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Eyes Wide Open: Episode 3

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Episode 3
The Cultural Landscape of Hollywood

Key Terms

o The Classical Hollywood Film

o Humanism

o Individualism

o Masculine Ideal

o Feminine Ideal

o "Regeneration Through Violence"

o Materialism



I. Introduction

A. "The thing about writing and directing film is that you are presenting a view of the universe" (Lawrence Kasdan, film director)

B. We need to evaluate Hollywood narratives from a Christian perspective

II. The Classical Hollywood Film

A. "Narrative Causality": the series of cause and effect situations that flow logically from one to another

B. No moral ambiguity: the good guy wins, the bad guy loses with no ambiguity

C. Full resolution of conflict

III. Themes

A. Wizard of Oz Syndrome

1. Humanism

a. Humans look within for salvation; no need for external help

b. God as some "magical outside assistance"

2. Hollywood view of people as intrinsically good vs. Biblical view of fallen human nature

3. Humans as God with power to save themselves

4. Christian view of God's crucial role in our salvation

B. Individualism

1. Individual weakness is the cause of problems, not broader external difficulties, i.e., social, economic, or other societal problems

2. In order to solve the problem one must fix oneself

3. Christian Response: God calls us to live in relationship with others, accountable to Him, and responsible to one another (Phil 2: 3,4)

C. Religion

1. Americans see religion in terms of the individual unlike the Christian view of faith in a community

2. "God helps those who help themselves"
(Benjamin Franklin)

3. God is not essential to personal salvation

4. Christian view: total depravity requires Christ as Savior

D. Gender Stereotypes

1. Polarized view of men and women

a. Hollywood's masculine ideal: virile, strong, violent, active and adventurous vs. settled husband/father, dependable but dull

b. Hollywood's feminine ideal: wife and mother whose identity and salvation depend on man vs. erotic, overtly sexy but dangerous

c. Pretty Woman: reversal of gender roles

2. Christians must be critical of Hollywood's portrayal of male and female image bearers

E. Violence

1. Central role in American mythology

a. "Violence is the ultimate conflict and conflict is the ultimate drama" (Clint Eastwood, director/actor)

b. Epic moment of violence

2. Christian response:

a. "Wisdom is better than weapons of war" (Ecc. 9:18)

b. There must be emotional and social consequences for our actions

F. Love and Sex

1. Sex as substitute for deep and meaningful relationship

2. Sexual situations can disclose character traits i.e., Bonnie and Clyde

3. Self-gratification vs. ethical and religious consequences

4. Christian perspective:

a. sexuality is one aspect of being "fearfully
and wonderfully made" in the image of God

b. Bible affirms sex as celebration of love in
marriage, but also rejects lust and promiscuity

5. Gender roles
a. masculinity is associated with sexual prowess

b. women are faced with the madonna/whore complex

G. Materialism

1. Material goods as a means to salvation

2. American myth: everyone wants to be wealthy

3. Wealth is an indication of internal goodness

4. Belief that "God does help those who help themselves"

5. Christian perspective: "You cannot
serve both God and money" (Matt. 6:24)

IV. Conclusion

A. Media has the power to persuade

B. We need to be critical while we are being entertained

C. Christians should engage in popular art to better understand sin and the joy of redemption

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