Monday, November 12, 2007

Gangster faith

Last week, I picked the "Bee Movie," so this week my fiance picked "American Gangster." It looked like a good story, although probably filled with unnecessary sex and violence. I was pleasantly surprised. Oh, it's violent and has its share of nudity, but it wasn't gratuitous.

What stuck with me more was the strange paradox of faith and life. The movie - set in the late '60s and early '70s - is a classic good cop chasing bad guy kind of deal. The cop has a completely dysfunctional personal life. He's in and out of court battling custody of his son while sleeping with his lawyer. But he's lauded as one of the only honest cops in North Jersey.

On the other hand is Frank Lucas, one of Harlem's most notorious drug lords. He managed to connect with a heroin producer in Southeast Asia, and through military connections smuggled the drugs back to the states. Without the middleman, he could sell better quality stuff for cheaper. He was unashamed about the lives that were destroyed because of his "business." But he still took his mama to church every Sunday. His family appeared healthy and whole. And there was a brilliant scene where his family's festive holiday dinner is interspersed with images of a young woman overdosing on his brand of heroin.

It's an different take on hypocrisy and the contradictions that infuse our own lives. If y'all have seen the movie share your thoughts...


MS said...

Non-gratuitous poop in the cookie is still poop in the cookie.

Diane Haag said...

Granted. But it's based on a true story, so you have to honest. And if you're making about heroin and drug lords, I should hope it weaves in the evils that come along with the money.

MS said...

I wasn't commenting on producing the movie, but watching the movie.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, ms! "Set NO evil thing before your eyes". That doesn't mean it won't happen on accident, but a voluntary viewing and/or participating in evil is completely against the Lord's wishes.

And, as long as we're being "honest", how would you feel about a movie about child pornography? Domestic violence?

I think Hollywood is one of the main reasons for the downfall in morality in this country, not only in movies but in TV.

Diane Haag said...

Maybe its because I'm a reporter, but I tend to believe you have to know about the sin in the world if you're going to be a part of getting rid of it.

Not everyone is going to read a newspaper or magazine story with the sanitized statistics and a success story. But they might watch a movie that portrays the same evil and be moved to do something.

Sometimes, yes, movies are unnecessarily violent and glorify that sort of gangster life. And I object to those on moral grounds. This one showed you how much destruction came with his lifestyle.

shanebevel said...

"I think Hollywood is one of the main reasons for the downfall in morality in this country, not only in movies but in TV."

Really? One of the MAIN reasons? Care to share your thought process?

Anonymous said...

I understand your point, Dianne, but I have to ask you again -- do you need to SEE a movie about child pornography to fight against it? Do you need to actually SEE an abortion to object to it?

The damage that movies like the one you saw do is immeasurably greater than the "good" it does, IF it does any good at all.

Anonymous said...

Hi Shane:

My thought process is from years of watching Hollywood, on the big screen and mostly on TV. The glorification of ungodly lifestyles is incredible, and not "good" incredible. The time spent in front of TVs has been thoroughly researched and many of the researchers recognize the damage TV has caused. I'm sure you can find many studies out there about this. I have.

Hollywood has created its own god and people idolize that god. It comes in the form of an addiction almost. Try prying some people away from the tube. Try stopping them from seeing the newest superhero movie that's about to come out.

It's all fantasy and promotes un-Christian behavior. It's clearly anti-God in almost everyway.

What do YOU think is the MAIN reason for the downfall in morality in this country?

Madd Chatter said...

I'd say parents (or lack of parenting) is the downfall of our society. No fault divorce, parents letting their 9 year-olds watch "sex in the city", wear daisy-dukes, tube-tops, and more makeup than a French prostitute (the 9 year-olds) when going out in public.

Hollywood (while it may push abhorrent behavior as acceptable, comical, or even glamorous and romantic) is not to blame for our society's downfall. It is the parents.

After all, Hollywood wouldn't make movies with so much smut if they didn't make money from it.

Finally, Hollywood DOES have an agenda of pushing secular "values". Any movie with even a hint of good morals or true Christianity is shunned by the studios, distributors, etc, no matter how much money the film could make. (The Passion of the Christ, Bella)

shanebevel said...

Simply put? Real people.

So many of the people in the world today are so wrapped up in themselves that they refuse to listen to their fellow human beings. To hear their problems and help solve them. To work for the collective good of ALL those around them, not simply those who look, sound, act or think like they do.

So do I think that Hollywood can be persuasive? Sure. Do I think that it can be the as persuasive as the good hearts of real men? Never.

Too many people are happy to sit back and shake a finger and preach at those around them. But what good does that do? What does that show people about how our faith affects our lives?

Psalm 101:3 is certainly a valid piece of wisdom, one I follow sometimes more than others. But it pales in comparison to the power of some of the others. Try Matt 7:1... 7:24... or just start at Matt 25:35 and keep reading.

As far as seeing evil to understand it... I agree with Diane. It's simply impossible to impress upon people the extremes of some situations without showing it to them.

Although I don't think it was the basis for the movie... it certainly doesn't serve to glorify anything.

And as far as your child porn reference. I dunno... doesn't that fall under the principles of Godwin's Law? I think we all know there is evil beyond words that lurks in our midst, but it's really outside the realm of this discussion.