It’s obvious by now that some folks urge beyond the familiar man-woman marriage, so much so, that Tumblr has even begun to argue that mayonnaise a gender! Other modern coming-of-age teen dramas express same-sex attraction signs, others even challenge the limits of romance, such as Call Me by Your Name. So what happens when filmmakers start to utilize such modern shifts in cultural values for the purpose of cashing off audience emotions? Movies like Boy Erased get made, an exploitation of a young man’s true story for the purpose of attacking religious people.
I for one do not feel like I fall in that stereotype; a best friend of mine in the past was gay, but I still welcomed him the same after coming out. Although some years later, he fought against my mindset against homosexuality by bragging about how his sexuality defines who he is, this confrontation ultimately resulted in our friendship ending. Now, I admittedly went too demeaning myself by not understanding his feelings, so a few years the Lord called me to send him a Facebook apology, which he graciously accepted. But the moral of the story is that homosexuality does not define who you are, clinging to it just boosts your ego to the point of destroying perfectly healthy relationships. That’s exactly what Focus Features does with this movie—it demonizes a religious group by narrowing onto a single abusive organization to identify the entire body.
I have seen in the past many other church groups contradict the second greatest commandment to, “love your neighbor as yourself,” but who is Hollywood to tell Christians they’re ignoring that command if they can’t do it themselves? This film’s gay protagonist, Jared, lives under “normal” parents who go to church every Sunday, his father is even a pastor, yet they plan to disown him unless he converts. Rejecting family just to look cleaner is not love, and any organization who claims to represent Christ yet can’t obey Matthew 22:34-40, are very much unspiritual. Boy Erased instead just stereotypes that all Christians are spiteful.
The screenwriter/director’s depiction of religion makes everything else very impersonal, as signified by how a car conversation is filmed from behind, not up close to the actors. In this car, Jared’s mother orders him to keep his hand inside the car window, a subtle sign of parental repression that’s even greater when father sends him to the abusive Gay Conversion Therapy program. Oh yeah, these guys abuse gay people! It may be true that these groups exist, but the closest thing this movie goes to showing “good” Christians is mom and dad, who are willing to disown their own son just because he likes men! Not only is this a stupid, one-sided argument against specific people, but nothing supports this argument; mom and dad never say what they think of one another, nor does Jared have any apparent opinion about the people running Gay Conversion Therapy. That includes when these people try to teach gays that baseball is masculine, even though no women ever voice their opinion on that objectionable claim.
Now look, Russell Crowe plays the part of the dad well with his smooth-talking tone that secretly expunges wandering, conveying a clear greed for outer cleanliness. As for Jared, hot emotions come out once he takes a long pause before answering whether to change. These sessions also keep their actions secret from the parents, and the fact that they give their victims zero privacy, even if they must pee, makes the minimal lighting setups outside the therapy doors further support Jared’s confusion. So, the details of the program are there to sharp accuracy, the problem is that weak reasons are justified for Jared to hate father, which the therapy tries to convince him he should feel.
Hence, its core audience, especially mothers, will find little appeal from the lack of mental detailing, as Nicole Kidman’s thin mother role puts no input on this highly masculine story that doesn’t even know how manhood works. Jared says at one point that he sees himself as Job, a super minor detail that contributes nothing to the story, since whomever put that detail in clearly knew nothing about the book aside from the title. Dad’s not out of the clear either in being a forgettable character, as he has no response to the memories with his son growing up. At this point, I almost prefer if the story came from the fascist “Love in Action” therapy’s perspective, then learn why one leader name-calls Jared—besides just being an abusive hypocrite.
Such “art” of today only wants to feed the misconception that everything goes to waste anyways, as there is supposedly no life after earth. I’ve seen plenty of secular films that are tremendously made and still teach the proper values, including my favorite film, American Beauty, which says that Americans’ obsession with appearances teaches the wrong idea of success. Rather, joy comes through thankfulness, which starts with the removal of our pride, as in, not bashing on a prejudiced view of a religion.
If there is a specific movie you’d like to see graded, or if you are interested in guest blogging for my site, please email me at Trevor@TrevorsViewOnHollywood.com for your recommendations.
Have a great weekend, and happy watching!
Boy Erased. Focus Features. Web. <http://www.focusfeatures.com/boy-erased>.
Debruge, Peter. “Film Review: ‘Boy Erased’.” Variety. Wordpress, 1 Sept 2018. Web. <https://variety.com/2018/film/reviews/boy-erased-review-1202924201/>.
Hilton, Elena. “The Author of Boy Erased Hopes His Experience in Conversion Therapy Makes People Angry.” Esquire. Hearst Digital Media, 2 Nov 2018. Web. <https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a24525600/boy-erased-garrard-conley-interview/>.
Knight, Lewis. “True story behind Boy Erased the gay conversion therapy film starring Nicole Kidman and Troye Sivan.” Mirror. MGN Limited, 12 Sept 2018. Web. <https://www.mirror.co.uk/film/true-story-behind-boy-erased-13226666>.
Nashawaty, Chris. “Lucas Hedges plays a teen forced into conversion therapy in Boy Erased: EW review.” Digital image. Entertainment Weekly. Meredith Corporation, 30 Oct 2018. Web. <https://ew.com/movies/2018/10/30/boy-erased-review/>.