Summary: Talking about MTV's the Real World and True Life shows, as well as the act of directing and producing as a way of getting at the truth of who the Holy Spirit is.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Three in One who sent the Holy Spirit that we might know His truth.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
MTV gave us our first ever "reality show", a thing called "The Real World" that came out in 1992. The first "Real World" cast sought to show us what happens when you put seven strangers in a house together, and quote, "people stop being polite, and start being real". And the world sat there, glued to their television screens --- stopping their own real worlds watching a real world on television, a real world that probably had little to do with their own lives, but for some reason, perhaps because of all of the hype, or because of the caustic nature of the relationships, or maybe just because of the camera angles - seemed like it was real.
Today, thirteen years into the future, despite declining viewership, MTV has jettisoned music videos in favor of reality television - a genre that the network at least popularized, if not created. And the great granddaughter of The Real World still gives us glimpses into the lives of others, the reality series, "True Life". Unlike the Real World, True Life doesn't purposefully put strangers into a crucible so that their "true selves" will pop out. Instead, they take advantage of the crucibles that people are already dealing with in their own lives. Every True Life episode tells you immediately what the person is dealing with: True Life: I'm in a forbidden relationship; True Life: I have pushy parents; True Life: I'm a gay athlete; True Life: I have epilepsy; True Life: I'm breaking up with my religion.
"True Life" is more investigative interviews than it is "reality show", but it does still engage us in the same out-of-body-reality that "The Real World" did. We still sit there and watch, wondering if THAT is what "True Life" is for someone else, and how that corresponds with the reality of our own lives. It makes us ask bigger questions - questions like "what is real about life?" "is there one consistent reality, or do each of us live totally independent yet interconnected realities?" "Are you the same as me?" And through interview questions and camera work and editing, "True Life" seeks to guide us into those answers.
This isn't entirely unlike what Jesus says that the Holy Spirit does for us. As He prepares His disciples for His departure through death on the Cross, He tells them that the Holy Spirit will guide them into all truth. That the Holy Spirit will show them reality.
Of course to us, when we think of the Holy Spirit, reality may be one of the last things that we think of. The Holy Spirit seems to us to be the most supernatural, the most "unreal" of the persons of the Trinity. Even the effects that we seem to look for from Him seem to be outside of the norm - speaking in tongues, great indoor winds, fire above our heads. It all seems like something that if we were watching this on TV, those things would have to be supplied by CGI, not simply captured with a camera.
And so because of that, because the Holy Spirit seems so unreal, we relegate Him to the world of the fanciful, the extraordinary, and ...quite frankly....the ignorable. Of course, all of this comes with some danger, especially as we hear Jesus in the Gospel according to Luke and Matthew talk about this thing called "blasphemy against the Holy Spirit". It appears to be a sin to ignore the Holy Spirit. In fact, the theologian Regin Prenter goes as far as to say that when one is reading Scripture, if you are reading it without the Holy Spirit, then all you get is law. It is the Holy Spirit that brings the Gospel to Your heart.
So why do we ignore Him? Possibly for the same reason that we tend to ignore the producer, the cameraman, and the editor that sit behind the "reality" of the television shows that we watch. Like all of these, the Holy Spirit stands just behind the screen of what is being revealed to us, and points us toward a truth.
Recently I watched the "Noah" movie, directed by Darren Aronofsky. Before Noah, I had seen other Aronofsky films - films like Requiem for a Dream, and Pi, and Black Swan. If you watch these films, you know what Aronofsky "looks like" on film. He uses certain camera angles and certain effects in a way that are all his way of showing the truth of his story. And so because of that, while watching Noah, I wasn't looking for the Bible as much as I was looking for Aronofsky - and I "found Aronofsky" in an interlude between two of the scenes. That said, I don't know really if I could tell you what Darren Aronofsky looks like as a human being, but I can tell you what he looks like as a director. I can tell you what he looks like in a scene.