Sunday, July 13, 2008

Fan Fare

To quote the old Peanuts comic strip, I just can't stand it! Every checkout and web portal screams a headline about the arrival of the Jolie/Pitt twins...

I understand that you can't look to the popular media for staunch morality, and that instead pop media turns a profit by focussing on the latest grand displays of immorality. But enough is enough.

First, there was the ripping apart of Britney Spears in the media. The girl displayed blatant signs of post-partum depression or some other chemical imbalance long before her public fall from grace. Yet the press displayed nothing short of intense cruelty by its choice to detail her every misstep. Their actions were self-serving, and uncalled for.

And now we witness the flip-side, i.e., the current fawning by media over the Jolie/Pitts, as vile a duo as there ever was. While I can appreciate dear Angelina's work with the UN and on the part of disadvantaged children worldwide, such work does not negate the immoral nature of her pairing with Pitt. She is, to put it differently, only 1 for 2 in the moral ball game.

As I mentioned in my earlier post (The 7 Noachide Laws), Bnai Noach are required to both refrain from sexual immorality and promote justice. One aspect of the Do not commit sexual immorality law is to respect the sanctity of marriage and, by extension, to refrain from adultery. While adultery is technically defined as relations between a man and a married woman, enticing a married man into having an affair that resulted in the final death knell to his marriage would probably be universally understood as a sexually immoral act. Moreover, one aspect of pursuing justice is to refrain from making vows in vain. As a woman who has gone on record stating that she would never commit adultery because of the impact that her father's infidelity had on her family growing up, it would seem that her behaviour the last few years is misaligned with this documented "promise".

You may ask me, why do I care? These are just actors. So let me explain the root cause for the bee in my bonnet.

Back in 2000, Meg Ryan and Russell Crowe had a tryst. A married woman herself, Ms. Ryan suddenly found herself in the position of being dethroned as America's Sweetheart. In fact, while certainly her career came to a standstill after news of the affair broke, Russell Crowe was also affected professionally. A mere decade ago then, the public still viewed such behaviour as a scandal, and that public reaction was in keeping with the long tradition of Hollywood. To rephrase, up until a couple of years ago, the American public was intolerant of sexual immorality of various kinds: adultery, homosexuality, pornography, etc. And now, the media glorifies precisely that immorality, which fuels public insensitivity to common decency.

Where is the respect for marriage? For G-d? For basic sensitivity (see Britney above)? In an era where a couple based in immorality is the Golden Couple of the media, what is someone who is a Bnai Noach or a yid supposed to do? The answer is, of course, right in one's pocket book. We should elect to spend our entertainment dollars supporting personalities who exhibit moral behaviour and tasteful work. In other words, when renting films or buying magazines, spend your money supporting talent that holds him/herself to a moral code that you can stomach.

I have one friend who proclaimed recently that she doesn't care about an entertainer's personal life; she just cares about whether the entertainer succeeds in entertaining her. While I can certainly understand her view, I humbly choose to take a different path when choosing my entertainment. I believe that by choosing to support certain entertainers over others, we can help elevate the bar in terms of moral entertainment. If we keep choosing moral entertainment over immoral entertainment, then in the end the entertainment industry will be forced to recognize that the public demands stories with moral backbone.

Thankfully, many stars still exhibit morality, as evidenced by the concurrent trend in Hollywood to marry and have children in wedlock. Moreover, one can find solace in the fact that the most bankable star in Hollywood last year was Matt Damon, an actor who in his acceptance speech for his latest reward thanked the people for recognizing a "suburban Dad". While he can admittedly be quite fowl-mouthed during interviews, Damon's films are blissfully tznius, showcasing no nudity, no excessive violence, and nary a curse word.

Maybe if that trend continues, we can one day raise up the standards of popular media as well.

1 comment:

  1. What do you care what people do? If you don't like it, don't read it.