Josh Harris recently blogged on a new TV drama about King David and he said this, “Hopefully they’ll handle the more sordid aspects of David’s life tastefully”, which made me wonder how you handle the sordid ‘tastefully’. So I asked Josh for his thoughts and he (surprisingly to me) answered the question with this post. It’s a good reply and I agree, I think, with much of it. This is my reply, (added to his comments)
Thanks for the taking the time to reply, I appreciate that. I agree with much of what you said. You’re right to expect too much of TV would be naive. A healthy culture needs good storytellers (I recommend Slumdog Millionaire as a good example of a powerful story, well told. Rated 15 in the UK so not suitable for children). For Christians the issues of language, sex and violence pose continual issues.
I do sometimes wonder if we have sanitised the Bible so the gritty, grim reality of it and the sometimes shocking nature of what it says no longer shocks us. Perhaps its because we’ve been desensitised by films and TV or have become accustomed solely to the visual.
I agree with you that film & TV consistently shies away from the consequences of sin and glorifies the moment of sin and we need to be more aware of that. I agree also that the old movies through the power of suggestion and implication got their message across without the need for gratuitous sex and violence.
You say ‘the Bible itself is the perfect example of’ telling a sordid story without being sordid however putting words onto screen is the challenge for screenwriters. When David sees Bathsheeba, what exactly should we see if this is on screen? Should we see what he saw, is it any better for it to be left to our imagination? That’s not an easy question to answer even if you were interested in upholding godliness, which I guess many TV execs are not. So yes we should pray and be constructive not reactive to such attempts, which may not always draw the line where we think it should be drawn.
I’m not sure I understand your distinction between sex and violence and how you would make a call on what sort of violence is ok to watch and what isn’t because Colossians 3:8 would apply as much as Colossians 3:5 wouldn’t it? Anyway, thanks again for your answer. I’ve appreciated the opportunity to think about TV, what I watch and don’t watch and what effect what I see has on my soul.
This documentary about 13 yr old Deborah Drapper is interesting. Some of it made me uncomfortable because I’m not sure about it and some of the discomfort was good because Miss Drapper really gets the urgency of evangelism. You can currently still watch on BBC iPlayer.