5 Subtle Lies Pop Culture Tells Us
Ryan DuncanCrosswalk.com blogspot for ChristianMovieReviews.com and Ryan Duncan, Crosswalk.com Entertainment and Culture editor
- 2015 Sep 03
We can often underestimate just how much control pop culture exerts over our lives. It can influence what we buy, what we wear, what we eat, even how we treat our neighbors. Many Christians believe that we can rise above what cultural says simply by focusing our minds on scripture, but certain lies have a way of slipping through the cracks. Hollywood has a number of tropes that Christians will ignore, accept, or even promote if it falls in line with their personal worldview. For example, here are five subtle lies pop culture frequently tells us,
Violence is Fun
When I was younger, my favorite TV show was Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. How could it not be? It had everything a prepubescent boy could ask for: crazy monsters, giant robots, and lots and lots of violence. As you might expect, my parents weren’t exactly thrilled with my choice of entertainment, and I was forbidden from watching it. Looking back now, I can understand why.
Just like Power Rangers, todays movies often portray violence as something fun. Films like 300 and James Bond come equipped with elegantly choreographed fight scenes designed to keep audiences on their toes. What these films don’t show are the pain, misery, and destructive emotions that result from such methods. Action scenes may be fun to watch, but they don’t tell the whole story.
Real Men and Women Look like This
In almost every war movie there are always two male characters with contrasting personalities. The first is the soldier, the fighter, the one who courageously leads his followers into battle (see Mission Impossible, Fury). The second acts as his foil, constantly complaining or demanding they take a diplomatic approach (Saving Private Ryan, Divergent). The message is clear: Real men are fighters who charge into battle and yank victory from the jaws of defeat. If you’re a thinker, a peacemaker, or an artist, you’re not a real man.
Female characters often suffer from a similar problem, though lately it’s become more complicated. In today’s media, women have to be either cultural elites who don’t need no man to help them, or they’re proper ladies who are utterly incapable of doing anything themselves. There’s no middle ground. If you don’t believe that, just look how long Christians have been debating the merits of Disney princesses.
Bad Lifestyles Have No Consequences
To put it bluntly, the most dangerous lesson today’s media teaches young viewers is that bad lifestyles have absolutely no consequences. Whether its drugs, crime, or promiscuous sex, you can be sure the movie’s hero will always turn out fine in the end. For example, anyone who’s seen the Fast & Furious series knows its characters commit enough felonies to land them in prison forever, but they never fail to drive off into the sunset. Meanwhile, films like The Wolf of Wall Street depict individuals committing every possible sin known to man, yet still remaining rich, successful, and attractive.
The reality is that’s not how life works. Promiscuous sex leads to disease and emotional distress. Drugs lead to addiction and pain, while crime can completely ruin your future. Every action has its consequences, and some of them can be pretty dire.
Domestic Life is for Losers
As Christians, we believe there is an important place in society for marriage and family. Unfortunately, Hollywood doesn’t share this ideal. Most movies depict domestic life as the last stop for people who just couldn’t cut it in the real world. Films like Change-Up and Sex Tape teach viewers that once you’ve tied the knot and settled down, you can pretty much resign yourself to a pathetic and meaningless existence. The true key to adventure, romance, and happiness is to remain single and unattached.
This might make for good fiction, but the mindset is far from healthy. Home, marriage, and family are all natural parts of growing older. They provide stability, love, even joy, and while some might forgo one or more of them for personal reasons, their virtues aren’t easily replaced. The truth is, a selfish life is often the loneliest one.
There is Always a Right and Wrong Answer
This is one of the hardest lies for Christians to reject, because it so easily falls into our desired worldview. We like to believe that if we just read our Bibles and follow God, we’ll have the answer for anything life throws our way. This idea is reinforced by movies like OZ: The Great and Powerful and Jurassic World which depict characters whose problems would all just disappear if they simply chose to make the “right” decision. But life has more gray areas than we care to admit, and even the wisest Christian can find themselves in a situation with no easy answer.
Take the life of Corrie Ten Boom. During WII, she and her family sheltered Jews from the Nazi soldiers in their home, yet her sister refused to lie to enemy soldiers because she believed it was a sin. In his phenomenal book, Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis argued that Christians should have no qualms about killing their enemies because remaining passive would lead to greater suffering. Every day, Christians are faced with difficult problems. We should strive to act justly, show compassion, and be faithful to God, but sometimes, there won’t be a right answer.