|image by Gordon Correll|
I want to get this out of the way. This is not a statement of judgment against the man, but in our celebrity culture, we tend to rush role model status on anyone in the spotlight who does something we like. Pratt would be the first to tell you (as we will see below) that he is imperfect.
I have been a fan of Pratt's since his days as Andy on Parks and Recreation. He was a ball of comedic energy. I never would have pegged him to be an action star nor a fine dramatic actor. But he has encounter great success and I am very happy for him.
Because of this success, Pratt won the MTV "Generation Award" at the MTV Movie Awards recently. Pratt was on hand to receive the award and he gave a speech.
I have a friend of mine who calls MTV a cesspool. It is not hard to see why. Someone had once said that MTV decided a long time ago to stop being a music channel and became a lifestyle channel. And the lifestyle they promote is, for the most part, morally toxic. It is even more pernicious to see how kids are ushered from Nickelodeon (owned by the same company) into MTV and all of its corruption.
It could be argued that Pratt should have rejected the award because of this. Instead, he went and gave an acceptance speech. Part of it included the following:
I have few observations about his speech:
1. Knowing Your Audience Pratt is speaking to an audience who would put up walls if there immediately called out on their immoral lifestyles. Pratt was not there to do finger-wagging. Instead, he surmised that the best way to reach them was by open invitation to the good he has received by his faith.
2. Using Humor. A third of his rules were jokes. But instead of diluting the strength of the message, it served to put is audience more at ease. This is especially true with the gross language of rule seven. Pratt demonstrates that he is the same silly person we expect him to be. His faith is an augmentation, not a contradiction of his character.
3. Prominence of the Soul. Pratt mentions the soul three times in his speech. He makes clear that the soul is real and what is good for the soul (prayer and acts of charity). This is an important and fundamental message. In this world, there is a movement to reduce the person to the body and focus on bodily pleasures. If we tell young people this, they will begin to pursue their happiness only in material things and when they find that these pleasures don't satisfy, they will despair. I believe this is the main cause of suicide increase in our country. Pratt is making clear that we are more than the body, we are bodies and souls. And our soul will find its happiness not in material things, but in love and spirituality.
4. Broken, but Redeemed. I love that he rejects that we are perfect the way we are. This message of perfection has been something I've noticed creeping into movies and TV shows. We are broken in so many ways. So many young people feel broken and it does them no good to tell them that they are not broken. If they feel awful and we tell them that the state they are in is perfect, then awfulness becomes their primary reality. But God's grace is stronger than our brokenness. He is the way out. Pratt invites them to accept that gift, paid for by His Blood.
Based on a brief survey of social media, there has been a generally positive reception to this message.
Pratt used his moment in the spotlight to invite people in to a relationship with God.
And that is a good thing.