I was recently interviewed by a news organization about the idea that “G” or “PG” movies – or movies that are essentially more conservative politically make more money at the box office. While I’m not a researcher, and it’s a complex issue, I thought you might be interested in my thoughts on the matter. Here’s my response to the question from the reporter. I would love to know your reaction to the argument:
When I see reports about conservative movies making more money than liberal movies I generally have two thoughts:
1. Far too many movies are simply too subjective to make blanket political assertions. For instance, is Gone with the Wind a conservative or liberal movie? How about Titanic? Sure there’s a nude scene, but it’s also a powerful and heroic love story. Avatar has been criticized for demonizing big business and celebrating the environmental movement. And yet it’s the most successful movie of all time. Obviously there are bombs on both side of the political fence, and we have seen that films that are extremely liberal tend to fall flat on their face. But when it comes to blanket statements about the industry, I’m somewhat skeptical about what works and what doesn’t. After all, if the answers were that easy, we’d all be rich producers.
2. On the issue of films with Christian, family, or moral values doing well at the box office, I’m all for seeing more of them. However, once again, that’s really hard to quantify. What you may think is a “Christian” movie, I might not. Plus, when you take the blockbuster animated event movies like Toy Story or Finding Nemo out of the mix, the numbers dramatically adjust.
Besides, 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.
The bottom line is that we all would like to see more films with positive moral values, and I’m thrilled that so many do so well at the box office. But the truth is, as a Christian myself, I’m not sure we’re called just to make “G” or “PG” movies. In fact, if you filmed “The Bible,” much of it would be “R” rated and some of it possibly “X.” That’s the remarkable thing about the Bible – it tells honest, authentic and true stories. So why do we spend so much time trying to convince Hollywood that serious films about real life that push the edge aren’t welcomed by the faith community? 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.