By Father Eric Tolentino, administrator of St. Richard, Barnesville; and prison minister at SCI-Mahanoy; SCI-Frackville; FCI-Minersville; and Schuylkill County Prison.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you” .Confessions by St. Augustine
While pondering over movies, I considered how many movies portray what I refer to as the “dark side,” not merely as applied to “the force” from “Star Wars.” Have you ever wondered why many movies are not satisfying and often portray “the glamour of evil?”
A while ago I read an article about a movie-marketing philosophy. The goal was to keep people coming back, not by making movies that satisfy people, but by intentionally making movies that leave people unsatisfied and hungering for more.
If you think about this marketing ploy, people would end up going endlessly to new movies while wondering whether or not this next movie would satisfy them in some limited way.
Part of the technique involves establishing and exploiting a psychological, nostalgic, emotional connection with movie-goers, so people would go to see the movie whether it was good or bad, well-made or not. As long as the market-audience had feelings of nostalgia to some subject, situation, theme, actors, etc. in the movie, people would pay to see the movie, and the movie would generate profit.
Have you ever been duped into seeing a movie based on a trailer, only to discover that the film was not worth seeing? Or have you gone to the movies to see a film with a favorite actor/actress only to learn that the film was terrible?
What about movie sequels – have you seen a movie that was reasonably good or not too bad, and hoped that the sequel would be better? Then, when you saw the sequel, it did not live up to your expectations from the first film? This applies likewise to the third, fourth, etc. sequels as well.
Many of us have been there and done that. From this marketing viewpoint, a movie-maker could actually increase their profits by intentionally making any one or more of the movie sequels poorly and cheaply.
Many movies often portray the “glamour of evil” as the “de facto” cultural norm, while what is truly good, holy and godly is conspicuously absent. This is particularly true in many modern horror movies where characters want to become the monsters or the demonic is portrayed while God is somehow not so mysteriously excluded.
Just look at all the caveats in the movie ratings that arguably have a relativistic downward-spiraling scale as to what may be “inappropriate” – code-word for not good for audiences.
Whether we realize it or not, we are seeking happiness, but often in the wrong places, such as in movies, the culture and the material world. As human persons, who are created good and in the image and likeness of God, we are naturally drawn to goodness and beauty.
Part of our conversion includes appreciating the good and beautiful things in this world and accepting the reality that created things of this world cannot ever fully satisfy us.
Since evil by definition lacks the good, a steady diet of movies that glamorize evil, vice and godlessness would leave people starving for what is good and holy, and ultimately hungering and thirsting for God himself.
God created the human person with both a body and soul. The soul is eternal and we long for the eternal good. The good and beautiful things in creation point toward and draw us to the Creator.
We are drawn to the eternal, ultimately to God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who alone truly satisfy us for eternity. Although we exist as disciples of Christ in time, through our baptism we are re-created to be saints in heaven for eternity.
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (“Confessions by St. Augustine”).