Today my household cancelled its Netflix subscription. They are promoting a French film “Cuties,” apparently, a movie about the dangers of oversexualizing children. The movie isn’t the problem. Netflix, however, chose to promote it in ways that grossly oversexualize children (and by children, I’m talking eleven year olds). When called on this by customers on twitter, email, and elsewhere, they doubled down, refusing to condemn pedophilia, refusing to condemn the hyper-sexualization of children, and saying only that they “respect all religions and cultures.” Bullshit, Netflix. Bullshit. Child abuse isn’t culture.
In addition to the over-sexualization of children, they also advertised this movie as one in which the heroic child “defies her family’s traditions” (not something I find admirable. In this case, it’s clear that Netflix meant defying religious protocols and morality). Maybe they meant the tradition of not prostituting their kids. The movie itself is condemning exactly this type of thing. It’s the story of a young Senegalese girl age eleven who finds something she likes (hip hop) and then sinks further and further into inappropriate, sexualized behavior when she starts getting online attention for this, and pimping herself out on social media. It’s intended to expose the societal dangers inherent in such over-sexualization of kids and inherent in unsupervised social media access. Thanks to Netflix’s marketing strategy the movie is now under fire, and there are calls for boycotts. Don’t boycott the movie. Boycott Netflix.
This type of thing matters. The media we expose ourselves to matters. It conditions our behavior. It slowly shifts our moral center. It influences what we consider appropriate and acceptable even when we don’t realize it. It inures us to things that should be considered, at best, inappropriate.
A friend told me today that in “Pagan” circles, he was routinely called “reactionary” for insisting that where sex was concerned, “consenting” and “adult” were non-negotiable. He recounted an incident on facebook wherein someone posted a meme, showing a disgusted kid staring at a naked guy in a cowboy hat. The overwhelming response from “Pagans?” They didn’t understand why a child shouldn’t be exposed to nudity. “It’s non-sexual after all,” was repeated again and again. What they were really saying, as my friend so eloquently articulated was this: “Why should a ten-year-old be disgusted when I give him an uninvited view of my dick?” Well, right thinking people consider this borderline sexual abuse of a child. THIS right here is precisely the type of degeneracy – there is no other word that I can find that is quite so appropriate as this—that fills so much of the “Pagan” community, and it’s precisely the reason so many Polytheists eschew them.
It’s a really, really low bar, people: don’t fuck children. Apparently, it’s a bit too high for some.
So the new Assassin’s Creed game allows one to “Slay Sobek,” you know, the Egyptian God. A polythiest fb page posted about this, noting that it was disrespectful and….predictably, polytheists and pagans are rushing to defend the game. At what point do we start taking our Gods and our devotion seriously and stop promoting and supporting Their disrespect?
What would our communities be like if we cared as much for our Gods as we do for our video games?
Edit: Fb friend CJF said “I’ll be cool with this if in the next game there’s a mode called Trial of the Prophets leading up to a penultimate (the actual final being Abrahamic God) battle with an 80 foot Jesus on the cross, that throws crucifix nails at you, has a stigmata attack, and you have to fight Lazarus zombies.”
And that is funny as hell to contemplate and we’ll never see that because unlike ours, people in these communities give a shit about their Gods. Representation matters.
Edit 2: Consider Seneca’s words to Lucilius:
“Nothing is so ruinous to character as sitting away one’s time at a show -for it is then, through the medium of entertainment, that vices creep into one with more than usual ease. What do you take me to mean? That I go home more selfish, more self-seeking, and more self-indulgent? Yes, and what is more, a person crueler and less humane through having been in contact with human beings.” (Seneca, Letters, 7:2-3)
It’s precisely because he knew the power of media and entertainment, and mob mentality, that Seneca so carefully counseled his friend. It’s not that we must cull media from our lives, but we are called upon to consider carefully that which our senses consume because it changes us inside in ways we might not initially realize.