Good media discernment is about guarding our eyes and hearts before we watch or listen. And it's also about grappling with the entertainment we do see or hear. That's why the Plugged In Blog is devoted to guarding, discussing and grappling.
It wasn't his first movie, but chances are that the first time you saw Mandy Patinkin was in The Princess Bride. He was Inigo Montoya, the drunken swordsman whose only purpose in life was to catch and kill the six-fingered man. And his famous lines are probably already rolling around in your head even before you read them:
"Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
There's been a lot of water that's flowed under the bridge since then—1987, the year I graduated from high school, as a matter of fact—and Patinkin went on to do a lot of roles, in movies, TV shows and stage productions ranging from Dick Tracy to Squanto to Hercules to Evita to Chicago Hope. He played Satan on Touched by an Angel. He played Quasimodo in a TV movie rendition of The Hunchback. Right now he's starring in the Showtime series Homeland, which just walked away with a fistful of Emmy awards last Sunday.
So it's been a full and quite successful entertainment career for Mr. Patinkin. But it's not always been one he's liked. Or even approved of.
In 2005, he began appearing on CBS' Criminal Minds, a police procedural that is, well, very much like every other CBS police procedural—obsessed with all things criminally violent and macabre. He now says of his two years on the series (courtesy New York magazine):
The biggest public mistake I ever made was that I chose to do Criminal Minds in the first place. I thought it was something very different. I never thought they were going to kill and rape all these women every night, every day, week after week, year after year. It was very destructive to my soul and my personality. A fter that, I didn't think I would get to work in television again.
He feels that the violence on his current HBO Showtime show, while dark at times, is different from Criminal Minds'. And he adds in his New York interview,
I'm not making a judgment on the taste [of people who watch crime procedurals]. But I'm concerned about the effect it has. Audiences all over the world use this programming as their bedtime story. This isn't what you need to be dreaming about. A show like Homeland is the antidote. It asks why there's a need for violence in the first place.
My first thought is that Plugged In should tackle Homeland in a review so we can explore the differences Patinkin is talking about. I'd like to see how different it is. My second is that it's really nice to hear from an actor who has obviously thought long and hard about what he gets involved with, and what the cost of certain types of entertainment is.
Comment by ScottyBlue:
Good for him! It's nice to see a celebrity who doesn't subscribe to the crass amoral "standards" that dominate television nowadays.
Comment by godsgrl:
Inidgo has always been my favorite character of the Princess Bride (except for Wesley). I'm glad that in an age where so many actors sell out, there are still a few who stick to their morals.
Comment by Sandee:
Mandy Patinkin (and I'm not picking on Mandy; he's just the one under the microscope in this article) hasn't changed or matured, or become more conservative or spiritually aware. He's just traded in a low-brow network crime show for one that's ostensibly a little higher brow on pay-TV. That's all. Have you seen Homeland? Perhaps it asks the question,"Why do we need violence in the first place?"--and I'm not at all sure that it does--but it surely goes to great lengths to provide graphic examples of the violence "we don't need"!
Comment by kate:
Everyone has their own sense of morality, but quite frankly I'm not inclined to praise Mandy for ditching Criminal Minds. I've seen a couple of episodes of Homeland and the violent content is the same (if not worse) than the latter show.Correction: Homeland is on Showtime not HBO.
Comment by Chandler J.:
I have not seen either show but I am impressed by him and here is why. Homeland may, in our minds, seem just as bad if not worse then criminal minds, but in his mind it is not, and being able to walk away from something you believe you should walk away from is a very important characteristic, and should be aploaded. Conviction is not the same for everybody, that's why plugged in exists! Not to tell people what they should watch and what they should not watch, but to provide us with the facts about a movie show game or song so we can make the choice for ourselves weather or not it is ok for us to entertain. I have an Xbox 360 and there are M rated games that I am fine with playing and T rated games that I am horrified by, because some things I am barely convicted by and some things it only takes a hint of and I think it is unacceptable. Some people may think its more 'Christian' to never watch R rated movies, but if you are walking with the lord the way you should be then the bible says that God will give you the desires of your hearts, In Acts 10:9-15 God tells peter to eat things that he thought were unclean and he refuses, God replies with "What I have cleansed you must not call common", Nowhere in the bible does it say don't watch R rated movies, but if God is convicting you to not watch R rated movies, you better not. This might not apply to Mandy because I do not know if he is saved or not, but for saying NO because of his conviction, BRAVO!
Comment by Dave:
You don't need to be impressed by Mandy, or put him up as a model of spiritual discernement. I think what he said about CM brings to light that there are storylines in the shows we watch that are twisted in such a way that even the godless actors sense there's something quite wrong with it all. It's a commentary on the Romans 1 culture that we're in.
Comment by Dan:
Mr. Patinkin strikes me as a soft-hearted guy. In an extra feature included in the new Princess Bride Blu Ray, he talks about what it was like to watch the first rough cut of that film with his wife and the cast. Even 25 years later, he wept over the fact that he never thought he'd get to do a movie like that. He was sincerely grateful to get that role. It's nice to know there are actors who consider the emotional, and even spiritual, consequences of the stories in which they become involved.
Comment by Andy:
Your statement is incorrect. Homeland is not nearly as violent as criminal minds. Criminal minds is over the top violent. It's sick and disturbing. Homeland is a tremendously thoughtful program with too much sexual content and some violence. It is violent, but not in the stupid low iq manner that criminal minds is violent. And for what it's worth, homeland is probably the best crafted and most thought provoking show out there. I just wish it didn't have needless sexual content.
Comment by GC:
I happen to like Criminal Minds. It definitely deals with sick criminal behavior, but I don't recall it being extremely graphic -- that is, it doesn't typically show a rape or murder, though you definitely get the idea of what is happening to the crime victims. The episodes are psychological thrillers: you sense the evil person watching and plotting and the danger approaching the victims. The regular characters are well-developed and quite likable. And evil is NEVER called good or even implied to be somewhat good or sympathetic. It is fought against valiantly and sometimes sacrificially by the FBI specialists. The show even helps you understand the personal price these crime-fighters and their families pay.
Comment by lupinskitten:
I think I saw one episode of Major Crimes way back when because an actor I enjoyed had a guest spot. I don't remember much about it either way, except it was a surprisingly good episode. I'm curious about Homeland, though. I may give it a rent at some point (with my fast-forward button handy!). Personally, I think most television is too gory nowadays. When The Last of the Mohicans came out, it got an R-rating for an Indian ripping out a man's heart. Now, I can see that almost every week on The Vampire Diaries! =P
My poison of choice when it comes to crime dramas was The Closer, but is now its spin-off Major Crimes. Sometimes it gets a bit gritty, but it's never over the top and I'm glad to say the majority of the cases don't revolve around rape.
Comment by seekeroftruth:
I too have never seen either of these shows, and thus cannot comment on them. I personally don't agree with the things that you wrote regarding what a follower of the Messiah should and should not do, we are not to use our freedom to place ourselves back into sin after all. (Galatians 5:1) The reason I responded however, was to call attention to a misunderstanding of scripture. Acts 10 and Peter's vision had nothing at all to do with declaring unclean "foods" to be clean, but rather had to do with interaction with the Gentiles (the ones who fear YHWH and do what is right, according to Peter in Acts 10:35). Peter interprets the vision in verse 28 to refer to MEN and NOT food. What is unclean will always be unclean, and Gentiles were always welcome to turn from being a Gentile and join themselves to the Elohim(mighty one) of Israel throughout history. Also, if we are walking with YHWH (rendered inaccurately as "the LORD" in the bible) as we should, the desire of our heart will be the will of YHWH not our own. Messiah is the perfect example of a person forgoing his will in order to let the will of YHWH reign in his heart. Thus the desire of his heart was given to him. This is not a verse promising the ability to be blessed in our sinning, whether we feel the conviction or not. Now, I am not trying to tell you do or not do something, it is not my place to render judgment to another man's servant. However, buying into the idea that being covered by the blood of the Lamb allows us to sin against YHWH any way we see fit is likely the path that seems right to a man and in the end leads to death. I try to remember that I am to be a LIGHT to the nations, but if I follow them in everything they are doing I have hidden myself away in a muddy alley rather than sitting atop a tall hill. The word sanctified actually means to be set apart, I cannot be like the world and be set apart. If they see me doing what they do, calling that which is evil good and that which is good evil, they will never come to the conclusion that I am set apart (which I am likely not if I do as they do). Hopefully you will be able to see that I am not trying to rip you apart, but instead trying to encourage you to not fall in line with the lukewarm. Be set apart, be different, make the tough choices that show the world not that YHWH is cool with everybody but that He is set apart and wants the same for us. It will cost you friends, in the church as well as out. It will push some away from the faith, but we are not called to win converts but to make disciples. Disciples will want to walk as Messiah walked, live as he lived, and be set apart as he was set apart. Hope this will speak to someone who has ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart for understanding.
* Criminal Minds, not Major Crimes in my first paragraph. Sorry! =P
Comment by Mike :
I loved P.B. ...but have realized lately that the stories we use to speak to our soul and to frame our purposes of life will always diminish our character and our life visions unless Jesus is the author, the hero, the knight in shining armor, and the director. No story speaks to our human conditions like the one He speaks to us about unfailing love, great banquets for groom and his bride, like a conquering hero that saves the world from self-destruction. Unless our stories find a way to be strutted upon His stage, we will truly find ourselves in a tale told by an idiot.
Comment by Sierra:
Hi, there. Just had one comment to make here...it seems an awful lot like you're trying to say we, as Christians (though I am guessing from your speech and referring to Jesus as 'Messiah' instead of 'Lord' or simply 'Jesus' that you are a Messianic Jew), should seclude ourselves from the world and just work on making people who are already Christians better Christians, instead of going out and trying to preach the Gospel to others who haven't heard it yet or who have heard it and don't understand it enough to accept the Truth. What if the Apostles had done that? None of us outside of Israel would know anything about Jesus and we'd all be doomed. Maybe I'm misinterpreting what your comment was saying, but that is all I got from the latter part of your comment. If we are not here to "win converts," then why is there a Great Commission? We're supposed to win, disciple, and send: we need to win converts, help them grow in their relationship with Christ (disciple them), and teach them to go and do the same for others (send). Otherwise, if we isolate ourselves completely, the Gospel will be spread nowhere.
I apologize for the confusion, I was not in any way trying to say that we should isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. What I was trying to say is that we are supposed to be different from the world, and these days we often look exactly like the world. Unfortunately there seems to be a strong emphasis within the faith to ignore sin and make excuses as to why it is ok, such as the blood covers me so I need not worry. But if we have a permissive attitude towards sin then we are not loving what YHWH loves and hating what He hates. Hebrews 10:26 reminds us that if we have received the truth and then return to a life of sin then there is no longer a sacrifice for our sin. This does not mean that we MUST be perfect, although we are supposed to and according to scripture it is possible. It does however mean that we MUST hate sin in our lives and do everything possible to remove its presence. My point was more that the world is watching to see what we are watching, and when we call something that is evil good then we have destroyed any witness we have and make any convert we win twice the son of hades as we are. Yahushua tells us in revelation that he despises lukewarm believers and will vomit them out of his mouth. I don't want to be one of those people, nor do I want to see anyone else be called that. It is time for the faithful to wake up and realize that by living according to the worlds standards we have wandered far from the truth and embraced lies that have the potential to lead us to destruction. We are not to be lovers of violence, lewdness, and unrighteousness. Yet that is where we spend most of our money, on entertaining ourselves with the very things we are to refrain from being a part of. And in so doing we think we are building a witness and showing people that YHWH is not some stuffy uptight god, but rather our buddy and best friend. In america it seems that reverence is a trait we have long since abandoned, I would simply love to see us revere our Father once again and turn from the things that separate us from Him, His presence, and His love. Notice in Romans 8 Paul does not say that WE cannot separate ourselves from the love of YHWH. This was longer than I meant it to be, but hopefully that clears things up. As to me being a Messianic Jew, not really. I was born a Gentile, but turned from that root to embrace the elohim of Israel, and thus became an heir with Israel. We cannot inherit eternal life as a Gentile (by definition a gentile is an unbeliever and an outsider), but we can seek YHWH and become grafted into the promise with Israel!
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