“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you which is good and pleasing and perfect.” ~Romans 12:2
By now, most of us have heard about the tragic shooting that took place in Aurora, Colorado at the Aurora Century 16 movie theater. The deadly rampage targeted people inside a midnight showing of “The Dark Knight Rises”. According to Police Commissioner, Raymond Kelly, the shooter had painted his hair red and was in a costume, stating that he was the “Joker”, a character in the film. According to the New York Daily News website, the suspect arrested was 24-year-old James Holmes, who would later boast to police that he was “channeling Batman’s arch nemesis.”
This raises many questions:
Are all movies simply “harmless entertainment”?
Do some movies/video games inspire violence?
Is it possible that some movies are demonic?
To answer these questions, let’s look at the facts. In the journal, Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, researchers report that watching violence portrayed in movies and other media may make teens more accepting of violence. Also, let’s consider a few incidents of where murder/violence was connected to violent and evil movies/video games. As you may recall, in 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold launched an assault on Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, murdering 13 and wounding 23 before turning the guns on themselves. According to Serendip, an educational website, Harris and Klebold both enjoyed playing the bloody, shoot-’em-up video game Doom, a game licensed by the U.S. military to train soldiers to effectively kill. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which tracks Internet hate groups, found in its archives a copy of Harris’ web site with a version of Doom. He had customized it so that there were two shooters, each with extra weapons and unlimited ammunition, and the other people in the game could not fight back. For a class project, Harris and Klebold made a videotape that was similar to their customized version of Doom. In the video, Harris and Klebold were dressed in trench coats, carried guns, and killed school athletes. They acted out their videotaped performance in real life less than a year later. Furthermore, the movie, “Natural Born Killers” was also an influence for the perpetrators of the Columbine massacre, with the phrase “going NBK” in the journal entries of the killers signaling the start of their rampage.
There are other movies which have been linked to murders, suicides and attempted suicides. Movies such as: Scream, Money Train, A Clockwork Orange, The Collector, The Basketball Diaries, The Matrix, Taxi Driver, RoboCop 2 ,Magnum Force, The Deer Hunter, The Program, The Child’s Play series, Girl Interrupted, Twilight, and probably many more which were not recorded. It was also reported that the movie, “Breaking Dawn”, caused many people to have seizures who had never had photosensitivity epilepsy or seizures before. Furthermore, a 1997 episode of “Pokemon” caused nearly 700 viewers to suffer seizures. This brings to mind an occurrence in the Bible. Remember the account in Luke 9 where a boy had seizures due to a demon? I will list the scripture below – but it is safe to say that, yes, some movies can be demonic.
Luke 9:37-43MSG states: “When they came down off the mountain the next day, a big crowd was there to meet them. A man called from out of the crowd, “Please, please, Teacher, take a look at my son. He’s my only child. Often a spirit seizes him. Suddenly he’s screaming, thrown into convulsions, his mouth foaming. And then it beats him black and blue before it leaves. I asked your disciples to deliver him but they couldn’t.” Jesus said, “What a generation! No sense of God! No focus to your lives! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring your son here.” While he was coming, the demon slammed him to the ground and threw him into convulsions. Jesus stepped in, ordered the vile spirit gone, healed the boy, and handed him back to his father. They all shook their heads in wonder, astonished at God’s greatness, God’s majestic greatness.”
Not only can evil, demonic movies affect the watcher, but it can also affect the actors/actresses/film makers in a negative way. Olin Miller once said, “According to the reformers, most of the movies have unsound effects.” Pastor Mark Driscoll, of Seattle, echoes this sentiment by saying, “A movie is a sermon with pictures.” Again, we must watch out for what we are allowing ourselves to watch. Mail Online produced an article entitled, “The Curse of Batman”. In the article, the reporter states: The devastating shooting at a screening of the new Batman film comes after a string of tragic incidences surrounding the film franchise that has led some to say the film is cursed. Before this shooting spree, one of the greatest tragedies associated with the film was the death of Heath Ledger, who played the Joker in The Dark Knight. The actor was found dead in his Manhattan apartment in January 2008 after taking an accidental drugs overdose, six months before the film’s release. Conway Wickliffe, a New Zealand-born special effects technician, died while working on that film. He was on a camera truck filming a stunt when it crashed into a tree in October 2007. Another cast member was struck by the ‘curse’ of Batman – but fortunately survived. Morgan Freeman, who played Lucius Fox in the film, was seriously injured in a car accident in Mississippi in August 2008. His co-star, and the star of the franchise, Christian Bale, hit the headlines in July 2008 when he was arrested for allegedly assaulting his mother and sister shortly before the London’s premiere.The sequel, The Dark Knight Rises, suffered upsets during filming. A stunt double for Anne Hathaway, who plays Catwoman, reportedly crashed into expensive camera equipment during filming in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in August last year. Days later the Batwing vehicle was half destroyed in an accident.
Furthermore, New York Daily News reported the following: Heath Ledger thought landing the demanding role of the Joker was a dream come true – but now some think it was a nightmare that led to his tragic death. Jack Nicholson, who played the Joker in 1989 – and who was furious he wasn’t consulted about the creepy role – offered a cryptic comment when told Ledger was dead. “Well,” Nicholson told reporters in London, “I warned him.” Ledger told reporters he “slept an average of two hours a night” while playing “a psychopathic, mass-murdering, schizophrenic clown with zero empathy.” Tony Timpone, editor of the fantasy magazine Fangoria, said the movie should do well, despite the “cloud over it” from Ledger’s death. “It’s going to be tough, because the Joker is such an indelible character, and Heath was such an indelible actor. It could be tough to disassociate ourselves from reality. Because the movie looks like it’s going to be so dark, and his life had such a dark end.”
My whole reason for producing this blog post is to sound the warning – NOT ALL ENTERTAINMENT IS HARMLESS. Satan cleverly packages evil in a movie, in a video game, in a book, in something that seems harmless – but beware. It’s much like Las Vegas with all of its lights and shimmer – it looks beautiful on the outside but it is known as “Sin City.” The outside of a cup or dish may be clean and sparkling, but if it is dirty on the inside, who would want to drink or eat from it? In Matthew 23, Jesus teaches how foolish it would be to strain your water for gnats, yet swallow a camel. Likewise, He went on to say, “…Hypocrites! For you are so careful to clean the outside of the cup and the dish, but inside you are filthy—full of greed and self-indulgence! You blind Pharisee! First wash the inside of the cup and the dish,and then the outside will become clean, too” Matthew 23:25-26NLT. How does watching a violent movie please the Lord or make us more like Christ? What is our heart-felt motive for wanting to view such evil movies? Aren’t there better things we could do with our time? Those of us who bear the name of Christ are to be a light in this world and to come out from among the sin of the world. What is the point of filling our minds with stupidity, evil, violence, and filth? Please friend, watch what you allow yourself to watch or engage in. Only when we lay aside these weights and hindrances will we see the Holy Spirit move strongly in our lives. Only then can we overcome sin and be more than conquerors through Christ Jesus. Only then can we truly make an impact on the world around us for the good.
“All the ways of a man seem right to him, but the Lord evaluates the motives.” ~Proverbs 21:2
“Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them.” ~Ephesians 5:10-11
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” ~Ephesians 5:15-16ESV