Checking Out: Taking a Hall Pass on Character & Commitment

Posted: March 9, 2011 in Faith/Christianity, Parents & Families, Youth Culture & Trends

I was recently updating the What’s Hot? section on my Youth Culture page, and was researching the top movies for the past week.  I couldn’t help but wonder about the moral implications and cultural significance of this week’s #4 box office flick, Hall Pass…as well as her ugly cousins, Just Go With It, Take Me Home Tonight, and No Strings Attached.  

We’ve been hearing the message for quite some time that the moral and ethical standards of our culture have become much lower than what ought to be expected, and these four movies, in theatres as we speak, justifies that perception.  I’ve always encouraged parents and teens to explore the ‘guts’ of a movie, music, entertainment decision before they make it…to really ask some questions of what this particular media option is all about.  Questions like; “What is the moral message?”…“What does it say about sexuality/relationships?”…“What does it say about the sanctity of life?”…”Will this cause me to compromise my convictions/standards?”…”Would I be embarrassed if Jesus was sitting beside me?” So how would we answer those questions to the above movies?

The recent rash (and I use the word rash very specifically!) of movies like Hall Pass, and others, are likely to do fairly well at the box office…why?  Well Hall Pass, and friends, all encompass what the majority of society already accepts and validates within the relationships and friendships we have (see list below)…if it feels good, then go with it!  Now I won’t spoil the ‘plotline’(and I even have to admit that I sheepishly chuckled at the “does this napkin smell like chloroform to you?” line when I first saw the trailer), but even Hall Pass gets the fact that cheating on your spouse isn’t a cool thing to do…although that epiphany doesn’t come until after several attempts to cheat on their spouse! 

But what do these kinds of movies say about other aspects of relationship do’s and don’ts?  Here’s some thoughts I came across from Dave Smith’s Youth Culture Window (I’ll paraphrase, but you can check out the article here);

  • obligation and responsibility are always optional
  • real actions= no real consequences…especially when sex is involved
  • sex and commitment should be kept separate
  • wedding vows can be put on pause, then switched back on
  • lying gets you out of trouble…especially cleaver, multiples lies
  • telling the truth might work…but only as a last resort when everything else fails
  • I can have whatever, whoever, whenever I want…no one ever gets hurt
  • if you can’t control yourself, don’t deny what you crave
  • manipulation & being fake is ok, as long as you get what you want in the end
  • in the end…everything usually gets fixed…marriages, relationships, friendships, careers, houses, cars…no harm, no foul!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve used a hall pass a few times in high school, and even though it provided a level of ‘freedom’ to roam about at certain times…there were still consequences to be answered for if that ‘roaming’ didn’t meet certain expectations and guidelines.  So while movies like Hall Pass, and the 2000 or so others over the past 30 years, want to nudge us to close our eyes to accountability, morality, purity, faithfulness, integrity and character…or at least blink frequently, I hope we do know there’s a higher, less traveled road we’re called to take

Relationships are hard work, and so I encourage all you parents and teens to keep working hard at modeling what an authentic and healthy family, marriage, dating, co-worker and classmate relationship/friendship looks like.  There’s way too many people around us looking to take the short-cut when it comes to morals and ethics…and Hollywood only reinforces the pursuit of laziness and casual commitment in life.  So don’t be duped into taking a hall pass on your character…skip the pass, and stay in class!

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