Thursday, April 28, 2011

Born This Way?

By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard of the hit television show “Glee.” It is a show that takes popular songs and sings them in a show choir style in the setting of a high school glee club. Now, I am not someone who normally puts such a label on things. Most of the labels put on cultural artifacts are too restrictive for the totality of that artifact. Honestly, this post is guilty of this crime too. Even though Glee tackles self-esteem issues, community issues, and more, by and large, the show centers around the gay characters and/or themes. In fact, what tends to be the case is that the other issues are meant only to support the episodes where homosexuality is discussed in depth. Therefore, what the show is about, however, differs completely from its context. The show is about an agenda. And, if you have seen the show at all, you can probably confirm that the agenda is a pro-gay agenda.

The most recent episode of Glee, called “Born This Way” is one of their agenda heavy episodes. The whole episode hinges on the last song, where the “kids” come out wearing different t-shirts with words on them. These words or phrases point out a “perceived” flaw. All the while, they sing a song by Lady Gaga, called “Born This Way.” I could spend a whole post each on Lady Gaga’s song and album “Born This Way,” but I won’t. This post is for the show. However, it’s important to know the lyrics of the song, so here they are:

Lyrics | Lady GaGa lyrics - Born This Way lyrics

As these words are sung, the kids all reveal their different t-shirts. Let’s see if you can tell where I’m going with this post as you read down the list:

“Butt Chin” (chin looks like a butt)
“No Weave” (a hairstyle)
“Can’t Sing”
“Brown Eyes”
“Can’t Dance”
“Trouty Mouth” (mouth looks like a trout’s mouth)
“Ginger” (red hair and freckles)
“Bad Attitude”
“Likes Boys” (on a boy's shirt)
“Lebanese” (contextually means 'lesbian' in this episode)

I am convinced the key words from Lady Gaga’s song used to make the point the writers want to make are: “I’m beautiful in my own way/’Cause God makes no mistakes/I was born this way.” To those who are following me so far, you might be able to see that this presents us with an interesting problem. First, applying these lyrics to the first 8 phrases is brilliant! It is an affirming message to send to people, especially the teenagers that watch this show. Your eyes, nose, chin, mouth, even ability or inability to do certain things should not judge you as a person. They shouldn’t force you to think you are less of a person or not valuable. However, the last 5 phrases cannot be applied to the lyrics. They are all effects of sin, in one way or another. OCD is an expression of the oppression we all feel from sin. The rest are behaviors that are sinful. Period. They are not how God makes us. They are not what makes us beautiful people.

It is here we see the agenda being carried out. You see, sin is being disguised as God-given identity; homosexuality is being compared to brown eyes. A moral lesson on acceptance is being disguised as a song about tolerance. For some reason, we allow this to happen when it comes to certain behaviors, most recently with homosexuality. But, we don't allow it to happen with alcoholism or murder, for a couple of examples. We wouldn't expect to see "Alcoholic" or "Murderer" or "Child Molester" on any of those shirts, would we? Why do we expect "Likes Boys"? Probably, because we're letting the agenda gain influence in our culture. But, as Christians, we don't need to let the agenda gain influence in our lives. Do we?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A New Way to Watch a Story

One of the greatest modern inventions is Netflix. In terms of watching new releases, it really isn't all that great. But, in terms of watching television shows, it is superb! With Netflix, one is able to watch television episodes back-to-back. Aside from the obvious absence of commercials, we are now able to watch the story "uninterrupted" by a week of life. As a result, story-heavy television shows, like Lost, Fringe, Heroes, and more, have the potential to strike us even more powerfully than a movie.

Think about it. On the one hand, a movie has two, maybe three hours to tell you a story, develop characters, and create meaning. On the other hand, television shows can have up to 100 hours and more to tell a story, develop characters, and create meaning. I have often heard movies compared to the book it is based upon. Almost always, the comparison declares the book the winner. However, consider the possibility of putting a book on a television show. Episodes can be dedicated to side-stories that do nothing for the main plot, but develop the characters or add significance to certain events. Plots can take time to develop and lead to dead ends that frustrate both the characters and the viewers. Views can truly follow, respect, and even love characters within the show.

Do not misunderstand me by thinking I am deriding movies. In fact, movies are the prevalent form of storytelling in our culture today. However, some brilliant writers have decided to tell a story over a longer period of time, in a hard format to do so, and with a more demanding audience. Some of these stories pay off huge dividends and change not only the industry, but also the culture and, especially, viewers like you and I. Though not a typical post in this blog, I say all of this as a way to simply suggest that you watch for those stories that do such a thing. If you find one of them, try to watch it all the way through in a relatively short time. I urge you to try it at least once in your life. I don't think you'll regret it.