For some reason, I’ve had a number of questions on this subject recently. I’m not sure why, but a number of very sincere Christian filmmakers seem to be wrestling with the subject, so I thought I’d share my thoughts on the blog. There are plenty of filmmakers and critics who will give you a snarky, cynical answer, but the truth is, it’s a question worth answering – particularly if you’re creating films and media for family viewing.
Actually, my feeling fairly simple and it’s all based on the character. One of the greatest criticisms of media created by Christians is that it’s simply not believable. You can’t have an outlaw biker, a member of the Mafia, or a drug addict using nice, “family safe” words. The truth is that they use profanity on a regular basis, so to not allow that in a movie at some level, is to cheapen the character and undermine the believability of your story.
So my rule is we don’t use profanity in a gratuitous way, but to help express the nature of the character in his or her present state. To be convincing, it has to be real, authentic, and believable. To do otherwise is to create a fake character, and that does nothing for the presentation of the gospel.
The bottom line is that unless we show how deep the sin, we can’t show how great the salvation. That doesn’t give us a license to use profanity all the time, but it does create the need to show real people, real characters, and real situations.
Now, we just need Christian audiences to stop being so offended when they see authentic behavior on film, and Christian filmmakers with the guts to tell those stories in a compelling way.
Then, we’ll start impacting the culture…