August 18, 2016
It’s a shame that Bad Moms lacks a single instance of what vulnerability could look like between husband and wife.
I'm sorry, but I have to respond. I say this with some humor so not trying to get you all worked up. Ashley, you have a Ph.D in English and you're trying to pull some kind of message out of Bad Moms an R rated Hollywood comedy. You even have a quote from Martin Luther who as serious as he was somehow finds it's way into this article. Reading about it's sexual,drug and alcohol content along with language what kind of message could you possible be expecting? Is there some kind of hidden message or expectations I should have if I went and saw Hanover? Should I quote Kierkegaard when giving some insight into Dirty Grandpa if I had seen it? I guess I could just not sure I should. I would set my expectations low, real low when seeing any R rated comedy, in fact I would set it just above filth or rubbish for the most part.
Yes! These are just some of the reasons I hesitate to even see this movie. Thanks for this review.
I am also wondering why we get obsessed with all the things we do wrong as mom. I would love to see a movie or read a book that didn't turn motherhood into a trope. And maybe instead showed it to be the multi-layered joy and pain fest that it actually is. Allowing us to acknowledge our failures and our successes in the same story. A little more depth and earnest flavor. Though maybe that doesn't make for the com we dy most people look for. Ha. :)
Although of course I haven't seen this movie, only the preview, so I can't really judge.
I really enjoyed this piece, Ashley! :)
In Reply to The Elk (comment #28817)
Hi The Elk,
Josh Larsen, TC editor here. Thanks for bringing you comment with good humor. I’m not sure how familiar you are with our site, but I can share a few things that might explain why we feel an R-rated comedy is worthy of serious, even Christian consideration. Much of our thinking is rooted in Dutch theologian Abraham Kuyper’s notion of common grace—that echoes of the Kingdom can be found in unexpected places, even outside of explicitly Christian circles. Furthermore, if Christians are to be actively engaged in the culture at large and not only in our Christian subculture, we must first listen to the other culture that is out there, even if it’s not necessarily rated G. Perhaps especially we must listen when it’s not rated G. It’s only after we’ve earned the right to speak—by allowing the culture to have its say—will we have the best opportunity to offer our Christian witness in response. I think that’s exactly what Ashley is doing here.
Now, the caveat I always give is that this isn’t to say that all Christians must engage with all of culture. This is where discernment comes in. You may not want to deal with something like Bad Moms, and that’s completely understandable. But here at TC we’re not in the business of declaring which movies, TV shows, music, etc. is out of bounds for Christian consumption. That’s a personal choice that should be made within the context of close Christian community, not the business of a website.
Josh I greatly appreciate your response and giving me some background information. I'm a bit of a theologian bug so I do know Kuyper and all about common grace. I can see a Calvinistic slant, but a Neo-Calvinistic that's interesting. In no way was I trying to say what people should or shouldn't watch. It's more of a trying to pull something or make a point from something that's maybe not there. I might not be able to pull any theological insight from Pee Wee's Big Adventure, but it's very possible I could from say Private Ryan or The Green Mile. Maybe the artist who wrote it doesn't want to show dads in a good light so it really wouldn't be a shame that it's not in there it would be expected. Like she said we are all bad moms, dads, spouses and neighbors, so lets keep our expectations of movies really, really, really low.
In Reply to Josh Larsen (comment #28819)
Thanks for the reply. It's true that common grace is an important theological concept - but it's often a tension with the notion of the antithesis. Like the first post, I will try to say this with some humor: Sometimes it's not worth diving into a dumpster searching for a penny at the bottom...
Like the author, Dr. Ashley Hales, I also at times look at the popular culture and see insight into my life as a parent and spouse. I sometimes bemoan the lack of non-idiotic fathers in comedies and dramas. Sometimes I feel like more of an alien in my culture, because sometimes I do okay at seeing myself as part of a heavenly Kingdom. I imagine an article on the best parents and marriages in popular culture might be interesting, it might help us engage (as Christians) with those who do not know Christ, but are struggling to find good role models and be good role models.
Good article. I do agree with another commment, that one shouldn't be surprised by Hollywood depicting motherhood, fatherhood, marriage as a movie like this seems to have (I haven't seen it). I do think it's a great article though, because sadly it seems a movie like is only reflecting the world - not setting the model. Good article. Thanks for writing!
In Reply to The Elk (comment #28820)
Hi there, I appreciate your candor, good questions, and your charitable intentions to engage this issue. There are a few things at play: in no way am I saying that this is a movie that Christians should all watch (like Josh mentioned much of it is under the banner of Christian liberty and conscience). For me, I approached this article like a sociologist: what is it about this movie that speaks to the culture? Why is a movie about vulnerability and motherhood so popular at the box office? And as a Christian: what in it holds out threads of redemption? Where can I see a gospel yearning even in the mess?
I don't mean that that means that this is the epitome of the movie -- this mining for redemption. What I do mean is that viewing even a movie like Bad Moms through the lens of the gospel means that we have crossover conversations with our neighbors and friends who don't share our same faith. It's a jumping off point. It's not the bottom of the pool.
Of course Bad Moms is not high art; it's not particularly noble. It is not a movie like Saving Private Ryan that speaks of sacrifice. But it does speak to what our culture thinks is part of motherhood (overworked, neglected, catty, unequally yoked with dead-beat dads) and marriage (as essentially boring or unable to last). Happy to talk further if you have questions more specifically. Of course we can differ on if a movie such as Bad Moms *should* be viewed by Christians (though that is not the point of this article), but I did hope to open up conversation about these topics for those who may or may not have seen the movie (for whatever reason).
In Reply to Erika (comment #28818)
This is definitely why I'm fascinated too, Erika. It was interesting to see so many motherhood tropes paraded on screen and yet to also see them break the stereotypes in places. I loved that the characters ended up owning their "sins" of motherhood. There is much power there. But like I said, it just sort of left us there. It may or may not be worth your time, but the issues are definitely worth discussing.
In Reply to JiminyCricket (comment #28821)
I appreciate your good humor. I suppose we can disagree about the relative "dumpster" quality of the film. It's sort of akin to a summer read versus the great American novel -- the purposes are completely different. The movie did, however, tap into some cultural assumptions about motherhood, fatherhood, and marriage in ways that felt fresh -- in ways that if we're paying attention as Christians we could really speak into. That doesn't mean one needs to watch the movie. In fact, I hope the point of a review is that for those who don't want to see the movie, we all at least have something to go on when it's commonly spoken of around the office, in our neighborhoods, schools, and (maybe even) churches.
In Reply to Ted (comment #28824)
Thank you Ted, for your kind comment. I guess "surprised" may not be the best word. I suppose I simply think it's a pity that the writers weren't creative enough to make a marriage that worked. It did reflect back to us our own cultural hangups about motherhood, fatherhood and marriage. And perhaps that is what art does well (even if crude or low-brow). It was refreshing to see women put down their defenses and realize we're all human and it was fascinating to see the need for corporate confession. It would've been even more appealing to see what this looks like with men and good dads.
In Reply to Andrew Shields (comment #28823)
Yes, the doofus father is such a trope that does nothing to help change it for men. As much as there's been a backlash about women and role models, men don't seem to have amazing on-screen options, either. The "alien" thing is quite how it is sometimes, isn't it? We are both "in the world but not of it." Reminds me the title of Stanley Hauerwas's Resident Aliens. I like your idea of marriages and mothers/fathers in popular culture article.
This sort of reminds me of the Proverbs 31 woman, when ideal hits reality. I maintain that Proverbs 31 in context is a story of unreasonable expectations given by a future mother in law to her bratty son.
IT'S A MOVIE. NOT REAL LIFE. I'm a Christian, wife, and mother of three, in that order. I can tell you, I don't go to the movies (R-rated, G-rated, whatever) in the hopes of being spiritually filled. You can take any movie in Hollywood, no matter the plot, content, language, or theme, and dissect it against the Word. None will stand up. I haven't seen this movie, and I don't necessarily know that I will, but I can tell you, I won't be expecting church if I do. I don't think that going to movies, and then disparaging them in public makes us better Christians. I think it makes us look pompous and self-righteous. This is a movie, Hollywood made, with Hollywood morals and ethics. It is supposed to be a comedy. That is all.
I enjoyed your post. I appreciated this movie because of it's honesty about the expectations we put on moms everyday. But I love your point that they lower their expectations instead of turning to God to redefine and reorder everything for them. Love that I'm not the only one who sees God even in the craziest and most outlandish of movies!
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