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Viewers with a viewpoint: Can Christians change the culture by going to the movies?
WORLD ^ | November 5, 2005 | Gene Edward Veith

Posted on 10/28/2005 9:51:06 AM PDT by Caleb1411

Here is how Christians can change Hollywood, according to Jonathan Bock: "Go to more movies."

As a publicist, the founder of Grace Hill Media, Mr. Bock might be biased, but here is his reasoning, as explained in the book Behind the Screen: Hollywood Insiders on Faith, Film, and Culture (Baker): "If Christians would go as a demographic bloc to a movie on opening weekend, we could make that movie a hit. And the studios would make more films just like it."

The movie industry has been in the economic doldrums, with declining ticket sales and a smaller demographic slice going to theaters. But 43 percent of Americans are church-goers, many of whom find themselves mocked and their values undermined in the typical Hollywood fare. But when Christians found a movie they liked—The Passion of the Christ—they made it the third-biggest moneymaker of all time, last year accounting for one-fifth of the movie industry's total profits.

Mr. Bock quotes Disney mogul Michael Eisner: "We have no obligation to make art. We have no obligation to make a statement. To make money is our only objective." If this is true, Christians can use the power of the marketplace to influence the marketplace of ideas.

Christian pollster George Barna has engineered an arrangement with the movie studios and theater networks to test the concept. BarnaFilms Preview Night will select four worthy movies a year. Churches and other groups can buy blocks of at least 50 tickets. This will entitle them to a special showing the night before the film is officially released.

"The success of a film is largely determined by its opening weekend box-office revenues," Mr. Barna told WORLD. "By churches turning out in a bloc to witness a particular film, we begin to exercise the power of numbers, which can then influence the creative and business executives in Hollywood to develop movies that satisfy the entertainment interests of Christians."

The first movie featured with a Preview Night is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Mr. Barna admits that the Narnia movie, already being hyped to churches with the same marketing campaign used in The Passion, "will have virtually universal awareness whether we have a preview or not." But "future films that we expect to preview are likely to go unnoticed without a special effort to gain people's attention."

(Churches that would like to organize a preview of the Narnia movie so members can see it a day early, on Dec. 8 instead of Dec. 9, can go to

But why concentrate on movies? Isn't our preoccupation with perpetually entertaining ourselves part of our cultural problem? Mr. Barna said that according to his research into the factors that influence people's lives today, "The upper tier is comprised of seven influencers: movies, music, television, the internet, books, family, and public policy. Together, those seven entities appear to have about 60 percent to 70 percent of the influence on what people think and do." In the very bottom tier of cultural influences, he said, is the local church.

Using Christians' buying power as a way to influence the culture has its skeptics. "The idea that Christians will go see films targeted at them has not been borne out by the marketplace," says film scholar Thom Parham, also writing in Behind the Screen. "Christians, it turns out, see the same films as everyone else."

That is part of the problem, says Conservative Films' David Stidham, who has devised a rating system to assess the moral content of a movie. If Christians would both refuse to go to morally questionable films and support the relatively few positive movies in droves, then they would make an impact.

But marshaling economic clout for cultural influence is a provocative tactic, beyond just the movie industry. Christians have tried boycotts, but those seldom work. The opposite—rewarding Christian-friendly and morally sensitive companies by giving them our business—might pay bigger cultural dividends.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: barna; boxoffice; christians; culturewars; hollywood; movies; narnia; thepassion
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To: RobbyS

There are plenty of groups that point out content in films. They just don't have the clout they used to. The ratings are there for a reason folks...

41 posted on 10/28/2005 11:29:37 AM PDT by Borges
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To: wideawake

'The Crying Game' and 'Secrets and Lies' weren't Hollywood films. Neither was Boys Don't Cry really...not a Studio film certainly. But sometimes you can't give away what a film is about in previews without spoilers. I obviously question the designation of Million Dollar Baby as propaganda for euthenasia. It was rather ambiguous on that score. And 'Far From Heaven' was more about 1950s movies then anything else...just sytematically inverting their cliches...all it really did of course was create new ones.

42 posted on 10/28/2005 11:37:16 AM PDT by Borges
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To: wideawake

For every openly progay film, there are dozens that introduce a gay character in a minor part. The irony is that most of these characters are caricatures. But the whole point is to advance the claim that this disease is harmless.

43 posted on 10/28/2005 11:37:57 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Borges

It is interesting that the Legion of Decency was dropped after Vatican II--and the ascendency of the Lavender Mafia.

44 posted on 10/28/2005 11:40:44 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: RobbyS

Gays have complained about the caricatures in the past. Remember The Silence of the Lambs with its gay serial killer? What's good for the goose is good for the gander...

45 posted on 10/28/2005 11:41:38 AM PDT by Borges
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To: RobbyS
This site may interest you if that's what you're looking for...
46 posted on 10/28/2005 11:43:05 AM PDT by Borges
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To: Borges
Correct. Many of these films weren't made in Hollywood, but they were heavily promoted in the US by the film industry and film media.

Very few production companies nowadays have no ties to Hollywood.

47 posted on 10/28/2005 11:43:32 AM PDT by wideawake (God bless our brave troops and their Commander-in-Chief)
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To: wideawake

Well critics are going to promote what they like regardless. There's so many of them that there's plenty to balance it out. And with the Internet even more so. And the ties to Hollywood are in distribution for sure. It's virtually impossible for an indie distributor it seems. They are all big studio based. P.S. 'Boys Don't Cry' was miserable! A gross violator of the 'These horrible events happened and now we will reenac them for you with no context or insight' school of filmmaking along with 'Monster'.

48 posted on 10/28/2005 11:46:13 AM PDT by Borges
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To: TheCrusader
That would force Hollywood to stop producing all this gratuitous sex, anti-Christian, pro-homosexual, bloody murder, vile language dung they pass off as 'movies'.

I saw a movie recently that had no sex,violence and/or profanity. And it was a great movie.

Did anyone see Dear Frankie It wasn't out long but it was a great movie.

49 posted on 10/28/2005 11:48:30 AM PDT by It's me
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To: wideawake
The latest push will be for Brokeback Mountain.


I just watched the trailer. Yikes. "There are some lies we have to tell"?? It's ridden with propaganda.

50 posted on 10/28/2005 11:49:56 AM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: Borges

I think that the caricatures are introduced to soften the image of gays, as harmless little pussycats.

51 posted on 10/28/2005 11:56:57 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Caleb1411
More people would see their movies if they would stop with the cheesy political correctness.

Gay people and black people are all saints and victims.

Women are masculine ,and white guys are devils.

To top things off they have tacky one liners devoted to putting down members of a certain political party.

These things are boring . When I see them in movies, I long to run for the door.
52 posted on 10/28/2005 12:05:45 PM PDT by after dark
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To: Caleb1411
There are many reasons that movie attnd is declining--DVDs, etc--

But I think a reason that floats beneath the radar is the fact that there are more old Americans now than young Americans, and the US population (legal citizens) did not replace itself.

Ironic that Hollywood, so passionate about exterminating the unborn, aborted itself out of business.

53 posted on 10/28/2005 3:18:57 PM PDT by Mamzelle (.)
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To: Kieri
"Hollywood knows but refuses to admit that family films, when done well and with respect, are box-office draws. "The Incredibles," "Chicken Run," "Finding Nemo," and "The Lion King" are all prime examples."

Begging your pardon but the Lion King does not belong on your list. One of the main characters has a gay voice (you know it wasn't chosen by accident -- especially when Lion King was made 10 years ago, when Christians were not as well organized). And I seem to remember some other scenes and lines that could easily have been left on the director's cutting room floor.

When Eisner was in his prime, Disney movies were deliberately attempting to subvert our children to a liberal and leftist viewpoint. Eisner was quoted saying as much.

54 posted on 10/28/2005 4:22:38 PM PDT by tom h
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To: RobbyS

That said, they in their ordinary life, they are remarkably like your local bank vice-president. So are most of the guys who make porn films.>>>>>>>>>>

You just never know, back in the sixties a co-worker asked where I went to high schook, when I told him he said, "well you must have known (a certain gorgeous brunette who loooked like a dead ringer for Natalie Wood), I said , of course, she was a classmate. He then knocked my flat by saying, "you know you almost never meet a girl so good looking who loves to f...... that much". It seems that she had been going to another town twenty miles away and pulling trains on a regular basis. He seemed genuinely astounded that I didn't know this, in fact he pretty much called me a liar to my face when I insisted that I had no idea. This was a girl who never uttered a four letter word and whom I considered beyond my reach.

55 posted on 10/29/2005 6:49:06 AM PDT by RipSawyer (Acceptance of irrational thinking is expanding exponentiallly.)
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To: RipSawyer

My daughter worked as a PA for five years in the movie industry in NC and in California. Her first job, and firts credit, was an an intern on an independent movie in North Carolina. It was a clunky horror movie. She said she was astonished at the willingness of local girls to take of their clothes, just to get into a movie that went instantly to video. Tese were just ordinary, high school cheerleader types, but that had no shame. What they have is what many Americans crave, which is to have their "fifteen minutes of fame." Many will settle for ten seconds, of course, which is why they show up every morning outside the studios of the Today Show.

56 posted on 10/29/2005 9:06:36 AM PDT by RobbyS ( CHIRHO)
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To: Caleb1411; llevrok; camle; MineralMan; Borges; Kieri; gondramB; SQUID; ZGuy; OldYank1; ...

I highly recommend "The Greatest Game Ever Played," which is based on a true story that happened in the early 1900's. I saw it about a month ago when it came out, but I guess it wasn't that successful at the box office. Too bad families didn't take their kids and support a nice movie. If we don't support movies like this, they won't get made.

57 posted on 11/12/2005 4:22:05 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: It's me
Did anyone see Dear Frankie It wasn't out long but it was a great movie.

Sorry to say, I never heard of it. I don't remember it playing around here. Is it out on video yet?

58 posted on 11/12/2005 4:29:04 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: It's me

I just looked up "Dear Frankie," and discovered that Gerard Butler is in it. IMO he did a great job playing the phantom in Phantom of the Opera. He was also in a movie that was based on a true story about soccer that came out this Spring but never got to my area.

59 posted on 11/12/2005 4:34:48 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: MineralMan
My point is that people should choose the films they see carefully.

Yes, they should choose films carefully and beware of R-rated movies. The only r-rated movie I've seen in years was the Passion. Even pg-13 has gone downhill with sex and violence.

60 posted on 11/12/2005 4:47:09 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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