The Dangers of Casual Sex: It Follows (2014)

it-follows-poster-criticaIn David Robert Mitchell’s It Follows (2014), Jay (Maika Monroe) goes on a date with Hugh (Jake Weary), and after they have sex, a monster starts following her. Interpreted allegorically, the film is a warning against the dangers of casual and premarital sex with the monster representing a sexually transmitted disease.

The film suggests that if you have sex with the wrong person, it can have devastating consequences. After Jay has sex with Hugh, the shape-shifting monster that was following him comes after her. There is, however, a short-term solution. The monster will stop following Jay if she has sex with someone else, so she has sex with Greg (Daniel Zovatto). Unfortunately, this only delays the inevitable. The monster kills Greg, and then starts following Jay again.

The monster is playing a game. Games have rules, and the monster plays by certain rules: “It” only follows one person at a time, the unlucky individual who had sex with the last person it was following. (The game is similar to the children’s game of tag where the last person touched is “It.”) The monster is playing the long game with its victims: The last person who is “tagged” will be motivated to have sex again, giving the monster a larger number of potential victims.

The film can be interpreted allegorically with the monster representing a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Hugh says “It” started following him after a “one night stand.” Like an STD, the monster can only harm people who have casual or premarital sex. Two virgins who get married would never be in any danger from “It.” The monster punishes people who engage in risky sexual behavior.

Casual sex is risky behavior because you might get an STD. Despite the possible consequences, the percentage of young people engaging in casual sex is increasing. A 2014 study found that “35% of GenX’ers in the late 1980s had sex with a casual date or pickup (44% of men, 19% of women), compared to 45% of Millennials in the 2010s (55% of men, 31% of women).”1 The increase in casual sex has led to STD rates reaching a record high in the United States.2 In 2015, there were over 1.5 million reported cases chlamydia, 395,216 cases of gonorrhea, and 23,872 cases of syphilis, with most of the infections among people ages 15 to 24.3 Millions of Millennials have been infected with STDs because of their sexual promiscuity.

Although STDs can often be prevented through the use of condoms, the only safe sex is between two people who are married or in a monogamous relationship. Unlike casual sex (which is usually spontaneous), you can delay having sex until you both go to a doctor and make sure neither partner has an STD. Making sure your partner has a clean bill of health before having sex is the responsible thing to do. It could save you from a life of suffering, and possibly even death.

In It Follows, Jay nearly dies because she had sex with Hugh. She didn’t know his sexual history, and suffers the consequences of her unlucky choice. In the climax of the film, Jay and her friends try to destroy the monster. Unfortunately, with STDS this is not always possible. While many STDs can be treated and cured, others will never go away.4

Notes

  1. Jean M. Twenge et al., “Changes in American Adults’ Sexual Behavior and Attitudes, 1972-2012,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 44, no. 8 (May 2015): 2278, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25940736
  2. Jacqueline Howard, “STD rates reach record high in United States,” CNN, October 20, 2016, http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/20/health/std-statistics-record-high/
  3. Ibid.
  4. McKinzie Brocail, “Sexual Healing: Which STDs Can & Cannot Be Cured,” September 11, 2015, STDcheck.com, https://www.stdcheck.com/blog/sexual-healing-which-stds-can-cannot-be-cured/

Three Principles in Problem Solving: World War Z (2013)

World-War-Z-Final-Movie-Poster

In Marc Forster’s World War Z (2013) Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt), a U.N. investigator, is sent to gather information on the worldwide zombie plague. The film reveals three key principles in problem solving: acquire knowledge, practice independent thinking, and be determined to find a solution.

Knowledge is the first key to solving any problem. When Gerry visits South Korea, Israel, and the U.K., he increases his knowledge about the zombie plague by talking to soldiers, doctors, and other people in authority. Doctor Andrew Fassbach (Elyes Gabel) tells him that Mother Nature “loves disguising her weaknesses as strengths.” Gerry uses Fassbach’s insight to determine if the zombies have a hidden weakness.

Although Gerry depends on knowledgeable people to find answers, he also trusts his own judgement. To find a way to stop the zombies from infecting more people, he practices independent thinking: “the process of making sense of the world based on your own observations and experiences.”1 After watching an old man and a young boy survive a zombie attack, he develops a theory that zombies do not attack people who are terminally ill. Through careful observation and logical reasoning, Gerry discovers something that the experts do not know.

Gerry has another quality that is essential in problem solving: determination. At a W.H.O. research facility, he meets two doctors (Peter Capaldi and Pierfrancesco Favino) who appear hopeless and defeated. Gerry, however, is determined to save his family, so he injects himself with a deadly pathogen to test his theory about the zombies. Gerry is a problem solver because he is determined to find a solution, and willing to take risks.

In World War Z, none of the medical experts are able to find a cure for the zombie plague. Gerry, a non-expert, discovers a way to “camouflage” people from the zombies. He finds a solution by doing what zombies cannot do: by using the power of his mind. More importantly, he does not give up in trying to find a solution. You can have access to knowledge, and be capable of independent thinking, but without determination, difficult problems cannot be solved.

Notes

  1. “Parenting Assistance Line,” accessed January 23, 2016, http://www.pal.ua.edu/development/ad_thinking.php

Three Aspects of Obsessive Love: Mad Love (1935)

mad love

In Karl Freund’s Mad Love (1935), a madman, Doctor Gogol (Peter Lorre), falls in love with an actress: Yvonne Orlac (Frances Drake). However, Gogol’s love for Yvonne is not a healthy or normal kind of love. It is obsessive.

Obsessive love is born of the need to fill a void in one’s life. According to Susan Forward, “Obsessive love has little to do with love at all—it has to do with longing.”1 Doctor Gogol, who has “never known the love of a woman” tried to find meaning in life as a surgeon, yet despite being “great” and “famous”, he still feels incomplete. When he discovers Yvonne the actress, he watches her perform in the theatre—47 nights in a row. Emotionally damaged by a lifetime of rejection, Gogol is obsessed with Yvonne because of the emptiness he feels inside.

An obsessive attachment to another person can result in a refusal to accept rejection. As Forward states, “Obsessive lovers are so caught up in the maelstrom of their passions that they simply refuse to accept when a relationship is over.”2 Upon learning that Yvonne is married, Gogol is deeply dismayed, yet he does not stop pursuing her. He fiendishly plots to make her his lover by framing her husband for murder. Unwilling to accept rejection, Gogol will use any means necessary to have Yvonne as his own.

From a Christian perspective, obsessive love is a form of idolatry. The obsessive lover seeks to find wholeness and completion in another human being instead of God. Gogol tells Yvonne that he “worships” her and buys a wax statue of her to keep in his house. Like a prayer to a Catholic saint, he talks to the replica as if it were a real person and plays music to it. By exalting Yvonne to divine status, he has made her a substitute for God.

In the climax of the film, Gogol tries to murder Yvonne. This reveals how his love for her was conditional. He wanted to possess Yvonne (like an object) so that he would be happy and fulfilled. But when he finally accepted the reality that she would never love him, he decided to kill her because of his so-called “love” for her. Gogol’s unmet need to be loved drove him insane. True love is unconditional, not obsessive. If you truly love someone you will never cause them any harm, and only seek their good, even if they reject you.

Notes

  1. Susan Forward, Obsessive Love: When It Hurts Too Much to Let Go (New York: Bantam, 1991), 8.
  2. Forward, Obsessive Love, 9.

Demon-Human Hybrids: Village of the Damned (1960)

village-poster

Wolf Rilla’s Village of the Damned (1960) begins with a mysterious and disturbing event. Everyone in the village of Midwich suddenly loses consciousness, and two months later, twelve women discover they are pregnant. Because unconscious men and women cannot have sex, a central question is raised: Who are the biological fathers? Although the residents of Midwich speculate that the children may be alien-human hybrids, an alternative explanation is more likely: They are the sons and daughters of demons.

There are many Biblical parallels in the film that suggest David Zellaby (Martin Stephens) and the children are connected with the Devil. In the Bible, the Devil tries to imitate the signs and wonders of God (e.g., the sorcerers of Pharaoh copied many of the miracles of Moses).1 The children have the power to read people’s minds, an imitation of Christ: “But Jesus, knowing their thoughts, said, ‘Why do you think evil in your hearts?'”2 The children imitate the eyes of Christ, whose “eyes are like a flame of fire.”3 Their eyes glow like fire when they exercise telepathic control over the villager’s minds. They also parallel Christ in how they were conceived. At least four of the children are born to virgin mothers like Mary, the mother of Christ. When Doctor Willers (Laurence Naismith) informs Milly Hughes (Pamela Buck) that she is pregnant, she cries, “I’ve never—It’s impossible.” Pregnancy is impossible for Milly because she has never had sex. The vicar (Bernard Archard), who has heard the confessions of the four teenage mothers, confirms that they are virgins. However, unlike Mary who gave birth to the Son of God, the women of Midwich give birth to abominations: six boys and six girls, equal in number with Christ’s twelve disciples.

The twelve children are the “damned” in the film’s title. The phrase “the damned” means “condemned by God to suffer eternal punishment in hell.”4 Although the villagers suffer the children’s wrath, they are not the damned. They are good and decent people who do not commit any acts of evil. Christ warned of “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.”5 As the sons and daughters of demons, the children are “the damned” not only because of their evil deeds, but because of their lineage.

There is a hint that the Devil may be David’s father when Doctor Willers, examining a section of David’s hair under a microscope, says it looks like a “narrow capital D.” If the Devil is David’s father, he may have left his signature “D” as evidence. In the Bible, God called King David, “a man after my own heart.”6 The Devil would say the same thing about David of Midwich.

The twelve children have a far greater intelligence than the adults in Midwich, but their lack of a conscience makes them something less than human. To be human is to have a conscience and to be constrained by it—to allow it to govern one’s behavior. The Midwich children are unrestrained, destroying not only anyone they consider a threat, but also those who are innocent and intend them no harm. Like the demons who may have spawned them, the children are evil.

 Notes

  1. Exodus 7:11
  2. Matthew 9:4 (English Standard Version).
  3. Revelation 19:12 (International Standard Version).
  4. Oxford Dictionary, s.v. “Damned,” accessed April 19, 2015, http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/damn
  5. Matthew 25:41 (King James Bible).
  6. Acts 13:22 (New International Version).