Contend Earnestly: Review of the Movie, "Milk"

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Review of the Movie, "Milk"

I will have to admit, watching this movie was one thing I didn't think I would ever do. I decided to watch it though to try and seek out a major "win" for the homosexual community and to try and see how the movie would portray what went on that significant time in the 1970's. I have already received some pretty funny comments from some of my buddies after they heard that I watched the film and I am sure I will receive many more. But, the fact is, this is a part of history in the U.S. that I was, and still am, very ignorant about. I will tell you that if you are new to this blog, I am a Christian. I believe that homosexuality is a sin. I will also say that if you want my full thoughts on the sin of homosexuality you might want to check out some of these posts:

Is Homosexuality a Sin?

You Are the Homosexual

As far as the actual movie. The movie is about the rise of Harvey Milk as the first openly gay person to hold a political office in the United States. He was a man that moved to the Castro District in San Francisco and desired to see civil rights be extended to the openly gay people of San Francisco, California and the rest of the United States. The movie shows the hardships of trying to rise to be a politician and openly gay and also shows the fight Milk had to fight once he was elected to office.

Like the movie Ali, I went away from this movie thinking that Harvey Milk did some great things for the homosexual community, as Ali did for African Americans, but morally he was very corrupt. Not only because he was a homosexual, but he was a very corrupt man within that arena. From hitting on young men, using drugs, being overly sexually active, to fighting for the legalization of marijuana. So, the man Harvey Milk, and this film, definitely didn't help the image of the homosexual community. What it did show is a place in the Castro district, that I wouldn't want in my community no matter their sexual orientation. At one point, Harvey Milk is trying to convince a major gay publication to back him for office and this openly gay businessman told Milk concerning him and those in the Castro district:

You guys are all about sex, drugs and more sex.

As the movie went on it was clear who was the opposition. It was definitely the conservative Christian. This was who the movie's, and really Milk's, fight was against. I know this was the 70's and there isn't much that a lot of people can be proud of, but to see how the homosexual community was treated and how the homosexual community saw itself were both pretty discouraging. The conservative Christian community was shown through the lense of state senator John Briggs played by Denis O'Hare and also Anita Bryant (which all her parts were archived footage and not surprisingly, she is a part of the SBC). These two did their best to dehumanize and take away the Imago Dei from the homosexual community as a whole. They desired to pass in all states an initiative called Proposition 6 or more popularly known as the Briggs Initiative. It was put forth to make sure that no homosexual or anyone who supported gay rights could work within the public schools. Briggs said that homosexual teachers desired to work as teachers so that they could abuse and recruit children. The comments throughout the movie, attributed to Briggs were disgusting to watch. Not only did you have Briggs but you also had archived footage of Southern Baptist Anita Bryant who said so many things that were against what the word of God says, it was hard to watch. She painted, like many conservatives, homosexuality as a crime that should be outlawed, but forgot to mention all the other "Christians" who have sex outside of marriage, have affairs, lie and deceive, etc. So, we as Christians, looked very dumb, but the problem is, we brought it on ourselves.

As far as the gay community, I didn't feel like they put forth too many positive points to their thoughts either. Although, I do agree with them that they should have civil rights just like any other human in the United States, I don't agree with the facts that they tried to put forth. They continually tried to point to the African American as someone that they could align with. Although the homosexual community is one that can sympathize with some of the things that the African American community went through (such as beatings, murders, etc.), to say that they can relate completely is quite the overstatement. They went as far as to put themselves next to those Jews in Germany who went through the atrocities seen at the feet of the Nazi's. I know that Christians have made some odd claims in the past, but to see yourself, as you freely march the streets of San Francisco, as one with those in concentration camps needs to be quickly renounced.

The movie as a whole was well done, although graphic sexually in some parts. If I wasn't watching for a specific purpose, it would have been turned off within the first 20 minutes. This was one of those movies I had my finger very close to the fast forward button. Sean Penn was excellent as an actor, although the things he had to do in the movie were repulsive to someone like myself who believes that homosexuality is a sin. I cannot give anyone insight to whether or not the movie was historically accurate as I had never even heard of Harvey Milk before the movie opened. I actually saw the movie title and was thinking, "great, now the SBC and the AFA are going to have to put milk on their list of boycotted items." The movie did make me think though. It made me think through my personal thoughts on homosexuality (it didn't make me think through my biblical convictions on the subject, but my personal interactions) and those who commit other sexual acts outside of marriage. It made me sad to see the vicious fight against one sin and not others. It made me sad to see Christians doing a lot of hating, instead of a lot of seeking to talk to those who were not of their same conviction. It made me sad, because those of us who desire to speak Christ into the lives of others, have the 70's, and now this film, as another example of how we have lived more like Atheists than Jesus.

Do I support the film? That's kind of hard to say. It honestly was a lot like the movie Ali. I felt the film was well done, very good acting, very good cinematography, but the content and those involved were so corrupt in their living it is hard to say, "yeah, go see it." Like I would tell those who asked me about Ali, I would say to watch it for history's sake, but not for "enjoyment."

I pray that the homosexual community can forgive us Christians for the things that were said in this context and I pray that we, as Christians, can search out everyone for the sake of Christ knowing that they have the Imago Dei, that Christ died for them and their sin, as he did us and our sin. We might like to label certain sins as big or small, but if we saw our sin in the same light that Christ did maybe we would actually believe James when he states:

For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all

If the homosexual isn't part of your missional outreach to the community, maybe you've missed the point of Christ and who he came to save.


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