Saturday, July 10, 2010

An ethical dilemma?

Last week my wife and I really enjoyed watching the movie, Julia and Julie, based on the true story of Julie Powell who writes a daily blog as she cooks her way through all 524 recipes in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking, in just one year. Incidentally, it is the first movie to be made about blogging. There is a great scene when Julie's husband gets angry about how narcissistic her blogging is. One thing we appreciated was that (unlike many Hollywood movies) the movie presented a very positive view of marriage, since both Julia and Julie had good marriages.

So since I liked the movie so much, why not recommend it?

Often after we watch movies Robin and I like to go online and read more background..... Unfortunately, in this case the "romance" was spoiled by reading about the "not so nice" life of Julie Powell since her success. This raises ethical questions about whether we should encourage other people to see movies (or read books) made by people who are not good role models but from our recommendations, will benefit financially and have a higher public profile.

Or are we taking this all a bit too seriously? Is this somewhat silly since many prominent authors and movie makes are bad role models? I fear if I researched most of these people I would find their personal lives are a mess. Is it inconsistent to not recommend a specific movie or book just because I actually know the details of the moral failures in that specific case?


  1. Well, I think this comes down to Paul's verses on the roman vegetable eaters as Barth refers to them in his Roman's commentary (Chapter 14). Some people can be led astray by media coming from an anti- or non-Christian perspective, and for some people it is completely a non-issue and they redeem a piece of our fallen creation, finding beauty or edification in it.

    I am firmly in the latter camp, but of course I am careful not to scandalize the faithful vegetable eaters.

  2. Well, this may be a bit simplistic of me, but if we stop appreciating art created by people who sin, well....

    And then there's Proverbs and Ecclesiastes to consider, which were written by Solomon, who suffered quite a bit from not following his own advice later in life...

  3. I don't think you can take this too seriously. If your actions raise her public profile in a way that encourages others to believe her ethical system is attractive in some way, then surely you're doing the wrong thing.

    However I don't think liking this film does that. The modern characters aren't portrayed in any particularly flattering light, even if Amy Adams is extremely likeable and pretty. But more than that, it's good for us to know the culture we live in etc. The film is relatively wholesome, and I think has some good things to take away from it (as jfrederickp suggests).

    Schaeffer's notion of the dignity yet inability of humankind is well exemplified in Julie & Julia. Julia has a wonderful marriage and is a wonderful person, flawless in fact (and is wonderfully acted). Julie, knowing what this dignity looks like, finds herself unable to live up to it. She knows what goodness is, but the character can't actually do it.

    The separation of the artist from the work is the key question I suppose (for me). If they can't be adequately separated, then perhaps we shouldn't support them.

    I adore Margaret Attwood, and am so sad about her religious opinions. Nevertheless, I would never do anything but recommend The Handmaid's Tale or The Blind Assassin to anyone. Furthermore, she does a lot of good for human rights etc. We have so much to learn about the world from MA. The same can be said about Virginia Woolf, Picasso, Radiohead, or dare-I-say M. Knight?

    The question of dumping money and attention on these people is an interesting one. And I think Laurie M. makes a good point.

    Your question about general suspicion vs. specific knowledge does sound a lot like food sacrificed to idols. However you're right, you can be almost certain that if you did the research, they'd almost all have sordid lives.

    It is a very interesting question. Our lives are so entrenched in this system that it's hard to imagine an alternative (which is the worst reason of all to retain the status-quo).

  4. oh dear - that was long... sorry