Captivated (TOS Review)

In our culture, media is everywhere.  We go from the television and computers in the house to the radio in the car.  If that isn’t enough media, we can always carry with us on tablet devices and even our phones.  Is this proliferation of media a wonderful advantage or a form of captivity?

This is the question that Media Talk 101  sets out to answer in their movie Captivated.  Thanks to the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I was able to have the opportunity to find out Media Talk 101’s answer.  I received the Captivated DVD, and my husband and I watched it, so that we could share our opinions with you.  The movie is available for purchase through their website for $16.95, and if you’ll scroll through their website, you’ll see that they offer several different options for purchase.

The movie is 107 minutes long, and is comprised primarily of interview clips grouped by theme.  The interview clips weave in and out between experts in different fields related to psychology and media  consumption and the personal  stories of people who have struggled to break free of their own media addiction.  There is also a great deal of bonus material in the form of extended interviews with the experts who are interviewed within the documentary.   This is a movie that is really geared towards adults, but any age should be able to watch it, so if you have older children that will be interested in the movie, it would make a good discussion piece.

The movie begins at the beginning of the technological breakthroughs in communication.  In 1844, the first telegraph message was sent.  This was the first time that you could receive a message faster than a messenger could bring it to you.  From there, technological gains over the past 170 years have been amazing and overwhelming.  Now there is almost no place to which you can go to escape the overwhelming background noise of the television, the radio, the internet, your text messages, facebook, twitter, etc.

Despite the fact that we celebrate our technology, our connectedness and our knowledge, Phillip Telfer, the author and narrator of this documentary, noticed during his career in working with youth that media was the biggest stumbling block to spiritual  growth and family health.  How could it be anything else when the average child consumes fifty-three hours of media per week?

My husband and I sat down together on a Saturday night while my older children were at their Nana’s house and watched Captivated together.  My husband quipped, “Do you realize they’re using media to spread a message about being less captivated by media?” as we started the movie.  We weren’t smiling for long.  The movie covers some very serious topics that are best absorbed in an atmosphere of quiet focus.

The DVD is broken into five sections.  These are:  consumption, content, captivity, battleground, and freedom.

The section on  consumption discusses how much media we consume and how that media affects our bodies.  They discuss your brain, multitasking, and social networks.  They really begin posing the question here:  Do you even know how addicted you are?

The second section is content.  Here is where they settle in for reminding you that much of the content is poison.  It affects your behavior and your morals as you watch, listen or play because it desensitizes you to the very behaviors that you are trying to avoid.  There’s also a very informative piece in this section about the movie executives and the development of our current rating system.

The third section is titled captivity.  Here is where they really start bringing in their Biblical message.  They base it on Colossians 2:8: Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.  They pose here that the philosophies of this world are directly opposed to our faith and to the joy of our salvation, and these media influences and devices often become an idol that takes us away from the living God.

The fourth section is titled Battleground.  Our enemy is woven into the fabric of our society.  We are not called to be like the world.  Romans 12:2 says: And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

The final section is titled Freedom.    Here they encourage you to take inventory of your own life and your media use.  True wisdom is found in choosing the good, and they give you some things that you need to know if you’re going to scale back on some of the media in your life.  True freedom from media (and any other idol that might hold you captive) is becoming captivated by Christ.

Those are some really brief summaries.  These sections are jam packed with expert testimonies and with personal testimonies of men and women who had discovered that what they were doing media-wise was taking away from their relationship with Christ.  There are also over two hours of extended interviews with different experts in the bonus features.

I initially walked away from this DVD thinking that this was a great message but that we were very media free in our own lives.  After all, we had gotten rid of cable television years before and we only watched Netflix around lunchtime and in the evenings.  We don’t allow many video games in our house unless it’s related to schoolwork or unless the children play them during the weekend at their grandmother’s house.

Then, my husband suggested that we should fast from media, just like a couple of the families who had given their personal testimonies in the movie.  There was no way we could do a complete media fast.  After all, I am a blogger and we also use some video games/DVD programs in our schoolwork.  So we began a partial media fast, appropriately enough, on Ash  Wednesday.

We took video games away completely.  We took away the television that we watched in the evenings and on the weekend away completely, except we kept our regular Friday night family movie night and we allowed them to watch limited television at their grandparents houses.

I found out the truth of the message on the DVD the hard way.  We were truly addicted.  The beginning was terrible.  The children, especially my two and four year olds, cried for some of the shows that we were watching before we started fasting.  My older children would say, “When we’re done fasting…”

I would find myself thinking longingly of sitting the children in front of the television when I got tired of being a Mom.  I would find myself using my phone to escape to Facebook occasionally, even when it wasn’t blog related.  My husband even said on the third day of the fast, “Don’t ask me to do this again.  I’d rather just be addicted.”

We’re still in the middle of our fast, so I don’t have any real results to show you yet.  We have played Battleship.  We have played cards.  The children have built things and played pretend.  I’ve studied my Bible more.  (Ouch!)  I can’t say that I’ve gotten to work more on my favorite hobbies.  I’ve had to be an active parent in a way that I hadn’t been ever.  You can’t take media away without adding other things into your life.  Uno is much more relationship building than Disney movies, even though those kind of movies are much more fun now that they’re only once a week.

In fact, despite the fact that I sometimes struggle with exhaustion, I think we’re going to keep many of our media limits far past our fast.  I am learning to rely on God for my strength in being an active participant in my life.  I don’t want to be addicted anymore.  I want better than that for my children and for myself.  I want us to only be captivated by Christ and not the things of this world.  I’ve also learned that it’s a daily battle.

2 Timothy 2:4 says,  No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.  I want to be pleasing to Christ.  I am grateful that I was chosen for this review because I would have never realized how deeply entrenched media was in our life and how it affected our behaviors and relationships with each other without Media Talk 101’s message.  Now I am aware and responsible for how I react to that knowledge.

I’m also so grateful for the blessing of this message that I’ve been trying to share it with everyone I know.  I’ll be sharing this review and even loaning out my copy of the DVD to my friends and family.  I can’t say that I’ve absorbed everything yet.  There are some books mentioned that I want to read, and I’m looking forward to taking my knowledge to the next level.  This movie is deeply counter-cultural, and for me, it has been a mirror that has shown me my own sin.  Like anyone who has been newly set free from sin, I just want to share my experience in the hope that you’ll allow it to work in your life as well.

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