Monday, October 27, 2008

Film and Morality

My discussion on film morality had two motives behind it, 1.) a brief survey of controversial films from 4 different time periods and 2) the possible societal implications that may be derived from them.  Flowing from a basic definition of morality, I believe that unless a society has a distinct and well-defined moral foundation, the society will not be unified in its legislation or its ideals.  Flowing from a quote generally attributed (although unverified) to Alexander Tytler, all successful societies progress in a path that leads to an abundance of resources, and from that abundance comes a selfish complacency.  C.S. Lewis penned the philosophical and theological term "Moral Law," which drew on the assumption that every society from the beginning of time has had a concept of right and wrong, even if what is right and wrong shows disparity between societies.  When this disparity is prevalent among individuals of a singular culture many problems relating to purpose and goal may arise (one could look at Civil War, or any war for that matter).  

The film industry, unlike any art form before it, allows for the mass production and distribution of singular ideals to a culture that may have many variable ideals.  With only a relatively weak system of self-regulation and no consistent framework of what may or may not be shown, movies allow a strong opportunity for a sliding morality.  While things like rape, adultery, torture, and murder seem like negative contraptions for the society at large, they are sill fair game to the movie-going crowd.  In the name of artistic expression virtually all content is acceptable given the public is paying to go out and see it.  Murders have actually been successive to Natural Born Killers, a movie that came out in 1994.  As a society, what we are allowed to see has only been increased since the production of film; the Hays code is almost laughable when put in today's standards.  In many ways, artistic expression can be viable and poignant, but the envelope is often pushed just to see how far it can go.  While I enjoy movies (quite as much as anyone else), questions about the ethical climate in America must be raised.  

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