ChristianCinema.com has an article on the The Best and Worst of 2010 with their votes on what movies were just plain good and didn’t rock the holy boat and what movies were biased and offensive towards Christians. No surprise, Easy A made the list of worst films. My post on whether or not Easy A was Christian bashing has gotten quite a few comments from both sides. I certainly recognize Christian bashing when I see it (I questioned it on True Blood too), however, my view is simply for Christians to make a movie that responds to the hyper-charged films that stereotype Christians. Some people have had the Easy A stereotype experience and some haven’t. I’m also aware of atheist bashing within Christian pop culture, though, I have to say I haven’t come across it as much in film (more album lyrics and books).
Bashing aside, what else made the bad list? I Love You Philip Morris (due to homosexuality) and The Disappearance of Alice Creed (for female degradation)–both films I have not seen but I probably will now.
What made the good list? Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader of course. C.S. Lewis can do no wrong. Tangled and Despicable Me also made the list. I’m noticing a trend: safe, animated films. There were several documentaries of more intelligence including Lord, Save Us From Your Followers. I saw this on instant demand on Netflix. It’s not bad and features the reasonable attitudes of people like Tony Campolo, a prominent Christian speaker who I remember watching at church as a kid when they ran his lecture series on reel to reel (I’m not that old, the church equipment was).
I was disappointed to see that the author Phil Boatwright had this to say about any serious films beyond documentaries and animation: “Unfortunately, I cannot recommend an award-worthy film for grownups by a mainstream studio for those who do not wish to hear profanity or subject themselves to other repugnant movie-making endeavors.”
I would say to Mr. Boatwright, and realize this is coming from a smart ass cartoonist which has a twinge of irony, that this position is one of immaturity. Life is full of profanity and objectionable things that are necessary to include in a script in order to create a realistic film or simply drive home a point. I’m offended by seeing the beating of a near naked man and yet I didn’t see this kind of Christian objection to The Passion of The Christ. Would the whole film had been dismissed if Mel Gibson had Jesus pause for a moment after being whipped and say, “Fuck! That hurts!” I can understand if a movie is intentionally blasphemous and uses the word “Goddammit!” repeatedly or has a speech maligning Christ and all the saints, but casual profanity to reflect how real people are in real life is not cause for dismissal.
I think Boatwright would do well to read a best-of list by say Roger Ebert who has had his moments of being offended (he and Siskel went after slasher films in the eighties as being sexist and pointlessly gory), but understands that certain elements of a film include swearing, adult relationships and sometimes violence. It may be for for effect, realism, exaggeration or a soapbox speech but until uptight Christians come to terms with the difference between film characters and themselves then their chances of addressing unChristian lifestyles is next to zero. For example, I just saw The King’s Speech which is on Roger’s list and it is a wonderful film based on history. Don’t tell me that we had to avoid hearing King George the 6th swear up a storm as his tutor Lionel tried to find the root cause of his stammering. The language was absolutely necessary–it was a film about language and its power! Christians missed out if they didn’t see it because it showed how necessary it was for King George to speak eloquently against Hitler and to do so he had to repeatedly say “Fuck! Balls! Bloody Hell!” and even “Tits! to help release an inner anxiety that was eating him up.