Fireproof: Part 5

Time for Caleb to tackle his porn addiction!

Now, as I’ve said in the previous parts, porn addiction is not cool, and certainly not conducive to Caleb trying to fix his frakked-up marriage.  But his marriage is frakked up primarily because he is a selfish, abusive asshole who hates women, not because he looks at internet porn.  The movie has (against it’s own intentions, I think) shown this to be true.  The littlest thing sets Caleb off, and he screams in Catherine’s face, overpowers her, and then heads out into the backyard to beat up a trashcan.

I’m sure this is the line the movie wants us to see—Caleb hits a trashcan, not his wife, so it’s not really abuse!  I honestly would have though that in this day and age, there wouldn’t be a need to explain to people that there are such things as verbal and emotional abuse, but I guess not.


Caleb is once again sitting at his (rather outdated) computer, looking at pictures of the boat he covets.  Up comes the porn pop-up ad, but it’s sedate enough for a Christian movie: just the girl’s face, with the words “Wanna See?” below.  Caleb would have to click to see more.

Caleb is totally ready to click to see more, but he suddenly remembers that he is now a RTC, and as such, is not allowed to jack off to porn ever again.

He wanders around the living room for almost a full minute, and because Kirk Cameron’s acting is not sufficient to show us what he is feeling, he has to tell us.

Caleb:  Why is this so hard?”

(Heh, don’t mind my dirty mind over here.)

Actually, watching this, I am reminded of a much, much better movie (and one of my favorites) that I just saw last week: Rio Bravo, in which Dean Martin’s character is going through alcohol withdrawal.  To demonstrate that the addiction is a matter of the mind as well as the body, Martin has a habit, which we notice as the story progresses: every time he thinks about how much he wants a drink, he quickly rubs his mouth.  It’s simple, effective, and shows us Martin’s inner turmoil, instead of just telling us he feels bad.

Finally, Caleb goes to the most holy of books: not the Bible, mind you, but his dad’s handwritten Love Dare.  Miraculously, it is Day 23, and Day 23 is just the passage he needs!

Watch out for parasites.  A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life out of your marriage.  They’re usually in the form of addictions like gambling, drugs, or pornography.

Question: Did John know (or suspect) that Caleb was a porn addict when he wrote this book?

Othe Question:  So, which parasite(s) infected Caleb’s parents’ marriage?  Was Cheryl a bit too fond of the penny slots?  Did John shoot up?  Inquiring minds want to know!

They promise pleasure, but they grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time, and money.  They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love.

Eh, no worries there.  Caleb doesn’t love anybody but himself.

Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present.  If you love your wife, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart.  If you don’t it will destroy you.


Caleb knows now that he has to destroy his addiction.

So he destroys his computer.


Wait, what?

Caleb isn’t addicted to his computer, he’s addicted to porn.  Destroying his computer isn’t going to cure him of a porn addiction.

Besides which, does Catherine never use this computer?  What the hell gives Caleb the right to destroy family property?

Oh, and as usual, whenever Caleb destroys something, he is witnessed by the neighbor.  Except this time, his wife is out in the yard, too, as they both work on the garden.  Fun note: Caleb addresses the man, as he always does, and completely ignores the woman.

Mr. Rudolph:  Irma, I don’t want you talking to that guy.  He is weird.

Mrs. Rudolph:  Takes one to know one.

Damn!  Why isn’t the movie about this couple?  They seem way more fun than Caleb and Catherine.

Catherine comes home from work (wearing the coolest charcoal suit!) only to find the computer in the poor, abused trash can.  Nothing daunted, she heads into the house only to find a bouquet of roses where the computer used to live, along with a note that says “I love you more!

Why do I fear that this gesture of alleged selflessness will be thrown back in Catherine’s face the nest time they have a fight?  “I gave up my computer for you!”

Seems Caleb and Catherine don’t talk for the rest of the day, because the next morning, all Caleb hears is Catherine leaving.  He wanders into the kitchen, and she has left an envelope for him on the table.  Caleb gets all smirky, because surely his crafty plans are working, and Catherine sees that she couldn’t possibly get along without him!


Caleb:  What?!


This will never stop being amusing to me!  Hang on, there’s even more fun!


I hate their decorating scheme, too.  Just sayin’.

Damn, that is the ultimate SNAP.  It does not get any better than this!


I mean…um, poor Caleb.  After all his hard work and effort: making a cup of coffee, giving her one call at work, she still wants to divorce his abusive ass!

I love you right now, Catherine.  Never change.  I mean, I know you will, because the movie will make you, but I’m just going to pretend for now.

Caleb calls his parents (well, his dad, but his mom gets to hear about it second-hand).  John is understandably shaken to hear just how badly his son failed in his manly duty to keep his failed marriage together at any and all cost.

Oh, if only the movie ended here…

But it doesn’t.

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Posted on August 3, 2014, in Fireproof, Movies. Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. *sniff* A moment of silence for the computer, who died too young, at the hands of a deluded madman.
    *moment of silence*
    So, please tell me she filed for divorce because he didn’t bother backing up any of their data before destroying the computer.

    • Ha! my dad did that once with the family computer. Not with the axe, but forgetting to back up the data before he wiped the drive.

      I personally thought it was good grounds for child abuse.

  2. A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life out of your marriage. They’re usually in the form of addictions like gambling, drugs, or pornography.

    …fundamentalist religion…

    They promise pleasure, but they grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time, and money. They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love.

    fundamentalist religion


    Anyway. Rather than taking an axe to his computer, it sounds like Caleb would have been 90% of the way to managing his addiction if he’d installed an effing adblocker.

    • Actually, the description of the “parasite” comes dangerously close to describing my kiddo, LOL. Sucks up more and more time and money. Yup. Sucks the life out your marriage … well there are days when it does get tough. Steals your loyalty and heart. Definitely. Although that’s really been more a blow to my cats than my husband.

  3. I’m currently getting some advice on how to handle my overuse of internet, especially in the workplace (I’ve gone on a few archive binges of this site, amongst others). Strangely enough, the advice didn’t include taking an axe to the computer at my workplace. But if the Saint Kirk says it, it must be true, just like Fireproof proves (hah!) that any marriage can be fixed. Long and outstanding IT career, here I come!

    Caleb: Why is this so hard?”
    Oh my, that one is just perfect. I’m having a hard time believing no one involved in this movie realized how that comment could apply to his desire to look at porn in more than one way, however repressed they might be.

    Well, let’s enjoy the Caleb smackdown while it lasts, cause the “happy ending” is comming up.

    And to be honest, I find this story progression of “man tries RTC method of fixing marriage, it seems to fail, but succeeds in the end” potentially dangerous. I mean, I know why the movie did it. It’s a basic 3-act structure. The problem is that the movie’s creators are quite clear that this is not just a movie, but an instruction manual. Succesfully, in some cases.

    So what happens if someone follows this method and it doesn’t end up working? When their spouse preparing the divorce paper isn’t a second-act low point meant to set up the third-act dramatic success against all odds, but simply the second-to-last step of a spouse who genuinely wants to leave? Even in a best case scenario, I suspect the user of this method will be devestated. And at its worst, I see potential for some dangerous explosions of anger and frustration with the spouse who refuses to follow the script.

    Especially since the user is being told by this movie, the book, and probably their community and pastor, how bad it will be for hir personally if hir marriage doesn’t work out. It’s right back to that problem of treating marriage as a seperate entity I so briliantly deducted earlier. (Arrogant, moi?) If your spouse leaves you, your marriage will have failed. If your marriage fails, god will be angry with you. Thus, believers may feel that their very soul and salvation depends on somehow influencing their spouse’s decision to stay in their marriage.

    That’s dangerous. If the spouse was abusive, it encourages the user to try and placate and accomodate their abuser. If the user was abusive, they’ll probably end up using violence and force to try and prevent their spouse from leaving. And if both spouse and user just happened to be sick of each other, this stalker mentality is likely to just make the spouse even angrier.

  4. Caleb: Why is this so hard?

    …No. That joke’s too easy.

    That said, I’ve never seen this movie but I’ve seen people at my old church make a big deal out of it. And just reading your recap makes me really not want to see it on account of the whole Love Dare book, and now the random act of computer destruction being a triumphant example of what the Stuff Christian Culture Likes blog refers to as “Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship”. I just don’t like the message that a husband can be emotionally and verbally abusive to his wife and all it takes to make up for it is doing some random things in a book handed over by a wise RTC mentor-type, and it’ll make everything better and the wife will come back like a stray sheep.

    It’s kind of vomit-inducing, and I don’t even have first-hand experience with abusive significant others and useless-at-best, aggravating-at-worst reconciliation maneuvers.

  5. Who the hell was the script writer for this?! I can’t help but boggle at how consistently Caleb is shown to be hair-trigger violent. I mean, really. How can he be that blatantly abusive and the movie not address it? (I honestly don’t expect the movie to address it because it is simply not that good of a film, but darn it, it SHOULD be addressed!)

  6. Wait, so did Caleb only use his computer for porn? Did he never use it to check email, read blogs, buy stuff online, and any number of other non-porn activities? I just find it ridiculous that Caleb’s solution to his porn addiction is to destroy his computer.

    Also, I agree that the movie would be so much better if it ended with Catherine divorcing Caleb.

  7. I would just like to point out that in RTC-world, “porn addiction” means “looks up cute pictures of any kind, ever.” And part of the reason so many RTCs are addicted to porn is because of the shame, guilt, and fear that their lives will be ruined if someone finds out, because their lives frequently are.

    I’m mostly speaking from experience with Mormon culture, here, which has raised this whole thing into an addiction-recovery-industrial-complex. Utah has the highest rates of internet porn use per capita, and they also have a ton of “clinics” and programs and places where they charge you lots of money to “cure” your wayward husband or son (girls don’t like porn, don’t be silly).

    There is no room in their world for partners being okay with porn use, or for bonding over erotic videos / stories. If you look at it at all, you are addicted, full stop. The treatment is more guilt, more shame, and more money paid to the church and the clinics.

  8. I sometimes wonder how different Christianity would be if the ten commandments had left out the last part. Mostly the commandments are about “don’t do X, Y or Z”. But then they suddenly change gears and go for “don’t think about X, Y or Z”. Because human brains totally work that way. Always remember and obey this command: Don’t think about elephants. Are you sure you’re not thinking about elephants? Because if you are thinking about elephants, you are a bad person and god will be angry. Yeah, you’re screwed.

    This leads to the idea that in order to be a good person, one needs to have “pure” thoughts. Which in turn leads to externalizing any unwanted parts of one’s personality. Like here porn addiction is consistently described as a “parasite” or a “disease” that is “attacking” and “destroying” something. How is anyone supposed to break a bad habit if they are not even allowed to admit to themselves that it is their own bad habit? “The devil is making me do it” is not a good first step.

    Also, Day 23 of the Love Dare is very clear about addictions being bad for marriage, but it doesn’t seem to offer much advice on how to actually deal with addictions beyond just saying “don’t have any”. If you can rid yourself of an addiction simply by deciding not to do it anymore, then it wasn’t really much of an addiction in the first place. But given how this movie has been going, I assume the destruction of the evil computer is sufficient, Caleb is now completely cured, and we’ll never hear of this again.

  9. Normally, the lazy narrative short-hand for “drinking problem” (or “porn problem” or “drug problem” or “gambling problem”) is to highlight that the time/money/effort spent on the problem is being taken away from other important things.

    This movie doesn’t quite manage to do that. The “no food in the house” issue could have been cast in that light, as could the house problems that Catherine mentioned, but they’re not.*

    Let’s re-write this scene. Caleb is on the computer, sexy pop-up appears, he looks tempted, then frustrated. Now, instead of destroying the computer (har-har-har) he pushes back away from the desk, and walks to the kitchen and opens a cabinet. There’s no food, so we again cut to a reaction shot of him looking frustrated, then looking to the side, with a cut to the desk and the computer. A really good cinematographer would try to frame the shots so we’d cut from the empty cabinet (Caleb’s POV) to Caleb looking frustrated (cabinet POV), with the computer monitor visible in the background! Either way, the visual language of the scene is “because of this (computer) we have that (empty cabinet)”. Then we can cut to a scene of Caleb in the grocery store, sullenly pushing a cart down the frozen food isle. He pulls open a freezer door, grabs bags of frozen peas, and angrily throws them in the cart… while his neighbors are shopping in the same isle, watching him. (Ha ha ha. See, running gag. Very funny.)

    We could then cut to Caleb awkwardly coming in the door balancing multiple bags of groceries, some dry cleaning, and Chinese take-out. Catherine could be home, come to the door, surprised and confused, and takes some of the bags.

    “I though you were… in your study, on the computer.”

    “I was, but then I remembered we needed groceries. And since I was out, I picked up the dry cleaning, and then I thought you might like Chinese for dinner. I guess I figured there were better ways to spend my time.” He quickly kisses her on the cheek, and starts unloading the groceries, a smile on his face.

    It’s not Shakespeare or anything, but it’s a little better.

    *The problems we do see are presented ambiguously enough that the intended Christian audience will read it as “that woman doesn’t know her place; she should be doing the shopping and cooking and cleaning”. Caleb is presented, Mary-Sue-like, not as having actually taken any wrong actions or failing to do right, but merely as having the wrong attitude, or not saying the right things.

    • A little better? It’s lightyears better. Your scene actually shows Caleb acknowledging that his actions have impacted not just his Marriage but is actual wife.

  10. Did it ever get established that there was an actual problem, rather than “he looks at porn occasionally”? If so, I didn’t notice. Maybe to an RTC there’s no difference. (Ah, thanks for confirming it, Jewelfox.) I mean, we’re in the world of people who still pay for their porn here. Next this film will be telling me that was the only computer in the house. [shudder]

    Neighbour Irma calling the protagonist weird… did they pinch that from Garfield?

    Naked Bunny, be fair: fundamentalist religions rarely promise pleasure.

    Keulan: we know what the Internet is for. (warning: earworm, and if you sing it in public people will look at you funny).

  1. Pingback: Fireproof: Part 5 | Tinseltown Times

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