Labeling a popular sitcom as “filth” is hardly news, unless the critique comes from one of its own stars.
Angus T. Jones plays the role of “Jake Harper” in the CBS program, “Two and a Half Men.” The 19-year-old actor created a firestorm this past Monday when he acknowledged that as a new Christian he’s grown disgusted with his participation in the program.
“I’m on ‘Two and a Half Men’ and I don’t want to be on it,” he told the Forerunner Chronicles, a media outlet which is part of an Alabama-based Church. “Please stop watching it and filling your head with filth. People say it’s just entertainment. Do some research on the effects of television and your brain, and I promise you you’ll have a decision to make when it comes to television, especially with what you watch.”
“If I am doing any harm, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to be contributing to the enemy’s plan … You cannot be a true God-fearing person and be on a television show like that. I know I can’t,” he continued. “I’m not OK with what I’m learning, what the Bible says and being on that television show.”
The Hollywood actor earns a reported $350,000 per episode. I’ve never seen the show, but the program is well known for its crude and offensive themes.
Setting aside, if only for a moment, the shock of a star criticizing his own show, the casual observer might wonder why, if Jones is so conflicted, he doesn’t simply walk away from the job. After all, it’s a free country and nobody can force you to do a job you don’t want to do.
Yet, curiously, a few weeks earlier, Mr. Jones appeared to suggest that his faith and his work are on separate planes and besides, being “forced” to act in a morally depraved show could actually be a part of the Lord’s larger plan.
“My television show has nothing to do with God and doesn’t want anything to do with God,” he told the Seventh-Day Adventist Media Center. “So it is a strange position I am put in. I am under contract for another year so it is not too much of a decision on my part. I know God has me there for a reason for another year.”
There’s no question the Lord can use His people in any setting, however compromised. In fact, we know the Lord even uses non-Christians to accomplish His purpose.
But in this situation, does Mr. Jones have a moral obligation to walk away from his contract – or does breaking his contract constitute, in and of itself, a violation of a moral obligation?
Late yesterday, Angus Jones issued a statement in which he expressed gratitude for his fellow cast members and said he had the “highest regard and respect for all of the wonderful people” associated with the show. He said he regretted if his comments reflected a spirit of “indifference” or “disrespect” of his colleagues.
Is Mr. Jones being pressured to apologize? I think we need to remember that in this instance, we’re talking about an individual who is still in his teens. It should be noted that he didn’t recant his overall assessment of the show.
Popular entertainment continues to shape and drive culture, and perhaps more so than ever before. You and I may never watch “Two and a Half Men” – but millions of other people do. We don’t necessarily need to watch something to know it’s problematic, but as moms and dads, it’s our job to be aware of what’s swirling about our children. If you’re a parent trying to navigate this complicated landscape, I’d encourage you to spend some time on our award-winning Plugged In website. Personally, I don’t think there’s a better site on the web for evaluating entertainment choices through a Christian point-of-view.