American Beauty is Not What’s Wrong with America

Every once in a while there comes a movie that really makes me stop and think. Those who have read these thoughts for a while know this.

Everyone once in a while there comes a movie that makes Christians throw their arms up in the air and declare that this is what’s wrong with America. Every once in a while such a film wins an Oscar for Best Picture. And every once in a while I throw my arms up in the air and declare that Christians just don’t get it.

Squeakies. As Bono once said, “Christians are hard to tolerate, I don’t know how Jesus does it…I’m one of them.”

Tonight I watched American Beauty.

It contained one actual sex scene, one implied sex scene, one almost sex scene, two breast shots, a couple butt shots, two instances of masturbation, multiple scenes of drug use, multiple scenes of alcohol consumption, including an under-age drinker, an affair, a near-affair, domestic abuse, child abuse, portrayal of a fatalistic attitude, portrayal of a slutty attitude, portrayal of a selfish, materialistic attitude, disobedience and lack of respect for parents, divorce, a portrayal of the homosexual lifestyle, a portrayal of violent bigotry towards the homosexual lifestyle, violence, murder, and multiple profanities and instances where the Lord’s name was taken in vain.

I think that about covers it. And this is what so many Christians see when they watch this movie. They throw up their arms and declare that this is what’s wrong with America. Hollywood dares to show us this filth.

Am I denying that it’s filth? No. It is. My point is that the filth is not what’s wrong with America. The filth is inherent in every American. It’s inherent in every Christian. It’s inherent in every person. It’s called sin. That doesn’t mean it’s okay. That means it requires the very essence of the Christian faith. It does not require a moral condemnation and suggestion that good Christians never watch the movie.

American Beauty is darkly tragic look at the modern American family. It’s so filthy because the modern American family is so messed up. Hollywood is simply serving as a mirror.

I just wish that for once Squeakies would look beyond the surface and see that rather than a condemnation, a call to action is warranted. Do people on your block live like the family in American Beauty? If so, you better get your butt next door and be the neighbor you’re supposed to be. That family doesn’t need you to tell them how sinful they are. They need a solution.

The essence of the Christian faith is not a good, clean, sparkly life. Ned Flanders is not the epitome of a God-fearing Christian. American Beauty requires the essence of the Christian faith, and if Christians can’t see that, what do we think we’re doing?

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