World View Review

Last year, Hollywood gave us "Pretty Woman," a sappy--but highly successful--movie about a charming young prostitute who ends up marrying a business tycoon. It's completely unrealistic, of course. It portrays hookers as cute, independent-minded young women for whom prostitution is just, well, another occupational choice. So this year, Hollywood has given us a movie called "Whore." The name itself says it all: This movie is blunt, coarse, ugly. The prostitute in this film is a frumpy, hard-jawed, bleached blonde. The producer, Ken Russell, says his intention is to give a harsh corrective to "Pretty Woman." He wants to administer a bracing dose of realism. But is this heavy-handed approach actually more realistic? That depends on what you think is real. Which is to say, it depends on your world view. Judging by the movie, Ken Russell thinks the only reality is physical reality. Russell's specialty is the lurid detail: Graphic scenes are filmed with close-up, clinical precision. Through the cold camera eye, we see the dreariness of sex for hire, the horror of violence. This is reality all right--but it's only part of reality. All we see here are bodies moved by animal passions, recorded through the impersonal lens of the camera. The film conveys no sense that the characters were created for anything higher. This is called naturalism in art: People are portrayed as just a part of nature, without any spiritual purpose or meaning. Both these movies fall short of the full-orbed biblical view of reality. "Pretty Woman" denies the evil, ugly side of human nature. It dresses up sin with cute shots of a pretty prostitute falling in love. But the Bible will have none of that fluff. It doesn't flinch at calling sin by its proper name. It points to a fatal flaw jagging through the center of the human heart. The movie "Whore" claims to be a corrective to the silly romanticism of "Pretty Woman." But it's equally unrealistic. Sure, it shows the ugly side of life; it even hits us in the face with it. But in its own way, it's just as incomplete as "Pretty Woman." It shows life as if there were nothing beyond sheer physical existence. It doesn't show the transcendent side of human nature, the side that yearns for meaning--that reaches out to know God. Yet these things are just as real as our physical nature. The Bible presents both sides of human nature. It teaches that we are not just organisms in nature, reacting by biological impulses. Every person--even a prostitute--is someone made in the image of God, someone Jesus died to save. So if you thought movies were just entertainment, think again. Every movie producer has a world view, a personal philosophy, that he expresses in the film. Colossians tells us not to be taken in by vain philosophies. It doesn't just mean abstract intellectual pursuits. Philosophies are everywhere. People express their philosophy--their outlook on life--in everything they do. So as Christians, we need to think biblically wherever we are. Even in the movie theater and video store.  


Chuck Colson


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