By Amy Swanson, Contributing Writer
In Hollywood’s never ending quest to bring its ravenous audiences the guts, the glitz and the glory, the industry has developed a strange obsession with concepts they call The Veritas or Verisimilitude. They’re big words that basically boil down to Hollywood wanting to show “how it really is”. . . as if they know. Of course, that means filling a movie with graphic sex, violence and depictions of human suffering. While conservative moviegoers may complain and spend their money elsewhere, a significant portion of the population either enjoys the obscenity or bears it silently because, after all, “that’s how it really is.”
If even liberal audiences draw the line in terms of how much they will tolerate in a fictional movie, Hollywood being nothing if not crafty has managed to find a loophole anyway. Thus, movies can be as graphic as you want so long as you’re telling history. Consequently, audiences, including young viewers, are compelled by Hollywood, Washington D.C., pseudo-intellectual educators and professional “experts,” and even religious institutions to see movies like SAVING PRIVATE RYAN and SCHINDLER’S LIST for their “historical and social” significance. Christians can’t complain about it because we have been morally convicting people to watch the brutal crucifixion of Christ for centuries. Under this moral conviction, Hollywood compels people to see what really happened lest we forget. That way maybe it won’t happen again. There’s just one problem with that philosophy. Eradicating an unwanted vice by repeatedly exposing it to the general public is neither logical nor effective.
The upcoming movie 12 YEARS A SLAVE tells the autobiographical account of Solomon Northup, a free man living in New York City with his wife and children who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The rest of the movie depicts his everyday life as a slave. The movie promises to be graphic and emotional and is already being compared to DJANGO UNCHAINED, a successful but violent movie that came out last year. 12 YEARS A SLAVE deals with a serious issue that is still relevant in the world today. Recent reports claim that 30 million people across the world are still living as slaves today. Is this really about slavery or is Hollywood using America’s s desire for truth and justice as an excuse to up the intensity of graphic violence and pump it into those who would otherwise avoid it. Validation via history is troubling evidence that Hollywood’s graphic new definition of Veritas is on the rise and wants to stay.
12 YEARS A SLAVE allows a twofold attack on the American public. It morally compels them to watch violence, torture and rape while at the same time dislodging our faith and trust in the great movies of old. These timeless movies were made when Christians still has a significant say what a movie could contain. The new Hollywood says old Hollywood has sold the elegant Southern way of life for too long. While Scarlett O’Hara said, “Fiddle dee dee” and “I’ll think about that tomorrow,” innocent people were in agony. Any positive emotions about Southern faith and culture past or present can be written off as childish ignorance while cruelty was everyday life. Murder is everyday life. Rape is everyday life. If Hollywood can use life circumstances to justify fictional villains like Tony Soprano and Walter White, then they can certainly use history to remind us how we used to treat people. It’s an interesting coincidence that this ideology comes at a time when one of the most popular shows on TV, DUCK DYNASTY, is about Southern Christians.
Hollywood will no doubt employ its favorite excuse for putting violence on TV. They’ll state that art is a means for people to get their violent aggressions out in a constructive way. Consider this, however: Art reflects life and we learn a great deal about an historical era by looking at its art and entertainment.
There is nothing new under the sun. In the early Middle Ages before the fall of Rome, the non Romans (known as Barbarians) living in a recently conquered city were not at all amused by the gladiatorial games much loved by the Romans. Antiochus of Syria dealt with this lack of commerce by turning the games into a show of strength and ability. This was more palatable to the “weaker” nation. Little by little, the games would get more dangerous and audiences more tolerant so that, within a few years of conquest, the Barbarians were as thirsty for blood as their Roman conquerors. That was the end of Rome. .