What makes a feminist?

What makes a feminist?

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Christian culture in film-or, why someone felt the need to respond to "50 Shades"

I'll start by saying that I did not read the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy.  Well, not in full anyways.  I'm not morally opposed to BDSM, but I read enough to know that what was being portrayed was not in any way healthy or representative of people who have those inclinations.  So when I heard that a movie was coming out, I was indifferent.

And then I heard that a "clean" version of 50SoG was coming out: "Old Fashioned".  I think a more accurate description would be "love story that has nothing to do with BDSM but we're going to premier it the same weekend to offer a nice, wholesome alternative".  I might go see it anyways, even though I wouldn't pay full price.

I've watched other films that are typically seen only in evangelical circles.  Pamela's Prayer is the story of a young woman who struggles with staying pure until marriage.  Only by 'pure', we mean 'never even been kissed until her wedding day'.  It's hailed in ultra-conservative circles as this amazing love story and it's absolutely horrible.  Strong beliefs are all well and good, but for the love of deity they should be expressed by passably good actors.

I tried to watch Fireproof.  I couldn't make it all the way through.  Kirk Cameron will never have a career in the secular movie industry and I'm surprised he still has one at all.

October Baby was passably good and even enjoyable in parts.  The main character is a young woman who discovers that she was the survivor of an abortion attempt.  Religious or not, I think any person would feel disturbed by that news.  Perhaps I was biased since it was also billed as a pro-life movie, but the religious aspects were more subtle.

So...these might not be the best examples.  But they have one thing in common: they aren't going to appeal to much out of a non-mainstream audience.  Other films have been criticized as racist (Alone But Not Alone), but I think a large part of the problem is (aside from limited budgets) that films labeling themselves "Christian" are just not of interest to non-evangelicals.

The characters and situations are not believable.  Maybe some of you are reading this thinking "but everyone I know waited until marriage for sex/kissing/starting a family!".  It's called confirmation bias.  Most people I know...didn't wait until marriage for anything except maybe having children.  Or if they did wait, they didn't announce it Jessica Simpson-style but regarded it as their own private business.  And statistically speaking, most people are not virgins when they marry for the first time.  Is it unfortunate?  Depends on your perspective.  I don't have much of an opinion one way or the other, as long as people are making that decision for themselves and aren't judging others for making different choices.  And that's where the problem lies.  The Good Christian Girl (TM) at my high school was not disliked for being a Christian, she was disliked for being a slut-shaming, homophobic snot.  I'm reasonably certain that Jesus wouldn't have called the pregnant students dirty sluts or defaced the posters for the Gay-Straight Alliance club.  And we all knew she was a Christian, not by her deeds but by the fact that every offensive thing that came out of her mouth was prefaced with "Well, I'm a Christian so...".

Want to make a Christian film that mainstream audiences will also like?  Don't push the religious angle.  Just show good people being good to each other.  Perhaps they have flaws.  Maybe they made mistakes.  Show us Christians who are also into the Goth lifestyle.  Create a GLBT Christian character who DOESN'T convert to being heterosexual but finds a loving and supportive church who accepts them for who they are.  Let's see Christian single moms.  Christians who had premarital sex-maybe they regretted it, maybe they didn't.  A barefoot pro-life hippie Christian who openly protests the Iraq war.

There can be such a thing as a Christian movie that doesn't suck.