It’s Time To Bring Morality Back Into Entertainment

Why don’t movie reviews take morality into account when they do reviews? Or at least base part of their reviews on whether the movie even has a message?

Why don’t TV and movie executives consider how moral the shows they are creating are? Why can’t they aim to also include the need for messages into their decision-making process?

I guess people could say that morality is subjective or that there are a million different messages that could be spread. Fine. But that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be included at ALL, does it? After all, what ends up happening is the clear bias we see in Hollywood, and especially on television towards either having no message at all or a morally relativistic message, both of which DO actually come from a belief system.

This makes no sense to me, that we run our media this way. That we pretend that it isn’t actually the myth-maker of our nation. That we hide from the fact that every country since the dawn of time used its stories to guide it towards the morality it believed in.

We’ve blinded ourselves into a false definition of art. One that is based only on “skill” and/or “profitability”. But people forget that the ultimate skill of art is to turn it into something that uplifts people, that directs them towards a certain truth. The artists we remember the most, like Bob Marley for example, were the ones that made that happen. Anyone else could only be considered a “celebrity”.

Causing people to feel moved or entertained or amused doesn’t require as much skill as being a myth-maker. A story-teller with a message. We’ve forgotten that, and it’s a shame.

But perhaps now, as we see social media proliferate, as technology starts to bring people what they want, whether executives or Hollywood celebrities like it or not, we will see the creation of real myths. Of stories with messages. Of true skill being brought to the fore.

Hollywood is breaking down. The people who had a chance to really create powerful messages through their medium are losing their grasp. There is an opportunity here for people to change the emptiness of our national myths. It could happen. It might happen. It can happen.

But it will require people with vision to make it happen.

  • zuter

    I think you answered your own question. A lot of media has a message that relates to a moral system. You may see that system as amoral or relativistic, and you may be right. But a lot of social changes happening in our society are not just reflected in TV, movies, music, etc, but are fueled by them. If you agree with those changes, then you would see that as a moral victory. I think many in the media are very aware that they are the myth-makers of our culture.

  • I agree with Zuter that you answered your own question. You point out “the clear bias we see in Hollywood, and especially on television towards either having no message at all or a morally relativistic message, both of which DO actually come from a belief
    system.”

    It seems to me that this is what happens when a bunch of writers and directors influenced by postmodernism who believe that the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth meets a bunch of executives who want a bland product that won’t offend anyone so lots of people will watch and it will make a lot of money. The result is often bland and trite homilies: “Love conquers all.” “Follow your heart.” “Don’t get mad, get even.” And so on.

    It would be good challenge this, but I wouldn’t want a load of stories that simplistically put forward moral views I agree with. Art should provoke and challenge by raising difficult questions, not by providing easy answers.

    • Rebecca K.

      Mr. Saunders, I think you have pinpointed the problem:

      Traditionally, a lot of the artwork of “believers” (who may or may not be Jewish) has been overpowered by the message, with less attention to the “art” aspect, the aesthetic, creative, and innovative elements of their work. I will confess right now that some of my own writing has been like this. The problem is that most pieces of writing, film, and so on must win readers/viewers/whatever with their artistic merits.

      Thank G-d, I see that there are more and more artists out there who are striving to overcome this barrier. I think one strategy that has really worked (like in Ruchama King Feuerman’s writing, and in the recent movie, “Fill the Void) is to set the story in the world of morality, but let the plot and characterizations transcend the Jewish world to reflect more broadly human concerns.

  • Tuvia

    Hollywood is interested only in making money. Fair, as it is an industry.

    Many movies have a pretty good morality. There is a good guy, a bad guy, good vanquishes evil or dies trying. There is a formula at work, but that’s because most stories are problem/attempt to solve/obstacles/more obstacles/final showdown/ending/roll credits.

    Hollywood cannot find a way to make small, good movies easily. One good example that did well was Little Miss Sunshine, which was very popular and had a very interesting message about the value of family.

    But generally small good movies are not worth their time. Better to make Transformers 13, as the whole world including China and Russia and India will go see it and it is less of a financial risk.

    But people universally identify the good guy and the bad guy – so it is not correct to say there is no morality. It would be interesting if some country found the bad guy losing sad, and rejected the movie on those grounds. We don’t see that.