Arts, Media, and Entertainment

No Way Out

If there's one thing we don't have enough of in this world, it's college students obsessing over sex. Or so the WB network seems to believe. It recently premiered the new drama The Bedford Diaries about a group of college students taking a class on human sexuality. As you might expect, the show's take on sex is not something that most parents would want their kids to subscribe to. As New York Times TV reviewer Alessandra Stanley observed, "The portrait of college life is torn from the headlines, not alumni magazines. . . . [M]uch of the students' time is spent drinking shots and double lattes, playing video poker in their dorm rooms and, of course, hooking up. [One girl's] roommate brings back a new lover she found in what she cheerfully describes as a 'street meet.'" The pilot episode weaves together several plotlines, including a young man who starts to fall for a girl who survived suicide -- because, in the young man's words, "there is something very hot about that kind of crazy." But the episode focuses mainly on the fallout from a student's affair with a married professor. While trying to prevent the school newspaper from reporting on the affair, the girl, Sarah, discovers that she was not the only student the professor slept with. She's devastated that what she thought was love was nothing more than just one more "hookup" for the professor. The young woman, who thought that she was mature and in control of her love life, suddenly finds herself hurt and confused. "Does sex even mean anything anymore?" Sarah asks in a poignant moment near the end. But she concludes, "Opening yourself up, even if it means your heart and soul are crushed, that's what makes you stronger. That's what gives you the power to move on, put the past behind you -- to get out there and get your heart stomped on all over again." Well, there you have the real problem with The Bedford Diaries and other shows like it. It's not that they make extramarital sex look glamorous and fun, because as Alessandra Stanley pointed out in the Times, "It actually keeps making the point that sex without love is an expense of spirit in a waste of shame." The real trouble is that the show makes it look as if, no matter how bleak the situation gets, there's no way out of it. In this view, love is worth looking for, even if finding it is a hopeless and painful business. Everybody gets involved in the culture of free sex sooner or later, and if one sexual relationship doesn't work out, well, you just have to keep trying until you find the relationship that does. It's all, after all, a roll of the dice. These kids are not just being bathed in moral rot. They are being fed pure existential angst, the discredited worldview of the 1960s. What a grim picture. And what I find truly chilling: This network aims for 12- to 14-year-old girls -- 12, mere children. The good news is The Bedford Diaries did poorly in the ratings and may not be around much longer. But this tragic and frightening view of life will keep propagating itself in our nihilistic popular culture, until, that is, we Christians get busy and start teaching our kids a better, more hopeful vision of what love and sex and life are all about.


Chuck Colson


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