Remember the book and movie, The DaVinci Code back in 2006? The book was a bestseller, and the movie was big box office. While there had been other films that questioned the validity of what the Bible says about Jesus, it was probably the first to get such huge publicity. And it wasn’t the last novel, television series, or movie that toyed with historical facts or was offensive to Christianity. But unless you’re ready to set up a permanent boycott office underneath the Hollywood sign, we need to consider another approach to these types of entertainment and media projects that
When it comes to engaging in public policy and challenging today’s culture, one of the least likely strategies is one built around criticism. The growing number of churches and ministries that are constantly “against something” has always been a disturbing trend. On a regular basis, I see an avalanche of direct mail campaigns and magazine articles by organizations upset about
To launch it’s new Apple Music streaming service, Apple recently offered a three-month trial to the public. Great idea. But Apple (who incidentially is worth about $729 billion) planned to not pay the artists for their music during the trial period, which means that Apple would essentially be having the artists themselves underwrite the promotion. As many of you already know, Taylor Swift was the most vocal artist objecting to the idea, and her criticism was the strongest reason Apple finally backed down. How she did it is a great lesson in protesting anything you consider an injustice. Here’s what we can learn:
Karen Covell, Director of the Hollywood Prayer Network had an interesting conversation with an employee of a major ministry regarding their position on boycotting the entertainment industry. Karen, (like most of us Christians in the entertainment business) prefer to think of boycotts as a completely last resort. It raises plenty of money for fundraising campaigns, but as a strategy to change the culture, it simply rarely works.
But Karen responded to this ministry with such a clear and direct explanation of her position, I thought it worth posting. With Karen’s permission, here’s her letter:
I’ve written a lot about meetings, mostly because I just hate them. The vast majority are wasteful, unproductive, and distract employees from the actual task of getting things done. But no matter how much I (and plenty of others) write about the evils of meetings, organizations still have them. Now, I’ve finally discovered why:
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:
I had the fantastic opportunity last night to MC a fundraising event for a great ministry in Hollywood: Hollywood United. It’s essentially a collaboration of three organizations:
The Hollywood Prayer Network
And Act One Hollywood
The event accomplished three things:
Although I obviously recoil at those who trivialize our faith, and sympathize with other Christians who feel offense, I’ve always been consistently resistant to boycotts – especially when it’s about Hollywood – for a number of reasons:
First, if boycotts worked, why don’t missionaries do it? Can you imagine surrounding a tribe in a 3rd world country, criticizing them, calling them names, and boycotting them? Would that actually change their behavior? No. The key to success in missions is to develop a relationship of trust, become one of them, and then share your faith. Instead of always criticizing, what if we did that to Hollywood?
Second, I have yet to meet a single person who has accepted Christ as a result of a boycott or petition drive.
Third, as a strategy, boycotts are incredibly risky. In most cases, they backfire and actually work against you. For instance, during the last Christian boycott of Walt Disney Studios, Disney profits actually went up and they experienced record sales.
Fourth, I’m one of thousands of dedicated believers working inside Hollywood trying to make change happen from the inside. When Christians criticize Hollywood from the outside, it makes it very difficult for us to make a difference.
Fifth, “petitions” generated from direct mail campaigns rarely work. Christians in the industry will tell you that when networks receive packages of these orchestrated petitions, they usually toss them in the trash. Want to know what works? Original, individual, considerate letters from concerned viewers. Those letters get noticed.
Sixth, in my experience, boycotts make very little change happen, but they raise a great deal of money for the organizations behind them. For the most part, I believe the real reason for these petition drives and boycotts are simply fundraising strategies.
What do you think? I’d love to know your opinion.