Posts Tagged ‘hip-hop’

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.

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Maybe he can add a baptismal to give it credibility?

So, aside from his regular global telecasts, annual believers’ conventions and running his ministry from high atop a hill in North Texas, it seems Kenneth Copeland has been wheelin’ and dealin’ with his local government.

And that always makes for a salty headline when discussing a “mand of Gawd.”

According to the AP, the Tarrant County tax appraisal district has agreed to exempt the $3.3 million jet owned by Kenneth Copeland Ministries from property taxes. Get that? “Agreed” to do it. There was kissing up and shilling done under the table here.

Again, always good to hear when discussing a televangelist.

The Tarrant Appraisal District’s concession is at the heart of a settlement reached with the Newark-based television evangelist’s ministry last week. KTVT-TV of Fort Worth and Dallas reports the district also agreed to drop its requirement of salary information on the ministries’ directors.

See there? While little man here is in his staff meeting thanking God for his faithfulness, what lies at the heart of this matter is he had to rob Peter to pay Paul. How shady… and oh yeah, un-televangelistic like… is that?!

Essentially, Kenneth Copeland has been at the center of a vicious mudslinging federal investigation led by Sen. Charles Grassley where he wanted to know what was being used for God and how these six televangelists could bling like a New York City rapper.  A good metric for his suspicions would be to discover what he is paying his top executives (because you know his rank-and-file is making minimum wage or anointed food stamps).

Tarrant County thought that was a good idea so they took Grassley’s hand off and ran for the end zone. And, of course, they wanted to spike said ball down Copeland’s gullet. And wouldn’t  you know it, an agreement was made.

KCM agrees that the plane isn’t “totally” used for ministry activities and his triple-figure board of directors can be kept in seclusion – for now. Classy, and completely reeking of spirituality.

I suppose it’s a good thing that he made the jet his – and his alone. Why? Because when the cops come barreling down his door for tax evasion or some other ballyhooed IRS activity, he’ll be “leave-ing on a jet plane… and don’t know when [he’ll] be coming back again.”

Ah, I love the classics.

For those who have been aficionados of Hip-Hop, we now have to add another larger group of acolytes who will pose the universal question, “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” as some dude named Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr. has joined the Nation of Islam.

And he even comes with his own monastic robe. What, no colors?

And he even comes with his own monastic robe. What, no colors?

Who? Oh, you may know Calvin X as “Snoop Dogg.”

According to the BBC of all places, it’s a fact: Snoop has given up bacon and white women for prayer five times daily.

The rapper, who described himself as the “leader of the hip-hop community”, told followers he would share what he learned with other musicians. He told reporters that he joined the group because he was “doing what’s right and representing what’s right”.

To this, I applaud him. All the money in the world can’t buy you a ticket to heaven, only acceptance in Jesus can do that. At least he is in the right direction of godliness and sanctity. I mean, it has to be a lot better than worshiping “Thaa Godfather” and all that “Chronic” of which I’m sure he only inhaled.

However, the story gets a little more bleak as you continue the read. So, Snoop, why are a member of the Nation again:

I’m an advocate for peace, I’ve been in the peace movement ever since I’ve been making music. My whole thing is not about really trying to push my thing on you. It’s just about the way I live, and I live how I’m supposed to live as far as doing what’s right and representing what’s right – that’s why I was here today.”

Listen, we have all had transgressions of which we are ashamed. And God can forgive, deliver and set us all free. But not even Allah is that dumb?!

If you have always been such an advocate for peace, why would you pen a hymn with these lyrics found in your platinum hits like “Murder was the case”, “Gin & Juice” and “Snoop’s Upside your Head.”

That’s like some preacher crawling on the TBN sound stage saying, “Seriously, Paul. I have never sinned, only been in a few minor incidents that didn’t go in my favor.” It’s foolish to think anyone would believe that… namely when all your issues can be found on Google.

So, here’s to hoping this new found faith serves you well and brings you to a place of enlightenment. Hopefully then, you will come to know the saving grace of Jesus in your theological studies. Or at least when researching a new rap lyric that rhymes with “Cheese Us” or maybe a stretch with “Pizza-s”.

I’m sure your fans will follow you “from tha Chuuuch to da Palace” but as they do, O’ Pied Piper of the LBC, just remember they will be looking to hear much more than about your Chucks and creased khakis, they will want to see that new faith in motion. You feel me?

For the young, aimless ones out there, we can only hope and pray you do.

A phrase often heard in movies or the show “Cops” is “jailhouse religion.”

Routinely, do we read the story of the twice-convicted armed burglar enjoying the tax-paid vacation of lockdown and suddenly, he attends a prison fellowship and accepts Jesus. Now, whether he (or she, actually) did it to either escape their soulish death row and believe this prayer will help chalk up brownie points with the Big Guy Upstairs, or life is genuinely that bad and Jesus is that real to him at this time.

Regardless, a life is changed. And the underlying prayer is now that this life change sticks.

These stories are numerous and the incarcerated are usually faceless – unless of course they happen to be famous and then it’s everywhere. Take once big time rapper and B-film actor, DMX and this apologue from MTV.

dmx-prayerDMX, who has been resting under the balmy shadows of the desert sun in Arizona, pled guilty to felony charges of animal cruelty (Hello, Michael Vick), theft (like he needed to do that, other than just “keeping it real”) and drug possession (but hey, he didn’t inhale).

But now, jailhouse religion has bit him too causing him to “get it on the floor” – as in his knees.

DMX, for his part, said he’s completed the gospel album he told MTV News about last January. The rapper, who had a penchant for including moving prayers on each of his albums, said he’s spending more time with the Bible as he sits in 23-hour lockdown. His plan after his release is to move forward with his transition to becoming a pastor. X has long talked about becoming a prominent member of a church. The rapper believes he’s been put in his situation to help someone.

What? Pastor X? No, that’s too confusing with Malcolm and those who don’t know what an Imam is, nor the duty of a true minister. At first, he will preach about his testimony – it’s what they all do, but then what? Dogma, scripture, homiletics… ya know, truth.

So, X, when you do get out, make good on your promise to God and find people – not the fools you used to chill with, but some hungry people who are looking for something different out of Jesus. They’re out there. They want reality. They want transparency. And they want someone – like you – to keep it real, God’s way.

Yo, when you get out, do not search for a gospel CD deal but rather a pulpit in which to cling. Why? They’ll be watching because “We right here!”

To some Wall watchers and aficionados of hip-hop, this is old news (2006, to be exact).

But to those of us who didn’t have a blogospherical place we called home, this is an opportunity to extol the genius of Hasidic Jew and Rastafarian-influenced lyricist, Matisyahu.

Born Matthew Paul Miller, the boy in love of dancehall reggae and a fervent respect for Judaic law, this boy can rock the Holy Land all night long – except on Shabbat, when he refuses to hold a concert regardless the check.

In short, this boy is the truth!

And if there is a Zionist-leaning bone inside of you, check his style and lyrics. There is a passion for God there and a love for his people that goes beyond a small church tour of Israel or attending a CUFI conference, both of which I would recommend. So grab your Kippah and spodik and throw on a Hoshen, and enjoy the styles of Matthewer, MatthiasI mean, Matisyahu.