A couple of months ago I was flipping channels late one night and Jessica Simpson was guest on Conan. They were doing the usual chit chat when they began to talk about fact that she was pregnant with her second child with current fiance Eric Johnson. She talked about how it wasn’t really planned, I mean they just had baby number one a year ago, but that they were excited.
Friends, our culture is backwards. And Hollywood is for it. To top it off, the media actually “covers” Hollywood. Think about that. It’s funny, but it’s not.
We live in a culture in which marriage is declining. Less and less people are getting married. And those that are, are doing so much later. But they are not waiting to do “married” things, such as live together and have children. In fact, in the United States today more women have their first kid out of wedlock than in it, and for many that is by choice.
There are so many reasons for all of this and I’ve debated on whether to even bring Hollywood into the discussion here, but I think if we are going to talk about singleness and marriage in our current culture we can’t leave it out. Hollywood and the media are part of the reason that there is less and less marriage in America.
We are a media and entertainment society. It’s everywhere, all the time. Hollywood has gained power and influence because of it. If we are going to walk with Jesus in the culture we need to be sure that we know what is going on around us.
First, there are the movies and TV shows that Hollywood puts out. I actually believe there is more good writing, producing, acting and compelling entertainment than ever before. I’m not really “against” it. But because we are so inundated with it, we need to make sure we realize the subtle messages it sends including these four:
1. Romance almost always equals sex, and sex right now. Quick, name one TV show or movie where the main characters fall in love and wait until marriage to have sex. Sex is always for right now and not tied to commitment or consequence.
2. Ending up together is always the end, never the beginning. The message is this, all the struggle, journey, and fun is in getting the person. Ending up together is the end of the story. In real life it is more like the beginning. But when you grow up on TV and movies your expectations don’t line up with that.
3. Fewer and fewer shows have a working marriage in them. There are some. Friday Night Lights had perhaps the most realistic marriage I’ve ever seen on TV. But compared to even 15 years ago the pictures of marriage are small.
4. The married guy is almost always the one with the boring life. The husband stereotype is extremely bad. They are all either passive, distant, mean or stupid. Almost never is the hero of the movie married. Again there are some (Cinderella Man comes to mind) but they are in the minority.
But all of what I’ve said so far isn’t Hollywood’s only impact on marriage. There are two other big factors to recognize.
We have allowed a group of people who are entertainers by trade to dominate our culture with their personal lives. Their lives are a mess, and yet somehow what they do and say carries sway.
Now some of us watch the mess because we like to judge them and build our own self righteousness. Others of us watch them (read about them, follow them on twitter, etc) because we are entertained by their chaos. Oddly both of these negate the fact that these are actual people. They’re not “real” and yet we follow them – and they are not getting married.
Entertainment is always both a reflection of our current society and an attempt to influence it. Which leads me to an important point I want to make. I believe that the Hollywood Elites are basically opposed to marriage. It’s not a conspiracy or anything but we need to understand that the people running the show (literally) are not on the side of covenant marriage with one person for life, and it shows in everything they do.
The only marriage the Hollywood Elites are for is gay marriage. And frankly if it were legal everywhere they’d probably be against that.
Finally, because there is so much entertainment available it’s easy for singles to use entertainment and entertainers as their escape from loneliness. It used to be that entertainment was something you went to – with other people. Now it comes to you – on your phone. This is not helpful for singles looking to engage others or pursue relationship.
What does this have to do with walking with Jesus in our culture? Everything. If we are going to love people around us we need to recognize that this stuff has impact on them. And, like it or not, we are impacted by it. We don’t have to turn it all off, but we do need to be intentional about how we let it influence us as well as recognize how it influences those around us.
How do you think the entertainment industry has affected your singleness? How has it shaped your view of marriage?