(Photo: Reuters / Mario Anzuoni)
Reese Witherspoon raised some eyebrows Sunday night with her comments at the MTV Movie Awards.
“I get it, girls, that it’s cool to be a bad girl,” said the 35-year-old actress as she accepted the MTV Generation Award at the show in Los Angeles. “But it is possible to make it in Hollywood without doing a reality show. When I came up in this business, if you made a sex tape, you were embarrassed and you hid it under your bed.”
“So, for all the girls out there, it’s totally possible to be a good girl,” Witherspoon went on to say. “I’m going to try to make it cool.”
Detractors, no doubt, will begin digging through Witherspoon’s past to find evidence of hypocrisy and regardless of what they find, if you are a Christian, it’s hard not to consider her remarks refreshing.
“Her remarks are not only refreshing, but I believe they reveal significant movement in contemporary American society,” said Holly Wilson, a journalist who writes for several publications about the national Christian music and entertainment scene.
“People mocked the May 21st doomsday prediction, but the next day in Joplin, the world really did end for many residents under the force of winds that exceeded 200 miles per hour. Killer tornadoes in Minnesota, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas quickly followed. These tragedies make people re-evaluate what is important.”
She continued, “Consider the surprising opening box office success of 'Soul Surfer' and 'Jumping the Broom,' two films with strong faith-based messages. Furthermore, the near-death story of a Nebraska pastor’s young son is a New York Times nonfiction best-seller. This commercial evidence reflects the hunger and uncertainties of our times.”
Drew Dixon, who serves as the pastor to families of New Covenant Baptist Church in Albertville, Ala., in addition to writing for ChristAndPopCulture.com, pointed out that not all of Witherspoon’s comments at the award show should be applauded, referencing a racy remark she made, but in his mind, that shouldn’t stop Christians from praising the good things she did say about pursing goals the right way.
“Despite the fact that she said some things I wouldn’t agree with at the beginning of her comments – things I thought were inappropriate – her closing remarks were spot on,” Dixon said. “And I would encourage women to do those things in a way that is virtuous and honorable.”
Dixon sees Witherspoon’s praiseworthy comments as counter-cultural and he says they tapped into something he’s been thinking about lately since he and his wife are expecting a daughter next month.
“I’ve been reading about the princess culture – the idea of treating little girls as princesses,” Dixon said. “Our culture wants to teach girls at a very young age to identify with clothing and makeup and I think some of these young girls don’t even realize that that’s what they are doing. But that’s what they are doing – they are finding their identity in the way they look."
“I think that’s dangerous because we’re called as Christians to find our identity in Christ, ultimately,” Dixon added. “We’re created in the image of God and each of us has inherent worth that’s more than just the physical. The physical in this world is passing away.”
Rather than focusing on the physical, Dixon says we need to encourage our daughters to consider the strength of their character and the way they can love, serve and minister others in Jesus’ name.
The counter argument is, as girls mature into women, and as some of those women want to marry, they have to deal with the fact that men are drawn to a woman’s physical appearance. Doesn’t that make it unfair to emphasize character over appearance? In answering that question, Dixon makes it clear that Christian men have just as much responsibility to honor virtue as women do.
“It’s good for me to be drawn to the beauty of my wife,” Dixon said. “Even her physical beauty and I think my wife is beautiful in so many ways. But I think men, because women are living in a culture that continually tells them and encourages them to find their identity in the way they look, we need to be champions of pointing out virtuous women.”
“We’ve got to go out of our way to honor women who are doing wonderful things,” Dixon added. “It starts in our churches. We’ve got to make the culture in our churches honor women in such a way that we’re recognizing them for virtue and for finding their identity in the way God made them.”
Ultimately, Dixon says, the Gospel ought to shape our thoughts about this and every other topic.
“Salvation is by grace through faith and none of us would have anything praiseworthy to show for ourselves were it not for the fact that God created us, but not only that, but that He offered us redemption through His Son,” Dixon said.