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:
- We are either incognito at Rated-R flicks – Groucho Marx glasses and all – and only be seen watching Pixar movies with the kids.
- 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.
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.
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.