Books, Movies, and Television, Oh My!

As the brisk fall weather begins to creep into Washington, DC, I wanted to take time to reflect on some of my summer favorites in terms of entertainment…some were a true pleasure, some were of the guiltier sort.

Book:  The Night of the Gun by David Carr

So, I admit I originally started reading this book because I heard that David Carr was the brother of John Carr, who heads up the office of Justice, Peace, and Human Development at the Bishops’ Conference.  I thought that perhaps I could find some interesting comparison/contrast between David, a former-addict turned New York Times writer, and his brother.  

However, instead of discovering fodder for yet another post about the USCCB, I found a brilliantly crafted memoir of a man who struggled through addiction, cancer and worse.  Carr (David, that is) writes like a spoken word artist.  He seeks to find truth in memory as he interviews people from his past and present about his own life and reports on his findings.  It is most definitely a book worth reading. 

Incidentally, John Carr of the USCCB is mentioned several times throughout the book as are the bishops themselves – but only in the best of light.

Movie: Hamlet 2

My partner and I went to see this movie at 10:20 am in order to pay a semi-reasonable rate.  What a spectacular way to start a day! Not only was it hilarious and have terrific music, but it also puts a comical spin on the not-so comical scenario that denies freedom of speech and expression.  Click here to view a trailer.

The USCCB – I knew I’d get them in here somewhere –  do not recommend seeing this film.  Their Office of Film and Broadcasting considers it a film for “limited adult audience… whose problematic content many adults would find troubling.”  Troubling – or side-splitting?  Their reasoning? “Fleeting frontal male and brief rear nudity, much sexual and some irreverent humor, frequent rough and crude language, a few uses of profanity, child molestation, adultery and fertility themes, and drug references.”  That description definitely does not do justice to the film. Go see it!

Television: The Secret Life of an American Teenager

My ultimate guilty pleasure this summer.  The ads for this show described it as a cross between 7th Heaven and Juno – and so, in full doubt, I tuned in.  What I found was a dumb-downed version of Juno that played out the overt-stereotyping one would expect.   It follows the life of a young, innocent woman who gets pregnant after having sex with the school stud.  Side stories include one about the popular cheerleader who is determined – as a result of her faith, or maybe more accurately, her parent’s faith – to “save herself for marriage” and another about another young woman portrayed as the godless, school slut.   Basically, it gives a very narrow-minded picture of teenage life.

But this narrow-mindedness is not surprising at all considering that the show has worked in close collaboration with the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  This organization promotes abstinence above all else.  While it does make a step in the right direction by at least mentioning contraception in its materials, it is definitely not a sex-positive organization. 

This show I wouldn’t recommend – unless you want to see how U.S. youth are imbibed with the messages of the Right.  

So, two out of three ain’t bad…

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2 thoughts on “Books, Movies, and Television, Oh My!

  1. I got sucked into watching Secret Life as well, but I actually ended up liking it because I felt like it moved away from the stereotypes the longer the series ran. While I don’t necessarily agree with everything the show preaches (and what would we expect from the exec producer of 7th Heaven???), I think that it opens doors for discussion.

    I taught ESL this summer and my students, who were from Europe, loved the show. And it led to really good discussions about life in our conversation class. So I think that, while it does rely on stereotypes, it is a good conversation starter.

  2. Hm, The Secret Life of an American Teenager sounds a lot like “Annie’s Baby,” a fake diary (marketed as a real diary) about a girl facing a teenage pregnancy. The piece reads so much like right wing propaganda that it was the first thing that tipped me off to researching whether it was a real journal or not; real teenagers rarely tell their stories, or live their lives, in ways that neatly further adult agendas. And to see teen characters created for the sole purpose of “teachin’ and preachin'” really angers me, when there are so many real teens out there with stories to tell, stories that the world needs to hear.

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