Recently, the Christian Post interviewed me about Hollywood. It was a good article, but as most publications do, they only used a few short quotes. I thought I’d post the entire interview in case you might be interested in my comments. Let me know what you think:
Christian Post: Do you think Hollywood is out of touch with middle America?
Phil: Obviously Hollywood doesn’t reflect a significant segment of what we might call “Middle America.” Most studio executives I’ve met don’t hold much in the way of religious values, and most are politically liberal. But then again, you could say the same thing generally about attorneys, doctors, and most university professors I’ve come in contact with. Perhaps the bigger issue is “Why do we expect non-believers to act like believers?” Why do we get so stressed out when Hollywood doesn’t reflect our values, or create movies we like? I think far too often we Christians simply get distracted from what we’re really called to do in the world. We spend so much time freaking out over not being able to say a prayer at the start of a high school football game, or upset at Hollywood, the gay community, or others that we forget that our job is to reach the world, not complain about the world.
Christian Post: Considering the stats for “R” movies vs. “G,” why do you think more and more of these movies are being produced? What is the appeal?
PC: The widely distributed idea that G or PG movies do better than R rated movies is somewhat inaccurate. When you take extremely high budget animated blockbusters like “Cars” or “Toy Story” out of the mix, then the story changes significantly. We’d all like to believe that people are looking for G rated entertainment, but the truth is, that’s not necessarily the case. Besides, while protecting children is critical, I’m not sure Christians are really called to produce only G rated movies and TV programming. After all, if we filmed the Bible, much of it would be R-rated, and occasionally worse. The Bible doesn’t gloss over real life and God apparently wasn’t afraid to tell real, authentic stories. I think the culture would respect our message much more if we stopped producing just cheesy, G-rated films and started telling gritty stories about real life.
Christian Post: Do you think Americans would rather see Christian movies? Or would they rather watch feel-good/family type movies? Is there a difference?
PC: First, for better or worse, research from The Barna Group indicates that Christians watch pretty much the exact type of movies and TV programs than non-Christians watch. Second, while I certainly think there’s a place for movies with a Christian theme, the truth is, that’s not why I go to the movies. I go to see powerful, compelling stories about all kinds of subjects. If it has Christian implications like “Blindside,” or “The Chronicles of Narnia,” great. But I’m just as thrilled to see a great war movie, historical epic, or sci-fi thriller.
Christian Post: What could Hollywood do to become more “in touch” with Middle America?
CP: The question is backwards. I would ask, what does “Middle America” need to do to get Hollywood’s attention? The answer to that question is to buy tickets. We sometimes forget that Hollywood is a business. As a result, they pay very little attention to boycotts and critics, but pay a lot of attention to box office receipts. Christians could change Hollywood tomorrow if they would simply start showing up at films they care about. That’s it. There are millions of evangelical Christians in America, and if we could mobilize that power to show up at great movies that reflect our values, trust me – Hollywood would notice and respond.