Dr. Ted Baehr is the founder and publisher of MOVIEGUIDE, chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, and a well-known movie critic, educator, lecturer and media pundit. He also is the author of several books, including "The Culture-Wise Family" with legendary entertainer Pat Boone. For more information, please call 800-899-6684 or go to the MOVIEGUIDE website.More ↓Less ↑
Recently, the representative of the major studios’ outreach to churches claimed that he was slapping MOVIEGUIDE? on the wrist because we printed a review of a bad movie they were trying to market to churches one week before it opened in movie theaters. The company in question had gone to a great deal of trouble marketing this movie, “The Fighting Temptations,” including buying airtime on major Christian TV and radio stations.
Of course, this action was specious and biased since Variety, Hollywood Reporter, Time, Newsweek, Harry Knowles and Ain’t It Cool, Inc., Entertainment Weekly, Village Voice, Movie Review Query Engine, Reel Views, Movie Parables, The Film Hobbit, Film Journal International and Movie Gurus all publish early reviews. In other words, secular reviews can come out at any time, but Christian reviews cannot.
Our MOVIEGUIDE? reviewer pointed out that the movie was not Christian and, in fact, had a humanist worldview. On the other hand, the movie did have Gospel music in it, so many Christians have bought into it as being acceptable for Christian audiences. The level of enthusiasm for the movie drops significantly, however, when we point out it’s produced by MTV.
Aside from the fact that this attempted slapping was an empty threat since all authority and power in Heaven and earth belong to Jesus Christ, there are several extremely important issues that need to be addressed here.
First, Hollywood has finally gotten religion, in the sense that after years of overtly bashing Christians and blaspheming God, they are now making more and more movies with positive Christian content. Some of the studio executives have said this is because our MOVIEGUIDE? economic analysis has shown them that there is a large Christian audience out there.
We are extremely grateful for this positive change and believe it is part of Gods’s grace. On the other hand, the studios have decided that since the Christians constitute such a large audience – more than 123 million people go to church every week whereas only 20 million go to movies – they are now going to market borderline material and even anti-Christian material in the marketplace by buying time on Christian radio stations and finding susceptible Christians to promote this stuff.
The issue here is control. Hollywood wants to control the church audience. This control is easier than one may think. The church and the conservative community are fractured into different groups. Some are enthusiastic about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as in the many voices supporting “The Passion,” and some even within the church have bought into the privatized religious jargon of the secular humanists and are horrified that Christ’s name would be mentioned at all.
Even conservative Christians have asked, “Why mention the name of Jesus.” Some within the church believe the whole Gospel, including the fact that God calls us out of sin and tells us we will not continue to sin, while others, who have fallen for the revolutionary use of sex and obscenity to blind the eyes of the elect, just as Samson was blinded by Delilah, now believe that salvation means they can do whatever they want and watch whatever they want.
These conditions have made the church vulnerable. And, did we mention the love of money, which welcomes the entertainment industry’s advertising dollars?
The church has been manipulated before, by Hitler and his National Socialists in the 1930s and by the Soviets and their fellow travelers in the 1950s and 1960s. There’s always been an orthodox remnant, but it is sad to see the church conforming to the world rather than performing her function of being salt and light and transforming the world.
The answer to this manipulation is simple – don’t let them do it. Develop media wisdom by reading books such as “The Media-Wise Family” and “What Shall We Watch Tonight?” and seek out trustworthy reviews, such as MOVIEGUIDE?.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the entertainment industry wants to exploit every marketplace. We should be encouraged when they do this for movies such as “The Gospel Of John” and “Luther” – which adhere to and proclaim the truth – but we should be opposed to them when they do this to control the church and promote false Christs and false doctrines.