Here’s an update on the Sex and the City and Christianity Today movie review ordeal…
Sex and the City was an HBO television series (1998-2004) that won 7 Emmy Awards.
The SATC movie (rated R) was released on May 30 with more of the same, what the Chicago Tribune labels “outré fashion, casual sex and dubious cocktails” and “plenty of eye candy for the ladies (think naked men and haute couture).” Not your typical Christian movie.
However, Christianity Today’s Camerin Courtney wrote a fairly explicit and positive review, giving SATC 3 stars (CT gave Prince Caspian 2.5 stars).
People criticized CT for positively reviewing a “pornographic movie.”
Carolyn McCulley (a CT contributor herself) writes an exceptional response to the CT review: “the pot with the proverbial frog has boiled over. The changes that have come about with the introduction of ‘sex positive’ or ‘porn positive’ third-wave feminism, beginning in the early 1990s, have now so thoroughly permeated our culture that even evangelicals fail to see the trend or the danger.”
CT responded to the swarm of criticism by defending the original review.
Then yesterday Ted Slater of Boundless called CT to *repent* over the review (and the defense of the review) in an article simply titled “Christianity Today Relishes Sexual Perversion.”
Then this, a letter from a friend to CT yesterday. This letter models important discernment, but is also helpful in showing that non-Christian reviewers have no problem letting moral flaws in a film sink the film. Posted by permission.
Sent: Tuesday, June 10, 2008 3:06 PM
Subject: SATC Review
My greatest hesitancy in writing this e-mail is that it will prove irrelevant, both in CT’s disregard for it, and in it being simply a drop in the bucket of critique that you will no doubt receive.
I’m not sure exactly what your policy is in assigning movie reviews, but it seems your qualifications include neither doctrinal discernment nor artistic objectivity. Where to begin? I’ll make this brief, given my misgivings about the time investment in this e-mail. Most simply, the review sounds like little more than the giddy babblings of a TV fan whose favorite show finally made it to the silver screen. When there is an attempt to be “Christian,” all we hear are criticisms of superficial, intelligence-insulting “Christian circles.” Hooray for the balm of SATC, which ministers to my deepest needs by speaking to “the complexities of relationships in a postmodern age”! Boy, do I feel better.
The spiritual immaturity revealed by this review is stunning. Even as Ms. Courtney excoriates benighted (presumably evangelical) Christians, she reveals her own superficiality, bringing not a whiff of discernment to her entire review beyond her warning of sex and nudity (thanks for that, Camerin!). Fine—“the movie wrestles with complex realities of life.” Can you, trusted reviewer, evaluate just how it so wrestles? What answers it provides? How Scripture might evaluate these questions (and the movie’s handling of them)? It appears that Ms. Courtney’s evaluative bar is no higher than having “a single woman’s sexuality acknowledged.” I have no real hope of finding in a CT movie review a sense of sorrow, indignation—even a blush or two?—over the depiction and glorification of things that Scripture calls “sin.” I would have at least hoped for a biblical worldview to have somehow colored the perspective given in the review. Instead, I read praise for SATC’s “smart dialogue … heart … Not to mention eye-candy galore in the leading men and odd-yet-fabulous fashions.” Astonishing (c’mon, Camerin, really—“eye candy”?).
One could find more intelligence and discernment in the secular press than in the pages of CT. In fact, I did. Quoting from a review in the Washington Post, the movie version of SATC “succeeds just as well” as the TV show in “its unapologetic materialism, raunchiness and heroines who managed to be sympathetic even in the midst of almost pathological self-absorption …” What Ms. Courtney labels “well-developed characters,” the Post’s review calls “appallingly shallow and narcissistic; their friendship often seems based on the fact that they’re simply each other’s best mirrors.”
Hmmm … I wonder which review I’d rather young Christian women read?
PS- So what connection does this blog post have to the cross?
Philippians 3:18-19 “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
It’s helpful to discern the centrality of the cross in all things. But we must simultaneously discern the worldliness that stands in direct contradistinction to the cross.