The Hangover: Glory vs. Depravity in Humor (Part 4)

9 08 2011

Getting back to the movie itself

Now, let’s take a look at the glory and the depravity of “The Hangover” movie itself.

Glory and Creativity in “The Hangover”

Funny is good.

This is pretty obvious: The movie is really really funny.  Noticing a tiger is in your bathroom while you’re peeing… that’s just funny.  Watching Mike Tyson rock out to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins… hilarious.  And then there’s this little clip here: CLICK FOR CLIP.  Funny stuff.  And minus one cuss at the end, it’s not even borderline inappropriate.  Just pure and simple creative humor.

These things are glorious, creative and worth celebrating.  The reason the film-makers have the ability to do these things is that they were made in the image of God.  He gave them intelligence, creativity, and talent at making people laugh.  Not only is it fine to laugh at such things: It’s appropriate for such things to move us to worship!  I believe that the reason we have a sense of humor is because God himself has a sense of humor, and we are made in His Image.

Depravity in “The Hangover”: A Pervasive Lack of Empathy

But there’s some not-so-good-stuff, too.  Let’s start with the obvious: The movie’s got some obviously inappropriate stuff that Christians are used to critiquing and avoiding: nudity, swearing, and general overall raunchiness.

But there’s some other not so obvious stuff that I think may be just as important because of its tendency to fly under our radar.  For that reason, we’re far more likely to be affected by it without even knowing it.  What I’m talking about is the general disregard for the dignity of every person in the film.  Think about the movie—heck, even watch it again—while keeping your eyes open for this: you might be surprised.  I think you’d be hard-pressed to find more than a couple moments in the entire film where a character is treated as a real human with real value.  People are constantly treated as objects: nobody has empathy for anybody else.  (With the possible exception of Zach Galifianakas’ character, and a couple moments in the romance between Andy from the Office and Heather Graham.)  In that sense, the movie and all of its characters are extremely narcissistic.

Narcissus lacked empathy, fell in love with himself... and got a personality disorder named after him.

The danger of this is that underlying styles of relating to people have a tendency to worm their way into our relationships.  Case in point: not many of us are in danger of accidentally marrying a prostitute in Vegas (as happened in the movie).  But I’m guessing that all of us have been hurt by—or hurt someone else with—undue sarcasm and lack of empathy.  The first step down the path to narcissism is failing to notice it as such.

So if you watched “The Hangover” and spent the whole time laughing (or even if you spent the whole time critiquing the raunchiness and partying), but never once noticed, “Hey, not a single one of these people has any empathy for anyone else!”, then I would suggest to you that it’s the lack of empathy that’s really doing damage to your soul.

Oh, funniness... is funny.

This goes for much more than just “The Hangover”.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re not being negatively affected by something just because it’s “only PG-13″, or showing on regular TV.  Just because nobody is dropping F-bombs or taking off their clothes doesn’t mean you’re not subtly absorbing lessons about how to disregard the dignity of the Image of God.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t watch such things; I’m saying that when you do, I hope you notice it.  And I hope you let your heart be grieved by it.

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2 responses

9 08 2011
Troy

Awesome stuff! Got more examples of lack of empathy and how that is damaging? I think that’s a really important and powerful theme to explore. Thanks for the great posts!

9 08 2011
Kathleen

Thanks for this series of posts, Tim!

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