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Friday, July 21, 2006

Hollywood and Religion

The relationship between religious believers and Hollywood has always been a tense thing, and it has reached a height of openly hostility in the past dozen years or so. In this conflict, both sides are to blame, I note in "Battling Babylon," my article on movies and believers in a recent issue of The Weekly Standard, but it is incumbent upon people of faith to make the first move.

Religious people, I note, too often “tend to count up the number of images they don't like in a film while failing to see the real meaning of the stories. ‘Sometimes,’ another writer [in the anthology under review] observes, ‘it will serve the Truth to have the bad guys get away with murder.’ After all, Scripture itself depicts numerous horrible actions. The events depicted in a film are not all-important; what counts is what they mean.”

Before complaining about movies, people really must to try to understand them: “Christians should become more attuned to the real, often subtle, meanings behind various works of art and should be far quicker to praise the persons responsible for these good works. In that regard, Christian media critics can be immensely valuable—and to increase their influence, they should make every effort to push themselves into mainstream media outlets.”

You can read the full article in the July 3/July 10 edition of the magazine or online here.

From Karnick on Culture.

1 comment:

Evanston2 said...

Mr. Karnick,
Enjoyed the article. Still, I tend to disagree with the "infiltration" approach to changing Hollywood. Compromise with Hollywood culture is much more likely than any change due to the persuasive appeal or even subtle influence of Christians. The various liberal and sexual lobbies can infiltrate Hollywood easily because they reflect its current culture. As Christians, we are the counterculture and need to honestly recognize it.
I agree that Christian products have historically been crappy and often continue to be so in music and film. Still, they're getting better all the time. Personally, since I'm not an artist I'm not faced with the dilemma of choosing between "beating 'em" or "joining 'em" and I sympathize with Christians aspiring to put out better product for mankind and choose to infiltrate Hollywood.

As a consumer, I agree with your point regarding gratuitous violence, etc. I try to read reviews at before I watch most films. The critics there generally grant creators the need to use violence, sex, what-have-you if needed for the plot. What is bothersome are gratuitous scenes that are not necessary for the plot. All too often these are included with the presumption that such scenes are necessary to sell tickets. I believe that this presumption is incorrect. Relatively clean films do well at the box office. I believe Hollywood often throws garbage into movies because they don't see it as garbage. Simply put, their world view is worldly and incorporates behaviors that they believe are normative, but are not. Christians will continue to consume the fare they wish. I personally will never watch films designed to desensitive me to extramarital sex (hetero or otherwise) nor justify murder or criminality (as an adult I find Butch & Sundance type films totally immoral).
Overall, I believe Christians will build up independent production workshops because the economics of making and distributing music and film continue to improve. Some will try to change Hollywood "from the inside" but I believe that market forces are the only ones that matter.
In that sense, Mr. Bock (whom you quote) is somewhat correct in encouraging Christians to go to more films. Still, I believe that boycotts do work and further that the success of films like the Passion and other relatively clean fare will continue to gain market share.