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 ↑
Editor’s note: Dr. Tom Snyder contributed to this column.
The summer movie season is upon us, and everyone in Hollywood is worried about the lackluster showing of this year’s crop of blockbusters and movies. What the secular film critics won’t tell you, however, is the politics and theology behind this year’s big movies.
Last year’s list of popular movie releases included such patriotic, moral, conservative, and even Christian movies like “Spider-Man 2,” “Collateral,” “Shrek 2,” and “The Passion Of The Christ.” It also included such audience favorites as “I, Robot,” not to mention popular fall and holiday releases like “National Treasure,” “The Polar Express” and, last but not least, “The Incredibles.”
Compare popular movies like these with this year’s failures like “Kingdom Of Heaven,” “Fantastic Four,” “Bewitched,” and “Land Of The Dead.”
“Kingdom Of Heaven” contains an anti-Christian theme that elevates a warmongering Muslim, Saladin, above Christian religious leaders during the Crusades. “Fantastic Four” contains a humanist worldview that pushes a materialistic scientific philosophy favoring evolution. “Bewitched” is an occult movie about witchcraft with a feminist spin. Finally, “Land Of The Dead,” which should have been able to capitalize on current popular horror-movie trends, contains a left-wing, anti-capitalist and anti-American ideology.
In contrast to this, “Spider-Man 2″ and “National Treasure” have patriotic, pro-American themes. “The Incredibles” extols pro-American, middle-class, suburban, family values. Unlike “Bewitched,” “Shrek 2″ rejects the use of magic and witchcraft, and uplifts the Christian value of self-sacrifice over selfishness. Finally, “The Passion Of The Christ” presents the Gospel of Jesus Christ in a clear, profound, emotionally powerful manner. It also ends with one of the most joyous and dramatic scenes ever put in a blockbuster movie – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Even a problematic movie like “I, Robot” had some redemptive, moral and uplifting content in it.
Now, look at this year’s small crop of top movies at the box office.
Besides the epic heroics of “Star Wars III,” the most popular movies so far this year include “Hitch,” “Madagascar” and “Batman Begins.”
“Hitch” is a very funny comedy that supports committed, long-lasting, heterosexual relationships.
“Madagascar” is a family movie with conservative values that teaches viewers to do the right thing. It refutes the whole “noble savage” philosophy of French intellectual Jean-Jacques Rousseau, a philosophy that most of today’s liberals share, by urging its heroic creatures to adopt self-discipline and other Christian virtues.
“Batman Begins” is also a movie with conservative values. The hero is extremely rich with inherited wealth who has a strong sense of noblesse oblige to defeat the gangsters and villains who prey on the misery of other citizens, including the poor. Noblesse oblige is a Christian notion whereby to whom much is given, much is required, so that the wealthy and the blessed have a moral, biblical and Christian duty to be honorable, generous and responsible. There’s certainly no socialist message in “Batman Begins.” In fact, the government is just as corrupt as the villains.
Even a supposed failure like “Cinderella Man,” a movie with positive family values and Christian virtues, can be viewed in this context. First, contrary to People magazine and Hollywood’s celebrity machine, the two leads in the movie are not really as popular with moviegoers and the American public as we have been lead to believe.
Second, “Cinderella Man” is a drama opening at the wrong time of the year. Even then, it’s made more money so far this year than any other drama that Hollywood has released. It certainly has made more money in America than “Bewitched,” “Kingdom Of Heaven” and “Land Of The Dead.” Finally, “Cinderella Man” is a boxing movie with plenty of realistic boxing violence and a lot of foul language, even for a PG-13 movie. That makes the movie a hard sell to America’s vast audience of church-going families.
Much more could be said, of course, about all of these movies. The fact remains, however, that, if Hollywood wants to recover from this year’s ongoing box office slump, it needs to start releasing positive, uplifting movies with patriotic, pro-American, conservative, Christian values.
Perhaps, one day, we will hear this from the Hollywood entertainment machine:
Hollywood to Mel Gibson: Please come back! We forgive you!
A farfetched story, you say? Maybe. But, much less farfetched than the pro-Muslim revisionist history in “Kingdom Of Heaven.”