To say our culture is a little obsessed with food would be an understatement. I can’t look anywhere without seeing ads for fabulous recipes, healthy eating tips, and how-to videos. Gluten free and farm to table, flexitarian or pescatarian, processed foods, award winning foods, award winning restaurants – macros, macarons, and mini-muffins.
To our credit, it’s usually with good intentions. Trends like “clean eating” propose a positive shift in mindful eating to better fuel our bodies and mind; “an option that portrays purity, truth and naturalness.” And let’s be honest, there’s a pretentiousness that comes with these lifestyles. You’ve seen the type; turning their nose down at the 99 cent processed pink slime disc – and the heathen who eats it – while they condescendingly nibble on their whole grain oat bar infused with chia seeds, salmon jerky, and at least three dark leafy greens. (At least.)
What about what we are watching?
I get it, I do. We need to put the best into our bodies in order to get the best out of them. Personally, I’m more concerned with what we put into our brains, which unlike our bodies does not have an excretory system to filter out the crap: some images that go into our brain never leave, and the number one culprit — technology.
Frequent screen time and technology use has shown to increase ADHD, interfere with emotional and social intelligence, create technology addictions, and alter brain development. (To name a few.)
And not all screen time is created equal
Researchers at Columbia University found that “watching violent programs can cause parts of the brain that suppress aggressive behaviors to become less active.” (That’s academia talk for, ‘watching violence makes you more violent.’)
If you’re sitting nice and comfy thinking you don’t watch pornography, you may be kidding yourself.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “pornography” as: “The depiction of erotic behavior (as in pictures or writing) intended to cause sexual excitement”.
Let’s be honest – this describes about 85% of our 21st century entertainment When today’s ratings are proven to be more lenient than in years past, it’s easy to find yourself munching on a cinematic Twinkie and not even know it. When we regularly consume entertainment with that kind of nutritional value, what do we expect the consequences to be?
Porn isn’t harmless
A couple years ago my husband and I binged the first season of the popular show “Stranger Things”; we had heard good things about it, like it was relatively clean. Relatively. To our surprise the first episode includes a teenage sex scene, and just as quick as her shirt came off we clicked “skip” and moved right passed it.
No worries…right? I finished the season rationalizing away the twinge of guilt that lingered in my gut. I had just about shoved it into oblivion when I read an article by pastor Tim Challise, who explained his take on this scene:
“To create Stranger Things a group of people filmed an actual eighteen-year-old girl actually taking off her shirt and actually simulating losing her virginity to an actual teenaged boy. They did that for our pleasure, for our entertainment, so we could see it. What on this side of hell could justify me, a nearly forty-year-old man, [or woman, parent, Christian and educator] watching a production that involves an eighteen-year-old girl—someone’s daughter, someone’s future wife—disrobing and writhing her way through simulated sex with a manipulative, hormone-driven boyfriend?”
He had – a point.
The producers put that scene in there for my enjoyment, and by watching the entire season, even sans the sex scene, the ratings tell them I did just that.
Can we talk ‘Game of Thrones’?
Let’s jump to the far end of the entertainment spectrum. If one teenage sex scene is a Twinkie, then “Game of Thrones” is straight high fructose corn syrup mixed with hot dogs chunks and sprinkled with crushed pork rinds.
To be honest I’ve never seen the show, but I hear it’s preeetty popular. In fact, it had a weekly viewing equal to the entire population of New York state. I do know it’s rated ‘TV-MA’ and includes lovely anecdotes like: “repeated scenes of rape, incest, graphic nudity, graphic sex, torture, gruesome deaths, mutilation…prostitution.” And orgies. (Naturally. Any show worth its monosodium glutamate does.)
If that doesn’t give you a glimpse of how vile and sexual this show is, here’s a fun fact: “Game of Thrones” featured 82 nude scenes in the first 67 (out of a total of 73) episodes. Several of these are rape scenes.
If you’re thinking, “but the rape scenes are a powerful tool to educate society on the violent horror and evil it is, bringing sexual assault to the forefront of a much needed conversation!”
Ask yourself then, if it’s such an effective teaching method, why did the traffic to porn sites drop 4% at the same time “Game of Thrones” was on? (Let that marinade in your mind a moment.) Do you really think these one million self-pleasures tuned into the show so they can learn how to respect women? Were they grappling with their toxicity and left every episode with greater resolve to treat women with more dignity?
Or could it be the obvious? They wanted their sex and violence fix in one neat bundle. (Very consumer savvy.)
It’s not “art”
“But it’s art! Every scene is intricate to the story, making it the Emmy award winning masterpiece that it is!”
Question: If “Game of Thornes: is pure art, why was Pornhub streaming its sex scenes? The artistry?
This brings up the age old question: what makes art, art and a porno – a porno? Well, what’s the difference between your $30 block of organic, grass fed, non GMO, hand crafted from the milk of a sheep raised in the wilds of Southern England artisan cheese — and my can of cheese whiz?
The impurities. The additives and chemicals that take away from it’s goodness and create harmful, unhealthy effects on the human body.
“OK , so I’ll ignore – or even skip – the stuff I don’t like and just enjoy the story.”
As author Noah Filipiak beautifully explains:
“…if you think you can somehow filter out the porn and only take in the art, you are deceived and double-minded as well. Porn does what porn does: as soon as it enters the scene, it removes all dignity and humanity. All that is left is body parts and the consuming of other humans. You can’t keep someone’s dignity once you have already devoured it. You don’t get porn and human dignity; you get porn or human dignity. Choose wisely.”
CS Lewis abhorred this kind of entertainment when he compared strip club patrons to lunatics watching a covered plate on stage, lid slowly removed to expose the food therein. Now we stream that twisted entertainment into our hands 24/7; call it art, call it modern times, and call it a day.
Are we really surprised that our culture is in the state that it is? Just how low are we willing to sink, how many harmful additives do we digest for the sake of being entertained? Might we seek out the good, the pure, and the virtuous – seek for human dignity – so that we might maintain ours.
What you can do
-Turn off the TV. I did. I’m going on 16 years without cable or the likes, and my life has been full of fun and frolic, freedom and fulfillment. (In other words I’ve been just fine – and so will you. I promise.)
-I know families who watch wholesome entertainment like The Waltons, The Cosby Show, old westerns and musicals, Little House on the Prairie and more. There is plenty of great stuff to watch, we just need to be more intentional about finding it.
-Hallmark, Christian film studios and PureFlix are saturated with clean films.
-VidAngel is a streaming service that actually “lets you skip and mute any objectionable content, all in the privacy of your home.”
But the best advice of all: teach your children the beauties of life by not making your home so centered on TV and movies: music, instruments, drawing, painting, puzzles, games, dancing, sculpting, building, writing, gardening, outdoor play – and some good old fashioned reading – are great for entertainment and unwinding.