Sin in Storytelling

Sin in Storytelling November 29, 2012

My friend Daniel McInerny (“Son of Ralph”) has a great piece just out on the depictions of evil and sin in art and storytelling.


There’s a nice big quote from me.

Hollywood screenwriter Barbara Nicolosi sizes up the distinction between these two approaches in this helpful way: “The depiction of evil in art becomes a problem when the evil acts fall into the realm of what Aristotle, in his Poetics, calls ‘spectacle.’ Spectacle, appropriately, is the sixth and lowest element on the hierarchy of story elements. It is the answer to the question, ‘What makes this work fascinating or delightful – especially to the senses – for the audience?’ If the answer to that question is, ‘the gory way in which the life was ejected out of a human body,’ then you have made human suffering your spectacle. This is problematic…. As Blessed John Paul II’s personalist ethics stressed: It is never legitimate to use a human being in any way for any purpose. So, in the arts, we can’t use the suffering of another human being for entertainment.”

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