I’ve seen many horror films in my time. I find they give me opportunity to reflect on both the good and evil aspects of our being, as well as the good and evil that is contained in the mind of those who pen such screenplays.
However, one film seems to be standing out for me as a true horror film, and that is the Rocky Horror Picture Show. For many people, it would seem just a “campy romp”, a “bit of outrageous fun”. Others would say that it is not particularly horrific, but that it acts as an expression of the changing times.
I would say that it is a true horror film given that it shows the reality and destiny of a humanity unchecked by morality and respect for others and oneself.
Essentially, the film depicts two socially conservative fiancés who fall under the spell of a sexually-promiscuous transvestite whose concern is to convince everyone to give themselves over to “absolute pleasure” while building a human being for his own gratification. Even the voice of reason is overcome despite a fight not to live life “for the thrills”. In this vision, the “insects called the human race” find themselves “lost in time, lost in space and meaning” before the light is finally switched off leaving only darkness.
In my prayer life at the moment, I have been finding myself confronted with the whole issue of means and ends. I might not find myself in complete agreement with the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, but I do agree with his statement that no human being is a means to an end, that we are all ends in ourselves. God is the reason for our existence, giving us life, time, space and meaning. If all we are is to reproduce, then what actually is the point? If we are to follow Frank N. Furter’s idea of giving ourselves up to absolute pleasure, then what happens if we find we have given ourselves up to nothing?
What is “absolute pleasure” anyway?
Clearly, this is a pleasure that everyone must agree is a pleasure. It has to be a pleasure in every frame of reference. For Frank N. Furter, giving oneself over to “sins of the flesh” is the ideal. Yet, if one recognises sins of the flesh to be sins for someone else, then the pleasure cannot be absolute for sin is a transgression of a moral law and to recognise a sin is to recognise the existence of a moral law. Furter’s absolute pleasure is based solely on the idea that his will is absolute in the first place. He is a solipsist who even believes at his comeuppance that he will go home to a better place.
Furter’s idea is for everyone to shrug off the repressive morals which prevent us from having true pleasure, which hold us back from having thrills and ecstasies which moral authorities disapprove of. Here lies the unanswered question: why should the greatest thrills and ecstasies be repressed in the first place? What reason might the Church have for preventing people’s happiness? Cynics would say that it seeks to gain control over people. Yet this does not answer the question, why? There may indeed have been power-hungry ecclesiarchs over the years, but what power did St Francis of Assisi seek? What of St Therese of Lisieux?
Human beings seek to be free, truly free, but free from what? Free from the control of others? Free to exercise their wills without constraint? This all depends on what you mean by “control”. If one objects to a monarch who has some right to say “do this, do that” that will be all well and good, but this must also mean rejecting becoming a monarch also. One cannot object to the idea of a king and be glad at becoming king. We have laws in society that in theory enable us all to flourish together without one oppressing another. Yet there always seems to be in any system of government a ruling class which gets to call all the shots and an underclass which has to do all the shooting.
The Occultist Aleister Crowley exhorted his followers to live by the one law “do what thou wilt”. Furter is the same. One can readily see the Hell that this leads to, as the stronger will devours the weaker and yet, as that will weakens in time, it finds itself devoured by competing wills. This is Furter’s ultimate fate, leaving behind scorched earth and beings regretting their brush with depravity.
God’s laws are simple to state: recognise God for Who He is and recognise that each human being is an end in themselves. Such recognition is love itself, for when we recognise God for Who He is, then we cannot but fall down in worship and adoration. Of course, we spend our lives doing this and, at times, it seems fruitless, but if we really are bowing down to the Creator, then we can expect our being to find perfection in Him and this perfection in itself will bring absolute pleasure. Likewise, to recognise that each one of us has been willed to exist, that God has wanted to create us from realms beyond Time, and Space, and Comprehension, then to recognise that will be to have nothing but the greatest love and concern for the welfare of others, a sympathy and compassion for their weakness and fallenness, and an absolute loathing of all things that would seek to take away that very humanity from them.
In many ways, Frank N Furter represents the Devil Incarnate, seeking only to break down all obstacles to his will and to corrupt that which seeks to conform to morality, decency and charity. We need to pray for the perception to see this corrupting influence around us, and the strength to oppose it even to our cost. One does not have to be a Christian to be moral, indeed there are some truly moral atheists out there, but the existence of objective morals and duties does provide evidence for the existence, not only of a god, but of God Who cares enough to instil them with an appreciation of the existence of others as equivalent and worthy beings. Human beings are worth dying for, God has shown that. We need to have the same resolve to fight for morality. We may stumble and fall, but this can never prevent God as seeing us more than insects lost in Time, Space, and Meaning.