The promos of a movie showing a popular film star smoking have led to protests: “Why is smoking being foisted on impressionable young minds?”
The silly point is that we protest about the star shown as a smoker, but not about the star shown as a drugdealing gangster, an underworld don. When movies blatantly exhibit sex, rape, addictions, crime, violence and murder, and when movie stars are today’s perverse role models, isn’t it silly to be shocked when the same happens in society? Not long ago, Indians were shocked by the news of a Mumbai schoolboy murdering his own mother – just to get money to enjoy like the hero of his favorite movie. Before that, Americans were aghast at a chilling reallife perversion of the violence routine in Hollywood—schoolchildren shooting their teachers and costudents. Moviemakers may rationalize that movies just reflect social trends, but can it be denied that they often initiate, perpetuate and aggravate the vicious circle?
The sillier point is that we long to believe what movies show and refuse to believe what life shows. We imagine “…and they lived happily ever after” – the utopian ending of most movies will materialize in our lives, while reality glares at us all around no one lives ever after and no one lives happily. We dream of entering into the heaven of enjoyment shown in the movies, while the hell of suffering in the world around threatens to turn our life into a nightmare. We vicariously enjoy as the movie hero miraculously dodges every calamity and exults in his threehour immortality, while we actually shudder as the daily news of natural and human disasters exposes our helpless mortality.
The silliest point is that we remember the people who never remember us – movie stars and we forget the person who never forgets us – God. We enthrone ephemeral heroes as the kings of our heart, while we banish the eternal hero Krishna from our heart. We find time to enjoy inane entertainment, but find excuses to avoid divine enlightenment. We fantasize about becoming invincible and immortal, but we reject the invincibility and immortality of the soul as fantasy. We blindly seek pleasure in our dying bodies, while we blind ourselves to the bliss of our eternal souls. We use science to create illusory hitech paradises in movies, but we reject the eternal spiritual paradise as unscientific. We adore a halfman halfspider performing impossible antics in movies, but we deride the halfman halflion incarnation of God performing chivalrous pastimes in the scriptures.
It’s not just silly, actually. It’s tragic. If we don’t give up our silliness, we will have to cry for it. Worse, we will have to continue our silliness – and its attendant suffering—for many more lives.
The Bhagavadgita (15.1) explains that this material world is a perverted reflection of the spiritual world. The reflection contains no substance, but it indicates the existence of the substance elsewhere. All that we are looking for – love, joy, immortality, peace – are present in the spiritual world, and as beloved children of Krishna, they are all our natural spiritual rights. This world being a mere reflection, all these appear to be present here and so we long and crave for them. We just cannot accept the fact that they are not present here and so we create a false replica of the spiritual world in the movie world. And we end up deluding and depriving ourselves—needlessly.
Fortunately there is hope for us. Irrespective of how silly we become, Krishna remains our benevolent Lord unconditionally. So He gives us an easy way out His holy names. Attentive devotional chanting of the Hare Krishna mantra empowers us with divine discretion, by which we can eschew the material reflection and rejoice in the spiritual substance.