The freedom to express ourselves freely in a democratic society is taken for granted. Also often taken for granted is the freedom given the mass media to portray sex, love and romance in any manner it pleases, which, according to a specialist in the field, frequently means indulging in outright lies. He presents his views in a recent issue of the Inchon diocese Catholic bulletin.
Though there is no way we can censor or force our opinions on others, nor should we want to, he says what we need to do is have the necessary knowledge, maturity and courage to distinguish between what is good and what is bad, what is for the common good of humanity and what is not. Because the mass media has such a great influence in modern societies, we need to be especially careful, he says, in making judgments based on what we see, hear and read.
The way the mass media handles matters of sex is obviously creating problems for faithful Christians. Seeing sex as only a tool for pleasure is very strong in our society. There is a desire on the part of many for more education on sex which today often means: pleasurable and safe sex, using all the tools necessary to prevent pregnancy. "Isn't everybody doing it" is the common refrain; are we are not, many are saying, living in the new age?
The methods used to convey this message are top of the line: contents are beautifully constructed, well explained, and the contexts are made attractive, which explains the success of this lax and false mindset concerning sex for the last 50 years. Our specialist would like more help available to young people, particularly by educating for media literacy. Ways have to be found, he says, to teach young people the truth about such an important matter.
He refers to a movie popular some years ago, Speedy Scandal. The movie tells the story of a high school student, an unmarried mother with a son, who is a piano prodigy. She herself has dreams of being a successful vocalist, and when finally achieving her dreams is shown as supremely happy--all of it entertainingly presented. Over 8 million Koreans saw the movie. But is this how it is in real life? he asks. Is this what most of the unmarried mothers experience in our Korean society? Isn't it more of a lie than it is a truthful representation of life?
It is easy for our young people to see the merely physical aspect of sex and to internalize what they see. The attractive person on the screen had an easy and successful time with her unmarried state and her life with her son. This is the message that is conveyed, but the truth has to be done in a similarly attractive way, which is not easy. The way to deal with lies is to tell the truth. What happens to those who become pregnant in middle and high school has to be conveyed.
He mentions that he finds this kind of movie sinful because they are doing much harm to society. The commercial world of images is not the world we live in. The re-constructed world they present in movies, dramas and music videos often only show us the intentions, goals and values of their creators. Educating for media literacy would show the difference between this world of fantasy and the real world. The fantasy world of sex in the media needs to be exposed and this task, he believes, is the mission of our age.