Author Topic: Theater, cinema, bad thoughts and lying  (Read 335 times)

Offline GMC

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Theater, cinema, bad thoughts and lying
« on: May 10, 2022, 07:32:22 AM »
I know that the early Christians didn't go to the theater, but in the Middle Ages the theater was accepted by the Church, and later the cinema, although some films were condemned, the cinema itself wasn't condemned.

So my question is:

We know that an actor ends up identifying with the character while interpreting him, and in a way thinking like him, but, how do he avoid having sinful thoughts if he are interpreting an evil character? Even if it's religious theater or cinema, someone has to interprets Judas, Herod, etc.

Then there is the issue of lying if the actor interprets a character who lies.

Is there any writing of popes or saints dealing with this topic?
 

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Actors Do Not Intend To Deceive
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2022, 07:46:44 AM »
Quote from: Catechism of Pius X
The Eighth Commandment

6 Q. What is a lie?
A. A lie is a sin which consists in asserting as true or false by word or act that which one does not believe to be really the case.

Quote from: Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 110
Article 1. Whether lying is always opposed to truth?

On the contrary, Augustine says (Contra Mend. x): "Let no one doubt that it is a lie to tell a falsehood in order to deceive. Wherefore a false statement uttered with intent to deceive is a manifest lie." But this is opposed to truth. Therefore lying is opposed to truth.

I answer that, A moral act takes its species from two things, its object, and its end: for the end is the object of the will, which is the first mover in moral acts. ...

However, the essential notion of a lie is taken from formal falsehood, from the fact namely, that a person intends to say what is false; wherefore also the word "mendacium" [lie] is derived from its being in opposition to the "mind." Consequently if one says what is false, thinking it to be true, it is false materially, but not formally, because the falseness is beside the intention of the speaker so that it is not a perfect lie, since what is beside the speaker's intention is accidental for which reason it cannot be a specific difference. If, on the other hand, one utters' falsehood formally, through having the will to deceive, even if what one says be true, yet inasmuch as this is a voluntary and moral act, it contains falseness essentially and truth accidentally, and attains the specific nature of a lie.
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Offline dellery

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Re: Theater, cinema, bad thoughts and lying
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2022, 08:42:02 AM »
I know that the early Christians didn't go to the theater, but in the Middle Ages the theater was accepted by the Church, and later the cinema, although some films were condemned, the cinema itself wasn't condemned.

So my question is:

We know that an actor ends up identifying with the character while interpreting him, and in a way thinking like him, but, how do he avoid having sinful thoughts if he are interpreting an evil character? Even if it's religious theater or cinema, someone has to interprets Judas, Herod, etc.

Then there is the issue of lying if the actor interprets a character who lies.

Is there any writing of popes or saints dealing with this topic?

All of the above looks like scrupulosity, and you're not looking at the issue deep enough. Much of theatre is deceptive because theatre has the inherent ability to deceive people, so people naturally use it for deception. What about acting and theatricality with no stage, where the spectator does not know he's witnessing a theatrical performance and doesn't know he's a spectator? In the case of deception, which is different from lying, it usually seems like the ends are what justify its use. Deception is making somebody believe a falsehood, whereas lying is the deliberate telling or repeating a falsehood. If I'm not mistaken deception is permissible in situations like warfare and to save another person's life but lying is never acceptable.

So let's come back to your original questions, and I'll proffer a rhetorical here, what if an actor plays a good character in which his interpretation of causes him to have good thoughts, and in his role he is only ever truthful to his other characters, but the way his character is presented to the watching spectators is meant to deceive them about something in their real lives? You can see here how the behavior of an actor in character is not nearly as morally important as how the overall production he is a part of is being used. 

Theatricality and deception, powerful agents against the uninitiated.
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Offline matt

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Re: Actors Do Not Intend To Deceive
« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2022, 05:37:01 PM »
Quote from: Catechism of Pius X
The Eighth Commandment

6 Q. What is a lie?
A. A lie is a sin which consists in asserting as true or false by word or act that which one does not believe to be really the case.

Quote from: Summa Theologica, Second Part of the Second Part, Question 110
Article 1. Whether lying is always opposed to truth?

On the contrary, Augustine says (Contra Mend. x): "Let no one doubt that it is a lie to tell a falsehood in order to deceive. Wherefore a false statement uttered with intent to deceive is a manifest lie." But this is opposed to truth. Therefore lying is opposed to truth.

I answer that, A moral act takes its species from two things, its object, and its end: for the end is the object of the will, which is the first mover in moral acts. ...

However, the essential notion of a lie is taken from formal falsehood, from the fact namely, that a person intends to say what is false; wherefore also the word "mendacium" [lie] is derived from its being in opposition to the "mind." Consequently if one says what is false, thinking it to be true, it is false materially, but not formally, because the falseness is beside the intention of the speaker so that it is not a perfect lie, since what is beside the speaker's intention is accidental for which reason it cannot be a specific difference. If, on the other hand, one utters' falsehood formally, through having the will to deceive, even if what one says be true, yet inasmuch as this is a voluntary and moral act, it contains falseness essentially and truth accidentally, and attains the specific nature of a lie.

This doesn’t follow. The first quote essentially defines a lie as: to utter a statement at variance with one’s mind, whereas the second quote, from Augustine, defines a lie as “to tell a falsehood in order to deceive.”
 

Online Michael Wilson

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Re: Theater, cinema, bad thoughts and lying
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2022, 09:36:52 PM »
GMC
Quote
We know that an actor ends up identifying with the character while interpreting him, and in a way thinking like him, but, how do he avoid having sinful thoughts if he are interpreting an evil character? Even if it's religious theater or cinema, someone has to interprets Judas, Herod, etc.

Then there is the issue of lying if the actor interprets a character who lies.

Is there any writing of popes or saints dealing with this topic?
On playing a part in a play and uttering lines that are lies: The audience knows that it is viewing a play and the lies told during a play do not either deceive the other characters or the audience; these then by definition are not lies. 
"How does one avoid having evil thoughts etc.?" Depends on the play: If the acts being committed in the play are actually evil in themselves and not just "acting", then one is not allowed to do them; for example romantic scenes with a person of the opposite sex, where there is actual performing of illicit acts.
Apart from this, a person who is an actor has to take the same measures as all Catholics to avoid falling into sin by evil thoughts or actions. Prayer; the Sacraments; avoiding the near occasion of sin. If acting in a scene is a near occasion of sin, then it is not licit to participate in the scene.
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"My brothers, all of you, if you are condemned to see the triumph of evil, never applaud it. Never say to evil: you are good; to decadence: you are progess; to death: you are life. Sanctify yourselves in the times wherein God has placed you; bewail the evils and the disorders which God tolerates; oppose them with the energy of your works and your efforts, your life uncontaminated by error, free from being led astray, in such a way that having lived here below, united with the Spirit of the Lord, you will be admitted to be made but one with Him forever and ever: But he who is joined to the Lord is one in spirit." Cardinal Pie of Potiers
 
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Offline BlueInGreen

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Re: Theater, cinema, bad thoughts and lying
« Reply #5 on: Today at 02:35:01 AM »
Quote
We know that an actor ends up identifying with the character while interpreting him, and in a way thinking like him, but, how do he avoid having sinful thoughts if he are interpreting an evil character? Even if it's religious theater or cinema, someone has to interprets Judas, Herod, etc.

Then there is the issue of lying if the actor interprets a character who lies.

Is there any writing of popes or saints dealing with this topic?

I'll say this: I have observed actors, be it stage, musicals or tv/film. Acting itself is an odd occupation to pursue full-time once we think about it. It's a strange lifestyle if you ever find yourself as an established actor. (One aspect is not being home for, say, half the year due to jet setting around Canada, US and Western Europe to shoot various tv series and film. An Irish actress stated she wasn't home for a full year due to her projects being filmed out of country.) If I ever have a kid who wants to do acting, especially if it's a daughter, I wouldn't support her decision; I'd deter her away from it unless it's a pursuit of a career in musicals or stage work. I have deeper thoughts on modern day acting , but that's for another day.

I read an interview by a Catholic actor who refuses to do nudity and sex scenes, who said that when he does play "bad" characters there is a sense of empathy that he goes through in order to play them. He doesn't have to agree with their actions, but he does need to see the reason on what they're doing.

As for any writings, I stumbled about another Christian citing St. Augustine on his thoughts on theater itself (which were negative). I can't say I necessarily agree with his conclusion.

This how I would rank the various dramatic mediums when it comes to actual talent needed -

stage, musicals


tv
film (I feel the strongest tv/film actors would make decent stage actors, but not all - many would fear the reality being a a stage actor if tv/film weren't a strong option since it's far more less stable than making a living in front of the camera; it's less glamorous - Chanel and Rotate ain't gonna be knocking on Sutton Foster's door anytime soon for her to get on their brand).
« Last Edit: Today at 02:50:07 AM by BlueInGreen »
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