Tuesday, August 21, 2012

John Cooper And This Catholic Lady

I homeschooled my kids for 15 years, during which I didn't have much time for movies or TV.  And when I did turn something on, it had to be at least pretty kid-friendly, with all my kids gathered round the set.  So, I wouldn't have watched something like SouthLAnd during those years, because I wouldn't have wanted to try to explain why Officer Sherman was in bed with two ladies.  Call me lazy...

The kids grew up, though, and one of them earned a college degree in "Communications Media, With An Emphasis In Entertainment Media".  In short, a "film degree".  Hence, she watched many movies and TV shows while completing her education; and upon her return home after graduation, continued to watch many movies and TV shows in the house.  Thus, I was drawn in.

Through a series of events, involving my daughter's love of a TV show called Numb3rs, Twitter, and a very kind actor named Chris Bruno, I was led to watch SouthLAnd.  YES!  I am going to talk about SouthLAnd again!  But, today I will not be discussing Ben McKenzie's character, but a character named John Cooper, played most excellently by Michael Cudlitz.

John Cooper is an officer in the LAPD.  And he is a gay character.  And he totally changed my idea of Hollywood and the "gay agenda".

As I educated my children, I hung with people who were mostly very conservative in their views.  I am mostly conservative in my views; but I do have kind of a rebel side, as you know if you have been reading my blog.   The prevailing opinion of the people I hung with is that Hollywood is aggressively promoting the gay lifestyle, trying to get us to accept and condone it, threatening us with "white martyrdom" if we don't.  And, I admit, this became my point-of-view as well, even though I never actually watched any movies or TV shows dealing with gay-rights issues or involving gay characters. (And please don't take any of this as a criticism of homeschooling.  All homeschoolers are individuals, and should not be stereotyped.  This is just my personal experience.)

But, as I watched the character of John Cooper in SouthLAnd, I came away with a different view of things.  In this show, the gay man John Cooper is portrayed in a way that could be construed as very Catholic.  He is portrayed, first and foremost, as a man -- a human being.  He is a man of integrity who works hard, is a good friend, is trustworthy and honorable, with his own share of demons (having to do with an addiction to prescription painkillers).  He is a person like any person -- gay or straight.  And his sexual orientation is just part of who he is as a person.  It is not paraded around by the writers of the show in a way that is aggressively promoting any kind of political agenda.  And when, on a police call,  he has to talk to a teenage boy who has just come out of the closet to his parents -- causing a near knock-down, drag-out fight in their home -- he takes the boy outside and gently encourages him to give his parents time to adjust to this new reality in their lives.  He tells the boy that it is a lot for his parents to digest, and encourages him to have patience.  The feelings of the parents are treated with respect by the show's writers -- even though they are not "politically correct" -- through the character of John Cooper, and I was quite touched by this.

So, this has me thinking.  Maybe Hollywood is not necessarily trying to promote a threatening agenda, but is trying to encourage the idea of gay people as human beings, first and foremost.  Perhaps there is a legitimate concern that gay people have been abused by many in our society, including by many Christians, just because they are gay.  We can debate gay marriage and other gay-rights issues.  But, as we do, we need to correctly discern the concerns of those with opposing views.  We need to try to understand those concerns.  And we need to remember that there are human beings at the center of this debate.  Human beings who want to have what we all want to have -- freedom to live their lives without fear and persecution, compassion, friendship, family, and love.  All of us in our society need to pursue truth, but we need to pursue truth in charity.  In ALL things -- charity.

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