I just found a very interesting review/take on the show. With all the flack about it being pornographic i think this reviewer at least understands the character even if he is not thrilled with the type of show it is. The only thing i question is where they have seen frontal nudity in the series
Mark Hadley | 10 September 2007
Monday, 9.30 pm
Californication is an incendiary program. As I write, the morally outraged are organising picket lines for the broadcasters and protest campaigns for advertisers. There are calls for greater censorship in general and increased oversight of television schedules in particular. Christian voices are not absent; in fact, representatives of religious organizations are leading the charge. But rather than add to the building wave of emotion, I think it would be worth pausing to consider what a more complete Christian response to this situation might be. In the end cooler heads might do more to advance the cause of the Gospel
1. The verdict
Firstly, it has to be acknowledged that Californication is completely inappropriate viewing for any Christian attempting to take the Apostle Paul's advice seriously. Concerned with the developing holiness of the believers at Philippi, Paul encouraged them to meditate on only those things that were noble just pure lovely. (Philippians 4:8). This television series couldn't claim a single one of those descriptors on its best day.
Californication is devoted to the sordid sexual adventures of the aptly named Hank Moody (David Duchovny), a failed writer living in Los Angeles. Hank has lost his long-term partner, his daughter and his ability to write. Each episode chronicles his sad binging on sex, drugs and alcohol as he drifts to the bottom of his life. It regularly includes full-frontal female nudity, explicit sex scenes, serious language and adult conversation that habitually tends towards the perverse. It is simply not food for the soul. Even as a hardened television critic I considered that discretion was the better part of valour. I fully admit that my review is based on only the first three episodes, and even those were watched in the company of my wife who has a excellent radar for just the sort of scenes that are best dealt with by studying my shoelaces ☺ .
Now that I have put my opinion of the program beyond all doubt, I think that a wise Christian response to Californication would do well to consider the following points
I think that it is fair to say that any Christian critique of a cultural item that does not first begin by a first-hand consideration of that work is likely to end up misguided. Some of the most violent films to ever reach the big screen also happened to be some of the most ardently anti-war. Saving Private Ryan and The Pianist spring to mind. Imagine if someone rejected The Shawshank Redemption out of hand simply because they had heard it contained men having sex. Now, I rush to say that I am in no way seeking to lift Californication on to the level of some of these cinematic greats. However, the point is clear: you have to first listen if you are going to earn the right to critique someone's position.
A lot of the protests surrounding Californication are being carried out by people who freely admit that they have not watched the program and have no intention of doing so. Consequently their objections are based on second-hand information and more than a few assumptions. Probably the most significant is that Californication is promoting fornication. After all, it has the f-word incorporated into its title, right? And of course there's undeniably all of the inappropriate visuals I've already referenced. However this is not a conclusion that anyone who had seen an episode would be likely to come to.
Hank Moody, the centre of this sexual frenzy, is clearly viewed by all who meet him as a sad, mixed up character. His agent openly criticises his behaviour and wishes he would start behaving like an adult. His former long-term partner has left him, and their daughter Becca (Madeleine Martin) is clearly aware that he is deeply unhappy, despite her awareness of his free-wheeling life-style. Even the people he sleeps with consider him to be nothing more than a short-term connection unworthy of a second call - unless of course they wish to add to his torture. Most importantly, Hank himself is bitter, frustrated and completely dissatisfied with his life despite all of the sexual freedom' he's been able to experience. Becca asks him, Dad are you alright? He responds, No but I'm getting there. The last part is delivered as a bit of a forlorn hope.
Californication is actually quite negative towards the sort of casual sex Hank is immersing himself in:
It is dangerous - Hank has unknowingly slept with a 16 year old, which qualifies as statutory rape in the United States. Worse still, she is a spoilt, contrary young woman who is likely to use this mistake to ruin his life. Hank is looking more than a little like Michael Douglas in Fatal Attraction as he considers the problems associated with a vindictive lover.
It is destructive - Hank desires to get back together with his former defacto Karen (Natascha McElhone) but his own inability to control himself sexually is constantly sabotaging the very relationship he would like to rebuild. Further, Hank is finding it emotionally destructive as well. Hank knows that what he is doing is less than what he would aspire to. It's part of his anti-hero persona that he is aware that his faults are sinking him deeper into his writing depression.
It involves sad, sad people - All of the women Hank casually couples with - without exception - are sad individuals captured by the worst character traits. They are horribly narcissistic, like the woman who needs to know Hanks opinion of her every private feature before she can continue to have sex. Or the sadistic partner who enjoys punching him as she performs. Or the desperately lonely porn-star who would happily ignore her crying daughter if Hank would stay the night. Or, again, the emotionally crushed scientologist who just wants to be taken advantage of so she can in some way rebuild her fragile self-image. It's a point not lost on Hank, who wonders in his first online column why Los Angeles is so hell-bent on destroying its women.
The truth is Hank actually wants the sort of relationship that Christians think he should be pursuing. He clearly only wants one woman, the mother of his child, and everyone else is a pathetic substitute. He would spend the rest of his life with her exclusively, given the chance, and even offers to marry her if that is what she wants - despite this not being his personal preference for a life together. Hank's sexual romp is at best a distraction from his real problems, at worst a process of self-destruction which the audience would happily see him rescued from.
Context, however, doesn't change the fact that the material now freely available on our television sets is certainly some of the most extreme to ever find its way to free-to-air. So what is a Christian to say to this? Strident calls for censorship have been the initial response. Let's consider that for moment
What many Christians fail to consider is that censorship is a two-edged sword that must be used very carefully. Simply demanding that something be removed because it is offensive could have unintended consequences for the Church. What is viewed as offensive by some is considered to be integral to the Christian faith by others. That is at least the opinion of many who look askance at Christianity's unreasonable belief that sinners go to Hell, or that all religions other than those that lead to Jesus.
Furthermore, picketing television stations demanding censorship is unlikely to have much of an effect. Firstly television stations are businesses and this sort of action is only likely to increase the notoriety of a program, and so its appeal to audiences. Secondly, television stations in Australia are not responsible for setting censorship regulations. A letter to the general manager of Network TEN from an offended minority - one which crucially doesn't reflect the station's core demographic - is unlikely to raise too many eyebrows. There is a group, however, that even the most brazen broadcasters pay a great deal of attention to - the federal government's Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.
Christians who want to see censorship laws altered would do much better directing their attention to those people who can actually do something about the laws that regulate what can and cannot be shown on television. Consequently it makes more sense to picket a politician than it does a television station. And mature voters are definitely Canberra's demographic. Governments in Australia and world-wide have never been more aware of the voting-bloc potential Christians represent. What's more, this is a protest that has impact without drawing unwanted attention from the media, and so avoids the usual misrepresentation of Christians as a bunch of wowsers.
4. An inconvenient truth
And this brings us to the biggest concern associated with Christian responses. How we choose to respond to television programs like Californication will tell people a lot about what we believe. If we give the impression that it is simply the site of naked bodies on television that offends us, we will undoubtedly convey that Christianity is just another form of moralism, whatever its pedigree. Our goal will be variously interpreted as, negatively, stopping people doing naughty things' or positively, removing all of the destructive things on the planet. To those who believe the former, we will appear as little more than easily shocked social nannies' trying to stop people having a good time. To those who pereive the latter we will have done the incalculable damage of placing in their minds the idea that we are for bringing about heaven on earth. Either way, we reduce Christianity to just another religion.
We do not have the luxury of simply railing at evil because we have the responsibility of convincing people of much more than this. Christianity is a rescue mission to a doomed world. We are on about far more than just making the world a better place. Further, even if we could eliminate every temptation do we really believe that's the same thing as removing sin? No, that is a task only Jesus is capable of completing. Our goal is to convey that we would like to see an end to programs like Californication because we love people, not because we want to limit them. There is something far better than this televisual titillation we can offer, and the satisfaction it offers lasts much longer than a half-hour.
Practically speaking, this means treating Californication in much the same way as we would treat other damaging substances in society, like alcohol or drugs or pornography. We can't stop people from choosing to indulge in these things but we can call for the immature to be protected from their effects. We can call for the ratings system to be re-evaluated in the light of the explicit material currently available, and the later viewing patterns of children under 16. In doing so we move the emphasis on to our concern for others.
Just as importantly, at the personal level we can stop surrendering sex as a conversation topic to the non-Christian world. We can take the opportunity Californication provides to point to the success of long-term, monogamous relationships and the likelihood that they will result in much greater levels of personal fulfilment. And finally, as should be in all really good apologetic responses, we can point our friends to the Creator who designed those relationships as a mirror to reflect that which exists between his Son and his people.http://your.sydneyanglicans.net/cult...alifornication