All my life, from the time of my childhood, I have enjoyed going to the cinema to experience the world created through film. As I have grown, what began as a simple escape as a boy became a view into culture and its evolution. Recently, I went to the cinema and saw Get On Up, the biopic film of the life of the late, world-renown performer, James Brown, whose impact on music and dance shaped the culture in which he lived. Yet, with all his influence on the public, Brown was a troubled person. The film attempts to explain his actions from a psychological perspective, tracing his failures in personal relationships to his rejection as a child. How much of the movie was actually true? I don’t know, but it did chronicle well-known issues of his life, which include domestic abuse, drug use, and sexual immorality. It seems that even his friendships and connections in life were very self-centered as he pushed for fame and notoriety. My motivation for writing about this film is that it had a PG-13 rating, but the life lived by James Brown was definitely NC-17. The most fascinating aspect of the film is that it was produced by Mick Jagger, lead singer of The Rolling Stones. Certainly, Mick Jagger would have personal understanding of the wild life James Brown lived, but the film was made in the fashion of the days of old. In the early days of film, restrictions on Hollywood required filmmakers to imply the actions of people that would be out of the mainstream of society’s ethics. When watching a movie about lifestyles that were immoral, we would know what people were doing, but were never required to see it in action. This takes a lot more creativity to do this, as the filmmaker creates the moviegoer’s entertainment experience. When the sexual scenes and graphic violence are shown, the moviegoer’s senses are tantalized with a lot less creativity. We live in a time when sensual pleasure is common and is typically used to appeal to us in film and marketing.
Moving Past Sensual Desire
The heyday of film came in times when people were looking for an escape from the realities of life. The theatre was a land of fantasy. One could escape the reality of life to go to the land of imagination. As I watched the film (knowing who produced it), I wondered if Hollywood would return to their roots and become a place for art rather than continue with their simple strategies of using sensual stimulation rather than creativity to move the audience. The box office certainly is speaking, as people are going to the movies where imagination is king. With superhero films, space adventures, and fantasy films generating the majority of revenue, hopefully Hollywood will take notice. The trends of recent times in our society have created a “dumbing-down” of people. Many claim it is the schools causing this, but it takes more than knowledge to create thinking people. The Word of God declares that stupidity comes from people motivated by sensual desires that refuse to know God and His Word. The Apostle Paul said it best:
A futile mind is one that is not useful. In essence, it is depraved and not able to comprehend with wisdom and understanding how we were created to live. As Christians, we can be in the forefront of everything if we would come to the place of the higher level thinking God intended for us. To achieve this, it requires an acknowledgment of the failure of the old and a need for the new. It requires us to apprehend all God has for us even at the cost of self.
God is calling each of us to a higher level that will require us to walk as He intended. Don’t settle for “old man” behavior when you have access to “new man” power and authority!