Mulch and I watched a movie last week called Paranoia. It stars Liam Hemsworth, Indiana Jones and Gary Oldman.
[Harrison Ford will forever be Indy to me]
I think we were expecting a thriller; along the same vein as Bourne Identity, but just a little less classy. Well, it definitely fulfilled the less classy expectation.
Judging by the prolonged getting drunk/partying scene, the innumerable, unexplainable shirtless Liam Hemsworth scenes, partnered with the less than engaging dialogue, the film was attempting to target a different audience.
And along with all the above mentioned plot thickeners, the movie very craftily normalized something that is, to be a bit graphic, being “shoved down the throat” of this generation. That it’s normal, no, expected, to sleep with someone you don’t know. Liam and his gal pal meet one drunken night and we discover them the next morning waking up in bed together, with Liam totally unaware of her name or how they got there.
She just HAPPENS (gasp) to be at his new job, and they continue their relationship in bed throughout the movie, names included this time.
And that’s that. No talking though boundaries in a relationship, no getting-to-know-you-before-we-really-get-to-know-eachother, no considering the weight of what they are engaging in, or (yes highly unpopular in Hollywood) affirming that this union is a beautiful aspect of sharing your life with someone in marriage. There is none of that; just straight to bed.
Now, I don’t care too much about this movie, but as I drove in my car today reflecting on the anti-sexual assault group’s, Take Back the Night, clothesline campaign on campus today—where young men and women are invited to write their sexual assault story on a t-shirt and hang it up on campus—I felt troubled, and began thinking about the intersection of popular culture’s glamour and depravity.
I get at least a couple reverse 911 texts from UCSB about sexual assault on campus every month. Those are just the ones that are reported too. It’s been estimated that 1 out of 4 women will have been raped or endured attempted rape by the time they are in college. Sexual assault is a problem, and needs to be fought at every cost.
The sticky thing is when it comes to rape in college communities like Isla Vista. As a student at UCSB, I’ve seen posters of women dressed in hardly anything with a statement saying “this is not an invitation to rape.” In effect, it’s encouraging girls to wear whatever they want and not think about the fact that there may be consequences. Women should be allowed to express themselves and dress beautifully without threat of assault. But what they are encouraging crosses a line that goes from beautiful into something else.
Girls in IV are notorious for their scantily clad outfits. A young man was even quoted in a recent Del Topia article about being shocked by how “crazy” girls were, flashing people and basically wearing lingerie (no—not all of them are UCSB students).
This behavior is encouraged by our culture, and even by college administrators and leaders. Paranoia was just one movie I watched. But there are so many other movies/TV shows telling teens and young adults that your twenties should be full of sex, alcohol and no regrets (even the endearing Zooey DesChanel in the New Girl is a conduit for this misinformation).
And not only on screen. Our dear friend Miley just can’t stop either. Sex and promiscuity are now a casual and expected affair. And suddenly we are told we can dress like we’re wearing our undies like it ain’t no thing.
But it is.
What do you think happens when a girl, who’s told day after day after day that she most definitely should flaunt her beautiful body with barely there clothes, get drunk because it is “so fun” along with a string of unrealistic romantic scenes from her favorite movies carrying on in her mind’s view?
Well, hypothetically (but I’m sure can be corroborated) she wears hardly anything. She may get together with her girlfriends and get drunk out of her mind. She is driven maybe by insecurity or lust to start flirting, maybe even making out, with a guy she’s never met. Perhaps she wasn’t preparing herself to actually sleep with him, but she’s setting herself up for that ending and her ability to make any rational decision.
But the story is incomplete if we just stop there.
With all of the above in mind, what happens when you partner that girl with a young man who may be all too familiar with satisfying every lustful impulse he encounters, who has culture constantly telling him that its totally normal to follow in Liam’s footsteps—get drunk and wake up next to a girl he’s never met—and to throw self-control, honor and integrity out the window for the sake of having a good time, and again, making any rational decision?
Unfortunately, for one too many young adults, an ambiguous, troubled situation. And it may even be rape.
It is wrong and dangerous to encourage this hyper-sexualized, no regrets culture because the result is obvious; sexual assault, confusion, numbness, regret or delusion. You can’t fight sexual assault by encouraging all the factors necessary for it to exist at the same time.
So enough with all the Hollywood delusions. They aren’t real! And buying into them has a horrible, horrible toll on the lives of young people.
Let’s stand for holiness and wholeness. Where young men and women can exercise self-control apart from self-righteousness or self-degradation. Let’s pressure college campuses to encourage young women and men to be wise in how they dress and act and to respect and honor each other.
Let’s take a look at our own lives too, and consider how we may have bought into some of the yucky lies that popular culture is attempting to trick us into submission to.