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Smut like this is the church's fault

Posted By Drew Zahn On 07/29/2012 @ 4:12 pm In Diversions,Faith,Front Page,Reviews,U.S. | No Comments

How does a discerning, Christian moviegoer analyze the worldview of a truly awful, juvenile and raunchy film like “The Watch”?

The buddy flick about four suburban guys forming a neighborhood watch to protect their community, only to learn their homes are threatened by aliens, is stacked with some of Hollywood’s hottest comedic talent; but without a decent script to work from, these actors are left frantically ad-libbing, so desperate for laughs, they descend to an incessant stream of jokes about sex, penises and bodily excretions, all laced with excessive obscenity.

It’s not that frat humor can’t ever be funny, but doing nothing more than reading the thesaurus entries for “penis” does not a funny movie make.

Now, I might be tempted to dismiss “The Watch” as further evidence of the filth flowing from Hollywood’s sewers, condemning it as the kind of decadence we have come to expect from a decrepit, godless society spiraling toward destruction. After lacing the condemnation in my most scathing, self-righteous terms, I would then need to take a bath in holy water just to wash the scum from my soul for having seen such a movie.

I suspect that’s what most Christians would do, and I understand the sentiment, the instinct to label that which is laced with evil as evil in totality and leave it at that.

But I also contend that the church has buried its head in the Hollywood sand for far too long, making sure its light isn’t allowed to leave the bushel long enough to get its hands dirtied by the culture at large. And I doubt fighting a so-called “culture war” by refusing to actually engage the culture is all that effective of a battle strategy.

So I’m going to try on a novel theory in answer to the question, “How can a movie like ‘The Watch’ get made in the first place?”

It’s the church’s fault.

Not just the church’s fault for failing to effectively influence and transform the culture – though you could make that argument – but the church’s fault, specifically, for failing men.

First, the church has failed to provide a definition and example for manhood and maturity, leaving boys in America to grow up without an image of what a godly man looks like. Past generations may have looked to their fathers – who would have walked out of a movie like “The Watch,” stormed the projector booth and shut if off, by force, if necessary – but today’s generations increasingly look to sports heroes and TV celebrities as role models. Needless to say, boys aren’t learning how to be men. They’re learning how to be overgrown boys.

Even within the church, men have often been so emasculated by feminizing theology that the warrior spirit raging in adolescent youth instinctively rejects the “Christian” man as bland and dull. It’s more than just a failure of discipleship, but a failure of vision. What does it mean to be a “man,” and can a Christian still be one?

Second, the church has failed men by not providing a safe place for mature, morally guided information or conversation about sex and masculinity.

Where, after all, would it be safe for a man to talk about his sexual insecurities? Not to be crude, but if a boy really does have questions about his penis, a movie like “The Watch” might be the only place he can find to hear honest talk about his anatomy.

I was inspired to think along these lines by a scene in the movie itself. Actor Ben Stiller’s character plays a husband whose doctor diagnosed him as infertile, but his wife – who dearly desires children – doesn’t know. He’s afraid to tell her, to disappoint her, and the secret is affecting his marriage and his sex life. Then his neighborhood-watch buddy sits him down on a park bench, hands him a beer and has a conversation about sex so blunt and honest it would make a sailor blush. The friend challenges him to man up, tell his wife and stop letting his insecurities undermine his marriage.

And for many young men in the audience, that bench in “The Watch” – despite its junior high locker room dialogue – may have been the most honest discussion about sex and marriage and being a husband they’ve ever heard. They sure as shootin’ haven’t heard a sex talk that real in church.

So is it any wonder that guys create a hundred different, awkward nicknames for sexual organs? That they’re so uncomfortable talking about it that they laugh at the mere mention of (pick a crude term for penis) and find such juvenile humor funny? What are most of today’s men, but juveniles?

And whose job is it to define what a man is, what maturity is, what morality is? To teach the men to teach their boys these things? Isn’t it the church’s?

But if the church won’t do it, don’t be surprised when men go watch “The Watch” and actually think it’s funny.

Content advisory:

  • “The Watch” (rated R) contains just over 100 profanities and obscenities, most of them strong, and nearly all of them more a detraction than an addition to the humor.
  • The film is saturated in sexuality, mostly in a constant barrage of innuendos and crude jokes. Furthermore, there is an orgy scene that contains graphic nudity and sexual action, a shameless scene that should have earned the film a stronger than R rating.
  • The film’s violence is mostly played for humor, consisting of shooting aliens and blowing stuff up with alien weaponry, and some slapstick violence and gunfire. There’s naturally some gore, but also a few scenes of human remains that are shockingly graphic.
  • The film is largely empty of religious or occult references, though I confess, I averted my eyes during the orgy scene, so I don’t know what occult elements may have been present.

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