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!