If Celebrities Have Pop Culture Triggers, We Probably Do Too

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Demi Lovato has suffered through some high-profile battles with addiction. Because of that, the singer and actress knows herself well enough to recognize what she’s got to stay away from if she wants to maintain her sobriety.

Talking to Glamour magazine, Lovato recently said that she hasn’t seen a particular film because she knows it’s got images that might influence her to relapse into her old, self-destructive choices.

“Seeing cocaine in movies [is a trigger],” she said. “I’ve never watched The Wolf of Wall Street. I can’t. I don’t like to go out to clubs, because I find myself seeing remnants of drugs in the bathroom.”

I really appreciate what Demi Lovato is saying here. It’s a message that entertainers sometimes work overtime to deny: that what we encounter onscreen might have a real, and potentially damaging, influence on our lives. Lovato is humble and honest about what she’s struggled with. She knows there are certain ideas and images she’d be smart to avoid if she doesn’t want to have a relapse.

Lovato and Glamour magazine use the language of the moment to capture this idea: triggers. Scripture uses different, perhaps less trendy, words to communicate a similar idea: wisdom and discernment.

Throughout Proverbs, Solomon pleads with his readers to cling to wisdom. In Chapter 4, he writes of his father’s teaching, “When I was a son with my father, tender, the only one in the sight of my mother, he taught me and said to me, ‘Let your heart hold fast my words; keep my commandments, and live. Get wisdom; get insight'” (vv. 3-5, ESV).

Wisdom, Solomon says over and over, is the way of life. And what does rejecting it lead to? I like the way the 1984 version of the NIV puts it: “A man who strays from the path of understanding comes to rest in the company of the dead.” Yikes!

The Apostle Paul echoes that teaching in Ephesians 5:15-17: “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” Paul admonishes us to realize that the world we’re living in isn’t a safe, demilitarized zone but a combat-filled war zone in which the evils of the day—the worldviews, the ideas, the allures—will tempt us if we’re cavalier or unwise regarding their potential power and influence.

Demi Lovato has struggled with addiction, and she understands that dynamic. Kudos to her for both admitting it and giving us an example of what concrete, real-world wisdom looks like in action. If a movie includes footage of stuff that’s almost destroyed your life—stuff you still might find tempting—better to stay away from it.

Likewise, if certain music prompts you to wallow in self-pity, best to pick something else to listen to. If looking at your friends’ amazing pictures on Facebook of their vacation to Bora Bora makes you feel lousy about your life, close it up.

In short, all of us would do well to grow in wisdom, honesty and self-awareness regarding our own particular vulnerabilities, as well as identifying the pop-culture triggers that might be the catalyst for us making unwise choices.

Who wrote this?

Adam R. Holz is a senior associate editor for Plugged In. He also writes for Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse magazine and has been a Boundless contributor. In his free time (which there is sometimes precious little of) Adam enjoys playing guitar and constructing LEGO kits with his son. Adam and his wife, Jennifer, are the proud parents, in fact, of three children, one boy and two girls.

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Maria Herrera 12 months ago
Dear Plugged in,
 I spoke a friend who said to me that it doesn't matter what we watch on tv because it isn't real. He said "don't over think it. Some things are just entertainment and are not meant to be analyzed." I feel that this is resalable logic for Hollywood movie makers but inside I feel I need to think to think it through and understand it. Why do you care about what people watch? I know a few bible verses that support it and some statistics but what is your creed? Why should it matter to an individual? And how can I explain why it matters what we entertain ourselves with to this person? Here is the part where you could write a blog or some other people can comment. I don't want to argue like the walking dead comments but I want to see both perspectives so that I can "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" 1 Peter.
pluggedin 12 months ago
Great questions, Maria! We think you may like this six-part series that Paul wrote a little while back that dives into questions like yours (and more): http://bit.ly/DontButIfYouDo