Recently, I joined some buddies for dinner and a movie. We are all sci-fi fans – even though to be such a fan means that one must deal with the occasional film that is drenched in cheese :). I was expecting exactly that when we decided to watch the new Bruce Willis film Surrogates (see trailer above).
The film was fast – often moving forward to advance the story without stopping to explain details. The action was fair; I for one could have used a little more action emphasizing the superhuman abilities of the surrogates – just for fun. However, it is clear that the minds behind the film wanted to keep things moving. Overall, it wasn’t too heavy on the cheese.
I would like to highlight four features that I found incredibly redemptive: 1) Willis’ desire for and commitment to his wife, 2) the exposure of our lack of integrity in the cyber-world, 3) sin is present in humanity and utterly dark when allowed to reach its full potential, and 4) there is something special about being human. It is clear from the beginning that Willis longs for the real presence of his wife in a world that has chosen to live life in a false reality where any one can be anybody (e.g., a fat, ugly guy can pose as a beautiful, blonde woman by means of his surrogate) and anybody can do anything. Morality and accountability become things of the past. For Willis to remain committed to his wife is heroic in and of itself.
Secondly, the viewer is forced to ask, “am I person of integrity when I roam the online community?” Further, “Is the cyber-world my unrestrained playground, or do my convictions and beliefs in reality extend to the virtual world?” A related concern for me as a student pastor is whether or not we are equipping our tweens and teens to “proceed with caution” during their time online. Online strangers aren’t always who they present themselves to be.
Third, our capacity for evil, if left to our own devices, is grotesque. If this isn’t clear in reality, virtual reality is the realm where we feel “safe” giving ourselves over to our desires – because after all, it’s not real right?
Lastly, there is something special about being human. Very basic and simple things often taken for granted in human experience are so vivid in the film: seeing one another, hearing one another’s voice, touching one another. There is something special – divine even – about humans in relationship with one another. During premarital counseling, Pastor Jim Riggle at Shawnee Hills Baptist Church in Jamestown, Ohio looked me straight in the eyes and urged me, “When you get in the car and realize that the gas gauge is on ‘E’ because Aimee used your car yesterday, I want you to say, ‘That’s my Aimee.'” I try to make it a habit of taking note my wife’s “That’s my Aimee” habits. These are the things I would miss so much if she were not with me. There is something indeed special about being human and being in relationship. Thank you God, and thank you that relationship both with you and with other humans is being reconciled through your Son, Jesus Christ.