Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!
Every Story Has a Worldview
I finished reading Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment by Brian Godawa the other day and thought it was pretty solid (though not entirely without faults). One interesting quote was in regards to fiction and worldview:
Every story is informed by a worldview. And so every movie, being a dramatic story, is also informed by a worldview. There is no such thing as a neutral story in which events and characters are presented objectively apart from interpretation. Every choice an author makes… is determined by the author’s worldview. (60)
Godawa’s point is similar to what I say quite often, with almost the exact words: every movie has a worldview. The same, as Godawa states, is true for any story. Every time someone tells a story, whether it is one they made up or one they picked up somewhere, it is slanted with worldview. We should be aware of this fact and be ready to critically engage with any story–fictional or non–so that we can bring into light the truths and falsehoods each story may contain.
What’s your best technique for critically engaging worldview in film? What other arts have you critically interacted with? How have you approached these?
Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!
Engaging Culture: A brief guide for movies– I outline my approach to evaluating movies from a worldview perspective.
Brian Godawa, Hollywood Worldviews: Watching Films with Wisdom & Discernment 2nd Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2009).
Moreover, a story can use a fact and yet the use of the fact may not be factual. Thus, at the very least, we have a sort of two-tier factual system: the parts and the way the parts fit into the whole.
I think the important thing to notice is that all story-telling (and this is broadly construed for even recording history, etc.) is ultimately biased. For instance, the fact that we tell certain details while leaving out others is itself a bias and that pervades every work since no work can record every fact. However, there is still a scale of bias. Thus, we try to be as unbiased as possible while recognizing we will never be perfectly unbiased. Moreover, just because an account is biased doesn’t mean it’s therefore false. I might be biased to highlight the fact that Nazi Germany lost World War 2, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a fact all of the sudden.
I tend to think that painting is probably the art form that is least concerned with being unbiased. The movie maker and the playwright know they cannot just spew propaganda or they won’t impact anybody because no one will show up. However, the painter is told to completely express himself/herself and that’s the reason people show up. That’s not a totally bad thing, but something to be aware of.
Ultimately, I think this sort of biased story-telling can be helpful in that it allows people to be open to different ways of storytelling. I suspect Chesterton’s Orthodoxy was more than 100 years ahead of its time.