Analyse and Explain the way in which a religious theme or concern to Christians has been dealt with in a film or television drama
This essay will discuss the issue of Blasphemy and how it is dealt with in the film ‘Bruce Almighty’.Blasphemy is defined as swearing in the name of God, or claiming that one has the attributes of God.
Many may even say that an example of blasphemy is one religion’s affirmation of their God being a blasphemous of another belief in their God. Christians denounce blasphemy, they follow the words of the Bible (the Christian holy book), which states in the Ten Commandments that ‘Thou shall not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain’. Christians are taught to base their life on the Ten Commandments. If a Christian was to break one of these Commandments, it is said to be an immense sin, and the doer would suffer severe consequences on the day when God will judge whether the person is to go to heaven or hell (‘the day of judgment’).The film ‘Bruce Almighty’ was made in 2003, and was directed by a man called Tom Shadyac. Bruce Nolan, acted by Jim Carrey, is a television reporter in Buffalo, New York.
He is discontented with almost everything in life despite the love of his girlfriend Grace, acted by Jennifer Aniston, and his popularity. At the end of one of the worst days of his life, Bruce ridicules and rages against God, who is acted in a human form by Morgan Freeman. God responds to Bruce, by providing him with divine powers and challenges Bruce to take on the mighty role of God, to see if he is able to do any better. After a while Bruce realizes how impossible it is for him to fill the place of God and begins to understand the magnitude of God’s job. It is when he comes to realize that God’s job is not all that easy, and discovers that when having such powers can lead to grave consequences that need to be taken care of, he asks God to take over.
From this, Bruce appreciates that you are not always able to rely on God and that some issues can be solved on your own without help.In this film, both forms of blasphemy are brought out. Bruce often takes God’s name in vain when he becomes angry. Bruce also takes on the attributes of God when he is given the divine powers to see if he is able to do a better job. Many people would question whether this religious issue has been dealt with in a suitable manner that Christians would find acceptable.
From all of this Bruce learns a moral lesson, which enables him to lead a more nurtured, content life, and also form not only a relationship with God, but with his faith too. This taught the audience that living life with faith and obedience to God can lead to a better life.On the other hand the film shows Bruce breaking the Commandments numerous times. From this, a Christian would have to consider whether the film was inappropriate, and offensive to their religion, because the positive outcome is achieved through the breaking of the Ten Commandments. This could be seen as a bad image to put across to young minds, as to many Christians the Ten Commandments are seen the basis of the Christian religion.
Blasphemy starts to occur when Bruce says ‘oh my god’ and repeatedly says ‘why does God hate me’. In saying this he goes against not only the Ten Commandments but the nature of God too. Bruce takes God’s name in vain, and in Luke 12:10 ‘…
those who blaspheme against the Holy Sprit will not be forgiven’. From this biblical quote blasphemy is shown to be a sever sin, and is not forgiven by God. Bruce’s statement could cause great dismay to many Christians, as this is a hasty blasphemous statement, and the Christian point of view is not being taken into consideration. However, on the other hand, Christians also believe that God is all loving as shown in Psalms 18:30 ‘..
. the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him.’ Therefore, as the film is seen to be a comedy, Bruce’s statement on ‘why does God hate me’ can be taken as a humorous remark. This proves God’s love and shows that he would be there for those who need him the most. It can also be perceived by viewers, as an expression of anger, and disappointment, not abhorrence towards God.
This can lead to the idea of there not being any intention to insult the Christian belief, but of opening eyes, and rising awareness to viewers that remarks like this can cause dismay.Blasphemous remarks are continually being presented throughout the film, but are used in a humorous manor, like when Bruce says ‘God is a mean kid with a magnifying glass’. Some Christians may think that this film is making a mockery of God and the Christian religion. Some Christians would not hold such strong news about their religion, and would be quite liberal, therefore would not take the teaching of Christianity as seriously, and feel there is nothing wrong in having a laugh. In the same way liberal Christians would regard these statements as humorous remarks, with no intention to insult or to make light of the serious matter.
As Bruce took the role of God, he descended to doing demeaning stunts, for example when he blows up a woman’s dress. This shows God in a lower form, making this a blasphemous stunt. This also teaches young children wrong ideas about the nature of God. Not only that, but it puts down the role of a woman, and shows her to be an item of show. Many Christians, and other liberal people would see this as a humorous act, but more orthodox Christians would see this as a false viewing, and would see it as a negative approach towards God, which has no proper basis.Another form of blasphemy is claiming to have attributes of God.
In the film, they show God to be in a human form. This is blasphemous as Christians believe that God has not been given a body, and in Christianity has never been seen to have a physical form, as said in Exodus, 10 Commandments ‘Thou shall not make unto thee any graven images’. This could cause great offence to Christians as seeing God in physical form should bring great honor, (as with Moses), and the film broadcasted the physical form of God, causing God to appear undignified. On the other hand, many Christians believe that God made humans as an image of himself in different forms, making the film less blasphemous.A moral lesson is learnt in this film, when God says to Bruce ‘A single mom who is working two jobs and still finds time to take her kid to soccer practice-that is a miracle.
A teenager who says no to drugs and yes to education-that is a miracle. People who want me to do everything for them, and what they do not realize is, they have the power. You want to see a miracle, son, be the miracle.’ This reveals to atheists and Christians that unanswered prayers and the suffering of people are thought that are in their own hands. This film teaches viewers a normal yet moral lesson.
Even though blasphemy is portrayed throughout the film ‘Bruce Almighty’, it is shown in a humorous manner with no intention to abuse the Christian faith, although the film does not show Bruce once having seen punished for his abuse towards God. This shows the lack of concern on the producers’ behalf in taking account the Christian point of view, as blasphemy is seen as a huge sin. So we are able to say that the film has not been dealt with in an appropriate manner, as the correct Christian belief on blasphemy has not been correctly dealt with.To conclude, I feel the religious issue on blasphemy has been dealt with well in the film ‘Bruce Almighty’, as they have portrayed God in a positive way. Even though there is a concern about blasphemy, it has been dealt with in an ordinary manner and has been shown in a humorous way, which is clearly noticed by the audience. The use of blasphemy in the film like ‘oh my god’ is used in daily life, and therefore allows atheists and agnostics, like Bruce, understand God and events that occur.
I feel that this film justifies the use of blasphemy, as it brings out a moral issue, as shown above and brings out a positive outcome for the audience, making it useful for good and not evil.