Connecting with Culture
It’s been said that culture is ‘what we make of the world’, but what does that look like as Christians? How can we begin conversations about what’s goin...
Warning: Spoilers for Stranger Things 4, Volume 1.
Let me put it like this: if you didn’t enjoy Nightmare on Elm Street, you’re going to find the first episode of Stranger Things 4 a little challenging.
I am a shrinking violet when it comes to horror. So as a very creative cross-dimensional murder began to unfold, I had to grab the nearest cushion and watch through screwed-up eyelids. I won’t say too much, but there was levitating… and snapping. So why did I go back to it the following weekend and binge the whole nine-hour shebang?
Partly because the Duffer Brothers’ sci-fi storylines simply force you to keep watching. But also because there’s something deeper at their core. Something wiser. The violence in Stranger Things 4 is far from gratuitous. Instead, it symbolises the grim impact of real-life mental trauma.
Vecna, this season’s villain-from-another-dimension, picks victims by sniffing out their emotional burdens. The pain of an eating disorder; the guilt of a car crash; the horror of seeing a loved one killed. Then he feeds them lurid visions of their worst memories, driving them to near-madness – before breaking in to end it all.
It makes for popcorn-guzzling TV. But it also allegorises the reality of trauma: the way it can stalk you through life and paralyse you without warning.
Thankfully, it doesn’t end there. In a scene that’s lit up the internet and put Kate Bush back in the charts, protagonist Max is saved from Vecna’s trance by her friends, playing her favourite song and calling her back to herself. She’s been pushing them away, guarding her pain – but in her moment of ultimate weakness she hears them and finds redemption.
In these scenes Stranger Things points to a powerful way we can model godly character: by showing true friendship. Working to help those who need us, even when it costs. Staying with them, even when they’re too broken to respond.
That is the way of our saviour. Just as the Stranger Things gang brave the upside down to save their friends, he descended into hell to pull us from sin’s claws. ‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ It may not mean physical danger, but how can we pursue that kind of selfless friendship for those around us today?
Who needs time we’re reticent to give? Who needs effort we’re slow to find? Who needs to meet Jesus through the kind of persevering friendship Stranger Things dramatizes so well?
Marketing & Editorial Lead, LICC
Image Source: Twitter/@Stranger_Things