Movies · On Netflix

Why I’m Glad I Watched Spotlight

My husband Luke was in a journalism class last semester, and he had a homework assignment to watch one of two journalist-themed movies, one of which was the 2016 Oscar winner Spotlight. Because he had already made his Catholicism known to the rest of the class, he thought he ought to choose that movie for evangelization’s sake. Because it’s a movie about the exposition of the priest abuse scandal.

This is a movie, much like fellow 2016 Oscar winner The Big Short, that has been on Netflix for some time but that I had very little desire to watch. Because, even without knowing a ton of details about the priestly scandal (I was still a preteen when it was exposed…), I knew it was very unpleasant business that I would just rather not think about.

It wasn’t pleasant…

There’s nothing fun about this movie’s premise. Not a single thing. Despite the movie’s artistic excellence and the compelling manner in which the events are strung together, it was not fun to watch. The fact that it’s based on a true story of something terrible that happened in our Church makes it an especially hard watch for a Catholic.

The movie takes us into a group of journalists’ investigation into the covered-up mess. So they speak to several victims, who outline in fairly grisly detail how they were abused by priests as children. Not exactly the makings of a carefree movie night.

But surprisingly balanced…

We expected it to be pretty brutal to the Church. But honestly, though it did pretty clearly show the corruption of some individual clergy members, it didn’t really bash the Church as an institution. Rather, we saw multiple characters struggle and question what this behavior and cover-up meant for members of the Catholic Church and Christians in general.

As far as content

Expect to hear some fairly graphic descriptions of sexual abuse. There was some profanity as well, but certainly the abuse descriptions are the over-riding content issue. As terrible as the descriptions are, though, I don’t think they are excessive. They are making a rather important point.

Despite the movie’s unpleasant nature…

I think it’s important that Catholics not be afraid to watch it. That was basically the reason Luke chose to watch it in the first place. If his classmates thought him afraid to watch it and address the issues it presents, then what kind of Catholic would they think him? A cowardly one. These things really happened, and we can’t bury our heads in the sand and wish them away.

Do we have to watch a movie about it, in order to be well-informed? Of course not. But we certainly can’t be afraid to, as I admit that I kind of was.

Instead, we can take this movie, which could have used its premise to brutally bash the Church, and be reassured that all of Hollywood is not specifically out to get us.


4 thoughts on “Why I’m Glad I Watched Spotlight

  1. “I think it’s important that Catholics not be afraid to watch it.”
    This meant a lot to be! I’d typically avoid watching this like the plague. So refreshing to read that maybe there are a few in Hollywood who have ability to reason!

  2. I watched this when it first was released. I agree, it was hard to watch, but it was important to know the story to really understand the heartbreak people involved had to deal with. If we always shy away from tough problems, we will never be able to right them.

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