Hate Watching

I didn’t watch the Emmys last night (in fact, I didn’t know they were on). But the morning after Hollywood award shows is always an interesting time on Christian social media. One of the most reliable tropes in evangelical “cultural engagement” is the blog or Facebook post about how godless showbiz is, and how the torturous experience of watching its self-congratulatory, often suggestive award shows confirms how out of touch the elite are with the “real” people in this country.

Here’s my plea to Christians who enjoy this yearly routine:

Please stop.

Your intentions may be noble (though you’d do well to confirm that). But the only honest takeaway from your “worldview analysis” is that you should stop watching these shows. There’s no such thing as “hate watching,” for the same reason there’s no such thing as a “hate click.” Your tuning in may be morally neutral, but it is not economically neutral. You are supporting the industry by watching. If that bothers you, you have a moral obligation to not watch, and to not blog. You won’t be a lesser person for having missed the opportunity to get retweets engage culture. Just let it go.

One of the worst trends in evangelical culture is a tendency we have to watch or listen or attend something, because we actually sorta kinda like it (or maybe we wished we liked it), but then we feel bad for liking it, and so we unleash a payload of anathemas on blogs and social media as a way of doing penance. That’s not cultural engagement. It’s not even being a good writer. It’s just being dishonest to everyone, including yourself.

If you’re going to be in the audience, respond like someone who was in the audience, not someone who is morbidly offended at the existence of the audience. If you are morbidly offended, obey Paul and follow your conscience’s leading, and don’t watch. If you watch and feel guilty, repent privately, but don’t think your online outrage turns what was a personal lapse into a valuable moment of prophetic analysis. Watch football instead. Or go to bed.

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Author: Samuel D. James

Believer, husband, father, acquisitions editor, writer.