Just as you can’t judge a book by its cover, it seems we can’t judge a movie by its previews. A few weeks ago, I took one of my grandchildren to a “sci-fi” movie. Judging from the previews, it promised to be a fun, lighthearted, even cartoonish film he’d like. Parts of it were indeed funny, even silly. It had a wise-cracking raccoon, a goofy-looking Gumby-like creature, and assorted other weird characters. All the ingredients for an enjoyable, family-oriented movie.
This film had earned the highest gross revenues for its opening week. Critics largely gave it two thumbs up, so I thought it would be a safe bet for a grandpa-grandson outing. Uh-uh.
I discovered the writers and directors saw fit to add some other “ingredients” – dashes of profanity (totally unnecessary), along with splashes of sexual innuendo, some not very subtle.
Once it became evident these had been sprinkled throughout the production, we left.
It’s hard to figure out why the Hollywood elite think vulgarity equates with sophistication, enlightenment, and “coolness.” In my view, it’s a reflection of puerile thinking, a desperately low-level worldview. Makes me wonder whether these folks start their mornings by gargling used toilet water.
I’m not naïve. I understand we live in a world where most folks don’t use words like “golly,” “gosh,” “darn” and “drat” to express their most base emotions. And leaving profane language out of many adult movies probably would make them seem unrealistic to many viewers. However, had the cussing and sexual references been omitted from this film, it would have been no less entertaining. In the world of Hollywood, why bother with bright, imaginative writing when four-letter words can easily fill the gaps in dialogue?
Most of us don’t aspire to ever write motion picture scripts. But we all communicate, and it helps to have guidelines for conveying our messages effectively. I’ve learned basic principles from the Bible can be applied to communications in any of its many forms. Whether writing emails, dashing off texts, having conversations, “tweeting,” speaking at public meetings, sending a letter to the editor, or crafting the next great American novel, these guidelines offer a solid framework for effective, productive expression.
One passage speaks directly to the issue: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). When we speak, write, text, or comment on social media, is our intention to edify, to build up – or are we seeking to tear down?
Elsewhere the apostle Paul admonished believers in the church at Philippi, “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things” (Philippians 4:8).
Living in a world that puts less and less stock in virtuous thinking, it’s often hard to find communications that qualify as true, noble, right and pure. But that doesn’t mean we must respond in kind. As Proverbs 4:23 admonishes, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
I like how it was posted on a church marquee a friend of mine saw recently: “Tweet others the way you want to be tweeted.” Because our words, whether in a theatrical film or a friendly chat, have power. The power to heal or to harm, to affirm or to attack, to promote or to poison.
Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, former newspaper editor and magazine editor. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include the newly re-published, “Business At Its Best,” “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. To read more of Bob Tamasy’s writings, you can visit his blog, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, or his website (now being completed), www.bobtamasy-readywriterink.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.