By Phil Boatwright
KANSAS CITY, KS -- We Christians have a lot to answer for, because we don't always do what the Lord teaches us. Unfortunately for us, being human often makes us look hypocritical to nonbelievers, this foible of the human nature leaving us vulnerable to many moviemakers. And right now we are easy prey to artists at war with God. Somehow, we have become the bad guys in their eyes and the elite of Hollywood are becoming more and more vitriolic in their attack on us, our faith and our Lord. Let me give you an example and a possible solution.
"EASY A" is a film about high schoolers searching for ways to be accepted by their peers, yet the script counters its very theme -- to accept one another and show one another respect -- by mocking and belittling all Christians. The lead, Olive, begins a misleading rumor about herself, letting others think she slept with a fellow student. She does this in order to find acceptance. Soon, however, this make-believe indiscretion causes her life to parallel Hester Prynne's in "The Scarlet Letter." Then, for money, she aids nerds by letting them tell others they have had sexual encounters with her. Some think she is cool because she dresses lewdly and has become sexually promiscuous, while others think she has become the school tramp (much harsher words are used to describe her in the film).
A colleague and friend of mine enjoyed the film and simply overlooked the profane language (Lisa Kudrow from "Friends" goes off on a tirade and abuses God's name at least 10 times). Nor was she concerned by the film's caustic attack on members of the Christian faith. In the film, the Christian youth group is seen reading the Bible, praying, singing songs -- all the while showing nothing but hatred and bigotry toward their fellow students. There isn't one single example of a person of faith being shown in a good light, not even when the lead goes to different churches seeking solace for her actions.
Why is my film friend immune to this grievous presentation? Perhaps it's because we are getting used to such Hollywood misrepresentations and, unlike those who stand up for the rights of every other group out there, our "group" isn't speaking up. There doesn't seem to be any effective Christian alliance willing to voice our dissatisfaction with the film industry's bigotry toward us.
I'm sure those responsible for Easy A would counter with, "It's meant as satire, in keeping with the themes found in Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter.'" Fair enough, but try painting everyone in a minority group or an entire heritage of another religion with this same caricaturist brushstroke. First of all, they wouldn't do it, and second, if they did, they'd catch fire and brimstone. Yet somehow, it's OK when mockery is aimed at followers of Christ.
It's both revealing and upsetting when critics fail to mention the Christian-bashing found in the movies they review. In his review of Easy A, Jason Heck of the Kansas City Star refers to the film's cartoonish "Christian" Marianne as a "Jesus freak," a rather insensitive term some might consider name calling. No assault on Mr. Heck, he's an excellent reviewer, but it's revealing that many critics ignore such cinematic ambushes on people of the Christian faith. It's also upsetting that Christian moviegoers are complacent about this artistic offense.
I won't review the film here, but I hope you will read the entire critique in order to learn the reason for its PG-13 content. (http://www.previewonline.org/rev.php3?3599).
The Wall Street Journal's Joe Morgenstern (a 2005 Pulitzer Prize recipient for criticism) focused his take on Easy A by examining the cleverness of the film and by spotlighting the performance and demeanor of its star, Emma Stone. "With her agile features, Cognac voice and Spritely spirit, she makes Olive an embodiment of young sophistication." Good line, wish I'd written it. But somehow, the 30 obscenities (curse words) and 20 profanities (misuses of God's name and Christ's), and the one-dimensional portrayal of the film's "villains" seemingly had no impact on him.
Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly refers to the film as "cheeky sociological teen-raunch," but also fails to show any sensitivity toward people of faith.
Christianity has been wounded throughout Europe, and now that advance has spread throughout America's culture, primarily sponsored by media celebrities. Their directive, perhaps based on personal disagreement with biblical pronouncements, seems meant to convince America's youth that our faith is false. Is the objective of ridiculing followers of the faith, agenda-driven, a course set in order to eliminate any Christian impact on our society? Yes!
Does anybody see what I'm seeing? Then do something. Discuss it with your kids. Ask your pastor to address it. Don't go to movies that send such calculated strikes against your beliefs. Rather, read reviews that contain the reason for the rating of a film -- so that you can discuss it without financially supporting it. Write letters to the editor of your local paper. Do something. Or wait for the next generation to be doomed to living in a nation that no longer considers itself Christian.
I wish I were a better writer in order to stress this warning against apathy, to impassion you concerning Hollywood's discrimination towards our faith. But, please, read between my clumsy attempts and do something.
"A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." -- From the 1964 film "The Fall of the Roman Empire."
Phil Boatwright reviews films from a Christian perspective for Baptist Press.