Friday, January 13, 2006

Morally Offensive Art

I've been scanning the blog over and have seen what a bunch of people have said about the notion of Morally Offensive Art- i.e. Brokeback Mountain.

According to Jimmy Akin something morally offensive endorses practices contrary to Catholic Teaching.

If that's our general definition... you probably shouldn't look at most art.

Everything from Romeo and Juliet to Desperate Housewives to the Rite of Spring endorses some idea contrary to Catholic teaching.

That brings me to examine this entire notion of art and Religion and morally offensive.

The OED defines moral as

Of or relating to human character or behaviour considered as good or bad; of or relating to the distinction between right and wrong, or good and evil, in relation to the actions, desires, or character of responsible human beings; ethical.

and derrives from the noun "moral virtue"

So we're clearly dealing with vice and virtue here.

Offensive is-

3. Giving, or liable to give, offence; displeasing; annoying; insulting.


2. a. Of or relating to offence or attack; attacking, aggressive; adapted or used for purposes of attack; characterized by attacking.

and is easily my least favorite word in the English language, especially when used in definition 3.

If we consider morally offensive art as insulting to morality- we are squeamish little sissies. Life as we know it is morally offensive. Sin is ugly, people, and covering our face because it exists in the world does no one any good.

If we consider it morally offensive as an attack on virtue- then avoiding or ignoring art, especially when it is subject to the market, is the proper response. "Be angry and do not sin" is a call to a resistance. Still, Justine says

You could argue, but isn't exposure to opposing viewpoints good and healthy? Indeed! But see I have already had plenty of exposure to gay-sympathy viewpoints, as someone who identified as lesbian/queer for some time, as someone who was a leader in the queer rights movement in one of the leading queerest schools in the nation, and as someone who has studied it academically. So I don't think I need a movie to expose me to the viewpoint that society may be to blame for the unhappy situation of people unable to pursue their love (lust).

I think in Justine's case she has every right to abstain from the film. Our existence as humans is marked by our free will. That means you can watch the vanity of the OC or not. However, if we cannot get into a huff over an ethical disagreement. Banning films or video games will not stop people from sinning. It is internal conversion of the soul that is important. Aesthetics, as in art, are not. And if that's the case, we will ultimately loose interest in these issues althogether.

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