Lewdness is not “boldness”
“This movie is filled with bold scenes.” Sentences like these are common in movie reviews. It is now standard to use “boldness” as a rationalization of lewdness, of blatant obscenity and strident sexuality.
The Bhagavad-gita (18.32) indicates that people captivated by ignorance get things backward: they mistake the virtuous to be vicious and the vicious to be virtuous. As if that were not bad enough, they also strive to intellectually rationalize their miscalculations. Their rationalizations ruin them far more than their miscalculations.
Let’s see how “boldness” is ruining society today.
A cursory look at the daily news shows the heavy social costs of rationalizing obscenity: images of explicit sexuality are often seen next to reports of horrible sexual violence. One doesn’t have to be a Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the first is a major cause of the second.
The Gita (03.41) states that the road to self-mastery begins with regulation of sensual expressions of lust. This regulation implies strictures against public depictions of overt sexuality. Such strictures are not hangovers of an outdated puritanical culture; they are essential safety nets to prevent human culture from degenerating to a bestial level.
Just as bacterial culture refers to an environment that facilitates the growth of bacteria, human culture refers to an environment that facilitates the growth of the humane side of human beings. Obscenity in the public media sabotages this basic purpose of human culture. How? By systematically provoking the immoral carnal drives among humans, thereby bringing out their bestial side and burying their humane side.
Gita wisdom offers us devotional enrichment that enables us to first regulate and then eliminate immoral carnal desires. Seeking, savoring and sharing that spiritual enrichment in today’s materialistic culture is real boldness.
“That understanding which considers irreligion to be religion and religion to be irreligion, under the spell of illusion and darkness, and strives always in the wrong direction, O Partha, is in the mode of ignorance.”