Hey, that's my pastor in the corner
He's wearing shades like James Dean
Rent or buy
They've got Chariots of Fire
And every flick I've ever seen
I shouldn't rent that James Bond movie
My conscience wouldn't leave my heart alone
R and X - you can't tell the difference
Maybe I can find some Sherlock Holmes
Near my home
from the song "Video Action" recorded by DeGarmo & Key in 1986
In my almost 38 years on this planet, I've noticed a trend. Things that used to be swear words are not swear words any more. When I was a kid, "crap" was a major Wirty Dird, and now it's the "clean" thing Christians say when they get frustrated instead of saying a "real" swear word. When I was a kid, "dang it" was what you said to keep from saying the "other" d-word... now the other one seems pretty commonplace. Now, I'm of a bit of a liberal mindset about swear words... I believe that the sin is not the word you choose to speak, but the anger or hatred or whatever is behind it... but it's disturbing to be that language has changed that way.
Last night I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark with my 8-year-old. We have a special DVD player from Clearplay that allows me to blank out violence, profanity, etc (click here to read about it)... although it does chop up Raiders a bit in some spots (watch it yourself and think about how gory some parts of it are) it was refreshing to not have to let my little boy hear Karen Allen say "I'm your g-d PARTNER!" But it got me thinking about swearing and how it has become so prevalent in even the politest culture. Even movies that people my age look on with fondness as "kid movies"... take E.T. for example... have swear words in them. Back then you wouldn't hear that kind of language on television... now you might hear it anywhere. Why is that?
Back when E.T. and Raiders were made, you actually went to the movie theater to see a movie. The VCR was a relatively new invention; DVDs were not anywhere near on the horizon yet. Even cable TV was still a little wet behind the ears, although HBO had been around for something like ten years by that time. By and large, I don't think cussing was something most people did in their living rooms; it was something they did in traffic, in bars, with their friends maybe, but yer grandma didn't do it because she wasn't really exposed to it. And movies did it because they weren't in your living room; they were in a movie theater. But when those same movies started to become available to take home and play in your living room, it brought the same moral lapses... profanity only one of them... into your house. Once they're there, they're part of your life and they become the norm. And suddenly kindergarteners know the F-word and aren't afraid to use it.
I would be stupid to try to blame the decline of western civilization on the VCR... things like that only bring out the darkness that's in our own sinful hearts already anyway. But it seems to me that it's made it possible for Hollywood to bring their version of reality much closer to being true.
(By the way, check out that Clearplay link... we love our player. I wouldn't have watched Raiders with my boy without it.)