Captivated: A Christian Documentary On Media Saturation

Reader Kevin Sorenson just told me about a new video coming out next month called Captivated: finding freedom in a media captive culture put together by the folks at ReelCast productions and MediaTalk101 both of which are Christian organizations whose goals are to help Christians live in a media saturated culture.

Captivated Trailer

The cast looks to include teens, young adults, and older adults who were at one time addicted to technology, media, and screen time, along with some well-known Christian thinkers like Kerby Anderson (Probe Ministries) and David Murray (Hebrew professor),  writers on technology culture like Mark Bauerlein (The Dumbest Generation), and other men and women from groups like the Parents Television Council.

I’m glad to see a high quality presentation of issues in media culture from a Christian view. I must admit though that I’m a little skeptical of the trailer because it presents very strong either/or scenarios where the narrator asks, “Is our social experience richer and deeper…” (images of sad families staring at screens) “… or more shallow and artificial?” (images of happy people grooming horses in great outdoors). But then again movie trailers – as a medium – are designed to pique interest, not offer nuanced views. So I’m hopeful that the finished product will be balanced and helpful to the church. You can order your copy here.

What did you think of the trailer?

Published by

John Dyer

In my day job, I work at Dallas Theological Seminary, and at night I write Bible software for countries whose leaders could be called "overlords." This one time, I wrote a book about technology and Christian faith. You can find out more about what I'm up to at http://j.hn/.

13 thoughts on “Captivated: A Christian Documentary On Media Saturation”

  1. It did feel a little alarmist, but an alarm may be exactly what is needed. Like you, I’m hoping the finished product isn’t riddled with binary thinking. All in all, looking forward to it.

  2. Technology = bondage, evil
    Outdoors = freedom, holy

    I’d be very hesitant with how they’re using the terms media and technology in an almost interchangeable way. Those can be related, but are not necessarily the same. Technology is a machine or equipment used to do something else (pen, paper, iPhone, car, wheel, etc.). Media is created with and viewed on technology. But “Media” can also be art (i.e. songs, movie, television, painting, theater, etc). “Media” can also be an interactive experience – Facebook, Twitter – and not be art.

    The trailer sounds like the usual rhetoric from Christians without a philosophy of art and technology.

  3. Given the tone of the trailer, I’m guessing that the final product will not be terribly nuanced. It looks like they focus on a group of people who were addicted to media, showing how much better their lives became when they “unplugged.” But are these people actually representative of the wider population, or are they extreme outlier cases?

    Sherry Turkle made a great point in her most recent book when she said that this “language of addiction” that we use when talking about technology tends to “subvert our best thinking” because it leaves us with a choice we know we can’t really make. Completely unplugging from media is not a reasonable option for most people, so we have to work towards taming and domesticating our media consumption so that it better fits into our lives, and with our desired social values.

    So the question for you John is can we “redeem” the TV? Is there a creative repurposing one can bring to the TV, similar to that story you told in your book about the beeper?

    1. I’m in agreement with Turkle that speaking too much of addiction presents a false choice.

      Or at least it makes it sounds like technology addition is like addition to something unnecessary like cigarrettes. I think an analogy to food addiction is better because we no one can stop eating without dying, and yet we do need to exercise discipline in what we eat. Similarly we cannot stop using technology or consuming media (for I believe it to be an inherently human activity), but we do need discipline in our usage and consumption.

      Just like your parents did with the TV :)

      1. I love that analogy to food addiction! I’ll have to steal that (and give you credit of course).

        But I noticed you didn’t answer my question for you: can we “redeem” the TV or other media (like your story about the beeper), or do you think it always has inescapable side effects? Can we creatively repurpose media devices so they become a blessing instead of the source of social ills?

  4. The trailer doesn’t seem to offer the possibility of keeping media in it’s place and using it to glorify God. Being a mountaineer, I can say that the outdoors can be just as much of an escape as the monitor.

    That being said I’m stoked this film is out there and I plan on watching it. Even if the trailer accurately reflects the film there can still be a lot to think about in the questions raised by an either/or view.

    The challenge for us will be to let God change us with the truth of the film instead of using whatever mistakes it makes as an excuse to ignore the entire message.

    1. Yeah, I agree the outdoors can be just as much as an escape. Anything that is a created thing that has taken priority over Creator. Idolatry comes in so many forms. I am excited to see this!

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