Posts Tagged ‘movie’

In Hollywood, where doth my help come from?

“Christian Movie.” It’s a phrase that has plagued both Hollywood and the Church for decades because the two sides don’t really talk, even if there was the awkward Thanksgiving dinner.

Separate: The two don’t have an inkling enough knowledge of the other to understand what the market demands. Together: Former “celebs” who get real with Christ are considered sellouts because the first that happens is TBN fawns all over them and gets them preaching.

So, what does it mean to be a “Christian Movie”? Is it focus on the “Greatest Story Ever Told,” because honestly, if you have seen the movie (aside from the meaning, people), it really is not the greatest. Not even Top 10.

The one that changed Christian film making was not “The Omega Code,” which looked like the IRS came and repossessed the movie set halfway into the film. No, it was “The Passion of the Christ.

Real. Violent. Authentic. Visceral.

And an A-list celeb created it, without the aforementioned megalomaniac drool from Paul and Jan. Then, of course, that A-list celeb went off the deep end and offending every Jew, black person and woman on the face of God’s planet. So much for his clout. Next?

Sure, Kirk Cameron made a nice swim through a resurrection (of his career) but that was short-lived, and short-marketed. “Fireproof” was nice, really nice, but it lacked the big Hollywood backing.

No one was really 'running' from the Church to catch this one

Recently, Disney saw a glimmer of hope in this once forgotten Christian market, and put out a movie that had all the makings of the next great “Christian Movie.” To use the introduction from a riveting BrandWeek article:

On the face of it, Disney’s feel-good drama Secretariat seemed to have all the makings of a hit with the God-fearing crowd: Its writer and director are devout Christians, it opens with a lengthy Bible quote, it uses an earnest spiritual tune at a key emotional moment and it’s uplifting. Then there was a specific marketing campaign to the faith-based audience, spearheaded by filmmaker Randall Wallace, who has legitimate street cred in those circles.

Quick show of hands for all the Christ followers who saw this flick? Yeah, me neither.

This is a movie that supposed to be the feel-good hit of the summer and Hollywood was counting on the Church. Only, it wasn’t marketed to the Church, so who knew?

Therein lies the rub.

The Church either goes one way or the other when it comes to movie selections:

  1. We are either incognito at Rated-R flicks – Groucho Marx glasses and all – and only be seen watching Pixar movies with the kids.
  2. Or, we go see any horror or drama made with a staunch “So what” to anyone in the Church that has an issue with your film-viewing pleasures.

Then there are those in-between who really want to see God show up in films outside of anything dealing with the crucifixion, resurrection or anything starring Charlton Heston.

Why? According to this story, Christians aren’t as naive and sheepish as Hollywood thinks:

Any movie that has a happy ending or a hopeful message gets peddled to Christian leaders and faith-based media. That crowd may be conservative, but they’re not dumb, said entertainment industry veteran and marketing consultant Mark Joseph.

“The traditionalist audience is far more savvy, post-‘Passion,’ and is tired of being told that ‘Polar Express’ or ‘Rocky VI’ are actually allegories about Christ,” said Joseph, also a film producer who’s worked on The Passion of the Christ and other marketing campaigns. “This group is suspicious of Hollywood.”

Not only is this group “suspicious” of Hollywood; they are also lazy to demand otherwise from it.

Yes, I paid good money to see “Inception”, “Iron Man 2″ and “Robin Hood” this summer. And why? Because I am a child of God that can see a movie that doesn’t exalt Christ and still find pleasure in it. Sure, I wish it mentioned, alluded to or flat-out praised him, but if it doesn’t, I’ll go for a gripping storyline and stimulating writing any day.

And no, I didn’t pay a dime to see anything else from TBN studios, the “Veggie Tales” movie or “The Secrets of Jonathan Sperry.” Why? Just because the American Family Association gives it two crosses up doesn’t mean it’s good; it just means it’s sanctified.

Jesus made the ministrel of music. We should own it.

Amen!

It’s the same old problem that has plagued Christian music and fashion. We demand quality too.

When the world had old-school hip hop, the Church had D.C. Talk. (Sure, later came DII, SFC, PID and Freedom of Soul… but toby Mac and the guys pretty screwed that up for the rest of them). When the world had friendship pins, Swatch watches and Coca-Cola shirts, we had cheaply made Garanimals with an icthtus emblazoned on the crest.

Sigh.

In short, just because you have a fish on your business card, doesn’t guarantee me doing business with you. It only means I am leery of you because you expect a hand-out or a hand-up. We need to earn our keep in Hollywood, and not be afraid of the backlash just because we admit we love Jesus in public circles.

It’s happened with music (e.g. Hillsong, Mercy Me, David Crowder, anything alternative that has made the crossover, and on and on and on). Now, it’s time to stop trying to remake the Passion and just get passionate about evangelism with a great movie.

We need to vote with our dollars, in addition to our prayers. (And please, we do NOT do that).

So my definition of “Christian Movie”? It’s a great movie that happens to talk about Christ and sticks to the meaning of his message.

You know, rather than a lukewarm message of love and hate, right and wrong with a crappy script, a couple of has-been actors and something that goes straight to DVD cloaked as a movie.

Think about it people. When we demand more, we will get more. Peace.

It all began with “The Passion of the Christ,” I suppose. And thank God it did.

Then, from the ashes of cutting floors everywhere sprouted wonderful films “Facing the Giants” and “Fireproof” that did something most Christian movies didn’t – made Hollywood stand up and take notice.

Typically, and unfortunately, the term is “Christian movie” and not “movies that are Christian”. There is a difference because perception is reality and people determine that reality with their movie ticket. (Tell that to the makers of “The Omega Code“… woof!)

The Potter's House in Dallas, Bishop T. D. Jakes

If Jakes can fill this house weekly, a box office is far from unlikely

And now, comes the prolific Bishop T.D. Jakes – from preaching to writing to screenplays. Now, his movies are giving Hollywood pause, as seen in a recent article from the Christian Post:

Bishop T.D. Jakes is attempting to change the “Hollywood machine” – what has at times been considered a “tool of the devil” by Christians – into a platform to potentially reach millions of unchurched with Christian messages.

Jakes just completed shooting of his third film, “Jumping the Broom” described as “an upcoming faith and family movie that follows the clashing of two families from different backgrounds during a weekend wedding.”

Pastor of the more than 30,000-member church The Potter’s House, Jakes told The Christian Post that he was drawn to this film when he looked at the script and saw the many ways it speaks about bringing together people from different backgrounds.

The story about a husband and a wife from fictional Taylor and Watson families with divergent socioeconomic backgrounds is also a step – in the bishop’s mind – to de-alienate Christians from Hollywood. It’s a chance for Christians to get their message out through Hollywood’s “megaphone.”

Mel Gibson. Kirk Cameron. And Bishop T.D. Jakes?!

There’s a troika you wouldn’t expect, but it seems they have done the unthinkable – given Hollywood a little faith.

As a megachurch pastor, however, Jakes is looking for that “sweet spot” where he can find harmony between Hollywood’s definition of entertainment – where blood, gore and sex often overrule moral concern – and Christian, family values. “We are trying to find balance. I find that people, as a rule, don’t go to see films that are overtly medicinal. They really want to be entertained, so we are trying to find our sweet spot between entertainment and humor and message.”

A school of Christian fish. Classy.

WARNING: Certainly a bad driver

This is something so close to who I am in that an ichthus needs to stand for something more than shady business people, dolts looking for short cuts and manners that would Emily Post dog cuss your mama. Say what you will about the man, but his methods to bring awareness and glory for God is working.

“Christian movies” are largely considered to be cheap, poorly written, terribly acted and carries those three familiar words that most Christ followers have become accustomed, “Straight to DVD.”

Apparently, that’s the not the case any more. “Jumping the Broom” (which is slated for a Mother’s Day 2011 release) has an all-star cast featuring the incomparable Angela Bassett… and uh, a bunch of other folks whose name I don’t remember. (I’m so partial. Sue me.) Certainly, the script has dynamic possibilities. More importantly, there’s a cryptic message to be learned as well.

The term “Jumping the Broom” comes from slave wedding ceremonies that would offer both the husband and wife a chance for “Decision Making honors” in the home with a test of jumping height. Whoever wins, wins.

Such is life for what Bishop Jakes is trying to accomplish – let’s see if a “Christian movie” can jump high enough to capture box office supremacy for at least a week. It will create a buzz in Hollywood and could make the elite question what they do and how they do it.

Oh sure, the blood-gore-sex recipe will never fade, but possibly productions with a purpose can still make a profit. And let’s be honest, in that town, that’s the Gospel truth. Preach on, brother. Preach on.

It’s been a slow news month in the world of ecumenicism. I mean, if it weren’t for Louis Farrakhan shooting off his lip again, Kenneth Copeland’s jet and Ed Young’s palatial “tax-exempt” estate (wink), I would not have enough spray paint on this wall to fill a huffer’s need to get high.

I mean, slow.

And then I see this Barna survey from WOW News’ Religion News Service (by way of Houston [Chronicle] Belief) that made yours truly want to go to the local CVS and shave the fur off every Peeps in that place with a dull but seasonally festive razor blade.

Though most Americans describe Easter as a religious holiday, less than half of U.S. adults surveyed link it specifically to the resurrection of Jesus, a Barna Group study shows.

Here's your compromise! Oy Vey!

Anyone heard of Passion plays? How about the “Passion of the Christ“? Perhaps those dudes rocking the Birkenstocks and bedsheets who literally and passionately walk many miles in Jesus’ shoes with timber crosses draped across their shoulders… oh you know, around Easter?!

Apparently, no one in this friggin’ survey.

Is this HOLY-day really all about chocolate, bunnies and those stupid eggs? Why would a bunny lay eggs anyway? Because those little buggers are too fuzzy when they come out and it tickles the mama rabbit?

Looking closer at this depressing survey, it seems parents either are straying from religion or young people are watching way too much TV:

  • 42 percent tied Easter to the Resurrection
  • At 73 percent, baby boomers (ages 45 to 63) were the most likely to describe Easter as a religious holiday
  • This, compared to two-thirds of those ages 26 to 44 and Americans 64 and older
  • The youngest group of adults (ages 18 to 25) were least likely, at 58 percent, to use that kind of description

There you have it – kids forget eating your carrots. Why? It isn’t sacrosanct. They are carrots, not communion wafers. So, enlighten us future leaders of tomorrow, how would you describe this amazing day the Lord hath literally made:

  • A Christian holiday
  • A celebration of God or Jesus
  • A celebration of Passover
  • A “holy day”
  • Or a special day to go to church

Classy. At least they didn’t say the day church kids have easter egg hunts… oh, what? They do that?! MEMO to all church folk, even the ones who are appalled by this survey: You do understand the etymology of the word “Easter”, right? Yeah, it’s cultic.

The Teutonic goddess of fertility had a catchy name, “Eoster,” which was derived for the ancient word of “Spring.” Cute, right? So, what about the stupid rabbits? Glad you asked…

Although Easterer, Resurrection Sunday celebrates Jesus Christ from the dead, the rabbit was chosen because it is a symbol of fertility, which is often times associated with the beginning of spring. (Hmmm… where have we heard that before?)

Proving you can go to the well one too many times, the German Catholics wanted to create a mythical figure to reward good kids and humiliate the brats during… Lent. (Yeah, I know, you thought Christmas. God bless the Germans for creativity, but meh?)

Back in the 1700s, Germans were not permitted to eat eggs during Lent, so they had to do something with the overabundance of chickens and their eggs during the Easter season.  In order to use all these eggs, the Germans created the tradition of painting and eating eggs given by the Easter Bunny (Source: My seminary, but here too)

Oh, HiScrivener, it’s okay because I paint only red eggs for the blood of Christ.

You don’t have to justify it – I have babies. I get it, but while you are feeding your kiddos a huge block of sugar and advising some humanistic 8-foot rabbit left it for them, consider what really happened on this day… and then 50 days later. (Hallelujah!)

While this day is about “Christian celebrations” and a “holy day,” the story to tell the kids is not about Peter Cottontail but about Jesus Christ. He may not have left us chocolates, but what he did leave is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

We all know Jesus is awesome at work, for work.

For most, if you side with righteousness in the commercial marketplace, you will get righteous sales. That’s a non-issue because the body of Christ may be many things, but one thing is irrefutable – we are loyalists to a fault. If it smells like a duck, we will quack all the way to the express lane to get a feathered friend on sale.

But now, Jesus is becoming passe as secular nitwits are using the Son of God to shill instead of be sacred. For example, PETA goes butt naked with supermodels looking like angels. Every faith-based entity has a stolener, borrowed marketing slogan of its own. Megachurches are trying to become the “big box chain store in the sky.” And let’s not forget the Holy See going iPope.

Everyone has a gimmick and it seems Jesus is being forced to become Donald Trump, pimping ideas and lending his name to everything in sight.

Lindsay Lohan Superstar

What’s new? Enter Lindsay Lohan, the narcotized and stupefied starlet who seems to yearn for “Groundhog Day” in an effort to recreate her 15 minutes of fame.

According to the UK celeb rag OK!, Lohan has decided to rock the crucifixion pose for a French fashion magazine. Because when I think of hot holy water, I dream of Lindsay.

Quite naturally, Bill Donahue with the Catholic League, was ready at the mic to drop his two cents down the gullet of Lohan:

“Not only is the pose inappropriate, the timing is offensive” because the sacred season of Lent starts next week, Bill Donohue, head of the Catholic League. “The “spiritually homeless” Lohan recently Tweeted that “i’m all about Karma…what goes around comes around.”

He continued: “If she believes that, then it behooves her to apologize to Christians before it’s too late.”

Aside from the lack of taste and judgment, why?

I mean, what are you sporting for fashion? The latest in finely shewn, camel-haired togas… just like back in the days of JC and the Boyz?!

The girl is no Madonna. Or Kayne West for that matter. So is it a symbolic attempt to resurrect a dead career, or is the girl truly crying out not to be left behind?

This poor doltish girl has journeyed from Kabbalah to Judaism, Christianity to Scientology. And now, she’s gone Vogue with Jesus.

Perhaps Mr. Donahue should attempt his hand at sign language interpretation because those hands are open for a reason. Whatever the case, this ill-advised ingenue is trying to say something for her salvation. It’s just too bad no one that cares knows what it is.

Just when you thought some megachurch televangelical playas had seen enough of the brethren being shady, sucking their thumb in a fetal position and using hundreds of dollars for tissue – comes Ed Young, Jr.

Eddie is pastor of one of the largest – and most egregious milquetoast – churches in the country, Fellowship Church. He recently made national news (and got to chill with Stephen Colbert) by telling his congregation to have sex for seven days. No mention of differentiation between married couples and those just hooking up, but never mind that now.

Ed has an issue, aside from the fact he rarely mentions Jesus Christ from his production soundstageer, pulpit, he’s a flawed human who adores what cash can bring him. Yes, his church has five “campuses” – four scattered in North Texas and another in Miami (uh, like that’s not too conspicuous). Yes, he has written a few books. So yes, he deserves to have a salty income – but in this story, it’s $1.24 million. This reeks of pimpdom.

Now, I do understand why some global ministers have private jetsever seen an actor or an athlete fly coach, much less first class? No, you haven’t because they would get mugged right out of the terminal. People can’t handle fame. They’re dimwits who are attracted to folk who put on their skivvies like anyone else. But because their Fruit of the Looms are scattered on TV and movies, they must be righteous.

Famed preachers are no different. People can’t handle if their favorite global preacher stepped out of Daystar and TBN and off the runway and into their lives, if only for a while. And then there’s this pimp with his starched button down, Zoom-whitened grill and bedazzled jeans. He is no traveling evangelist. He is no global minister. And he apparently is no righteous individual, just flawed like the rest of us.

Only when he flat-out steals millions of dollars, it becomes national news. Enjoy.

more about “Prominent Grapevine pastor linked to …“, posted with vodpod