My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
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17-12-2015, 12:38 AM (This post was last modified: 17-12-2015 12:52 AM by Sylia Gray.)
My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
Forgive me if this post appears long. But please bare with me. I hope it piques everyone's interests.

As a screenwriting student, I was listening to a screenwriting podcast called "On the Page" and in one particular episode, the host, who identified herself as "an agnostic Jew" (I think she means secular Jew) invited two experts from some Christian media group as guests and they were talking screenwriting for a niche market of religious film. (Her podcast is secular. Faith films is just a subject of this one particular episode.) In that episode, they were talking about the faith-film market, and how religious people among the listeners could break into that niche outside of the Hollywood mainstream. And one of the things that the guests said that surprised me (if I correctly remember how they said it - I don't want to put words in their mouths) was that even they themselves were dissatisfied with how most Christian movies tend to alienate general audiences because they tend to get too preachy. And as an atheist, I'm on the same boat as they are.

To be honest, there have been some Christian-themed movies that I have enjoyed even as an atheist. One of my favorite Disney/Pixar movies was Wall-E which was written and directed by Andrew Staunton and Pete Doctor - both of whom are devout Christians. And as devoted Christians, during the story's development process, they both took creative liberties to instill Christian themes into the movie. But in spite of instilling Christian themes into this movie, they were still able to make Wall E into a successful movie with mass appeal. In fact, Pete Doctor once said in an article about his role as Pixar's storyteller that his Christian faith is his own private business, not anyone else's. Which I find admirable.

Another Judeo-Christian themed movie that I enjoyed was Darren Aronofsky's Noah movie. Aronofsky (He's is an atheist Jew) and Paramount Pictures didn't have an agenda to preach the Bible. They just want to entertain broad audiences, Christian and non-Christian alike, by presenting the story as a Jewish mythology (which, to my understanding, the Jews ripped from the Babylonians).

Now... I think the reason why some Christian-themed movies like Noah and Wall-E are enjoyable and appealing to broad audiences as opposed to hardcore Christian movies like any of Kirk Cameron films was because Disney and Paramount Pictures' business is to make money by entertaining people. And in order to cash in and make as much money as possible, studios need to produce movies that are generally appealing to a broad range of audiences. Their primary agenda is to entertain wide range of audiences in order to make as much money as possible.

The problem I see with a lot of hardcore Christian movies is that many of them tend to have preachy storytelling with an "in-your-face" approach to conveying Christian themes. You know, where it has things like:

- Christian characters, like a preacher, going "Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!" or "The Bible says this and Bible says that" every 10 minutes.
- Stereotypical (and often deliberately misrepresentating) caricatures of LGBT people, atheists, and other non-Christians

For those who read this post, let me ask you:

Why do you think people go to the movies? Why do YOU go to the movies? You go to the movies because you want to be entertained, right?

Most people go to the movies because they want entertainment first and foremost. And a hardcore religious film with a preachy in-your-face message would be a HUGE turn off. General moviegoers want to be entertained, not preached to. If they want to be preached to, they'll just attend church, mosque, synagogue, etc.

Apparently, unlike mainstream Hollywood, it seems like most hardcore Christian movies have their agenda backwards. Their movies appear to be produced to preach to audience first, rather than to prioritize on entertaining them. It's no wonder that most Christian movies only tend to appeal to their core Christian audiences, even if it stars Hollywood heavyweights like Nicolas Cage. And you have people like Ray Comfort whining about Aronofsky's Noah movie. And speaking of atheists, Kirk Cameron blames atheists for his movie Saving Christmas's spectacular failure. (Kirk, it's not our fault that your movie sucks! It's YOUR fault that you can't make movies that are appealing broadly beyond your core Christian audiences!)

Here are two quotes I found interesting that I think relates very well to this thread:

"Out of our years of experimenting and experience, we learned one basic thing about bringing pleasure and knowledge to people of all ages and conditions, which goes to the very roots of public communication. That is this: the power of relating facts, as well as fables, in story form." - Walt Disney

"Orestes is made to say himself what the poet rather than the story demands."
- Aristotle

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17-12-2015, 05:58 AM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
-Why do you think people go to the movies?

You said 2 different points IMO. I see a difference between movies like Noah and movies like God is not Dead (or whatever). I feel that movies like Noah are meant to entertain and GIND is intended to preach. I therefore think that people go to them (or not go to them) for those reasons. GIND is simply a movie about the christian impression of a typical asshole atheist philosophy professor that every apologist seems to have had an experience with whereas Noah is just a visualization of an old tale. They are both fantasy IMO but the angle is different. I have the feeling that a christian would look at Kevin Sorbo and think, "See, they always come back to the fold. Praise be." As far as most christians are concerned, the literal truth of the Noah story is irrelevant to their beliefs. GIND is a telling of a story that my gut tells me they all think is what happens in the mind of an atheist (i.e. we all secretly hate god).

-Why do YOU go to the movies?

I wouldn't. Although interestingly, it was after watching The 10 Commandments that made be actually pick up the bible and started reading. It didn't take long for me to see that the character and story in the movie did not match the character and story in the book.

-You go to the movies because you want to be entertained, right?

Personally, I do. I really would not like a movie about atheists that was not honestly portraying a typical christian. Yeah, I know that "typical" is subjective.


(17-12-2015 12:38 AM)Sylia Gray Wrote:  Apparently, unlike mainstream Hollywood, it seems like most hardcore Christian movies have their agenda backwards. Their movies appear to be produced to preach to audience first, rather than to prioritize on entertaining them. It's no wonder that most Christian movies only tend to appeal to their core Christian audiences, even if it stars Hollywood heavyweights like Nicolas Cage. And you have people like Ray Comfort whining about Aronofsky's Noah movie. And speaking of atheists, Kirk Cameron blames atheists for his movie Saving Christmas's spectacular failure. (Kirk, it's not our fault that your movie sucks! It's YOUR fault that you can't make movies that are appealing broadly beyond your core Christian audiences!)

I think you are spot-on here. I also think that the hardcore christian demographic is extremely deluded whereas Hollywood just wants to make money by any means possible.

"If we are honest—and scientists have to be—we must admit that religion is a jumble of false assertions, with no basis in reality.
The very idea of God is a product of the human imagination."
- Paul Dirac
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17-12-2015, 08:55 AM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
(17-12-2015 12:38 AM)Sylia Gray Wrote:  Why do you think people go to the movies? Why do YOU go to the movies? You go to the movies because you want to be entertained, right?

I guess it depends on the person, sometimes I go the movies to be mindlessly entertained, sometimes it's to be moved. I like summer blockbusters just like everybody else, from the new James Bond Movies, to Superhero films, but the movies I tend to appreciate the most, are the ones that move me, that mimic the basic rhythm of life, that don't seem contrite, or derivative. I think preachy movies pandering to evangelical christian audiences tend to fall into that camp.

My favorite Christian movie, is actually The Gospel According to the St. Matthew, and that was directed by a gay commie atheists. Every other Jesus movies is nearly unwatchable in comparison.

Other christian themed movies that I appreciate are the late works of Terrence Malick, in particular the Tree of Life and To the Wonder, the films of Andrei Tarkovsky. And other great films tend to that I enjoyed incorporate a bit of Christian themes as well, like Ikiru, The Great Beauty, Twelve Years a Slave, the films of Ingmar Bergman, etc...

"Tell me, muse, of the storyteller who has been thrust to the edge of the world, both an infant and an ancient, and through him reveal everyman." ---Homer the aged poet.

"In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it."
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17-12-2015, 11:11 AM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
(17-12-2015 08:55 AM)Tomasia Wrote:  
(17-12-2015 12:38 AM)Sylia Gray Wrote:  Why do you think people go to the movies? Why do YOU go to the movies? You go to the movies because you want to be entertained, right?

I guess it depends on the person, sometimes I go the movies to be mindlessly entertained, sometimes it's to be moved. I like summer blockbusters just like everybody else, from the new James Bond Movies, to Superhero films, but the movies I tend to appreciate the most, are the ones that move me, that mimic the basic rhythm of life, that don't seem contrite, or derivative.

I totally get that. You want to see movies that mimic reality in some way that delivers to you some kind of emotional catharsis at the end. That's how Aristotle described good drama when he wrote the Poetics during his time over 2,000 years ago. Of course he was referring to Greek dramas of his time since movies weren't invented back then. But I think that definition of drama translate will into movies.

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17-12-2015, 11:13 AM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
(17-12-2015 05:58 AM)The Organic Chemist Wrote:  -Why do YOU go to the movies?

I wouldn't. Although interestingly, it was after watching The 10 Commandments that made be actually pick up the bible and started reading. It didn't take long for me to see that the character and story in the movie did not match the character and story in the book.

Hmmm... interesting point.

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17-12-2015, 11:42 AM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
My favourite Christian movie has to be Monty Python's Life Of Brian.

I'm a creationist... I believe that man created God.
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17-12-2015, 12:01 PM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
(17-12-2015 12:38 AM)Sylia Gray Wrote:  Another Judeo-Christian themed movie that I enjoyed was Darren Aronofsky's Noah movie.
I thought that movie was terrible. No offense to the director. The source material is shite. I really don't know how one could make a decent story out of the Noah's ark debacle.


I do however think a decent movie could be made of the Christian stories, but the god needs to be portrayed as some highly evil demon. Make a horror movie of if. A bunch of kids laugh at a bald man as he walks by, the man mutters a spell, The Omen music comes on, a couple of bears launch themselves out of the forest, chase down the children and tear 42 of them apart, blood and guts everywhere!
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17-12-2015, 12:10 PM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
(17-12-2015 12:01 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(17-12-2015 12:38 AM)Sylia Gray Wrote:  Another Judeo-Christian themed movie that I enjoyed was Darren Aronofsky's Noah movie.
I thought that movie was terrible. No offense to the director. The source material is shite. I really don't know how one could make a decent story out of the Noah's ark debacle.


I do however think a decent movie could be made of the Christian stories, but the god needs to be portrayed as some highly evil demon. Make a horror movie of if. A bunch of kids laugh at a bald man as he walks by, the man mutters a spell, The Omen music comes on, a couple of bears launch themselves out of the forest, chase down the children and tear 42 of them apart, blood and guts everywhere!


I liked the Noah movie because they presented it as an entertaining mythology (and Aronofsky is one of my favorite directors). I too, personally think decent movies can be made out Judeo-Christian mythologies as long as they are presented as mythologies the same way Hollywood presents Greek mythologies.

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17-12-2015, 12:19 PM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
I used to watch some Hallmark "romance" movies back when I was a Christian. I use the term romance loosely since the kissing scenes lasted like two seconds or were like a quick peck on the lips. And of course, no bedroom scenes or even any allusion to two 30-something single adults having sex. The plot and theme were also very Christian-friendly (translation: boring).
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17-12-2015, 12:23 PM
RE: My opinion on why MOST Christian movies are so terrible.
(17-12-2015 12:19 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I used to watch some Hallmark "romance" movies back when I was a Christian. I use the term romance loosely since the kissing scenes lasted like two seconds or were like a quick peck on the lips. And of course, no bedroom scenes or even any allusion to two 30-something single adults having sex. The plot and theme were also very Christian-friendly (translation: boring).

Huh... I had no idea Hallmark Channel was Christian. I don't even watch their programs but I've heard of them a lot.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallmark_Channel

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