In Part I of this article, Fritz Spencer stated that "Movies influence our perception of reality, and nowhere is this influence greater - for good or evil - than when it forms our perception of what it means to be a man or woman." He then asks: "Why is lust now considered more important than love?"
Part II commences with Mr. Spencer's observations about how the 'Loss of Romantic Love' has influenced America.
The loss of romantic love at the movies is a clue, which when properly understood, will reveal how all our other values were overthrown. The author of this moral catastrophe was the most quoted author and thinker of the twentieth century, Sigmund Freud. No other figure, Marx and Darwin included, has had such a pervasive and devastating effect on Western civilization. Have you ever heard anyone say, "He or she is repressed." or "Sorry, that was a Freudian slip?" These and other similar expressions show the extent of Freud's influence.
More has been written about Freud's ideas, than any other scientist or philosopher. At the core of his ideas is the assertion that all of human culture - and that includes every painting, every piece of music, every invention ever built - is the product of a sublimated sex instinct. That is to say, everything that man creates is the result of a redirected sex instinct. This part of Freud's thinking is so well known there is no need to go into detail, except to say that everyday objects take on a sexual meaning. It is difficult even to discuss Freud's ideas with any decency or delicacy.
Indeed, decency and delicacy are scoffed at in Freud's system of values, as are the concepts of courtesy, politeness, chivalry, tenderness between man and woman, and the Western idea of courtship. All of these things, so essential to our way of life, are dismissed by Freud as a hypocritical veneer, a falsehood intended to conceal the sex instinct.
Let me say before I go on, that is why you see courtesy, tenderness, and other social conventions so viciously attacked at the movies. For Freud and his followers, only the instinctual part of man is authentic. If romantic love is unreal, it is no longer worthy of artistic treatment. We might pause to recall that at one time it was considered highly scandalous for a woman to show her ankles on screen. It was also considered reprehensible for a woman to be shown smoking or drinking an "alcoholic beverage." As the cigarette ad from the sixties has it: "We've come a long way, baby!"
A worse case is presented by Wilhelm Reich, a disciple of Freud, who has the dubious honor of being known as the father of the Sexual Revolution. Reich was the first to merge left-wing politics with Freud's view on sex and the psyche. We don't have time to go into the teachings of Reich - except to say that for Reich, character was a bad thing. Reich believed that the road to revolution was to be achieved by altering or destroying the character of an individual. Though Reich differed with Freud on some points, they both agreed that the authoritarian role of the father in the family was a pernicious influence. In Freud's system of values, 'Father Didn't know Best' after all.
We have in these three ideas - that the sex instinct, and not reason, is the basis for human culture; the idea that character is a negative force; and the removal of the authority of the father, a veritable witch's brew for bringing out what is dark and evil in the heart of man. We see the results all too clearly today - a growing fascination with what is twisted and perverted in the heart of man. I won't list any examples here, since they are all too painfully familiar.
You may be interested to know that Freud disliked his own father, a phenomenon believed to cause a lack of faith in religious matters. And Freud was an atheist. I should also mention that Freud was addicted to cocaine, participated in seances to see if there was any scientific merit to ESP, and eventually became a believer in some aspects of the occult. So much for the most influential thinker of the twentieth century. It is easy to see why our age is in such a downward spiral.
But before I go on, my conscience requires me to tell you that Freud, whom up till now so many regarded as the greatest authority on the role of sex in our lives, impregnated his sister-in-law, and to keep his wife from finding out, procured an abortion for her. I gladly leave the dismal subject of Freud and turn to the happy subject of the Christian understanding of love.
Many today would assert that love is egotistical, a matter of self-interest, that women marry for financial security and men marry for a neat and tidy home, a steady supply of warm meals, and the other joys of wedded bliss. This by the way, is the liberal view - that love and marriage, are essentially transactions based on self-interest.
Yet this is not at all the true meaning of love. I would call this the 'Sara Lee' theory of love. You may recall the advertising slogan of some years back "Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee." We say, for example, that someone loves food, when we really mean to say that a particular object provides that person with pleasure. Thus we say, "I love football" or "I love shopping."
It is not truly love if we love a person out of self-interest. Indeed, sexual activity without consideration for the other person can be a form of hate. Certainly it is not right to call it 'love.' But that is what passes for love in today's movies.
Blind animal desire has changed women into soulless objects, without a past or future, devoid of personality and humanity - objects which exist merely for the gratification of the male. Gone is the truly noble image of women as loyal, chaste, and self-sacrificing, capable of eliciting the same loyalty and devotion from their men, much like a singer singing a pure, loud note can cause a nearby glass to ring out.
In a word, movies once portrayed women as "lovely" - worthy of love, and not merely "sexy." I say "worthy of love" and "lovely" because they built families and homes on eternal values, values which for a moment rested in their own homes, their own families, and their own persons.
All love ultimately has its origin in God; and since its origin is with God, love between man and woman can never fully be understood. It will remain a profound mystery until we reach the other side. As one philosopher has put it "Love is unto itself a higher law." Only recently I saw a movie from the forties in which the bridegroom tells his bride to be, "Marriage is an earthly and a spiritual institution..." I wonder if such a thing could be said in the movies today.
It is this creative, life-giving, life sustaining directive power of love which enables the often trivial, and sometimes very great, sacrifices of love - the drudgery of work in the home or in the office or in the factory to support a family. I mean also the pains of carrying, giving birth to, and raising children, and sometimes the caring for a disabled child. It can also be the last, and supreme effort of love, caring for a dying spouse in his or her final illness.
My friends, it is not shameful or sentimental to idealize love, or the beloved, to draw your loved ones with wings or a halo. Love is present to the degree that love sees an ideal - the worth of the beloved - and is willing to sacrifice all for that ideal.
It is shameful however, to regard women merely as a soulless object, and to confuse love with lust. To do so lowers man to the level of a beast. We must be on our guard against every degrading portrayal of man in the popular culture. For as the great conservative thinker Edmund Burke remarked, every portrayal of man in art or literature which shows man in a degraded fashion, is an effort by those who hate God to destroy his Divine image. Since those who hate God lack the power to harm God, they reach out to destroy his Divine image in man.
In the end, we are free to choose virtue over vice, to prefer heroes to villains, to prefer a chaste to a loose woman, just as in life we are free to play the part of hero or villain.
How powerful is love? We Christians believe the world was created out of love. A perceptive person, a poet, an artist, or a philosopher can easily see this is true. It is also easy to understand that the family, the basic building block of society, rests on the love between man and woman. He who has the power to define love has an unlimited power to influence society for good or evil. But no matter how great the power of the media, no matter how disordered are society's views of sexual morality, I am confident that the Christian view of love between man and women will eventually win out, since it is based on eternal truths. Those views which say that tenderness and romance are illusions will eventually wither and die, since they are falsehoods.