Welcome to part 2 of our discussion about the continuing adventures of the Parr family. In episode 87, we discussed topics like parental roles and how some things never seem to change: mom will be mom, dad will be dad, and both will love. We also discussed how feminism was presented in a larger theme in the movie, particularly in discussions between Helen “Elastigirl” Parr and Evelyn “Screenslaver” Deavor.
In episode 88, we are going to be diving into …
The Screenslaver and Her Moral Imperative
The Screenslaver might well be the patron super villain of the Are You Just Watching? podcast. In her manifesto-like broadcast interruption, the Screenslaver laments the mindless consumption of media, the “brainless desire to replace true experience with simulation.” When Eve or I recite our tagline at the end of each episode, “and don’t just watch,” this is exactly the behavior we are warning against. We want people to enjoy what they watch but not forget that they expose themselves to the the worldview of other people—people who may not care much for the best interests of their viewers’ hearts, minds, and souls.
This is doubly so for our children. Kids have less discernment that adults. When they observe a pseudo-poignant thought on the screen, a child or young adult is much more likely to give it more credence than most adults. Yet as a society, the screen time consumption of our children has continued to go up. (Not to mention, the messages of secular media are increasingly hostile to the Word of God.)
Don’t you know that if you offer yourselves to someone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of that one you obey—either of sin leading to death or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans [6:16] )
The Apostle Paul and the Screenslaver have this, at least, in common. When we set ourselves or our children down in front of our TVs to mindlessly “binge” on content, we risk being enslaved to a message that is not the right Message.
Slaves to sin
When enslaved by the Screenslaver, her victims were not completely mindless—they retained their ability to use powers and their personality. What they lost was their will to do anything other than the commands of the Screenslaver. This is just like being enslaved by sin. You are you, but you are incapable of choosing to do anything other than sin.
For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one that does it, but it is the sin that lives in me.” (Romans [7:18]-20)
Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” —Benjamin Franklin (presumed) 1755
When the people find that they can vote themselves money that will herald the end of the republic.” —Unknown
I’m from the Government, and I’m here to help . . .
Eve suggests that we replace “superhero” with “government” in the exchange between Evelyn and Elastigirl. If you have difficulty, here are your show notes to the rescue!
Evelyn: Why would you count on me? Because I built you a bike? Because my brother knows the words to you theme song? We don’t know each other!
Elastigirl: But you can count on me anyway.
Eve: I’m supposed to, aren’t I? Because you haves authority and power, and a nice suit…the rest of us are supposed to put our lives into your governmental hands. That’s what my father believed.
Evelyn: When our home was broken into, my mother wanted to hide. Begged my father to use the safe room. But Father insisted they call his government friends. He died, pointlessly, stupidly, waiting for the government to save the day.
Elasti: But why would you… Your brother!
Evelyn: IS A CHILD! He remembers the time when we had parents and the government. So, like a child, Winston conflates the two. Mommy and Daddy went away because the government went away. Our sweet parents were fools to put their lives in anybody else’s hands. The government keeps us WEAK.
Through this exercise, you can see how easy it is to insert nearly anything into a role of misplaced faith. The supers, or the government, may mean well, but in the end, they will fail on one level or another. When they fail, the damage they do is all the greater for the amount of trust placed in them. Only the great I AM is worthy of that level of trust.
As Christ’s disciples, we should strive to be as dependable and worthy of trust. As fallen men and women, we will fail. But failure is not the end of the call, it’s just a learning opportunity. When the government fails to delivery or to care for those in need, the community—specifically, the church invisible—should be meeting those needs. In fact, the followers of Christ should be the first to meet those needs.
In the world of the Incredibles, the government has outlawed the use of superpowers in the fighting of crime. The problem is that those with the power to stop crime feel called to do so. When they answer that calling, they break the law.
Which is just? Is it the government, for trying to reduce the costs of super-powered battles? Or is it the super heroes, trying to help, the only reasonable opponent for super-powered villains? It’s easy to see that both sides of the debate have valid concerns.
A time in history that is interesting to look at both sides is the American Revolution: These Pastors Loved America So Much, They Wanted It to Stay British
Is it right, then, for a Christian to disobey an unjust law? That depends. Is the law contrary to God’s expressed instructions for His children? God’s law trumps man’s law. PERIOD. As a Christian, you always follow God’s law. We can take examples from the accounts of Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who did what God told them to do, even though the penalty for it was death. If man’s law stands in opposition to the law of God, then be lovingly and civilly disobedient.
Perception is Reality
Seeing is believing, but if you can’t see, what do you do? You believe what the politicians tell you to believe, according to Winston Deavon. He’s got a point. If you lack personal experience, you base your opinion on what you hear others say. In the case of the Incredibles fight against the Underminer, normal people didn’t get to see everything the Incredibles and Frozone did to stop the villain. They did get to see the aftermath, though, including the destruction and the arrest of the Parr family.
Ignorance is the target of deception. Win’s point is that people can make better decisions when they have access to the truth of the matter, rather than just what one side or the other (or the other, or the other) want to tell them. Make your best effort to educate yourself on a topic before forming an opinion. Get information from trustworthy, reputable sources. Allow truth to inform your actions. When you mindlessly consume information, even camouflaged as entertainment, your reality will be lacking in truth.
If It Weren’t For Your Core Beliefs…
Many agree that some of the strongest relationships thrive on differences of opinion. There is a line, though, that is difficult to cross. As Evelyn says, “You know what’s sad? If it weren’t for your core beliefs, I think we could have been good friends.”
When two people have different core beliefs, a relationship is usually difficult, and oftentimes impossible. This is all the more true for Christians. We know that without recognizing our sin and calling on Jesus Christ as our Savior, we face eternal judgment. How, then, can we stand aside and watch people we care about deeply make decision after decision that cement their damning fate? Many of us have to do it with family already, and it tears us up inside. What if it were someone we are not related to? It would be completely understandable to want—or even need—to shut that relationship down.
If you can. The Bible warns believers to avoid relationships with unbelievers:
Don’t become partners with those who do not believe. For what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship does light have with darkness?” (2 Corinthians [6:14])
In Another 14 Years
It took Brad Bird 14 years to get a sequel out to his 2004 hit, The Incredibles. Now that he has, he’s not forgotten to address the deep topics in ways that get people talking. Bird does a great job presenting the issues without a position, and The Incredibles 2 is another great example of that. What’s more, he’s created a sympathetic villain that has a point—and that is an even tougher trick in today’s Hollywood.
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