Sunday, February 21, 2010

Dropping the Bomb

So I watched a movie last night on the recommendation of a younger person in our church. It was 1 hour and 53 minutes long. I was ready to turn it off at 28 minutes but thought I could endure. By the time 1 hour passed I held on believing I was too invested to not see the ending.

The movie: Boondock Saints. The review: baffled. I would say disappointed but that sounds rather parental.

I am all about relating to the younger generation and refuse to disapprove of what is popular if I haven't thoroughly investigated it myself. So with the rave-reviews of so many in the 20s I pressed "watch-it-now" on Netflix.

What offended me most was the language. According to the "f" word was used 244 times. In one scene alone a major character only uses the "f" word during the dialog (or variations on the theme). My body almost literally recoils when I hear such language. It offends. It disturbs. It's ugly. It's tainted. It's poison not only to my ears but to my heart and soul.

And there is excessive drinking. There is so much freely-flowing alcohol with little to no repercussions. Coming from an alcoholic family this sets me on edge. I cringe.

The women in this film are strippers and prostitutes with not an ounce of compassion, wisdom or common sense between the three of them.

Violence dictates the story. Guns, Rambo-size knives, and toilets are used uninhibitedly. There is no remorse. In fact the violence is justified by the "heroes" because they believe God is leading them to clean up the streets of South Boston. They pray before and after each slaughter.

What, I think, struck me most about this film was how it was praised by my friend. It got me thinking about the differences in our generation. I've seen this during my time leading a middle-school youth group, reading on facebook and in my own kids...language is changing.

Yeah, language changes. Big deal. We all know doesn't mean gay anymore and we don't say thee and thou. But what has changed is the words that were "bad" words, not used in polite society have become mainstream. Without inhibition. I see OMG and WTF typed out in texts and I'm appalled but kids tell me, "It doesn't mean what you think it means anymore!" I remember during an afternoon of KFC (KidsForChrist) the kids were talking about "pimping" their notebooks. I turned in their direction, picking my jaw off the floor and said, "What did you say, do you know what that means?" "What? What's the big deal?" The word had changed. But in my mind it carried the baggage of offensiveness, bondage, degradation and slavery. Not to them, however.

Is the "F" word becoming the same? Passe'. Okay. Mainstream.

The kids were watching the Invention of Lying a couple nights ago. (It was so bad and offensive to them, they initiated turning it off.) This is a PG-13 movie and I heard gasps and "WHAT!" when the "f" bomb was dropped. This stuff makes me mad.

Am I just another generation out of touch with the younger one? Should I resign myself to the fact that language does change and each generation has it's own idiosyncracies? I am stubborn enough to say, NO. Language does matter and somehow, I think, this plays into the pattern of moral relativism-there is no good or bad-there is no good or bad language. It


Anonymous said...

I'm not trying to be disagreeable, but if the language offends you (and it does me, too!) why did you continue to watch?

Barb said...

I knew it wasn't going to get better but I continued to watch because my friend, who I admire/like/respect, is so enamored with this movie I wanted to understand why.

Prof. Eric G. Young said...

I came across your blog through Mongoose Mom. As someone who is now 40, I believe what you are experiencing is a reaction experienced by every "older generation" to the "younger generation." Your offense to the foul language and lack of socially redeeming value of the movie you watched is no different, in my mind, than the older generation of the late 1950s and 1960s to the musical developments of that age. In fact, I think it is almost a fundamental truth that the older generation will recoil with shock, surprise, dislike, or even disgust to that which the younger generation deems "cool," "phat," or whatever other word is in vogue today.

That being said, language matters. Nomenclature matters. How things and people are depicted matter.

I am an adherent to the sociological principle that how we speak about something precedes the way we think about something, and not the other way around. In a visual society, the way we depict something or someone precedes the way we think about that thing or that person.

Frankly, I am most disturbed by your reference to the way women were depicted in this film. I have not seen the film, and will not based on this fact alone because I prefer movies where, even if a woman is depicted as a prostitute, there is something about her character that is intriguing, complex, thought-provoking, or even villainous. E.g., the movie Moll Flanders.

And, that brings me back to language - gratuitous use of curse words, particularly the "f" word, take all attention away from any thought or analysis about the work at hand. I think it's the older generation's duty to nudge the younger generation beyond such sophomoric language use (and that's just the example of your post) to consider the world around them in a broader sense. And, yet, not push them to consider it solely from our point of view.

Barb said...

Thank Prof. As you can see I have been paying little to no attention on blogging. It just isn't hitting me as a vital part of my life these days. But I still appreciate comments and yours was particularly thought-provoking.

But I must issue with you calling me the "older generation." I certainly don't feel that yet in reality, considering the perspective from the gal who recommended Boondock Saints, I most likely am that generation and that shakes me up a bit! Older generation? Not me! But I must, I believe, accept this as a fact and perhaps wear it proudly.