Discussing
How 'Scream 4' is like the Bible

Josh Larsen

Maureenherring
April 19, 2011

I like the Scream movies a lot and love your take on the Bible as metanarrative. Only God can take real events and real personalities in real lives and incorporate them into the big redemption story He's always telling. Reminds me of something C.S. Lewis said about miracles: "Miracles are a retelling in small letters of the very same story which is written across the whole world in letters too large for some of us to see."

Rickd
April 19, 2011

You can say Scream is witty, ironic, self-referential but it is still a slasher movie that depends on horror and fright for that titillation some people sadly call entertainment. I detest all violent, sadistic fear exploitation movies masquerading as entertainment. Is it a meta-narrative like the Bible? Doesn’t matter. It’s evil and dark and worst of all it’s clever.

Jason Summers
April 19, 2011

Josh,<br><br>Biblical narrative is additionally self referential and sophisticated in that it invites (requires) the reader to place him or herself in the narrative (cf. Auerbach's book Mimesis). A great example of this process written out is Kirkegaard's Fear and Trembling. <br><br>js

Todd Hertz
April 20, 2011

Well, RickD, it does actually matter in that the Scream franchise--like it or not--is, like the Bible, an influential text in American culture. And so a comparative study of the two is perfectly valid. One does not have to approve of a piece of literature or its contents to recognize its cultural influence, merit or the glimpse it may give of a bigger truth. <br><br>But, like you implied, that engagement does come with an obligation of discernment. And so while the first film was ground-breaking and its style did evoke for Josh a quality present in God's Word, that of course does not make it godly or something to show in youth groups. But I don't see why it has to be one or the other: sinless &amp; safe for the whole family OR completely discarded as a work and not discussed or engaged by believers.

Rickd
April 20, 2011

I appreciate Josh’s comparison between the Bible and Scream. It was not a critique of Scream, more a comparison of literary forms. And I suppose it was ground-breaking in that it broke ground for the blatantly sadistic Saw franchise and scores of video games among others. My concern is that these movies desensitize young people towards sadism and violence. They are dehumanizing and the use of humor makes them all the more so. Unfortunately the human race has a long rfelationship with the nasty emotion of blood lust. From bear baiting to dog fights to modern fight clubs. I try to learn from Josh, I tried to make myself watch Bruno, another film he thought was entertaining and instructional and I couldn’t. It wasn’t rationalized morality, just a visceral revulsion to grossness. Some people have a gag reflux when eating a raw oyster, some don’t. I have children and I have always been bothered by seeing violence trivialized or people victimized. I don’t want to criticize Josh, I really did appreciate his point about the Bible being a self-aware meta narrative bearing similaroties to the sophisticated self-consciousness of the characters in Scream. Clint Eastwood’s Iwo Jima movies are violent and bloody, as are King David’s battles or Macbeth, but they are useful meditations on the place of violence and it’s origin in the fallen nature of humanity. Movies like Scream are about the thrill of violence, bloodlust and sadism. Josh has a tough job and I appreciate his reviews.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
April 20, 2011

I'm glad you mentioned Saw, because I see a clear difference between that series and the Scream movies. The Saw films that I've seen (I eventually bailed on them) are nothing more than exploitative sadism and their popular appeal is indeed disturbing. The Scream franchise, while still violent, has an entirely different tenor - the creativity and wit and love of film that courses through them makes them almost genial. (Only Scream 3 has hints of cruelty.) A minor distinction, perhaps, for those who see no value in the horror genre whatsoever. But for those of us who feel even horror flicks have value, it's a crucial distinction.

Rickd
April 20, 2011

But like you say, Scream, in this case, has truly been ground-breaking film. Its wit and love of film might also be a distinction lost on its adolescent audience. I'd love to see you do a piece (maybe you already have) on dealing with the dehumanizing effect that slasher and horror films (Scream, Saw, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, zombie splatter fests, Halloween etc.) have on their young audiences. I do see some value in a few movies that have been lumped in the horror genre (Flatliners, Bodysnatchers etc.). I appreciate your voice.

Joe Olachea
April 22, 2011

I think it's interesting that you call the Scream movies violent and sadistic, yet the Bible is full of some pretty violent things (that some may even call 'sadistic'). Is it because the vehicle is different, making things okay in written word but not visually? I'm honestly not sure where to draw that kind of line. I think engaging culture is important... Redeeming culture is more important. But both cannot be done without being exposed to culture. All that said, we still should use discernment with what we put in front of our eyes, etc. I personally enjoyed the first two Scream movies and will see this one. I have watched some incredible films that are violent and uncomfortable, such as Lars Von Trier's Dogville, but say some very important things. I'm glad I watched them despite the times I cringed and felt disgusted.

Rickd
April 22, 2011

Joe, you know that feeling you get when you’re watching your third slasher horror flick and teenagers are getting sliced and diced and you viscerally “cringe and feel disgusted”? That most likely is the Holy Spirit inside you saying “Enough Joe!” The difference between the Bible’s inclusion of a violent detail and a Hollywood movie maker’s obsessive graphic slo-mo focus on splatter, horror and it’s anticipation, is intent. Is it there for titillation, or does it have a larger moral point to make? The movie maker is producing a commercial vehicle designed make as much money as possible from teenager’s fascination with blood lust and fright. Full coffers keep immoral stockholders happy. No matter what you hear, the Bible is not “Sadistic”.

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