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Sunday, February 17, 2013

A film about courtship? Really?

I got an email from a filmmaker recently.  I don't know what to make of this.  Perhaps this is bringing up some of my worst nightmares that courtship forces women into a more subservient role than the Gospel intends.  If you talk to women in Mexico (I did a mission there), many are thrilled when their husbands become Christians because they are taught to love their wives rather than follow the old machismo ways.  (It's sort of sad because macho once meant brave and valiant.)  I also overheard men sitting around talking about some of the mistreatment some of their friends doled out on their wives, showing off how badly they could treat their wives and still get them to do things for them.  One story involved making the wife get on her knees.  Another involved kicking the wife.  These men had no idea I spoke Spanish.  I just listened.

In any case, there are some things about these families and the way they comport themselves that really bother me.  Let's just say, I won't be donating to get this film made. And really, why not knock on the doors of the proponents of this lifestyle?  Here is my take on the series of videos the filmmaker posted online.

TRAILER from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
Gah!!!  Isn't that one of the most irritating faux fairy tales ever?  I find it irritating because it was written in modernity and continues to entertain the idea of being a princess.  We aren't princesses.  Further, why start the film with ballet since ballet show a great deal of the body, which we know that some Christians are going to think is very sinful.  Next, I'm looking at this dude and wondering if he plays with a symphony.  And I'm thinking, a symphony player's salary can't really support anyone.  But in this preview we don't know what this guy does.  I'm with the parents on this one.  I don't understand this either.  It's beyond trusting God.  It's just plain weird to ignore what your real parents say and move in with your "spiritual parents."  Remember the Amish?  They are separatists.  They don't even use electricity.  Mennonites are somewhat separatist, but use electricity.    I'm just not sure that this is God's will for everyone.  But hey, she's an adult.  She can do as she wishes - even if that means being infantilized in the name of God.

Ross Gets Advice from Friends from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
Is it just me, or are his friends a little weird?  Perhaps they are just Mennonites.  No?  Amish?  First off, they married so young that they have no idea what it is like for singles who are meeting someone later in life.  And clearly this dude is finally getting into courting a bit later in life.  And secondly, I think it's tacky to breastfeed your child on camera.

Alternative Lifestyle from Amy Kohn on Vimeo
I'm down with having chickens, growing my own vegetables, alternative medicines, and even going foraging a bit.  But they just seem a bit off.  These aren't urban hipsters building a doomstead (which is cool), the dad is unemployed and doesn't think that Kelly should be living on her own.  Apparently their alternative lifestyle does not include enough exercise, either that or there's something else.  I mean, how can they be fat when they love asparagus, right?  Way to go Ms. Kohn.  Instead of picking a seemingly normal family, pick the weirdest family you can so that "normal" people can't relate to them at all.

Savannah and Annika Discuss Theiuture Weddings and Husbands from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
Here is where we discover why things are a bit off. Not only are things misspelled, one of the daughters swears she will only marry the kind of man who would wear a Confederate uniform.  It irritates me that the girls are so into the idea of getting married and waiting for their first kiss that every drawing is about that.  Yes, girls do think about marriage, but can these girls do arithmetic?  I can deal with homeschooling, but are these girls having many social experiences?  Don't they seem a bit awkward?  And these girls look a bit unhealthy.  Mom, I'm sure you mean well, but please don't speak for all women.  Some of us actually preferred the trucks to the dolls.  I was a total tomboy.  And it was a passing stage.

Biblical Marriage and Submission from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
Lay off the biscuits and jelly! 

It's Hard to be Patient from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
I'm looking at this woman, Kelly, and the truth is that she is beautiful without makeup.  She has a wonderful smile.  She is a beautiful swan among the ducks.  Why isn't she married when that's everything she says she wants to the point that she is not living on her own and apparently not working while she waits for her man to come along?  Meanwhile, the rest of us heathens get to work and all of that useless nonsense.

Kelly's Views on Marriage from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
I think she should listen to her parents a bit more.  They love their daughter.  Reading the production notes, part of Kelly's problem was thinking that courtship will solve all of the problems that can go wrong in a marriage.  Her parents divorced when she was in her twenties.  Her belief that courtship is the way to go stems from a reactionary desperation to make sure divorce doesn't happen to her.  But, therein lies a problem.  I have a friend who was raised on courtship for some of the same reactionary reasons.  And he says that his friends who married through courtship often face very intense struggles.  They got to know their spouses in group setting and suddenly after marriage they are forced to spend the majority of their time with a person that they barely know in this kind of one-on-one setting.  Perhaps it would be better to focus on the backstory of why Kelly freaked out rather than starting with the kiss the princess got.  Starting with her parents divorce would make her sympathetic to the audience rather than being so weird.

Raised in Courtship from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
I am ever more convinced that this dude is a bit of a dork.  I mean, I like geeky guys and all, but my version of a geek is a bit more together than this dude seems.  Gee, I wonder what Dad did all those days he was laid off from his job?  And did he refuse to look after the kids because that's the woman's job?  I'm just wondering how deep and inflexible the rules are here.  In normal society, even going way back, if a woman made something in the home she could sell it.  That's work, or isn't it?  Would that be allowed?

Teen Girls and Courtship from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
Some of this seems a bit wise.  I started to like the mom here as she means well.  She doesn't think that what she and her husband did is good enough any more, whereas I'm sure at the time they were trying to honor God with their relationship.  When I see that look of sadness cross her eyes, I feel for her.  But in the grander scale of things, she is more than likely upset because she and her husband didn't wait until the altar for their first kiss.  But I don't view this as a sin.

Guarding Your Hard is Difficult from Amy Kohn on Vimeo.
I know that Kelly's having a moment.  She even knows how to use some big words.  But, for some reason her journal entry reminds me of what a teenaged girl would write.  And it's a bit irritating.  What I can't handle is that the filmmaker made a spelling error.  It's heart not hard.

Aside from these episodic issues with each video, I'm struggling with the idea that the filmmaking team includes and Emmy Award winning producer as director, Emmy award winning editor, and an Emmy nominated cinematographer.  Being someone who watches a great deal of cinema from various periods, it's just not very well shot.

I may add a few more thoughts later.  Have a good one peeps, and please share your thoughts.  If anything, "Betrothed:  A Love Story" will certainly be interesting.

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1 comment:

Felicity Zimmerman said...

As I pointed out to her, the better she was in her life the more harm she did by supporting the church. To put it at its simplest, people meeting her would say that "she is clearly a nice person so the church must be safe for my children". By being one of the 1.2 billion Christians (who can't all be wrong) she helped give the church an acceptable face. She was enabling the crimes (not to mention funding them) and every time she said "I'm a Catholic" helping to draw in more victims.