July 8, 1983 Awake!
Christ or E.T.?
E.T.—TheExtra-Terrestrial burst on the scene in the United States this past summer, attracting theater audiences in record numbers. In only six weeks it grossed nearly $150 million. With spin-offs in E.T. dolls, toys and other merchandise—as well as the movie’s release in other parts of the world—it is estimated the public could spend a whopping $1 billion on E.T. Why the E.T. fever?
The movie depicts an ungainly 3-foot (90-cm)-high creature from space, stranded on earth, who befriends a ten-year-old boy named Elliott. E.T.’s friendliness and benign powers, such as healing the boy’s cut finger and bringing flowers to life, win the affection of Elliott and his family. Sadly, a wasting illness appears to take the creature’s life. But when he is inexplicably “resurrected” before Elliott’s eyes audiences cheer. His touching good-bye, when E.T.’s alien friends take him home, leaves hardly a dry eye in the theater.
Interestingly, many have noted parallels in the story to that of the life of Jesus Christ. Said Professor Albert E. Millar, Jr.: “I think the thing that struck me most was the idea of the capacity to heal, and then when E.T. died and was resurrected.” We have in E.T., then, an enchanting Messiahlike figure that gives momentary emotional release to our need for a true friend with powers greater than ours. Therein lies the movie’s great appeal.
Despite its seemingly Christian message, however, the movie subtly condones youthful misbehavior. In an early scene we find youths playing “Dungeons and Dragons” in a smoke-filled room with a lighted cigarette on the table. Later on, when E.T. gets drunk sampling beer, and Elliott in telepathic sympathy feels the effects, it is all portrayed as something cute. Further, some of the language used by these children is gross profanity. This, along with the supernatural aspects of the movie, has bothered many Christians.
Whether parents or their children see this movie is, of course, a matter of personal choice. But because of the movie’s great popularity, let us not forget that it becomes an effective vehicle for sugarcoating youthful conduct that is definitely wrong.
E.T. may be a skillfully constructed and highly entertaining movie. But it provides no substitute for our True Friend, Jesus Christ, who saves us from this dying, wicked world. After all, E.T. is make-believe. Christ is reality.