Friday, January 24, 2014

A Comedy that is Really A Tragedy

TV Land is now in the business of developing and creating “original” programming. One of their newest series is called “Kirstie.” The series features long time comedic favorites Kirstie Alley, Michael Richards and Rhea Perlman. The general premise of the show is the search by Arlo Barth (Eric Petersen), a young man who was given up for adoption 26 years earlier who is now trying to connect with his birth mother Maddie Banks (played by Alley). Arlo begins his effort to reunite with his birth mother after his adopted mother has died.

In addition to original programming, TV Land still, occasionally, runs some old favorites in syndication. The juxtaposition of the values evident in the old favorites and in TV Land’s original programming can cause the equivalent of moral whiplash. In fact, my neck is still hurting.

I was minding my own business watching Gilligan’s Island. TV Land has decided to feature a marathon of the 1960’s era sitcom in the wake of the death of the Professor, Russell Johnson. My enjoyment of Gilligan’s Island was interrupted by a commercial for an episode of the aforementioned Kirstie entitled “Like a Virgin.” In the previews for the episode, Maddie learns that her son Arlo is a virgin. Horror of horrors! The entire cast caught up in trying to “fix” this situation. Finally, Maddie enlists her understudy Brittany (Kristin Chenoweth) to deflower him in exchange for a chance to go onstage.

Welcome to Kirstie’s world. A world where sexual purity is mocked and jeered. A world where the worst thing that can happen to an unmarried young man is to remain a virgin. A world where – we are led to believe – it is a mother’s job to make sure her son has a sexual experience. Any sexual experience. With anyone. Just do not remain a virgin. That, after all, is the worst (and funniest) thing that can happen to a young man.

I find it tragic that the same Hollywood types that write this kind of “comedy” would defend to the death a woman’s right to “choose” abortion. Yet, they choose to write comedy that makes light of non-committed, sexual promiscuity for the sole purpose of conquest. I find it tragic that a comedy whose premise is a woman whose own sexual exploits led her to give her child up for adoption (which is to be applauded), now wants to encourage the same kind of reckless behavior in her son.

For those of us who embrace moral values – especially biblical morality – this kind of comedy is really a tragedy. It is tragic because it reveals the truth that, once we abandon absolute moral standards, the only thing that remains to determine right and wrong is what makes the most people the most happy. Francis Schaeffer once wrote something like that back in the 1970’s. He was right then and he remains right today. In the absence of a biblical moral standard, people do not experience moral freedom, but the complete loss of moral direction. And when that happens, comedy becomes tragedy. 

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