Movies and TV – The Medium of Society
By Pastor Rick Rogers
Key Verse: 1 John 2:15-16
Introduction: It was a challenge to name this chapter the "medium of society," as it seems so trivial. Television, and the movies and programs that are carried through it, form a philosophy, world view, standard and ethic which has a tremendous effect on society. As with music, it teaches a religion. And it is powerful! In television and movies, there is an experience attained through the senses of seeing and hearing, unlike other forms of entertainment such as reading novels or listening to music. Television can actually place you "in the realm" of the setting. Thus, it is a powerful teaching tool! As believers, we must understand the power and purpose of the modern screen, and obey biblical commands and principles concerning it’s use.
I. THE HISTORY OF TELEVISION AND MOVIES
A. Silent films, 1910-1920. Mainly characterized by humor and romance. Charlie Chaplin was a favorite of this era. Charlie Chaplin was barred from the U. S. A. because of his sympathies for Communism and dislike for America.1
B. Classics, 1920-1940. Walt Disney began producing cartoon films such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Dr. Kober, quoting the Encyclopedia Britannica: "In the U. S., the first documentaries were made under the Soviet … influence and reflected the thinking of the extreme left wing … The public, old as well as young, wanted to see how the wealthy lived, dressed and misbehaved, and skillful directors such as Cecil B. DeMille helped educate and entire nation in the boudoirs (bedrooms), lingerie and riotous living. The worship of the stars reached delirious proportions."2
C. Westerns and Crime films, 1940-1950. Advocated violence, murder, …
D. Sex and scandals, 1950-1960. Hollywood turned more and more to sex and scandal to lure people back to movie houses, as the popularity had decreased.
E. Shock and splatter, 1970-1990. Films about Satanism and witchcraft (the Exorcist, Poltergeist, …) the supernatural (Star Wars), extra-terrestrials (Close Encounters of the Third Kind) blasphemous films (Jesus Christ Superstar) and hard core pornography were the prime movies for our "entertainment."
F. Science fiction and horror, 1990’s - . Science fiction and horror, often with strong occult and New Age themes, are prevalent. These are often coupled with nudity and other forms of immorality.
Consider: These periods cover a general pattern not a particular rule. For example, "The Robe" was also produced in the 1950-1960 era. Nevertheless, a pattern has accompanied each period with a definite philosophy that impacted the culture. As stated at the outset, this is a powerful teaching tool! Letters E and F can be demonstrated by the increase of interest in the occult over the past two decades, and the intense perversion that has permeated our culture. Homosexuality, pedophilia, bestiality, couples living together outside of marriage, … all reflect those axioms! The amount of violence has increased, and the brutality is unspeakable, akin to the Inquisition!
II. THE PHILOSOPHY OF TELEVISION AND MOVIES:
A. A distortion of reality. This is an inherent danger to children and teen-agers!
B. A dispensing of a sinful and worldly philosophy:
- a promotion of materialism
- a promotion of immorality
- a promotion of violence
- a promotion of profanity
- a promotion of atheism and humanism
- a promotion of the occult
C. A domination of personal life. Television dominates many homes, and schedules are built around programs!
D. A destroyer of time. We are called to be good stewards (1 Cor. 4:1-2) and to redeem time (Col. 4:5), not waste it. That is not to say one should NEVER watch ANYTHING on television – there are some good things, such as WVCY TV 30, Christmas specials, …but one must be a faithful steward of time, treasures, talents, mind, … Reading your Bible is infinitely more important, and some good studies about Theology and Christian living are needful for spiritual growth. It is also far better to read some good Christian novels (there are many fine Christian novels that teach biblical values and sound truth) and devotionals to help rather than hinder your walk with the Lord, as entertainment may.
E. A distraction from corporate worship. It is not uncommon for Christians to disregard the worship services of the church to stay home for television.
F. A disturbance of family life. As stated previously, it becomes the family worship center, it detracts from communication and developing relationships, and is all to often the center of attention at meal time rather than family devotions and discussion.
G. A developer of juvenile aggression. What younger children see on television is "real" to them. A Stanford University psychologist, Albert Brandura, lists the following immediate effects of television violence:
- It reduces viewer "inhibitions against violent, aggressive behavior."
- It teacher viewers "forms of aggression - that is, giving them information about how to attack someone else when the occasion arises.
- The ethical ending, in which the villain gets his desserts, does not antidote the violence that occurred before. It ‘may keep viewers from reproducing villainy’ right away, but it does not make them forget how to do it. The ethical ending is just a suppresser of violence, it does not erase.3
Note the following report from Reader’s Digest:
- TV violence produces lasting and serious harm
- Those "action" cartoons on children’s programs are decidedly damaging
- TV erodes inhibitions
- The sheer quantity of TV watching by youngsters increases hurtful behavior and poor academic performance.4
H. A disruption of the learning process. Entertainment replaces learning, as watching replaces reading and thinking.
I. A degrading of morality, as it glorifies sex, violence, … cf. Pt. 2, above
J. A deadening of activity. People, especially teens and children, should be productive. Instead of hours of inactivity in a mentally neutral mode, people should be exercising and disciplining their bodies and minds. They should be learning and developing talents such as playing a musical instrument with which to glorify and serve the Lord.
III. A THEOLOGY FOR TELEVISION AND MOVIES
Consider: On this point, please read the following verses which match letters A – J in pt. II. Either by command, precept or principle, the Bible addresses every issue!
A. 1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 4:4 F. Deut. 6:6-7; Eph. 6:1-4
B. Col. 2:8; James 4:4 G. Pro. 20:11; 22:6; 22:15; 29:15
C. Exo. 20:3; Isaiah 45:18; Eph. 6:4 H. John 5:39; 2 Tim. 2:15; 1 Peter 3:15
D. Eph. 5:15; Col. 3:8 I. Psalm 101:3; 141:4; 1 Thes. 4:3-4
E. Matt. 6:21, 24 J. Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 4:1-2; 6:19
Conclusion: From this very brief summary, consider the impact of television and movies have had on our culture. Has it been used for the glory of God, or for the decadence of man?
 Sumner, Robert, Hollywood Cesspool, Sword of the Lord Publishers, p. 116-117, 120
 Griffith, Richard and Stanley William Reed, “Motion Pictures” in Encyclopedia , 1971, pp. 898-918
 Kober, quoting Krutza & Di Cocco, Facing the Issues – 4 Contemporary Discussion Series, pp. 75-76
 Reader’s Digest, “TV Violence: The Shocking New Evidence,” January 1983.