Creative Zeal Media Endeavoring to Make the Ideal a Reality

July 21, 2012

Artistic Responsiblity

Filed under: Christianity,Entertainment,Philosophy/Morality — david @ 10:50 am

This morning was Friday, July 20, 2012. I went shopping; I had a ten dollar gift card to use. As I walked into the store I saw the blue-ray of The Dark Knight-$9.99. I thought about it, but I had told myself I was going to be practical. I bought a large bottle of dish soap and a bag of rice. Much later, I found out what else happened this morning. While most people slept, the joy of a mid-night release of the new Batman movie was destroyed. A man in Colorado went into the theatre and started shooting. It was one of the worst shootings in history.
I haven’t seen the new Batman movie and don’t care to do so. I enjoyed The Dark Knight, but I didn’t enjoy what it taught about morality. The man who decided to embrace his evil nature and shoot those people this morning will face God in eternity and hopefully the death penalty in Colorado. But I do believe another villain is loose that must be addressed and as a writer I have the ability to do so.
People are affected by the stories they listen to. Dark Knight, along with many other movies, books, and songs, teaches a dangerous idea that must stop. Artists who teach that absolute morality doesn’t exist cannot expect people to leave that idea behind with the tubs of popcorn and the theatre’s sticky floors.
In Dark Knight, every single character has to violate what they knew was the standard of right and wrong. Starting with bank robbers to Batman, each person makes a conscious decision to do something that they knew was wrong. Joker plays Gotham City, the underworld, and Batman like a flute—suffering only a few punches, Joker’s life is saved at the last minute by Batman. In the end, Joker destroys Gotham’s peace and murders dozens, but he is left unpunished. He’s a problem that is supposed to be dealt with by a therapist.
One thing The Dark Knight did better than most was put a moral question before the public—unfortunately, it’s answer was plain wrong. Dark Knight taught that one should do what they think will serve the greater good, even if it happens to be wrong. People lie, violate others rights, even attempt and commit murder because it’s what is “best.” Do the writers believe that?
Wrong, sin, and evil are actual things. For us to discount them as myth is to dream up a fantasy far too outlandish and foolish for man’s evil nature to withstand. Mankind has proven time and time again that despite all our hopes to the contrary, man is evil through and through. A mental disease didn’t cause a man to shoot movie goers this morning, but you will hear many people say that. It’s called evil and sin. Calling it a sickness is akin to calling Agent Orange a variation on a cold. Mankind’s evil is a real fact that must be remembered.
As an artist, I can create a world. And what’s better, I can invite others into my dream world to play. We can have a wonderful time and I can help brighten their days. But while they are there, I have a moral responsibility to put certain ideas into my world and keep others out. To teach that morals are just conventions that can come and go at will is not only false but morally wrong. Why should I develop a dream world where the good guys differ from bad guys only in the amount of their reluctance to commit evil? How can I let men in my world choose evil and not suffer for it? Such things are not only an affront to God and His morality, but foolish. Men want excuses for their evil, if I make evil acceptable, misunderstood, or worse of all sophisticated and funny, I allow them to get those excuses. And history is full of the horrible answers to the question, “What has mankind done with excuses to commit evil?” Hitler, Stalin, David Koresh, Jim Jones prove time and time again, that we artists cannot expect nothing to happen when we give people excuses for evil.
Another instructive thing happened today, I watched the musical Gigi. In it, a rich Frenchman’s uncle teaches him the fine art of social life in the late 1800’s. With total resolve to being a “gentleman” he teaches his nephew to go from one worthless trivial affair to the next, using women like extravagant prostitutes that get paid off with expensive jewelry and luxurious apartments. Through the whole story, the young man is bored senseless unless he is with real people—not the fake society crowd. The story climaxes in the young man turning Gigi, a real person, into his charming phony mistress. In anger, he realizes the stupidity of it all and then marries her, turning his back on his uncle’s “gentlemanly” life.
The Dark Knight and Gigi have very little in common. A gritty special effects action adventure has little to do with a period musical. But artists should learn that like the uncle in Gigi, artists have the opportunity to introduce bored people to wonderful worlds. And like in Gigi, this world is fake; the society page is as much fiction as any of the D.C. comics. But this fake world affects what one thinks about the real world. The nephew frantically tried to apply his uncle’s advice to real life; he viciously dumps his mistress and then throws dozens of parties to prove he doesn’t care about her or her failed suicide attempt.
Are we artist, writers, and storytellers bad uncles?
Stories teach, whether we like it or not. If they teach immorality, should we be surprised if the students act immoral? If they teach violence, should student’s violence surprise us? And worst, if they teach that right and wrong do not matter should we be surprised that our world is becoming lawless? Our story telling is coming back to get us. We can no longer afford to have immoral heroes and heroines. If we continue with our imaginary gladiatorial games, teaching boys and girls that right and wrong are mythical and violating them has no consequences, what will we say to them when we are staring down the barrel of gun in the real world?

3 Comments »

  1. Good. It is the ultimate act of arrogance to hide behind artistic expression. All of us, artists & non-artists have a sphere of influence . We as individuals are ultimately responsible for the influence and impact of our actions whether in the artistic realm or in our day to day lives.

    Comment by Lee — July 21, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

  2. […] Originally by David M. Zahn I know this is likely preaching to the choir, but I have an article about Artistic Responsibility. http://creativezealmedia.com/?p=155 […]

    Pingback by July 21 | The Character Remix — August 18, 2012 @ 3:57 pm

  3. So Batman should’ve let the Joker die? (As he did Ras’al’Ghul in the first film)

    If you read the comics, Batman’s always been interesting in that the story portrays the struggle between vigilantism and trusting the leadership to solve problems of crime and social justice. I haven’t seen the second or third films yet but from those who have read comics and seen the movies, I’ve been told that there are great similarities in theme and content.

    REPLY From DAVID:
    Thanks for your imput. However, the point of my article is that as writers one must promote correct moral values. Batman’s actions are secondary to making a whole world where “The ends justify the means” works.

    Comment by Melody Kondrael — August 30, 2012 @ 7:01 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

Powered by WordPress