Friday, March 14, 2014

Son Of God

You'd be surprised, I'm sure, were some entertainment heavyweight to publicly condemn a movie that celebrates the life of Moses, or Muhammad, or Buddha as "spiritual bullying." You'd imagine that the heavyweight's colleagues would have the good sense to restrain him from such an emission if possible, and if not, to distance themselves from his comments afterward. After all, such figures are of major religious importance to millions of people, regardless of what any individual might think of them. Allowing religious persons to enjoy their preferences undisturbed is considered a fundamental rule of courtesy in America, the pretensions and presumptions of militant atheists notwithstanding.

It seems there are exceptions to that rule:

Peter Bart, the editorial director of Variety and a former film producer, fears Mark Burnett is hurting his brand with Son of God.

So he penned an "open letter" accusing Burnett of being a spiritual bully. Only he didn't have the courage to say so directly.

Bart is utterly unabashed about his disapproval of Burnett's movie:

The problem, Mark, is that when you encourage pastors, among others, to buy out multiplexes for “Son of God” in their communities, some would accuse you of a form of spiritual bullying.

Here are some big picture realities to ponder, Mark: Battles pitting faith-based voters against same sex marriage and the legalization of pot are heating up across Middle America. Many states are weighing legislation permitting businesses to refuse to serve presumably gay customers on “religious grounds.” So while you may take pride in “evangelizing” your film’s message, as you put it, you should also be aware that you are politicizing the Mark Burnett brand....

Indeed, your own biblical interpretations, Mark, have been challenged in some circles. “Taking Jesus into your life these days has become another form of instant gratification, one that avoids acknowledgement of denominational conflicts,” says producer John Heyman, whose Bible-informed television specials recently earned him a visionary award from the faith-based Movieguide organization....

You and your financial supporters, Mark, are banking that you will reach a wide audience that embraces your spiritual message. You might be right, but you might also be surprised by the pushback from those who feel that elements of the faith-based community, in advancing their cause, seem insensitive to the priorities of dissenters.

Don't be misled by the indirection, the "some would accuse," the "seem insensitive," and so forth. Peter Bart, a major figure in entertainment journalism, is expressing his own opinions and preferences. Were it otherwise, he would have penned analogous missives to the various entertainment figures who've produced works or made public pronouncements that attack Christianity, or religion generally.

The implication of Bart's pronunciamento is inescapable: Do not make a pro-Christianity movie. Dare to do so and the titans of the cinema world will treat you to a public denunciation beyond anything you can imagine.

There is, of course, one offense greater than merely to make a pro-Christian movie: making one that earns big bucks, as did Mel Gibson's personal and heavily pooh-poohed project The Passion of the Christ: a total of $612 million in global revenues.

But I digress. The entertainment world is top-heavy with persons actively hostile to Christianity. (Ironically, a goodly number of these describe themselves as "spiritual," which might be the biggest offense against language committed in this age of Man.) For them, Christianity is too "counter-cultural" -- that is, counter to their preferred cultural vision, in which "what's right is whatever's right for you." Such a movie cannot be allowed to stand on its merits; it must be derided from its inception and brutally slandered should it prove capable of drawing an audience.

The days when a movie such as The Greatest Story Ever Told could expect to receive approval, if not praise, from major figures in cinema is long gone. Such movies simply don't make enough room for the things Hollywood wants us to value: promiscuous, loveless sex; abortion on demand; the uncritical acceptance and endorsement of homosexuality; general moral nihilism; and the worship of the Omnipotent State and its current Messiah.

Before this, I'd planned to wait for the DVD of Son Of God. Now I intend to see it in the theater. What about you, Gentle Reader?

1 comment:

milton f said...

It raises the question- - -"Now who is going to harm you if you are enthusiastic for what is good?"

Perhaps visiting the cinema at this time is the best response we can have.

Thanks F.W.P. for the insight.