Vol. 2 Issue 3 | January 22, 2015
THREE THINGS THIS WEEK
1. SUICIDE SQUAD
What It Is: The first trailer for the upcoming film.
Why It’s Important: With the slogans “Worst heroes ever” and “Justice has a bad side,” Suicide Squad continues to blur the lines between good and bad, hero and villain, by creating anti-heroes whose very evil sometimes leads to good outcomes. (Others to do so: Daredevil, Jessica Jones, James Bond, Arrow, and Deadpool.) For Suicide Squad that means the newest version of the age-old myth that violence is both normal and salvific. Two ideas from the trailer are worth talking about with your students: 1. Some people are so evil, they are beyond redemption; and 2. Violence is justifiable if it turns out good in the end.
2. 75 MILLION USERS
What It Is: Netflix announced that it has reached 75 million users worldwide.
Why It’s Important: The company also revealed the release dates and trailers for many of its original shows, as well as a plan to produce 600 hours of programming that will be available in 200 countries in 2016. Clearly, Netflix has become a loud voice in the cultural cacophony, but do we know what that voice is saying? Here’s a helpful cheat sheet for setting up parental controls, but nothing can replace talking with students about the content and holding them accountable for what and how much they watch.
What It Is: To mark the 43rd anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Center for Reproductive Rights launched their Draw the Line campaign, in which famous actresses tell abortion stories to “draw the line against attacks on safe and legal abortion.”
Why It’s Important: Having celebrities tell stories that detail the experiences of women who chose to have abortions is powerful and formative. In the video with Elizabeth Banks, the woman is thankful that her friends and family supported her because “the life they were most concerned about was mine.” Powerfully deceptive. Do students know why this is misleading? Have we talked with them about the lifelong consequences of abortion? Do they know that we value the lives of unborn children and their mothers? Offer students a different vision, one in which Christians intervene on behalf of the lives of mothers and their children to bring life, not death.
MOVIE REVIEW: THE FIFTH WAVE
This adaptation of Rick Yancey’s 2013 novel pits humanity against global disaster at the hands of extraterrestrial invaders. Pick from a smorgasbord of apocalyptic scenarios—electronics failure, plagues, planetwide manhunts—then view them through the eyes of high schoolers who lose their families in the fray. All the dramas of normal teen life, from football practice and homework to unrequited crushes and social media tension, are replaced by one mission: “Protect Your Own,” as the movie poster declares.
Apocalyptic scenarios are a fantasy of simplicity—with civilization collapsing, life’s complexities are reduced to clear goals: survival, loyalty, family. We may become fascinated with these stories because we often get lost in the banality of our existence. We long for a clear purpose and mission, to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Life is so replete with the mundane that its difficult to recognize that grand adventure taking place all around us. Maybe that’s why this genre is so appealing to students. They long for a cathartic release from the normal, to experience a world in which their decisions really matter, where they have a real part to play in the salvation of the world.
But as followers of Christ, we do have a clear mission: To join God in His global rescue project. We are called to protect the oppressed, serve the unfortunate, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, and heal the hurting. Being God’s agents of restoration is the most fulfilling mission objective there is!
Talk with your students about real-world suffering and think of ways your family/school/church can meet real needs in your community or beyond. The 5th Wave and other end-of-the-world movies can remind us of our real objectives and inspire us to act on behalf of the marginalized, giving new meaning and mission to daily life.
Correction: In last week’s issue, we incorrectly typed the name of Meghan Trainor’s new song. It’s called “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” not “Like I’m Donna Lose You.”