2017 in Film: Breaking the Rod of the Oppressor

For Living Lutheran, I wrote about what I saw as the prominent trend in 2017 movies: a focus on those who are dejected, powerless, and (financially, politically) weak.

The films that resonated most with critics and audiences were about the monstrosity of systematic racism (Get Out), the poor outside of Disneyland (The Florida Project), the mute and disrespected and exploited (The Shape of Water), or those from “the midwest of California” (Lady Bird). We certainly had the customary power fantasies — Justice League or Kong: Skull Island — but those failed to ignite the public imaginations. And the superhero movies that did catch our attention weren’t really about strong people punching other strong people. They were about the motley Guardians of the Galaxy, the perpetually losing Peter Parker, the dying Wolverine, and Wonder Woman defending the powerless.

Looking primarily at The Last Jedi, Get Out, and The Florida Project, my piece claims that these movies have a cathartic element:

Catharsis, argued philosophers like Aristotle and Nietzsche, has always been part of communal storytelling, but for the Christian viewer, it can also have a prophetic element: Our stories tell us how things can or should be, not just how they are. In the same way that Jeremiah’s poetry insisted that those who trusted in Babylon’s apparent might were “stupid and without knowledge,” and Isaiah’s poetry transformed “swords into plowshares,” movies can remind people that exploitative power is not inevitable, that other ways of life are possible.

Check out the whole thing here!

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