am serious. This is sin, and sin destroys us.

3 comments:

Moseley said...

My wife and I have been wondering why the library caries these types of movies for years now. I think the honest reason is because there's no one keeping them accountable but themselves which is the quickest way to make compromises.

I know there is a right and a wrong answer in this debate, and I believe that in God's eyes there is no such thing as a "grey area".

Biola needs to take a firm stand on one side of the line or the other because playing around in the grey just makes us look like a bunch of hypocrites.

Anonymous said...

Out of curiosity, I wonder how many Christian men believe this material should be allowed versus Christian women.

Anonymous said...

I admire you for speaking up