Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Dolly Parton on Morality: Joyful Noise hits sour note

Dolly Parton, the siren of country music and not the most modest blond bombshell of movies in the '80's, is speaking out about our lost culture. In an interview on FOX promoting her new movie, Joyful Noise, co-starring Queen Latifah, Parton offered, "We [the culture] just seem to have lost all our morals and principles and values these days." Her new movie, however, is antithetical to her statement. It's plot suggests that the only way to succeed is to throw off the lead weight of tradition and embrace what is new and vogue. That seems mighty "pro-culture", even if the setting for the film is a Southern Bible Church and its surrounding community.

Parton, who, to her credit, is married to the same man for 46 yrs. according to the interview, sends another confusing message in her statement about the culture. The dialog in the movie takes some pretty significant pot shots at Parton's one nip, one tuck too many character. In response to one of the rather off color jokes about plastic surgeries, Parton's character responds, "God didn't create plastic surgeons so they could starve!" Granted it's a line from a movie, but it speaks volumes about what science is capable of doing versus what they ought to do, and the rationale that being comfortable with who you are and how God created you isn't enough.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
If morality requires respect for the life of the body, it does not make it an absolute value. It rejects a neo-pagan notion that tends to promote the cult of the body, to sacrifice everything for its sake, to idolize physical perfection and success at sports. By its selective preference of the strong over the weak, such a conception can lead to the perversion of human relationships. (CCC 2289)

As a voluntary candidate for multiple surgeries to enhance her looks, Parton embodies the idea that she isn't comfortable in her own God-given skin and is willing to sacrifice integrity of the body for the sake of her career. It's an issue of vanity that plays into the culture's fascination with the "cult of the body". In an interview with People Magazine discussing celebrity plastic surgeries,  Parton even described herself as a "show dog".  For to a culture that is already too consumed with "self", a message about values, morals and principles, from a high profile actress/recording artist who continues to present herself in a manner that contradicts some of those very values, morals and principles is at least suspect.

There's another troubling issue with Parton's new movie. It's rated PG 13.  Why would a movie that wishes to improve and uplift [tongue in cheek] our culture with good news about God need a PG 13 rating? It's listed as containing "language and brief adult content". Is this how we bring people to God, to a new sense of values and principles? Or, does this portray just one more deficit in our culture -- relativism. Parton also seems to embody the principle that I can speak a good game but, I have trouble living up to the the standard.

Joyful Noise got sagging results at the box office. Perhaps it needed a little tweaking?

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