Tag Archives: media

Film, divorce, and alienation

The other night I found myself watching E.T with the family. And since I can’t watch a movie anymore without also being on my laptop, here are some interesting facts about E.T I bet you didn’t know.

First and foremost, E.T. is all about divorce, not aliens.

After his success with Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), Spielberg had instead set out to make a smaller, more personal film. “E.T. was about the divorce of my parents, how I felt after my parents broke up,” Spielberg admitted. “[It was] the first movie I ever made for myself.” The idea for E.T began to form while the director was on location in Tunisia for Raiders. A lonely Spielberg started picturing something of an imaginary friend. “It was like when you were a kid and had grown out of dolls or teddy bears,” he recalled. “You just wanted a little voice in your mind to talk to. I began concocting this imaginary creature, partially from the guys who stepped out of the Mother Ship for ninety seconds in Close Encounters [1977].” He shared the idea with Melissa Mathison, Harrison Ford’s screenwriter girlfriend who had already penned two family films The Black Stallion (1979) and The Escape Artist (1982). Together Spielberg and Mathison fleshed out the story.

Additionally, it appears that Spielberg’s father issues have had a profound influence on most of his work.

Spielberg researched for his upcoming film “Lincoln” for over 12 years and it is partially inspired by his reconciliation with his father.

He was the father of a nation in need of repair and in a sense the movies I’ve made recently have reflected the positive relationship that my dad and I have enjoyed for 20-25 years.

Oh, and it should be noted that it was Spielberg’s mother that filed for divorce, after having an affair with one of her husband’s friends. And Steven blamed his mother, not his father, for the subsequent breakup of the family.

When Spielberg was 19, his parents got divorced after his mother fell in love with one of his father’s best friends. “It’s still a mystery to me, but even though my mother was like an older sister to me, I kind of put her up on a pedestal,” Spielberg said. “And my dad was much more terrestrial, much more grounded, much more salt of the earth. And for some reason, it was easier for me to blame him than it was to someone who I was already — exalted.

All of this serves to demonstrate once again how important marriage is for children.


The bible on how media can affect us

And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away. -1 Samuel 16:23

There are several things to note about this passage.

The spirit from the lord was a tormenting one

Much ink has been spilled about this passage with regards to the nature of this spirit. It is called in various translations a tormenting spirit, an evil spirit, and a harmful spirit. Based on the context I’m more inclined to view this spirit as something God sent to convict Saul of his evil ways. However, regardless of how we interpret the spirit that was sent, it is important to note that the spirit was from God and was sent to make Saul uncomfortable.

The music of David’s harp counteracted the effect this spirit had

Whether the soothing was achieved through distraction or through Saul’s enjoyment of the music David played, a combination of the two, or some other factor, the fact remains that the music David played was able to produce a spiritual effect.

Implications for us

If music is able to sooth Saul’s torment which was caused by God. It is not unreasonable to think that music is able to induce a spiritual condition not caused by God. This means that people can certainly be led to the alter to confess their sins and repent wholly apart from the inner prompting of the Holy Spirit.


In Scripture we have an example of a communications medium, music, having a conscious and spiritual effect.

We should be careful, then, what do with communication mediums like music. If we are using them to sooth us, we should ask ourselves whether or not we ought to be soothed. If we are using it to rile ourselves up, we should ask whether or not we ought to be riled up.

To give an example, I have recently taught myself to appreciate classical music on my relatively short commute to and from the office. I did this primarily to help transition between two “worlds”, work and home. Music, in this case, helps create a space.

Music hath charms to soothe a savage breast, to soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak. –William Congreve

Update: A recent paper indicates that music has intoxicating effects. I wonder if the SBC will pass a resolution against music now.


Neil Postman on TV Newsertainment

In Amusing Ourselves to Death, Neil Postman writes:

We are now a culture whose information, ideas and epistemology are given form by television, not by the printed word. To be sure, there are still readers and there are many books published, but the uses of print and reading are not the same as they once were; not even in schools, the last institutions where print was thought to be invincible. They delude themselves who believe that television and print coexist, for coexistence implies parity. There is no parity here. Print is now merely a residual epistemology, and it will remain so, aided to some extent by the computer, and newspapers and magazines that are made to look like television screens. Like the fish who survive a toxic river and the boatmen who sail on it, there still dwell among us those whose sense of things is largely influenced by older and clearer waters. the third point is that in the analogy I have drawn above, the river refers largely to what we call public discourse–our political, religious, informational and commercial forms of conversation. I am arguing that a television-based epistemology pollutes public communication and its surrounding landscape, not that it pollutes everything. In the first place, I am constantly reminded of television’s value as a source of comfort and pleasure to the elderly, the infirm and, indeed, all people who find themselves alone in motel rooms. I am also aware of television’s potential for creating a theater for the masses (a subject which in my opinion has not been taken seriously enough). There are also claims that whatever power television might have to undermine rational discourse, its emotional power is so great that it could arouse sentiment against the Vietnam War or against more virulent forms of racism. These and other beneficial possibilities are not to be taken lightly.