Exodus 20:7. This is a direct command, one of the “top ten”, but it gets confusing living it out in daily life. What exactly is “vain” and what is “taking” and how does that all fit together? It gets more muddied, though, when we talk about portraying characters on in a video. How might this command be applicable to a dramatic production?
First and foremost, it is confirmed by other scripture, Exodus 20:16, that portraying false witness is not ok. In this way, when we say we have true stories I need to make a distinction: we have both amazing true stories to tell, and we have scaffolding on which those stories are presented. If we showed an actual 2-hour long group therapy session, you would be bored out of your mind because you wouldn’t feel what the participants feel. So how do you know the difference between true stories and scaffolding? Easy: the seemingly crazy, unlikely parts are true stories, and the normal everyday stuff is the scaffolding. In a number of places, the exact wording or the brevity of the character has been altered so that what is happening is clear to the audience. In other places the scaffolding actually gets acted out in real life. One of my favorites is Kevin’s line “Now you’re straight, go mate and procreate!” which was an amazing line written by my editor. What’s true is 1) he uses defensive humor to avoid difficult concepts and conflict in friendships, 2) He construes gayness “conversion” from gayness to straightness as having non-relationship-love qualities, and 3) He believes that the Church promotes instant conversion of fixing his sexual desires for other men. A month after we shot the scene, a man in our support group (who had not seen the video) at one point was commenting on the problems he’d had with what his church taught him about same-sex attractions. He said their response had been that once he accepted Christ, “now your’e cured, go be fruitful and multiply.” Pretty much the same line, it still got a laugh from the group, even though it didn’t rhyme as well. It’s been both awesome and heart breaking at times to see other scenes, even those which have been scripted but not produced lived out in the lives of men I know. That’s what happens when the core of the plot is true stories and the characters are matched on real men with authentic stories: life seems to imitate art, but in reality, we’re just making art which is true.
when it comes to what God has said, I take extra care to only actually quote Him as saying things He has actually said, word-for-word. When Josh gives his testimony of what God spoke to him in the Act 3 final scene, those words are word for word what God actually spoke to me. Oh, wait, haven’t seen act 3? Because we haven’t made it yet, check out the last scene, now available through VoD..
Matthew 5:33-37. People don’t take oaths much anymore. Why? I dunno. I like what C.S. Lewis has to say about it in The Screwtape Letters. I don’t feel particularly comfortable with asking talent to take oaths. Being on video doesn’t give us carte blanche license to sin as the characters sin. Many things we can fake. Things which involve speaking we can’t fake; these people are actually saying these things. Did you know Kevin kissing Kendrick didn’t actually happen? Lloyd made that noise by kissing the back of his hand during post-production.
As an irreverent exclamation:
There are those who argue that using “God” in an irreverent exclamation does not technically violate his command to not take his name in vain, especially if the character would have done so. I’ve to to disagree, one of the definitions for “vain” is “for show”, and we are definitely making a video series “for show”. Even though it may be slightly inauthentic to have some characters not making “omg’s” in the series, this is one of the boundaries I have placed. You might not like all of my boundaries.