Who says you need to read the book first?

The Harry Potter Series is my favorite book series. I thoroughly enjoy the movies as well. In fact, I can admit without shame that I saw a majority of the movies before finally deciding to read the books.

It seems that most movies hitting theaters today are adaptations of popular novels, stories, and fairy tales. Even Marvel and DC movies come from comic books.

Honestly, I’m not complaining. I think it makes sense to use the popular stories that so many people are captivated by for film. It’s proof that books and reading can never truly go out of style.

If a young adult novel turns into a movie, you can be sure that people will be rushing to stores to buy the book. But you will also have those uninterested in reading the book, who decide that they  just want to see the movie. And here’s why: Seeing a movie is easy and fast. If you hate it, at least you’ve only wasted two hours of your time.

Personally, I don’t like to harp on people to “Read the book first!” Yes, I will often suggest they read the book, but only if I believe that reading the book will be even more enjoyable than watching the movie—which in most circumstances is true. With the Harry Potter books, I discovered them because I loved the movies so much. Once I started the first book, I couldn’t stop. I read them all and was enthralled by the details in the books that weren’t in the movies. Soon enough, I had finished all of the books and was waiting for the newest movie to come out.

Whatever you decide to do (read the book first, see the movie, or both) just enjoy it for what it is: a story to be experienced.

Seek Joy in Literature

A few years ago, I had to choose my major between my two favorite subjects: physics and literature, and despite the clear monetary advantage in studying physics, I choose to study literature. Reading simply gave me more joy and I felt that I had a calling in the humanities. My story is fairly uncommon, but we all make that same kind of choice between utility and imagination every day.  Every time we pick up a book (or watch a new movie or show), we’re investing our time and energy in an imaginative work that could be spent somewhere else. So why do we do it?

Often our motivation is for simple entertainment, but my best advice to Christian readers is to do it for more than that and read for the joy of literature. In his essay “Different Tastes in Literature” C. S. Lewis described his own discovery of the “joy in the arts,” by writing that “[it was] as if a food one had enjoyed for the taste proved one day to enable you (like dragon’s blood) to understand the speech of birds: as if water, besides quenching your thirst, suddenly became an intoxicant.”

Christians have unique hope in regards to literature because they can recognize that they are a dim reflection of God’s redemptive plan for the world—that Jesus Christ has overcome death will come again in the final conclusion that all readers of stories ultimately long for. J. R. R. Tolkien, in his essay “On Fairy-Stories,” states that “[the joy of the happy ending] is a sudden and miraculous grace. . . it denies (in the face of much evidence, if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.” We have more choices today than ever before, and choosing to read comes the cost of a hundred other uses of our time, but if we can catch a glimpse of God’s glory and experience the joy of stories, then we can gain so much more than just entertainment.

-Emily D.

#PrayforKesha

It takes courage to speak, especially when speaking means evoking chaos. I don’t know Kesha personally, of course, but I respect her decision to speak out on the tragedy of being a sexually assaulted victim.

According to an article by The New York Times, Kesha recently filed a lawsuit against Dr. Luke, her music producer. Although Dr. Luke has rejected all claims against him and responded to Kesha’s actions as a means to make money, there are plenty of stars and fans joining ranks with this beloved pop-star.

Fellow female artists like Arianna Grande, Demi Lovato, Kelly Clarkson, and Lady Gaga have been voicing, via social media, their concerns, support, and encouragement. Taylor Swift even donated a large sum of money to help Kesha in her legal battle. The hashtag “Free Kesha” has also been trending.

Demi Lovato stated in a tweet supporting Kesha that “Women empowerment is speaking up for other women even when it’s something uncomfortable to speak up about.” Demi continued saying, “Women empowerment is taking action now, not when it’s convenient.”

What strikes a nerve for so many women is not merely that it is Kesha, a celebrity, but that it is a female—a human being—who is has been taken advantage of in more ways than one. While none of us can know the full story behind what’s happening, I believe that it is important for us to lift up Kesha in prayer and ask for God to provide the justice that is deserved, wherever that may be.

Most of us can’t imagine what it would be like to have our personal, private struggles and shames announced to an entire nation. So instead of using harsh words, passing judgement, or jumping to any conclusions about the situation, let’s remember that Kesha is first and foremost a person as well as a child of God.

-Ruthie F.

Out of Touch with the Oscars

The Oscars are coming, and I haven’t seen almost any of the movies. As I scrolled through category after category of Oscar nominations only to find a small handful of films I’ve seen, I understood that I’ve been living under a rock for the whole year. In fact, I’ve been under two rocks—the rock of College and the rock of Christianity.

Living on campus without a car is not unlike being a part of the Gilligan’s Island castaways: you have interesting people for company and plenty of bamboo-rigged conveniences, but there’s no escape, and your only connection to the outside world is a radio. I really had planned to see some of these movies, but I was just too busy curled up in my dorm-room cave.

Christianity is a weightier rock, to be sure. As a child growing up in the “Christian bubble” I was rightly sheltered from many films, but parental censorship no longer applies to my life, and I have to figure out for myself how to honor God with my movie-going decisions. There’s no hard and fast rule; but when five of the eight films nominated for best picture are rated R, I’ll usually just give up the task of weighing the merits of each individual film and go see Inside Out for the second or third time.

I may be one of mass of people that are out of touch with the Oscars, and chances are—you are too. But I realize that it’s not always bad to be behind the times with our engagement with popular culture. While we can all celebrate the artistic talent and hard work that is highlighted in the Oscars, the best kind of cultural engagement is dictated by our interests, our time, and our faith.

–Emily D.

Empowerment, unhealthy relationships, and self-love: 3 lies female artists tell you

At Beautiful Media, our goal is to share thoughts on the beauty found in different forms of media. However, in order to seek beautiful media, we must be aware of what to avoid and what to consider before making a song, book, movie, or television show our new favorite. Here are three lies often fed to us through female artists and their music.

1. You should feel empowered

Demi Lovato’s “Confident” says it all. “What’s wrong with being confident?”

Nothing at all, obviously. So why is it that being “confident” means flaunting yourself, kicking butt, and putting up walls? Is that really where our confidence should be found? Demi’s song continues by saying:

“I make my own choice

**tch, I run this show

So leave the lights on

No, you can’t make me behave”

Similarly, Fifth Harmony’s “Worth it” may be catchy, but what kind of message are they preaching? “Baby I’m worth it,” is the phrase they repeat. But nowhere in the song do they exemplify individuals with dignity who deserve the respect they want. In fact, they say

“Show me what you got,

cus I don’t wanna waste my time…

make it worth my while”

While these girls are singing about feeling powerful and desiring respect, their conceited and negative attitudes are giving off a very different vibe.

2. What’s bad for you isn’t actually that bad

Unfortunately, female artists can do a great job at showing what an unhealthy mindset and relationship can look like compared to a healthy one. In Selena Gomez’s explicitly sexual song, “Hands to Myself,” she sings,

“My doctor says you’re no good

But people say what they wanna say

And you should know if I could

I’d breathe you in every single day”

 

In her new single, “Run Away with Me,” Carly Rae Jepsen says,

“Baby, take me to the feeling

I’ll be your sinner, in secret

When the lights go out”

Although they attempt to make these feelings and behavior sound normal and gratifying, they’re buying into the belief that the physical side of things is all that matters. Songs should encourage girls to respect themselves and their bodies, not do the opposite.
3. All you need is self-love

Hailee Steinfeld’s debut single “Love Myself” is an upbeat tune, addressing the power of self-love and the ability to get along on your own. She sings,

“I love me.

Gonna love myself,

no, I don’t need anybody else.”

But Hailee’s sexually-understated lyrics allude to more than just fulfilling physical desires. They also convey desires of the heart. While God wants us to love ourselves because we are created in his image, it’s a lie to believe that loving ourselves will satisfy. In truth, the only love we really need is a perfect love that sees past every flaw and completes us more than we—or anyone—ever could.

Five Ways Feminism can Improve Fiction

The presentation of women in fiction has come a long way, but the subject of feminism and fiction is still incredibly contentious. Many feel that feminism in fiction is divisive, but feminism can benefit everyone by improving the work of fiction overall. Here are five reasons why feminism can improve fiction:

  1. It expands the audience of a work of fiction.

Great fiction is able to reach all people. If a story contains problematic messages about women, then it’s cutting its intended audience in half. Women can and frequently do still enjoy these stories, but the message that they’re really for boys only still persists

  1. It promotes unity.

Feminism in fiction aims to bring women into fiction more frequently and respectfully. This in no ways means that it will push men out. Good feminism promotes unity between men and women.

  1. It pushes for more creative writing.

Creating lifelike characters is difficult. Therefore, many writers fall for the temptation to use flat or stock characters. This is true for characters of both sexes, but female characters seem particularly prone to this. Feminism challenges writers to put a bit of extra effort into their creative writing.

  1. It reflects reality more truly.

No matter how fantastic the story is, all great fiction communicates truths about reality. And feminism in fiction is all about conveying the diverse spectrum of women that really exists in the world.

  1. It honors women as people bearing the image of God.

Art in any form honors the original artistry of God’s creation—and women are an essential part of that creation. The priority of all fiction should give respect and honor to people of any kind because they bear the image of God. Feminism is just one of the many ways that we can create achieve that goal.

 

–Emily D.

Star Trek and the Philosophy of Man

There’s no doubt that Star Trek: The Original Series is a cultural icon, yet I rarely find people my age who have actually enjoyed the series. If you have no taste for dated science fiction, then I understand; however, Star Trek has a timeless quality to it that will not grow old. Many have attributed that quality to the show’s intelligence—and it is brilliant—but I think that the eternal appeal of the show runs deeper than that. Quite simply, Star Trek asked questions about what it means to be human, and in doing so, it captured part of the awe and wonder of our human experience.

Psalm 8:3-4 says “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (ESV). These verses express beautifully what all people feel at some level when they consider the majesty and size of the universe. We are struck with wonder, and we’re immediately forced to examine our place that universe. The Psalmist answers these questions with the understanding that we are God’s creation and thus praises God. Star Trek deals with these same questions—but it approaches them from a slightly different angle.

One episode, there’s a transporter accident that splits Captain Kirk into two people who embody his conflicting natures of goodness and evil like a Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde  in space. In another, an android learns how to love, and yet another episode features an alien civilization that must be protected by the Prime Directive, even if that protection means that the social injustices of that civilization would be left to continue.  It’s cheesy, it’s thrilling, and it’s nothing less than a dramatized philosophy of man.

–Emily D.