I’m not the movie connoisseur in this household. I generally stick to a good political thriller (love me some conspiracy theories!) or an occasional romantic comedy. When JJ rents one, the primary decision is based upon if I’ll be staying awake for it or not. Otherwise the gates are open for a variety of other shows.
So, when my friend Kenny offers up his periodic perspectives on Facebook, I relay these to JJ for movie-going decisions. However, like many critics, Kenny’s reviews seldom match those of the general public. He gave Ironman 3 a lukewarm-at-best rating, whereas the rest of my feed raved. JJ remarked that perhaps it made him trust Kenny’s judgement a tad less (especially because Kenny mentioned that he disliked Ironman 2 to an equal extent and JJ enjoyed it).
The difference, I defended, lies in what each is wanting from cinema. Kenny, trained in the broader scope of the art, seeks depth. He wants well-developed characters. Plot lines that flesh out and connect. Themes that reach beyond the surface. Comedy to depend on wit rather than vulgarities. Scripts built to use language with purpose, concise in selection, not simply for shock value.
American audiences don’t naturally seek these out, (though they might be appreciated). But we’re too easily entertained by special effects or cheap thrills.
I read a similar summary of our approach to food recently (in a book called All Natural
). True foodies savor a dish for the flavors, acknowledging the way certain spices connect or contrast. All too often, the American diet allows us to be quickly carried away by the cheap fix of salt, sugar and fat. We’ve become accustomed to settle for the cheap and easy.
I have to
wonder assume our penchant for immediate gratification and the quickest way to a desired result profoundly affects the interior formation of our lives as well. With dangerous results.
Of course, I immediately think of the spiritual. God’s work at transformation takes time, yet we want instant and lasting change. (Enter: parallel to our approach to healthcare, seeking to pop a pill over renovate lifestyles). And when it doesn’t come? “It wasn’t God’s will.” “You didn’t try hard enough.”
Our communal life suffers. We want relationships that immediately satisfy our every wish and desire. We want the relationship to remain as exciting and satiating as the first bite. And when someone falls short? Discard and move on. So we move to new churches, schools and homes when the old ones fail to meet our current needs.
There’s something to be said for digging deep. For putting forth the hard work of creating works which last. Look at the art of generations past – cathedrals that have endured centuries and wars and weathering the elements. People actually invested into something without a guarantee they would live to see the end result. The idea of contributing to something lasting mattered more than the immediate sense of enjoyment.
I’m sad the lifestyle of my generation leads to more emptiness; we haven’t yet understood the value of participating in something that lives beyond ourselves. As my wise friend KLR puts it, we’re a throw-away society. Why fix it when we can get brand new even cheaper? The result has left us unable to taste and appreciate the true riches of this world. We’re too easily captured by the new and shiny to see that it’s fools gold – we haven’t dug deep enough to know the real thing. Our society operates using fools gold as a commodity, so we haven’t experienced the full value of something precious.
Yet we wonder why we’re always longing for something more.
I hope to become a person of something more. Depth. Value. Not just cheap entertainment (though, we all know I’m hilarious). I want to build into something which will last beyond myself. Not just my children, but rather relationships and communities that leave legacies. I don’t want to coat myself in sugar to be initially accepted – I want to be a person that people might require a second or third bite to really experience the nuances of who I am. I want my friendships to compare to fine wines, gathering flavor and appreciation with age.
When people watch the movie of my life, I don’t want them to tell of the stupid characters who found a tiger in the bathroom. I’d rather they become wrapped up in the tensions of living faithfully with God and people. I hope to win an Academy Award, not earn easy millions by telling the same story already told, but this time with bigger guns or faster cars.