Vol. 2 Issue 11 | March 18, 2016
Three Things This Week
1. Terrence Malick
Why he's important: “Christian” movies are a booming niche in Hollywood. Sadly, most are so bereft of artistry and excellence that to call them Christian is an insult to our role as co-creators. Though Malick’s films are not branded as overtly Christian, they function as “cinematic liturgies that seek to orient the hearts and minds of viewers” through a style that captures imaginations and shapes beliefs through beauty and kinesthetics. Malick’s films offer the world goodness, beauty, and truth through both form and narrative. To paraphrase C.S. Lewis, the world doesn’t need more “Christian” movies; it needs more Christians making excellent movies.
What it is: The South by Southwest (SXSW) festival (March 11-19) in Austin, Texas is becoming the premier place for innovation and discovery in music, indie film, and technology.
Why it's important: With over 72,000 attendees, SXSW is a perfect example of humanity’s ability to collaborate, co-create, and cultivate new and transformative content via film screenings, music showcases, and emerging-tech presentations. Last year, the mobile live-casting app Meerkat exploded at the festival, proving that the “next big thing” to influence students will probably come out of Austin this week.
3. Fitness > Drinking
What it is: Millennials are drinking less alcohol than their parents, with the number of drinkers aged 16 to 24 dropping dramatically in recent years.
Why it's good: Students are exchanging beer’s bloat for six-pack abs, citing health reasons for the decline in consumption. Research also indicates that 41% of Gen-Y drinkers think alcohol is less important to their own social lives than to their parents’.
Why it's bad: While students are spending less time partying, they are spending more time online, leading to an increase in depression and loneliness. Talk with your students about the danger of replacing one addictive habit (alcohol) with another (social media).
The Divergent Series: Allegiant
As I watched the third installment of the dystopian Divergent movie series, I simultaneously listened to two teen girls swooning every time Four gazed lovingly at Tris or removed his shirt to reveal his physique. Somewhere between rolling my eyes and fighting back a gag reflex, I was twinged with guilt, realizing that only a few years ago, I was them.
Teens often have a terrible habit of missing the forest for the trees, zeroing in on the here and now so intensely that they can hardly think beyond the moment. My teen self was not immune: I was obsessed with romantic love because I couldn’t imagine anything in life being better, so I lived vicariously through on-screen romances (Landon and Jamie, Noah and Allie, and Christian and Satine come to mind), profoundly experiencing their emotions. *Sigh*
With Allegiant, the danger for younger viewers is just that: becoming so emotionally invested in the romance (and/or engulfed in the sci-fi action) that they completely miss the compelling dilemmas it poses. But Tris isn’t one-dimensional; she also learns to make sacrifices, even for people who have betrayed her. All of the characters have to decide if the ends justify the means, if peace is worth more than autonomy, and if certain groups of people should be treated better than others. The narrative also presents other questions like: How far is too far? How will our actions affect future generations? and How do we right our wrongs?
Though many teens may become enthralled with the books/movies for shallow reasons, we can help them think beyond the distractions, drawing them into discussion and getting them to consider dilemmas that don’t have clear-cut answers. Like The Hunger Games and other similar series, The Divergent Series seems shallow at first, but it offers substance without being preachy. Yet students may never notice that substance if we don’t help them see it. Looking back, I know my teen self desperately needed that guidance.
Editor, The Culture Translator