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Is there an anti-Christian conspiracy in Hollywood?
by Graeme J. Davidson,
17 June 2006

Studios now recognise they need to pitch more specifically to a mainstream religious audience and Sony Pictures is busy producing The Resurrection for next Easter. However, this renewed approach to faith comes only after The Passion and Narnia brought Hollywood much sought after megabucks.

....While living in Los Angeles, I helped a Hollywood producer write a treatment for a four-part mini series to air primetime on a US network.
....The TV series had to be simplistic, sensational, personal, emotional, and full of conflict. We had the right ingredients –visions of the Virgin Mary seen by three shepherd children near Fatima in Portugal in 1917. There were secret divine messages, pilgrims, sceptics, the cruel local administrator who imprisoned the kids and threatened to boil them in oil, the alleged miracle of the sun acting weirdly in front of a crowd of 70,000 – and church intrigue. To reduce their financial risk, the backers insisted we test our treatment on focus groups and change it to meet their criticisms.
....As expected, the embroidered mini series that resulted got very high audience ratings – and bad reviews, which has also happened with The Da Vinci Code movie.
....Have I seen it? Are you kidding? Why ruin a bad book by seeing the movie? The flat earth theory has more credibility than this much-hyped theological drivel. The reviewer for The Spectator complained of how, “Five minutes into the film, I began to squint with embarrassment, and after 15 I slid down in my seat so as not to catch a Christian eye”. The Times critic was blunt: “The film is a cat’s cradle of lunatic ideas with lashings of religious psychobabble”.
....H L Mencken was right: “No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public” – or any other public, it seems.
Surely, this form of profit-driven religious entertainment gets people thinking about faith? True. But what do they think? Christians might look again at Mary Magdalene and Gnostic texts. But an Opinion Research Business poll in Britain found that after reading the Dan Brown epic, people were twice as likely to believe that Jesus fathered children and four times as likely to think the Catholic organisation Opus Dei is a murderous sect.
Until late last century, audiences lapped up sugar-coated religious blockbusters like The Ten Commandments, The Robe, King of Kings and The Greatest Story Ever Told. The Red Sea parted, God zapped stone tablets, Jesus’s robe was whiter than white and the sun radiated like a halo behind a Saviour who looked like a Malibu Beach hippie. The 1938 movie Boys Town inspired audiences with the story of Father Flanagan helping troubled boys.
....Nowadays, Hollywood is more likely to depict a priest helping himself to boys. In films like The Saint, The Order, The Magdalene Sisters, Stigmata, Saved, Monsignor, Primeval Fear, Priest and The Da Vinci Code, religious people are vilified as lustful, sadistic, masochistic or devious.
....Are we now facing a Dan Brown type anti-Christian conspiracy from a money-hungry Hollywood?
....No one wants to be preached to at the cinema. But sex and violence involving holy people, or a struggle with inept, rule-bound or hypocritical bullying clerics are formulas for box office success. The Last Temptation of Christ featured an erotic Jesus, while The Passion of the Christ dwelt on the brutality of Jesus’ suffering and death. Movies like The End of the Affair, The Green Mile, Dogma, The Big Kahuna, Chocolat, and The Third Miracle, show the effect of God in people’s lives but ridicule the church and its hierarchy.
....Though mainstream Hollywood mightn’t feature religion explicitly, it’s often implicit. J R R Tolkien said his The Lord of the Rings, was “a fundamentally religious and Catholic work”. The Matrix series contains many religious allusions. The origins of Superman and his fight against evil to save others, parallels that of a godlike messiah. So too do the superheroes of Spiderman and the X-Men movies. The true stories of Schindler’s List and Hotel Rwanda, where Paul Rusesabaginam saved 1,268 people from genocide, resound with the religious themes of courage, hope, sacrifice and salvation amidst evil.
....But the problem with implicit religion is you need to know what to look for. Many who saw the first movie of C S Lewis’s Christian allegory The Chronicles of Narnia considered it merely a fairy tale about a lion, a witch and a wardrobe.
....Studios now recognise they need to pitch more specifically to a mainstream religious audience and Sony Pictures is busy producing The Resurrection for next Easter. However, this renewed approach to faith comes only after The Passion and Narnia brought Hollywood much sought after megabucks.

 


 

 

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