The Spiritual Landscape
The Lone Ranger's Missing Virtue
What is also disturbing is the attitude of some filmmakers and actors in all of this. Far too many resolutely refuse to reflect on the boundaries surrounding their work and they take refuge in the notion that they are "just entertainers." And, yet, the United States has no larger concentration of self-appointed social architects than does Hollywood, California. It is nothing short of hypocrisy for actors, filmmakers, and the people who finance them to tell us how to live and, at the same time, make a fortune by making movies about the consequence-free destruction of life, limb, and planet.
Integrity, if not chastity, ought to force the worst abusers of their art to surrender their claims to do one or the other. If they refuse to exercise better judgment in the execution of their craft, then perhaps those of us who go to the movies will need to help them. That certainly appears to be the trend with the audience's response to "The Lone Ranger." The film will never recover the investment made in it (at least at the box office) and rightly so. After a lackluster opening, one of the film's makers mused that it's hard to know what went wrong with a movie that was so conscientiously designed to appeal to viewers of all ages.
Really? Did he think that throwing in the cute kid at the Wild West Exhibit would appeal to children and the villain who eats his victim's heart would appeal to the sadism in the rest of the audience? That's the very kind of miscalculation that arises from a lack of chastity. That's what went wrong. Cross those boundaries and treat them with disregard often enough, and both the shock and entertainment value ebbs away. What is left is the kind of boredom that comes from an artistic world that shouts, "nothing matters." Indeed it doesn't, not even enough to bother crossing the theater's threshold.
Near the end of Disney's flop the Lone Ranger cries, "Hi-yo, Silver, away!"
Tonto cautions, "Don't do that again."
Thankfully, he probably won't.
Frederick W. Schmidt is the author of The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Life in Hard Times (Abingdon Press: 2013) and several other books, including A Still Small Voice: Women, Ordination and the Church (Syracuse University Press, 1998), The Changing Face of God (Morehouse, 2000), When Suffering Persists (Morehouse, 2001), in Italian translation: Sofferenza, All ricerca di una riposta (Torino: Claudiana, 2004), What God Wants for Your Life (Harper, 2005), Conversations with Scripture: Revelation (Morehouse, 2005) and Conversations with Scripture: Luke (Morehouse, 2009). He holds the Rueben P. Job Chair in Spiritual Formation at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, IL, and directs the Job Institute for Spiritual formation. He is an Episcopal Priest, spiritual director, retreat facilitator, conference leader, writer, and Consulting Editor at Church Publishing in New York. He and his wife, Natalie live in Chicago, Illinois. He can also be reached at: http://frederickwschmidt.com/