Again the Curmudgeon Comes Out: Some Miscellaneous Complaints

Again the Curmudgeon Comes Out: Some Miscellaneous Complaints December 19, 2015

Okay, what’s a blog for if not once in a while using it to complain about annoying, disturbing, troubling events? I know many readers will disagree with me and think these complaints only reflect my personal pet peeves. Of course, I don’t think so. I think we should all be troubled by them, but I know well not everyone will agree. And they’re not earth-shattering events. But they illustrate trends I find troubling and problematic for our Christianity and culture.

Was I the only one dismayed when golden voiced Jordan Smith (winner of “The Voice” competition on television) sang “Anyway You Want It?” He’s a magnificent singer; his voice is almost miraculous. And part of it is the ease with which he warbles. I don’t actually watch “The Voice,” but my wife does and loves it. I hear it from another part of the house and occasionally walk into the room while she’s watching. She mentioned this Christian crooner to me and said he is somehow associated with Lee University–a Pentecostal (Church of God) institution of higher education in Tennessee. So, because of his association with Lee U. and (I learned after he won the competition) his serving as a music leader at a church, I was primed to think of him as leaning toward the “Holiness” side of Christianity. (Historically the Church of God, Cleveland, Tennessee has believed in and promoted “holiness of life” including separation from everything “worldly.”) When I was growing up Pentecostal just listening to songs like “Anyway You Want It” would be enough to not be raptured when the Lord returned for “his own.”

I became interested in Smith because of his absolutely unbelievable voice and his courageous singing of “Great Is They Faithfulness” and “Mary Did You Know?” on prime time television in a contest show like “The Voice.” I formed the opinion of him as striving to use his God-given talent to be a “testimony” to the world. Then I was dismayed when he (in the grand finale episode) sang–with a sexy group of back up singers–“Anyway You Want It.” A guest in our house asked me why I was crestfallen about it. I answered honestly, from my heart, as “old school” as I knew it sounded and was: “There went his testimony.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not opposed to all “crossover” entertainment by Christians. I have known some wonderful Christian musicians who also wrote and performed fine secular music. I don’t fault them–unless they write or sing salacious music. (And if anyone tries to tell me “Anyway You Want It” isn’t salacious I’ll just laugh at their naivety.)

Another, even more serious, disappointment was the TCM (Turner Classic Movie) channel’s airing of the very salacious 1971 movie “Summer of ’42.” But salacious movies are commonplace–all over the channel line up. My complaint, my disappointment, my anger (!) comes from the undeniable fact that “Summer of ’42” romanticizes child sexual abuse. IF it were a movie romanticizing an adult man seducing a teenage girl, it would not be shown on television. But, as I have complained here before, our culture still has a double standard about this. A woman seducing a teenage boy is okay–unless she is his teacher. Then she may get a stern slap on the wrist. But, otherwise, we still by-and-large think she did him a favor. We don’t consider it “child abuse,” anyway.

So you might ask how I know about the content of “Summer of ’42.” I watched it once–years ago–not really knowing its salacious character. That really only comes out in the last few minutes of the movie–although a discerning viewer (I wasn’t) can see it coming. A fifteen year old boy is seduced into sex by an adult woman–all in soft focus with romantic music playing. There is no question that viewers are supposed to be thrilled for both of them.

Now, turn the sexes around. What if the movie, even of that vintage, romantically portrayed, with nudity, an adult male seducing a fifteen year old girl? It would not be shown on television and, if it were, loud cries of protest would pour in to the channel that dared to show it. Everyone would call it rape. I realize there were films like that long ago, but they are never, ever shown on mainstream television. I hope they have been destroyed. They probably have been.

Not very long ago, in the city where I live, a thirty-something man was sentenced to forty years in prison for having consensual sex with a sixteen year old girl. Forty years. No force was used; the sex was absolutely consensual insofar as that word applies at all in such a case. (It really doesn’t. Here by it I only mean no physical force or threats were used.) When has an adult woman ever been sentenced to forty years in prison for having sex with a teenage boy? Never that I have heard of.

Not long ago I met an old acquaintance. His teenage son occasionally did our lawn work (for pay, of course) and, when he was fourteen, I helped him with his homework. I asked the man about the boy who was then sixteen and I had not seen him for two years. They had moved out to a suburb–away from our neighborhood. The man began to cry and told me his sixteen year old son had moved out of his house and was living with a woman teacher. He said his son told him that he and the teacher slept together. He also reported to me that he had tried to get authorities to help him recover his son and prosecute the teacher, to no avail. Literally nobody with any authority was interested in investigating the situation. The attitude he continually ran into was that the woman was doing his son a favor (although nobody would actually say that).

Remember the movie “The Reader?” How about “Big”–starring Tom Hanks? I could name others that portrayed sexual relationships between adult women and boys as romantic in a way that would be totally unacceptable if the genders were reversed. (And don’t tell me the Tom Hanks character in “Big” was an adult; he wasn’t. He was a thirteen year old boy inside an adult man’s body. Again, imagine the genders reversed.)

I say “shame!” on TCM for airing “Summer of ’42”–even if the nudity was omitted (which I don’t know because I didn’t watch it). The whole them of the movie is offensive.


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