Plugged In Reviews Books of the Bible

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For those not in the know, Plugged In is amazing. It might be the most interesting film review site on the whole entire Internet.

A branch of Focus on the Family, Plugged In reviews movies in the manner of a Louisa May Alcott-era schoolmarm rattling off a list of her students’ gravest misdeeds. Avengers: Age of Ultron is docked points for “sporadic foul language and sexual innuendo.” Boyhood is described as “almost three hours of foul language, crude capers, bad behavior…”

It’s very entertaining. with every movie review broken down into categories like “drug and alcohol content” (Guardians of the Galaxy: “Drax… consumes a great deal of what appears to be an alcoholic drink.”) and “crude or profane language” (22 Jump Street: “Nearly 200 f-words and 60 or more s-words.”) There’s also a catch-all category for each film titled “Positive Elements” (Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2: “he’s …a conscientious and earnest security officer and father.”

Is turning the Plugged In Film Review matrix on the Bible sort of a lazy way to point out hypocrisy? Undoubtedly, but I’d like to point out that they started it. 

REVIEW: GENESIS

Pieter Paul Rubens - Tutt'Art@ (29)

Positive Content: God’s existence and justice is reaffirmed throughout. Many characters demonstrate positive qualities such as regular prayer. In one scene, a little brother forgives his older brothers for faking his death and selling him into slavery.

Sexual Content: Several characters engage with extra-marital relationships with concubines and even family members. Instances of sexual violence appear throughout. Two characters are depicted as naked for most of their onscreen time.

Violent Content: Disappointingly pervasive. Several “heroes” resort to physical violence to solve their problems. One man is killed by his own brother. A town is destroyed with fire. The entire world is flooded, with very few survivors.

Drug and Alcohol Content: One of those survivors celebrates by getting drunk. Several characters drink what appears to be wine.

Conclusion: Several positive depictions of God and traditional marriage aside, it’s frustrating that the writer here felt the need to pepper his story with unnecessary violence and explicit sexuality.

REVIEW: ESTHER

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Positive Elements: God is referenced throughout. Bad behavior is shown to have negative consequences. A wife submits to her husband.

Sexual Content: Esther spends a lot of time focusing on her physical beauty. A man asks his wife to show off her physical beauty before his friends (she refuses.)

Violent Content: A man is threatened with violence. A woman fears for her life. A man is hanged. A nation defends itself.

Drug and Alcohol Content: A man and his friend eat a dinner and one cannot ignore the possibility that they also drank wine.

Other Negative Elements: A woman does not submit to her husband. In seeking justice, a woman breaks the law instead of peacefully protesting.

Conclusion: There’s a promising story in here about God’s providence. Unfortunately, it’s buried a sheen of violence and a pro-feminist agenda that undercuts the message.

REVIEW: PSALMS

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Positive Elements: The existence of God is affirmed throughout. The importance of praising and worship is upheld.

Sexual Content: “Whoever is pregnant with evil conceives trouble and gives birth to disillusionment.” -7:14

Violent Content: Practically non-stop. Endless petitions for God to bring harm and violence to others. The writer asks for God to kill his enemies, his enemies’ parents, their friends and their children.

Drug and Alcohol Content: There are many prayers to God for wine. God and heaven are compared to wine.

Other Negative Elements: Some prayers express frustration, doubts and depression instead of focusing on God’s goodness.

Conclusion: A mixed bag. While many of the prayers here are undeniably positive, they too often fall prey to feelings of vengeance and depression.

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14 Comments

  1. Brandon

     /  June 7, 2015

    I get it. The Bible is rated R. But there is a significant difference between what we put in our mind through reading versus through watching. And we don’t need to shame people for trying to find ways to care about what they are feeding themselves (or their children) visually.

    Reply
    • I can see the value in this line of thinking, but the people behind Plugged In are not making those sorts of distinctions, as far as I can tell.

      Reply
      • Brandon

         /  June 8, 2015

        I believe they are absolutely making that distinction. It’s why your comment under Genesis about Adam and Eve doesn’t work (“Two characters are depicted as naked for most of their onscreen time”). Reading the sentence, “Two people had sex,” is entirely different than watching two people have sex. “Plugged In” knows its audience (which isn’t you or me, and that’s okay), and they are trying to supply them with something helpful. They aren’t grading the film purely as art, but they also aren’t being prudes for the sake of being prudes. They are describing the content so that individuals and families can make an informed decision for themselves.

    • Daniel Lemke

       /  June 9, 2015

      Is this statement, “there is a significant difference between what we put in our mind through reading versus through watching,” something you can provide any citations for, or is this just anecdotal? I am interested to learn more about the difference and how the medium of television and film inherently has greater power for destruction.

      Reply
  2. Andrew M. Bailey

     /  June 7, 2015

    I’m puzzled by the Esther review. It says here “God is referenced throughout”. But God is *not* referenced throughout (or at all, in fact). And this is precisely why some reformers had serious doubts about the Book of Esther’s canonicity.

    Reply
  3. sinevader

     /  June 7, 2015

    Hey Tyler,
    Great article! I do use Plugged In some times when getting a movie for my 6 and 3 year old to watch. While it can be a bit over the top, I appreciate not blindly getting movies for the kids. PG ain’t always safe 🙂 When we do encounter questionable material while watching something, we also talk about with our kids. We also talk with them about difficult subjects in the Bible when we encounter them, but we don’t usually get too deep into things like incest with them. They are 6 and 3. Keep up the good work my friend. Miss you!

    Reply
    • Chris

       /  June 8, 2015

      IMDB has a parental advisory page on nearly every movie. It’s liable to give you a better idea of what’s happening in a given film since you don’t have to filter out the fundamentalist angle.

      Reply
  4. Can you please add a few? Leviticus (graphic descriptions of human bodily functions), Song of Soloman (need I say more?), or Hosea?

    Reply
  5. Can you do a few more? Leviticus (graphic descriptions of bodily functions), Song of Soloman (need I say more?), and Hosea, for starters?

    Reply
  6. this is awesome, the story of David and Jonathan would be a great addition to this.

    Reply
  7. Caleb

     /  June 8, 2015

    Hilarious

    Reply
  8. Can’t wait for the reviews of Jesus’ antics in the Gospels!

    Reply
  9. This is hilarious. Nicely done! I’m only disappointed you didn’t do Song of Solomon and Judges.

    Reply

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