Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Just thinking about movies

A movie with an axe to grind
SAVED! is a movie with a certain portrayal of Christianity in general, and although its portrayal is very one-sided, it nonetheless carries a small grain of truth of a small segment of misguided Christians.
Is SAVED! without any truth at all? Certainly not! It has been shown many times over that there are many that call themselves Christians that turn out to be just as nasty and manipulative as those who do not claim to be Christians. It simply shows human nature!
But this is where SAVED! parts with what real Christianity is.
SAVED! in no way portrays the truth about real Christianity and in no uncertain terms takes what is sacred and beautiful to Christians making it out to be stupid, laughable and psychologically needy. It portrays Christianity from a very skewed point of view and shows how jaded the creator of this movie really is. This movie has an axe to grind and unfortunately the axe is at the neck of Christianity.
Once again Hollywood is true to form in making Christians out to be the bad guys. Sure some people who claim to be Christians turn out to be really bad, but that doesn't make all Christians really bad! If I claimed that all black people were really bad because some black people are really bad, I would be called a racist or racial bigot. Yet, when a movie like this is made, portraying Christians to be bad because some turn out to be bad, no one bothers to shout "religious bigots!" to the creators of this movie.The double standards are so obvious!
SAVED! portrays Christians as unforgiving, hateful, bigoted, intolerant, idiots, brainless, unthinking and revengeful. It portrays those who shout their commitment to Christ the loudest as the ones who are the worst.
SAVED! definitely is a movie with clashing world views. It shows an anti-Christian world view in which homosexuality and sex before marriage is acceptable. Christians know that these are unacceptable. In SAVED! Christians are thus portrayed as unforgiving and intolerant when these issues arise. In fact, this movie shows that it has no capability of differentiating between intolerance and having principles. It shows Christians who are principled and moral as bigoted to anyone who breaks the Christians "rules."
SAVED! portrays a misguided "Christian" girl (Mary) who wants to straighten out her gay boyfriend by having sex with him, because she thought Jesus told her to. She ends up being pregnant and finds help and understanding from the rebels in the school. She is a member of the Christian school's all-girl band, but as soon as the leader of the band (Hillary-Faye) finds out that she disagrees with their ideas about God, Hillary-Faye summarily kicks Mary out of the band and out of her life. It also shows Hillary-Faye, the most successful "Christian" in the school to paint graffiti all over the school and then trying to frame it on the rebels to get them expelled from the school.
What should we think of this film? It definitely is a hateful portrayal of Christians in a bigoted intolerant movie. In a movie where tolerance is expected, none is shown to Christians. In a film where bigotry is decried, nothing else can be found from the creators of the movie. The creators of this movie are guilty of exactly the same social tendencies that they want to warn us against.
If SAVED! was supposed to be satire, it definitely falls short of its mark. Charles Colson writes that "for a start, satire has to be grounded in reality, so that the intended audience recognizes what's being satirized and is able to laugh a little bit at itself -- and perhaps even learn something about itself in the process. Also, it's more effective if the satire takes a subtle approach to its subject rather than going overboard." SAVED! certainly goes overboard in that it tries to pin almost all kinds of evil behaviour on Christians.
I do not in any way deny that Christians can be like those depicted in the movie. Anyone who denies that simply does not understand the human condition. Yet, defacing school buildings to get fellow school pupils expelled are not common among Christians. Neither is kidnapping fellow pupils to perform exorcisms on them!
Even if, as writer Jeffrey Overstreet writes, it were the Pharisees who were given the short end of the stick, how will non-Christians be able to differentiate between the Pharisee and the genuine Christian if the only reference point is SAVED!?
Is the movie blasphemous? I suppose it all depends on your definition of the word. I don't think that anywhere God is blasphemed in His person. Sure, Mary, in her overwrought state after falling pregnant, she tells a prayer group that there is no one listening at the other end. This in itself is merely a cry for help. In her own zeal she messed up her own life. The problem with the teenagers in this movie is that they have a lot of Zeal, but no Biblical understanding. This can only bring disaster. Then, the one who is supposed to teach and help them right, pastor Skip, is becoming unfaithful to his wife starting to mess around with Mary's mother!
Unfortunately, this movie will be the only reference point for non-Christians, and will simply confirm to them what they thought they always knew about Christians. So, in that sense this movie is totally biased and borders on being a full-frontal attack on Christians.
On the other hand, watching it from a Christian point of view, we could take to heart the many lessons of this movie. From my point of view, every market driven church should watch this movie. When the preaching of the gospel becomes a marketing ploy, then the church has lost the plot.
Just thinking...

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