1. Nikole Hahn says:

    Some of it I agree.

    Some of it I disagreed. Friends is harmless.

    I guess it depends upon your background. For instance, I can’t stand to watch the movie “Monster in law” for reasons I won’t get into. Having been there (my mother in law is great just for the record) with that personality it’s no longer funny.

  2. Ack, Nikole, I thinkFriends shares a great deal of responsibility for the normalizing of pornography. Not to mention that I had a junior high boy do the “How you doin’?” line. Junior high! With morals like Joey?

    Yes, I’ve watched the re-runs, and some of it now seems tame, but when it came out it was a recipe for the single life—multiple partners, acceptance of a lesbian relationship, and little, if any, adult responsibility. One audience “ahhhhh” moment was when two friends announce they were moving in together.

    No, in my opinion, though Friends had some good points, it was not harmless.


    • Christian says:

      Becky, not that I don’t watch Friends but from what I have seen the series is low on adult responsibility and good choices but I think it’s a bit dishonest to say it’s responsible for the normalising of pornography. I remember people saying the ‘How you doing?’ line. It wasn’t seen as accepting Joey’s morals, but seen as a funny quote. Nothing more. Friends is far from harmless but it’s not responsible for many of society’s bad choices, as seems to be the case in your post.

      Kaci, another great post filled with your insight. Plenty to encourage and challenge us all. I’d love to see more positive male role-models (particularly dads) in fiction. They often seem to be the cause of so much pain (which is realistic but there are great dads out there). There needs to be more of a balance. Also, there’s nothing wrong with flawed characters but we should balance them out with some characters who are more resilient to the hard knocks of life, than others. We want characters we can identify with but also look up too. They should be flawed but likeable.

      Let me illustrate this point:
      There’s an anime series called Neon Genesis Evangelion, you’ve probably heard of it. The series is heavily flawed at times, but quite fascinating. The main character is Shinji, the teenage boy hero (and I use the term loosely) who is recruited, along with several other teens, to save the world. This young man has had a horrible life. His mum died when he was young and his dad blames him for his mother’s death. He sees his dad maybe every few years but his dad is so unloving and distant that he never truly feels his prescene . We should feel empathy for Shinji but most of the time we don’t because he’s so ridiculously angsty. I mean, he’s so angsty, you’ll want him to die. Not the series high-point. Anyway, what I’m trying to say, is that this is a good example of how NOT to write a protagonist. Shinji’s pretty much always a passive character in the story (a big no-no) and he’s so thoroughly unlikeable that it’s hard to appreciate him and cheer him on. It’s tricky, but we have to write protagonists that the reader can empathise with and to some level enjoy. They may be passive to begin with but they need to become proactive and develop over the course of the story. Otherwise, we risk the reader throwing our books across the room, or worse – crap fiction.

  3. Kaci says:

    Hehe. I wasn’t quite intending to pick a fight over a show I’ve watched only a handful of episodes of.

    Nikole, my mention of Friends was strictly with regard to the never-maturing characters. It’s not really my kind of show. I’d probably have issues with Monster-in-Law, too. The trailer was a bit of a turn-off for me, so I didn’t go see it. The sit-coms examples were strictly to provide an example of something a personal conviction led to. If it were just one or two shows, that might be one thing. When across board sit-coms start portraying everybody like that, there’s going to be problems on multiple fronts. That’s all I was going for there. Like Christian, I’d probably choose another word besides ‘harmless’ to describe it.

    Maybe a better example would be Bringin’ Down the House, if you will. I saw that one in theaters and almost walked out. It was supposed to be an anti-racist movie, but the material was so offensive to me that I still maintain it became racist itself.

    So I guess it’s more that I see these show that desire to point out stereotypes, rather than expose these things, in the end become the thing they mock and compound the problem. Does that help?

    Christian- Also, there’s nothing wrong with flawed characters but we should balance them out with some characters who are more resilient to the hard knocks of life, than others. We want characters we can identify with but also look up too. They should be flawed but likeable.

    Right. And that’s a great example of a protagonist that backfires. (I’m unfamiliar with the show, but I kept up with you.)

    Becky–Not to mention that I had a junior high boy do the “How you doin’?” line. Junior high! With morals like Joey?

    As long as that’s the only thing of his they emulate…

  4. Justin says:

    Per Spiritual mid-life crisis….

    I had a father who dealt with depression his whole life, which eventually ended in suicide. To read about men and women who struggle, sometimes triumph in this life, but ultimately are victorious as they walk into Heaven in Christ’s healing arms, is very beautiful to me. I enjoy these things in books and movies too, even the secularized versions.

    Take the movie Life As A House for example. A man is dying and realizes he needs to reconnect with the son he ignored, the ex wife he didn’t love good enough, and himself. So he takes his son, and eventually his whole family, and begins building a house. The house itself is representative of the rebuilding of a life he gave up. How much more beautiful can you get than that? But does the man triumph entirely? No, he doesn’t get back up again, he dies. But the things his son learns from him, and the affirmation of his love that his ex wife finally feels heals them. Sometimes our struggles are not about us, or our victory…sometimes they’re about other people. I know I learned so much about faith in God through even the worst of storms from my father, and when the shadows collect at my eyes and I feel like God is less a reality and more a possibility, when pain seems all I know, I remember my father. And I make it through. Living to fight another day. Because the inevitable truth is…we’ll be fighting til the day we die.

  5. I really like your post. I have no brothers but I do have two younger sisters. It was always obvious to me that women are just as capable, thinking, and intelligent as men, therefore I have always supported their rights. It’s only just. We are shooting ourselves in the foot if we don’t allow women to be full citizens in every respect and contribute their best. As for the rest you mention, as a college professor I am drawn to the students who are mature beyond their years because they refuse to be “Friends” or anything like them. There should be a place in literature for them, too.

    Please visit my blog and leave a comment. My current book series centers on a teen girl mature beyond her years and she’s irresistible. Thanks!

    • Kaci says:

      Thanks, David.

      Just to make sure: I don’t think it’s just women who are downplayed in these things. I find it equally sexist to portray men as Neanderthals who do nothing but grunt, play X-Box, and figure out ways to get in a girl’s bed. It’s a twisted degradation, and pretty much why I can never call myself a feminist. The feminists would completely reverse to a matriarchal society where the intelligent, dominatrix female must care for and nurture the poor buffoon who can barely remember to get dressed and brush his teeth before work in the morning.

      What can I say? We are made in the Imago Dei, male and female.

      I look forward to reading your blog.

      • Christian says:

        Kaci, where is the FaceBook ‘Like’ button when I need it. Excellent post. Both genders are being attacked by Satan but men are being targeted more because he doesn’t want families to function well. Because a happy family leads to a happier society.

      • Hey Christian — the “Like” button is actually up there, only it’s called “Recommend,” just above the about-the-author box.

        • Christian says:

          Cheers mate. Let’s share the Speculative Faith love!

          • Hey Christian, have you ever taken one of those silly spiritual-gifts quizzes and been told one of your gifts is encouragement? Because if you have, and that was the result, I think the silly quiz might have been right after all. 🙂

          • Christian says:

            Thanks Stephen. Yes, I’ve taken several of those quizzes before, with unusual results but one such result was encouragement. I struggle to accept meaningful compliments, so I wrestled with this one and God won. I’ve also noticed people saying that I have the spiritual gift of encouragement, so there must be truth to it. I feel both humbled and blessed. Thank you and thank God! Confidence in Christ!

  6. I loved this. All of it. I’ve been staying with a friend this week who watches more TV than I do (that’s not hard; I never watch it on my own), and all of this has been striking me — the things our culture is normalizing, the degree to which people are degraded, the degree to which sex is trivialized, the degree to which Imago Dei is lost. And it’s been inspiring me, as a writer, to uphold a higher understanding of what humanity is and can be.

    Thanks for some great thoughts.

    • Kaci says:

      Thanks Rachel! And yeah…it’s this bizarre dichotomy where people apparently think they’re glorifying themselves (at least, either that or actually trying to be degrading) and really doing the reverse.

      It’s not diversity; it’s mutual scorn.

      • While I don’t agree with all his theology, one of the greatest authors of fiction that held up a true ideal was also one of the grandfathers of fantasy: George MacDonald. I’ve actually adopted several of his characters as role models — and found that doing so has had extraordinarily good fruit in my life.

  7. Rael says:

    Wow, great post! I’m so glad people like Rachel Starr Thomas, Andrew Peterson, and others are giving us epic stories about non-moody teen characters.

    Oh, and thanks for reminding me why I rarely watch TV. 🙂

  8. […] while back Kaci Hill wrote this fantastic post on “Recurring Things That Shouldn’t Be,” pointing out patterns in Christian fiction that, instead of edifying, tear down. Sometimes they do […]

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