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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: trisham

bump for later

61 posted on 11/12/2005 4:49:40 AM PST by Ulysses ("Most of us go through life thinking we're Superman. Superman goes through life being Clark Kent!")
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To: mlc9852
I haven't been to the movies in probably 8 or 9 years but my daughter will be home from college these weekend and we're going to see Dreamer. Looks like a good movie that won't embarrass us.

I haven't seen Dreamer but heard it was good. Don't see Zorro, which I saw two weeks ago. Zorro spends quite a lot of time DRUNK after a fight with his wife, and the plot is preposterous. Who would think that Zorro, a hero, would be wasting our time being drunk instead of going after bad guys? I should have asked for a refund.

62 posted on 11/12/2005 4:56:32 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I saw Dreamer and really enjoyed it. It's a good family movie. I used to watch the Zorro TV series when I was a kid and loved it. All the kids in the neighborhood would take big pointed cactus stalks and have sword fights - lol. But after your review, I won't bother to see the movie.

63 posted on 11/12/2005 5:42:52 AM PST by mlc9852
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To: Mamzelle

There aren't exactly a lot of movies about abortion. The one everyone cites (The Cider House Rules) was six years ago.

64 posted on 11/12/2005 5:59:10 AM PST by Borges
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To: Caleb1411
"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."

No moral obligation ever existed for Mr. Eisner's ilk. The only way I believe we can force those who run most of Hollywood to begin producing artful movies that make a moral statement is to stop going altogther, until they get it right. Or at the very least, attend only those very few movies worth watching.

If Hollywood and the boob tube produced decent movies and programs, with some basic Chrisitan morals and values, crime amongst our young people would drop off sharply. Hollywood glorifies the behavior of punks, which breeds more punks. I believe they know full-well that their 'product' is a cancer on American culture.

65 posted on 11/12/2005 8:05:57 AM PST by TheCrusader ("The frenzy of the Mohammedans has devastated the churches of God" -Pope Urban II, 1097AD)
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To: Borges
Well, there was that English thing that no one watched...but I get your point.

I meant that as a herd, abortion is one of their precious sacrements.

66 posted on 11/12/2005 9:03:09 AM PST by Mamzelle (.)
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To: MineralMan

Here is my list for the last few months.
It is difficult to do; but possible to find movies that are not sleazy, pushing bed hopping, and homosexual agendas, etc.or political views.

"Batman Begins"
"War of the Worlds"
"Must Love Dogs"
"Return of Zorro"

67 posted on 11/12/2005 9:17:11 AM PST by Countyline
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To: Countyline

I loved WOTW. Much more faithful to the tone of the novel then the 1953 version (which was entertaining in its own way) and virtuosic filmmaking.

68 posted on 11/13/2005 6:43:28 AM PST by Borges
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To: Mamzelle

Actually 'Vera Drake' gave a sigficiant voice to the anti abortion side (the titular character's family) as well. Much more so then any movie I've seen in a long time. Jack Nicholson is also an outspoken opponent of abortion.

69 posted on 11/13/2005 6:45:47 AM PST by Borges
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To: RobbyS
Why would we want to support Hollywood in any way shape or form. Let the market take it's course and let the idiots in Hollywood starve. Boycott Hollywood all together.

Avoiding Hollywood will force change more more than trying to change Hollywood by supporting it. They understand loss better than gain.

Christians can change the culture by just being a real Christian. That means, do not allow for the paganization of Christianity with the easter bunny, santa clause, etc etc.... This is all done to make Christianity more palatable for the rest of the world. Christ hanging from the cross is very offensive to Hollywood.
70 posted on 11/14/2005 7:36:35 AM PST by SQUID
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To: after dark
A classic case of PC was the most recent version of Zorro. Within 10 minutes of the beginning of the picture, the villains of the movie were shown to be Bible spouting white racists, speaking in "hick-bonics", who opposed the entry of California as a state of the Union. I walked out of the movie, regretting my having wasted $7.50 on this anti-white, anti-Protestant, anti-Southern trash.
71 posted on 11/14/2005 7:43:56 AM PST by Wallace T.
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To: Caleb1411

No. Time and again, family friendly movies have made piles of money. But they still produce anti-family crap. They're not interested in money.

Even Zarutha had a few lines that made me cringe: "Fetch me a juice box, be-otch."

72 posted on 11/14/2005 7:49:47 AM PST by Little Ray (I'm a reactionary, hirsute, gun-owning, knuckle dragging, Christian Neanderthal and proud of it!)
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To: wideawake

It's too early to say nothing has followed Passion, the normal movie cycle is two years and it's only been 18 months. Narnia is a direct result of LOTR, and I'd say some editing decisions were made because of Passion, but we won't know for sure until next spring what the effects of Passion are.

73 posted on 11/14/2005 7:51:04 AM PST by discostu (When someone tries to kill you, you try to kill them right back)
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