Bismillah Hir Rahman Ir Raheem
Peace and blessings be upon you all
Caution: There are potential spoilers of movies and shows below the poster of that movie or show.
There are also mentions of terms perhaps not suitable for children.
This will probably be a strange post, considering how many pictures of films, video games and TV shows I share and write reviews of, but it’s because of all these sources of entertainment I’ve indulged in that has made me think. Here’s a post of me talking to myself. Feel free to interrupt wherever you feel like 😉 .
From childhood till current day, I’ve always chosen my big TV & my little laptop to watch anything that entertains me when I’m too bored or too tired to do anything else. I watched a lot of cartoons, Disney Channel soaps and movies, with Looney Toons; Hannah Montana and High School Musical being my jam.
When I turned around 10 years old, my parents thought I was too old now for cartoons so I started watching the shows my family watched, which included shows such as Desperate Housewifes and Two and a Half Men. These shows were very entertaining however I had to have the decency to look away when inappropriate scenes came up.
Apart from movies and shows, I listened to a lot of songs as I grew up till I was around 14 years old, that were popular among my friends. I’d sing along to Taylor Swift’s Love Story and You Belong With Me with all my heart as if to an actual guy. I’ve listened and sang to many more songs.
Then one day, I was jamming to Maroon 5’s Animal when a friend asked me if I paid attention to the lyrics. I looked at her confused as to why should I? It’s not like I meant what the singer was saying and I’d sing mostly because I loved the tune of the song rather than the lyrics. However, considering what she said, I decided to pay attention to the lyrics. When I did, I finally realized how much filth was in it with there being mentions of Zinna (illegal intercourse) described in a grotesque manner. Was I uttering this disgusting language every time I opened my mouth melodiously?
I decided to sift through all the other songs I was jamming through so often. One More Night by Maroon 5, Closer by Chainsmokers, multiple rap songs that mentioned drugs and hyper-sexualisation of women, almost my entire playlist exclaimed drugs, intercourse, slang and abusive language, complete and utter disrespect to parents, etc. I wouldn’t utter even a single word of this consciously to another person that I was probably doing unconsciously everyday. Hence, I deleted all those songs and decided not to listen to them anymore. However, being surrounded by friends and family who listen and sing along to such songs at casual gatherings as well as weddings, I felt like I was getting headaches from all the cringe-feelings.
As I grew up beyond 16 years old, the year I believe I properly ‘reverted’ to Islam and Allah, I decided to focus on movies and TV shows and I realized I had ‘normalised’ too much vulgarity and slang into my daily routine.
Here are a few popular examples we as Muslims should really think about *(this is not meant to disrespect any shows and movies, just some of their content)*:
Friends: Who wouldn’t sing along to the theme song of Friends? I know I would! As much as I love the humour in the show, it makes me cringe a lot and I have to change the channel (or cover my eyes and ears when watching with family) when all the numerous inappropriate scenes come up. There are a variety of complicated, messed-up relationships that are clearly not appropriate for real life.
Game of Thrones: This is perhaps the most popular show in the world because of its amazing cast, story and scenic battle scenes……………. yet I didn’t watch it.
My siblings and friends have watched it obsessively, waiting for each episode to be released so that they can watch it ASAP before the spoilers come out. They’d talk with so much excitement about it but they also mentioned that there are inappropriate scenes so that was a big no from me. They insisted that I watch it but I’m firm in my mission to keep a clean mind free from disgusting elements. In addition, I had watched the first episode on Star World and I saw the season had started off with incest. Medieval shows always tend to show vulgar practices of sorts, so after watching that episode, I firmly said No and saved myself from any other graphic images, which is a shame as considering the story they told me, it sounds like an exceptional show.
Similarly, Witcher started off with vulgarity in the very first episode so I had to stop watching it without a second thought, which is a shame as I’ve heard similar remarks to it as with Game of Thrones.
Churails is a brilliant show which literally displayed a work of art, with the acting, furniture, clothing, cinematography and scripts all done with perfection. However all the smoking, drinking (or indications of it, I’m not sure), slang language and mention of homosexuality made me very uncomfortable. I understand they want to shed light on societal issues which is great but one shouldn’t compromise on their own morals for it.
Detroit: Become Human is a very nerve-wracking, thought-provoking game in which you make the decisions about how your characters react to their situations, choosing what to say and what to do which is great as it sort of guides you as to how those responses can play out in the real world. Also, mind games are good for the brain. However, I despised playing the chapter where I had to go to a brothel as a detective for an investigation. Some games are almost perfect but they have to have that one moment of ‘child supervision’ that makes you think if you should play the game or not.
Nevertheless, it’s a great game and you can check out my review of it here.
The Last of Us Part II is the next part of an amazing game that really makes you think of the morality in the game; “What would I do?” and “What is right and what is wrong?” in a dystopian, zombie-infested world where many have forsaken morality and justice and do whatever they desire. It’s a great, must-game to play. You can check out my review of the first part and second part of this game here.
However, there are a few inappropriate scenes (more muting the TV and looking away), homosexuality and questions of significance of gender, which is a very sensitive topic and not one I would’ve preferred to enter the gaming world, but then, that’s just my opinion.
Arrival is one of my favorite movies as to how beautiful the story brought a new, subtle twist to conventional alien movies, whose review you can check out here.
I shared my review of the movie in a group consisting of writers who are Muslimahs. I wrote about how the movie delved into the beauty of language. However the comments I received were unexpected as they were all about how movies put the idea of aliens coming that people will actually believe, such movies will encourage people to welcome Dajjal when he arrives, etc.
Personally, I do not believe in some one-eyed devil coming and taking over the world but I did attend a talk about the Day of Judgement and I familiarise myself with signs of Dajjal and arrival of Dajjal so that incase he shows up, I can keep an eye out (no pun intended). Furthermore, I don’t watch such movies to believe that aliens exist. These are fictional movies and will stay that way; only Allah knows if there are other beings out there or not and we’ll never know. Nevertheless, what my fellow sisters told me and guided me did make me wonder how much of ourselves we sacrifice to get some entertainment.
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All these sources of entertainment are although well-designed and impactful, but some of the impact is often negative as it is unfiltered.
The obscene, vulgar and disrespectful language that may not be common in daily converse is bursting out in such sources of entertainment. All the world’s curses and slangs are bursting out through them. Don’t you think that after listening to them again and again, such words will not escape your lips? Or your little toddler’s lips?
Hypersexualisation and vulgarity in the entertainment industry has risen sharply. Where previously, they merely gave a hint or indication of it, nowadays it is literal porn right in front of you, and such content isn’t just on the dark web anymore, it has come into the television in the living room where your family sits. In my country Pakistan, actresses who dressed and acted modestly in drama serials are now dancing to ‘item songs’ in vulgar attire among crowds of men, cheering and hooting. Intercourse, nudity, references to both; how are these not considered equivalent to porn? My parents told me in their time, mentioning terms such as gay/homosexuality was considered a crime never to be spoken; nowadays friends joke with each other that they are gay for not possessing any feelings.
Furthermore, what does this open access to Fawahishah (vulgarity) mean? It means you’ve created an audience of million of people of every age thinking about something intimate, as an observer or participant. Children will be wondering what it means and explore it themselves or they may be thinking it to be normal and be victims of sexual assault. Adults, such as men, who do not control their nafs will be excessively curious about this and explore more online content like this and when that’s not enough, they’ll want to practice it on any piece of flesh they find on the streets. Why would people even punish such monsters when they breed such monsters with the content on their screens? Being a woman walking down the street is dangerous enough as it is, there is no need for it to be normalised! I understand now why our Prime Ministers and Ministers of a few other countries are banning sites such as TikTok for sharing such content, but I feel that does not kill the urge of its viewers, just the source to satiate it.
I’ve come across Muslims who do not have a TV in their house. Before, I’d think of them as crazy because how would they be able to know what’s going on the world? How did they entertain themselves? Didn’t they get bored so often? But now that I think of it, I completely understand it now. The entertainment industry that plays with our nafs and the media that maligns the truth and manipulates the masses, I wonder how comfortable life might be when you firmly choose what you need.
The Perks Of Entertainment:
We will sacrifice our tongues, our hearing, our sight, our minds, our hearts and our souls for this industry, but that is only if we are not careful and we choose to what the content we know to be dangerous. On the other hand, there are many many more sources that do not tamper with our morals and are often enjoyable and a learning experience. Here are a couple of examples (even the examples above apply to this as I’ve explained, if one can exclude the negatives in them):
Fallout is an adorable online racing PS4 game where you play as a cute avatar above amongst other players and you have to pass through all the obstacles until you reach the finish line. With every race, more players are eliminated until the winner is finally crowned. It’s very similar to Japan’s Takeshi’s Castle and is a game for all ages.
Joker needs no introduction. As it tells the story of the origin of the comical villain, it highlights crucial aspects of society as to when poverty-stricken citizens are not given their due rights, not given respect, not given jobs and not given the help they need, we as a society create our own villains. You can check out my review of Joker here.
Cheekh is an intense Pakistani drama serial that shakes one’s faith to the core. This story is about a woman to seeks justice for her friend who was killed and how she has to stand up against her family for it as the culprit turns out to be her brother-in-law. The pace of this serial is great and it is so intense in its story and theme that it’s heartbreaking. You can understand what I mean by my in-depth analysis of this serial here.
An Kahi is an old Pakistani classic, full of humour with its fun yet mind-provoking jokes as well as the essence of commitment and being there for someone. It is truly a complete package for the whole family to watch.
Diriliş: Ertuğrul is a great Turkish show to watch. It had me hooked on from the very start as the complexity and unpredictability of the plot of the show starts from the very beginning and continues to be even more complex and more unpredictable from then on.
It includes almost all the events that would normally take place in any empire; justice, ruling, loyalty, betrayal, traitors, quests, planning, pride in one’s beliefs and traditions, family and sibling rivalry, brotherhood, family, sacrifice, martyrdom, etc. But this show has even more as it shows what it truly means to be a Muslim and what true Jihad looks like which makes me very humble and a proud Muslim, while watching it.
Chernobyl is based on the actual incident that took place in 1986 when a nuclear power plant exploded and spread excruciating high levels of chemical radiation all over Ukraine and beyond. This series tells us all about how the incident happened, how the first responders and later the scientists and army tried to figure out the cause of this incident, all the people nearby whose lives were changed after this and most importantly, how it could all have been avoided if the people in power told the truth and claimed responsibility for their actions.
Manifest is a thought-provoking, intriguing series about a family whose lives are changed on their flight back to USA from Jamaica where half of the family returns on the different flight only to realize that they landed 5 and a half years later and were considered missing, presumed dead the whole time.
It has two seasons so far and is full of suspense and twists and turns as it shows how this mysterious incident has effected their lives individually and as a family, and how they try to unravel this mystery only to realize how huge it is. It has a couple of inappropriate scenes but apart from that, it’s an amazing series.
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My Response Towards Entertainment:
So after having thought a lot about this, how did this change me? Well, I haven’t thrown my TV out of my house. My family wouldn’t think of it and neither would I. There are negatives to it but there are many positives hence now I have created a dense filter which I use to watch only the content that is good for my eyes, ears, mind, heart and soul.
Any songs that have filth, I immediately change the song or zone out. As for my playlist, I’ve updated it to have nasheeds, naats and hamds along with a couple of Coke Studio songs that are clean as well as a selected few Western songs that are empowering yet vulnerable such as Sia’s Unstoppable and Blackbird by Alter Bridge. Quite a strangle playlist, I know. It’s one my friends would judge me for
Any movies or TV shows that I decide to watch, I first ask anyone around me how it is and if there’s any inappropriate content. Then I check the movie rating and parents guide at IMDB to be sure. At IMDB, they categorise the sensitive scenes into categories such as Sex and Nudity, Violence and Gore, Profanity, Alcohol Drugs & Smoking, and Frightening and Intense Scenes. Beside each category is the number of those scenes present in the sow or movie. Furthermore, when you click the category, you can read the description of the scene to see if you’re fine with it or not. The first half of the descriptions are spoiler-free and below that is a drop-down option which contains spoilers.
In addition if you’re watching Netflix on TV, it tells you the age limit as well as the categories above that apply to the movie or show on the top left corner of the screen. I check that and if it’s more than 16+ age and the categories are anything I don’t like, I immediately close it. I’ve stopped watching a lot of movies and shows due to this, although I would’ve wanted to: Game of Thrones, Witcher, The Alienist, Black Mirror, Thirteen Reasons Why Season 2, Deadpool, etc. However, the priority for me for this is to wait for the movie or show to come on TV as the people behind it already make it family friendly to watch.
This is solely based upon my comfort and my attempt to do what is right so it’s up to you whether you agree with me or not. For those of you who agree with me can do what I do if that helps, but I hope by the end of this post, we choose what is morally and ethically right rather than what our comfort demands. I’ll end this post with an ayat from The Holy Quran.
” Those who avoid great sins and al-Fawahish (illegal sexual intercourse) except the small faults, – verily, your Lord is of Vast Forgiveness. He knows you well when He created you from the earth (Adam), and when you were fetuses in your mothers’ wombs. So ascribe not purity to yourselves. He knows best him who fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him [i.e. those who are Al-Muttaqun (the pious)]. “Surah An-Najm (53:32)
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