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Another View of Dark Knight Rises
by Randy Fishell, Editor

This week Pastor Seth Pierce has shared some thoughts on the movie The Dark Knight Rises. As editor of Guide, I'd like to give you another perspective.

One of the great things about being a member of God's Church is that two people can disagree and still be friends! After reading Pastor Seth's review of The Dark Knight Rises, I left with the feeling that he thought the movie would be pretty good for an Adventist to view (with discernment). I haven't yet been able to speak with Pastor Seth about it in person, so he can correct me if I misunderstood what he intended to say. And he may respond soon to my comments right here on the website.

First, let me get something out of the way right here. Many of you know that I hardly ever watch a movie. I don't go to movie theaters because that's the way I grew up. But one of the main reasons I don't watch movies (or much TV, for that matter) is because I have a really, really hard time forgetting what I've seen. That's OK for the good stuff, but it's a real problem for the bad stuff. As one person said, "There's no delete button for your mind."

So let me tell you right here that I have not personally seen The Dark Knight Rises. If that bugs you, you can stop reading right here. But I do research on popular culture, including movies. So if you are still reading this blog, here are some things to think about.

Pastor Seth correctly said that there's lots of violence in both The Dark Knight Rises and the Bible. The difference, for me, it that the Bible is a real-life story about the horror of sin and God's loving efforts to fix that problem. In the matter of The Dark Knight Rises, while the goal is to get rid of the bad guys, a viewer must wade through an awful lot of sewage to get to that point. Unlike the Bible, The Dark Knight Rises was intended first and foremost to entertain. In doing so, the producer has looked for ways to appeal to the worst elements of our sinful souls.

A few examples are in order. What about profanity? Is a little profanity OK with God? Here's what one reviewer shared about language in The Dark Knight Rises:

"[There is] one s-word. We hear one or two exclamations each of "b‑‑ch" and "b‑‑tard." "H‑‑‑" pops up close to a dozen times. God's name is mixed up with "d‑‑n" once. Jesus' name is abused twice. A crude term for testicles is used."

Sexual content? "Miranda and Bruce kiss and clutch before it's implied that they have sex. (We see them afterwards, mostly covered by blankets.) Batman locks lips with Catwoman (who's often seen wearing a skintight costume)."

Violence? Apparently there's way too much of it to go into, but here's a little taste for you: "Batman, as we know, is not as bloodthirsty. 'No guns, no killing,' he tells Catwoman. 'Where's the fun in that?' she quips. But both beat down their share of folks—through fists, feet and drugged batarangs to the neck. Catwoman kicks someone in the leg with her stiletto heel. She blows up a building. And while Batman may not carry a personal sidearm, his vehicles have firepower enough to blow holes through walls, incapacitate military vehicles and, on at least one occasion, neutralize a person.

"Gun battles kill and wound hundreds if not thousands, including police officers. A massive fight/brawl/insurrection breaks out in the streets. Someone dies in an auto accident. A knife is thrust into someone's side, then twisted."

Does any of this sound like the purity mentioned in Philippians 4:8 and elsewhere? Is this what God would have us to fill our minds with?

I believe this non-Adventist reviewer gets it right when he concludes this way: "In the midst of deep artistic resonance and worldview wallop, this trilogy closer has problems. For the first time in the series, we see Bruce Wayne in bed with a woman. We hear harsh language. We can almost feel the thud of fists and boots, the impact of bullets, the destruction of innocent lives when Bane grabs someone's head and twists. The Dark Knight Rises is almost as violent and even more starkly dissonant than its predecessor, The Dark Knight—a movie that many believed should've been rated R.

In the end, the movie is a bit like Batman himself: good, instructive, flawed, dangerous."

No, I didn't see the movie. And I have no plans to.

Pastor Seth is an exceptional pastor and Christ-follower. I very much appreciate the fact that he took the time to review this movie for us. We just seem to have a different take on The Dark Knight Rises. The good news is that we are still friends!

*See http://www.pluggedin.com/movies/intheaters/dark-knight-rises.aspx


0 #11 minuteman 2012-08-18 22:36
mr. randy, if u think thats bad then u wud be blown away by dark night. that movie was crazy (bad crazy)
+1 #10 SamanthaS. 2012-08-04 00:21
You know, everyone is right about batman. My mom tried to show me one of the earlier films, so i watched like 30 seconds and then said to her, "Really?" so we turned it off.
0 #9 ThePsalmist15 2012-08-02 01:01
wooooow!!! I have heard a lot about this movie, but this really opened my eyes! i've only seen commercials about the dark knight rises and the movie doesn't even draw my attention....th at much :lol:. has any one heard about the massacre in arua,colorado? that should convince you people who want to watch this movie... look what it does to people...indire ctly. ;-)
+3 #8 tasha1507 2012-08-01 08:29
Yes, I agree. We have to be careful what we put into our heads. We are what we behold. We need to ask ourselves "Would Jesus or the angels come and watch this?"
+3 #7 rfishell 2012-08-01 03:01
This was received from an 18-year-old named Veronica, who still enjoys Guide:

"I recently read two articles in your Screen Smart section. The Dark Knight Rises part 1 and part 2, and I have to say I'm very disappointed. It would probably take while to tell you everything I thought was wrong with them, but I'll try to give you the short version.

As Adventists, I'm sure we all agree we're living in the end times right? My generation and the one after it may be the ones to usher in the second coming. Which is why I think it is very important to be careful what we spend are time doing According to 2 Corinthians 10:4-6 we are to bring "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ". I can tell you from personal experience that this is very hard to do when you fill your mind with things that aren't in line with mind of God.

In his review of The Dark Knight Rises, it was almost as if Pastor Pierce was defending the violence in the movie. He said:

"While media has influence it cannot make someone do something—God doesn’t even make people do anything. We all have a choice to make how we will respond to our experiences. But media can provide temptations and ideas for people to act on. . . However, if we refuse to see movies because they have negative elements—like violence—in them then we have to stop reading the Bible. The Bible is full of graphic violence . . . ."(He then goes on to name different acts of violence in the bible). . . These violent acts, and others, are every bit—if not more—disturbing than anything in the new Batman film. So do we throw it out? No, we understand that the Bible never glorifies evil—even though it talks about it. The question we should ask is: How does Batman portray good and evil in the film?"

The problem however is that he assumes that movies have the same effect on us as reading the bible stories. If that were the case . . . why would we want to watch movies if they were just as real and lifelike as the bible. Why do you think young people have such little interest in bible? When you watch a movie (especially in a movie theater) you experience them as if they were real.

Also, as you know, the Guide-age kids are barely even teenagers. When I was that age (and even now) I didn't always make the right decisions. I was constantly wondering why other adventist kids were allowed to do things that I wasn't. But my parents had good reasons for not letting me not do just anything. So if any of the parent's of the kids reading this article happen to disagree with it, their kids will have yet another example of how their different from everybody else. And what pre-teen needs that?

I'm sure when Paul was taken to Rome to appeal to Caesar, he made it a point to visit the Coliseum. After all, before witnessing to the great ruler, he had understand where Caesar was coming from by watching the Gladiators compete in one of the bloodiest games of all time. Really though, using the "be in the world but not of of it" argument to justify watching a movie to "understand culture" works about as well here as in the above example.

I'm not saying that we should ignore pop culture, but I am saying that you don't have to experience something to be able to understand it. Besides, most of the Christians who saw that movie didn't go to see it to "understand pop culture". Most likely they went to be entertained.

I'm a big fan of the 90s phrase, WWJD. And I can't help but ask this question when it comes to media. Do you really believe that Jesus would have gone to that movie with you. Do you think he would have been comfortable with the violence, even if it is fictional. Being omnipresent, all that violence would just remind him of all the real violence going on.

Lastly, watching The Dark Knight Rises to get a moral like "How does Batman portray good and evil in the film?" makes about as much sense as drinking wine because it's high in antioxidants. Just like the alcohol outweighs any benefit from the vitamins and minerals, the troubling images from the movie outweigh any morals. Either way, why not go straight to the source and just drink grape juice?
-1 #6 sophie 2012-07-31 19:54
i must be getting desensitized... :sigh:
+2 #5 Violingirl1 2012-07-31 15:55
Yeah me too. I haven't seen this movie and I don't want to.
+2 #4 tasha1507 2012-07-31 07:52
I agree ;-) We have to be careful what we put into our minds. "Would Jesus watch this?" is what we must ask ourselves...
0 #3 noble240 2012-07-30 18:38
randy is sooooooo right. so many of my seventh day adventist friends have seen the dark night.
+2 #2 trio3 2012-07-29 16:55
i have to agree with randy.

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