In this particular situation, it’s painfully funny how the inspiration for this one arose. Tell me something, dear readers. When you listen to a new song for the first time, do you hear the music or lyrics first? I tend to hear lyrics. What does this have to do with anything? I was looking for more bachata music for the playlist post that I intended to put up before this one. I’ve only had one semester of Spanish, so there’s little I can understand amidst the music and slang. I can only recognize songs musically. It saddens me to say that bachata gives me the most problems lyrically. *sigh* I know I don’t have to look up the translation, but I would like to what my readers to know what they’re hearing if they click on the song links. Then, I find a song with a rockin’ beat and obscene lyrics. Ugh… Thus, the question is “How much is too much?” Just a heads up, this is going to be long post that addresses a controversial subject.
Most people I know are just tune it out or “ignore it because they often tell me to do that. I can’t. That doesn’t make it disappear. I say this as a practicing Christian. But, I also say this as an aspiring artist that wants to be able to see where art is and writer that wants to be as consistent as she can in her standards. I ask again: how much is too much? It’s a tough question that will inevitably involve my worldview, but I want to address it.
I think art requires an intensity and realism appropriate to it. For example, movies made by Christian filmmakers. I once read a blog post addressing the subject. It referenced a review of the movie God’s Not Dead entitled “God’s Not Dead, But Christian Filmmaking Is.” I had to laugh because there is truth there. I won’t go into a full-blown discourse because I’ve had plenty of discussion in college on the subject. So, here’s a primer on the consensus among most of my classmates and art professor: The theology is correct, but the art is absent.
From what I’ve seen, which admittedly isn’t much, there is a portrayal of struggle and pain but not as I’d like to see it. Most of the endings seem to tie things up a little too neatly. At the worst, it goes “Say a prayer and it’s all better.” The desire is well-intentioned but gives an erroneous impression. In my life, I’ve found that the struggle is with the ever-eternal “Why?” There are times when prayer doesn’t seem to help, though my faith says otherwise. There are times where I’ve wept into my pillow wondering angrily if God just went on vacation. And that’s just me, and not all the other crap that’s out there from getting fired, to affairs, to natural disasters, and the list could go on. In Christian film, I want to see the sweat as the character(s) fight an uphill battle. I want to see them wrestle with temptation. I want to see them succumb because that’s the way life can be sometimes. And none of this should ix-nay the ultimate message of hope and redemption despite the pain.
Does this mean that these movies should have nude scenes, swearing, abuse of all kinds, or *gasp* booze? (That’s a question my former journalism professor and I discussed.) I can’t answer that because movies, and art in general, are so particular. What may be appropriate for one piece may be inappropriate for another. And, there’s executing your designs. However, if there was even the remotest possibility that the above mentioned aspects helps get the message across without turning the audience away, why disqualify it? It’s a hair’s breadth line to tread on, but I know there are artists that can walk upon it. There have been artists that have walked upon it .
I’ll get off my cinematic soapbox and say that I believe art needs to maintain mystery. That’s what makes it alluring and beautiful. There’s a bit of that in my love of dance, even my love of the more sensual ones, like bachata. But, when it goes from pleasuring in creation to flat-out being in my face, that’s when it becomes too much. It’s one thing to say “You’re driving me crazy, and stealing my breath away.” It’s quite another to say “I’ll burn you in your bed. I’ll eat you from head to feet.” (Those are the translated lyrics from a bachata song I’ve danced to in the past. I was rather fond of it. It doesn’t necessarily help the image when the singer mentions wanting to climb into the girl’s window despite the obstacles because he loves her that much. There is romance in a dangerous adventure, but this strikes me as less Indiana Jones and more Edward-Cullen-is-watching-me-while-I-sleep.)
That’s the whole of what I think. Maybe when it comes to life and art, it’s choosing the lesser of two evils. One has more artistic integrity than the other, but neither are perfect. Maybe not. In terms of love scenes, I’d personally prefer the passion-to-fade-out-implications-obvious than the “Behold, copulation!” à la Game of Thrones.
P.S.: If you’ve read all this way, thank you. I know that not all writers agree, but each should hear what the other has to say with open ears. This does not mean acceptance, but it does mean respect for the other as artist. This really is important in both my dancing and writing, and I couldn’t keep it in my head much longer. That and I want to be as honest as I can with you guys. Oh, and I will post that bachata playlist as soon as I can.