‘Perks of Being a Wallflower’ a moldy clementine?
I was at my girlfriend’s apartment for lunch a few days ago, and we were snooping around for a few more things to eat. We opened a dark cupboard, stood on our tip-toes and looked in: a box of three-week-old clementines. I dug my hand in excitedly. And you know what happened? Of course you do. I pulled my finger out of the box and it was covered in grey fuzz.
And not the cute baby penguin kind. Nope, the moldy clementine kind.
Ok, good story, right? Here’s where I’m going. Last week I went to “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” a gripping tale about Charlie putting his past behind him as he enters high school. High school is a crazy place, and Hollywood high school is always crazier. He’s taken under wing by a few high school seniors. As far as high school dramas go, this one is not bad — less trivial than the average and more emotionally pungent.
This is where I might lose you.
Because, to be honest, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” concerns me. And even more concerning was the reaction of the students during the film, as well as my reaction. See, I was reading Jude the other night (I forgot that book was even in the Bible!). The author wants to write about the glories of living in Christ — salvation. But he can’t write this with integrity. He can’t because his audience is taking grace for granted. Grace as an excuse to live immorally.
One particular verse that made my heart beat a little faster: “In the last times,” (that’s anytime after Jesus ascended 2,000 something years ago), “there will be men who follow mere natural instincts and do not follow the spirit.” This verse says two things: 1) Natural instincts aren’t bad. 2) Natural instincts are bad if they don’t follow the Spirit.
What I saw in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” was a lot of natural instinct. If you want to strip down in front of a crowd and post up on a few women, do it! Especially as a freshman in high school. Getting drunk is completely normal. All high schoolers are sexually active. Okay, I confess, I laughed at some of the stuff in this movie. Emma Watson was laughing too, so it’s ok, right?
And then there’s Patrick, “Suck it virginity pledges, suck it!” And at least half of the students in the auditorium laughed. And I have to ask why.
In retrospect, the Spirit-following part of the movie I didn’t see so much.
And here I run the risk of being judgmental. Not discerning enough. Too focused on moralisms. Missing the good elements (a courageous story of freedom from child abuse). But the reason I’m writing this is because I was caught up in the movie, too.
Kind of reminds me of that clementine. Sure, a few of the clementines were far beyond help. We had to throw them out. But a few moldy clementines, if I were to start eating towards the middle, would have some good parts in there. But I’d also have eaten enough mold to make me a little sick.
I see many movies like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” as moldy clementines. There’s good stuff, but it’s what we have to go through to get there. And my fear is, I often start to enjoy the mold. And judging by the laughter last week, so do quite a few others.
Now, I can hear an argument in my head saying watching a moldy-on-the-outside film is different than living a moldy-on-the-outside life. Then I finished Jude, and it says we are to hate even the clothing corrupted by flesh (mold). Wow! That’s got some big implications. One, maybe watching a movie like this takes a bit more discerning than I had figured. And two, shown to an audience this large, probably a lot of people weren’t peeling back the mold.
Be careful! That, I think, is what the author of Jude is begging us to be. More careful than I have ever been. Grab a knife if you’d like, slice into the clementine delicately, and find that good stuff. But be careful! And know that many don’t have that knife-wielding patience.