As it always is, context is important. The movie you mentioned was Little Miss Sunshine. It was about a little girl in a success-focused family who tries out for a little beauty pagent.The movie is a satire designed to show how obsessed Americans and American culture is with success.
The family in the movie is a messed-up family. The father is a washed-up author and public speaker on the verge of bankrupty even though he has been touring the country with a self-help book on success. The mother is worn-out and tired. The brother (uncle) is struggling with homosexuality and his sliding status as a professor. He once was the top scholar in his field, but has not published anything recently and his chief rival has. The grandfather is struggling with his retirment, boredom, and a general feeling of uselessness. He has picked up a drug habit to pass away the time. The son has taken a vow of silence until he passed an important test, and while the watcher can appreciate his single-minded focus. It is obvious that this devotion is miss-placed and obsessive. The daughter participating in the pagent seems to be the one with the most going for her.
To state the obvious this is a family in need of something to live for. This is a family experiencing a need for something to go right. This is a family very much like ones that I know (both inside and outside the church). The actual message of the movie is that all these hurt people cannot accomplish much apart from one another, but when they come together they find some solace and some comfort. They decide that they do not need success as the world calls it, but do need each other.
The family makes this realization as they watch the phoniness and weirdness that is the Little Miss Sunshine pagent. The final scene in which the daughter does a mock striptease is meant to be awkard and is meant to cause the type of reaction. The underlying message is that what the daughter is doing is actually what the other contestants are doing. That is “whoring” herself for love and attention.
In this sense the picture of a beauty contestant stripping is a parable meant to spark digust and reveal the hidden darkness of man’s heart. In this attempt I can appreciate what the director is attempting to do. I may not agree with all of his beliefs and opnions. I may not approve of his cinematic choices, but to paint him as an out an out-and-out pervert. A pervert would make this movie for pleasure. This movie has been made as a statement against the pedophilia that would turn our children is hyper-sexualized objects of beauty.
In a sense this type of movie is really just a souped up version of the “very-special” episodes that used to run on Growing Pains. When Kirk pretended to struggle with drugs, or Tracy or Jeremy with other issues. You guys were not advocating drug-use, or anything like that. In fact by showing the absurdity of such issues, they were actually attacking them. It is the same here.
You and alot of your audience may be sick of those of us in the Christian world that turns a blind eye to some of Hollywood’s excess. However we also get tired of listening to our brothers and sisters that react within first truly listening to their opponents. For one thing many of the opponents those like you oppose are not so much the enemy as you think. Before you begin to think I am some heretic, let me assure you I am no more heretical than you. I believe in God and the grace imparted to us by the death of his Son on the cross. I believe in the Holy Spirit and His work in our lives to lead us into all truth. There are times for us to take on our culture and stand for truth.
I and others like me prefer to seek out where the Spirit is moving in the lives of people around me and encourage their growth in those areas. It is easy to attack someone for doing drugs, having sex outside of marriage, or cussing. It is far more difficult to stand in relationship with them, and encourage them to change. If one looks at the life of Christ you can see how Christ, himself, practiced this principle. Read the Gospels and you will see that His criticism and disdain was actually reserved to those “religious” people who talked a big game, but did not live it. Yet when he was around the sinner you do not hear him bemoaning sin, and calling sinners names. When the woman taken in adultry was brought before Him he simply said “go and sin no more.” He went to Zaccheaus’ house. He ate with the taxpayers. He danced. He drank. He lived and loved those far from Him. Yes he addressed sin, but he did it in love. He did as He called them to take their talents and use it for God. Paul is another example. When he stood up at the Aeropagus, he did not tell those there that their gods were weak and useless. He simply discussed the greatness of our God.
One of our Church Fathers once remained his folk that all truth is God’s truth. I and many like me propose a Christianity that looks for the truthes, graces, and workings of God in the lives of those around us; and then seek to encourage, support, and buttress those acts. Our hope is that as we hold up the truthes we find, we will be able to bring the Truth into sharper focus, and so work in conjunction with our Father in leading them to Him.
It is for that reason that I can applaud someone Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris for exposing a weakness in our culture, while at the same time continuing to stand for the Truth of the Gospel.