Earlier this week, one of my co-workers sent me a link to an article by Doug Phillips about horror films. Here are a couple of quotes:
Genres reflect philosophical and theological priorities. Some genres are so immersed in anti-Christian presuppositions that to divest them of their perverse worldview is to destroy the genre itself. Consequently, some genres are unredeemable. Pornography would be one example. Horror is another.
Horror is an example of a genre which was conceived in rebellion. It is based on a fascination with ungodly fear. It should not be imitated, propagated, or encouraged. It cannot be redeemed because it is presuppositionally at war with God.
Those of you who know me already know that I disagree with this assessment, both of horror and of this approach to the arts. And normally, I would vigorously disagree, especially with the assertion that this genre is “unredeemable”. But, you know what? I just can’t be bothered.
Part of this is because it’s been a rough week, and I don’t really have the emotional energy to rebut this argument without pulling an emotional muscle. When I’m tired and depressed, outrage very quickly turns into a deeper depression, and I’d rather avoid that right now.
But, I think that there’s a truth here to be embraced. I was talking a little about this at Wednesday dinner, in the larger context of a discussion about Christians and the arts that came from a conversation about this thread on Moving Truth. I mentioned that I watched the film of the performance of 4′ 33″ and actually appreciated it. So Raquel asked me if I was going to weigh in on the thread.
And I said no.
Honestly, I’ve become tired about arguing art theory. I’ve become tired about tossing around hypotheticals and philosophies and worldviews, trying somehow to get them to stick together so that we can then go do art. Instead, I think that Christian artists need to Go Play.
Go Play is a meme in the gaming community. The symbol is a white triangle on a field of green. (Bonus points to someone who writes that up in proper heraldic form.) According to Mike Sugarbaker, here’s what it means:
Play is good. Play is necessary. Play keeps us young. Play keeps us alive. Play leads to new ideas and new ways of looking at the world. Play teaches us about each other and about ourselves. Play makes us human.
This symbol says, â€œHave play in your life.â€ It does not say â€œI am ______ and you are not.â€ For that matter, it does not say â€œI am ______ and so are you if you understand this.â€ No, not even when you fill in the blank with â€œgamer.â€
This symbol is not even really an exhortation. Itâ€™s a yelp of joy. It says, go us. Go team. Go humanity. GO PLAY.
I frequent a roleplaying site called the Forge. Once there was a lot of theoretical discussion there on the theory forums. But then the site owner and moderator decided to close them down. He wasn’t opposed to the theory discussions. Rather, he wanted them to improve by rooting them in discussions of Actual Play. So, rather than having theoretical discussions that trail off into the stratosphere, theory discussions would be an attempt to refine and understand techniques and concepts discovered while roleplaying. The point: go and do, then discuss what you did. Don’t just sit around, discussing what you might do. Go Play, and then talk.
The same is true of Christians striving to work in the arts. Go Play, and then talk. That means that you need to feel free to experiment, to make mistakes, to mess up, to do it “wrong”. In return, we need to be willing to let them experiment and do it “wrong”. Then talk. Now you can discuss the worldview of a given work or the various techniques that were used to make it work. But now the discussion is rooted in a concrete thing, not just an abstract discussion.
And, to bring it back to the original topic, while I do disagree with Doug Phillips’ take on the horror genre, I do appreciate that he has started this film festival to encourage Christians to take a shot at making movies. And who knows? Maybe some aspiring film maker will make a horror film that will change his mind.