Note: As much as possible, I don’t write about Movieguide on this blog anymore. The reason why is because I found that writing about Movieguide was doing me more harm than good. While in this post I do quote, and mention, Movieguide, this post is not about Movieguide. I bring up Movieguide merely to help illustrate a point. And that point is: There are Christians who are hostile to the concept of art, who see artists as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Why? I don’t know.
Examples of Christianity’s distrust of artists:
I remember several Sundays in which a banner was draped across the front of the sanctuary, and each week it announced a dollar amount that congregants had given in a church fundraising campaign. It wasn’t celebrating the generosity of God’s people toward serving the poor. It was a campaign for a larger building on the church property for offices and activity rooms. And it made me uncomfortable — to raise my eyes from prayer and see dollar signs.
I also remember feeling uncomfortable during sermons that prioritized judgment over grace, that ranted against the evils of pop culture and “liberalism.” There was more said about the evils of “culture” than was said in observant interpretation of the Scriptures.
…reviewers are sadly out of touch with ticket buyers. In fact, they are so far out of touch that most of them pick only one blockbuster movie, and many mediocre “independent” movies and boring foreign language movies that appeal to only a few moviegoers.
~WAR ROOM’s A+ cinemascore tells the story
When Hollywood makes movies that appeal to the fans of MODERN FAMILY, they don’t play as well in suburban and rural multiplexes. Often, they don’t play there at all. They only show up in inner city “art” theaters.
~Duck Dynasty vs Modern Family
Lately I’ve been wondering:
What do Christians have against artists?*
I see Christians treating the word art like it’s an obscenity.
Like anything made to not explicitly tell Christians what they already believe (the video runs fine)…
…or make as much money at the box office as possible…
…is a “fruitless deed of darkness.”**
I like movies made for Christians, and blockbuster movies. There’s nothing wrong with them. I enjoy them the same way I enjoy McDonald’s.
But: I sometimes find myself hungering for something more. Sometimes I don’t want fast food. Sometimes I want a salad. Sometimes I don’t want to go to the theater and just see explosions and characters reciting Bible verses. Sometimes I want to go to the theater to be challenged to think about life from a perspective I hadn’t before.
Which brings me to:
Since it’s a new year, I feel compelled to take a page out of Christians’ playbook and send Christians a message:
Artists are not your enemy.
Movieguide calls The Wolf of Wall Street an “…abhorrent, overlong exercise in depraved excess.”
But: That’s the point.
As Keith Ulrick at Time Out New York put it:
…an extremely draining experience that’s sure to leave plenty of viewers shouting “We get it!” by the third gluttonous hour. … Scorsese, that sly spiritualist, is out to make us sick on commerce and greed run rampant. He moves us beyond the allure of avarice so that we might take better stock of ourselves. What starts as a piggish paean becomes, by the end, an invigorating purge.
*I feel like I found the answer to my question after I listened to that pastor’s thoughts on Noah: Many Christians see artists as agents of Satan, out to indoctrinate Christians with non-Christian worldviews.
**Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.