Hollywood’s War on Women?
By Dr. Tom Snyder, Editor
A new study shows that it’s not the Republican Party that’s waging a war on women – it’s Hollywood!
A study by the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism shows that roles for women in Hollywood movies are drying up.
For example, of the Top 100 movies at the U.S. box office in 2012, only 28.4 percent of the 4,475 speaking characters were female, a decrease of 13.4 percent from the 32.8 percent number three years ago. Also, only six percent of those movies had a “balanced” cast, which was defined as a percentage of 45 percent to 54.9 percent.
“When they do get screen time,” the study said, “31.6 percent of women were depicted wearing sexually revealing clothing in 2012, the highest percentage over the five years [of the study].”
Deplorably, this sinful depiction was even more true for teenage female characters, where 56.6 percent of teen girls wore sexy clothes, an increase of 20 percent since 2009!
It’s also interesting to note that, according to Big Hollywood on the Internet, the Cannes Film Festival’s lineup this year includes only one female director (last year’s festival had none!).
“Hollywood needs to re-examine its moral standards,” said Dr. Ted Baehr, founder and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC), which also does business as Movieguide®: The Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment (www.movieguide.org).
“The Sexual Revolution ushered in by Hollywood, the psychology profession, the secular education establishment, and the Supreme Court in the 1950s and 1960s has been a disaster for American society, but especially for women and children,” he added. “Because of the Sexual Revolution and other factors, millions of single mothers and their children are at risk to deadly sexually transmitted diseases, poverty, and violent gangs, which just repeat the cycle of unwed mothers, poverty, diseases, and violent crime…even though, there is an antidote to the problem: media wisdom.”
There is Good News to report, however, Dr. Baehr said.
“Movieguide® and the Christian Film & Television Commission® have made great inroads in redeeming the values of Hollywood and influencing Hollywood leaders to put more Christian faith and values, and more traditional, patriotic values, in their movies and television programs,” he said.
Dr. Baehr cited the recent high ratings for such family-friendly, faith-oriented, and patriotic television programs as “The Bible,” “Duck Dynasty,” and “NCIS,” as well as the increase in successful faith-oriented movies like “The Blind Side,” “42,” and “Soul Surfer” and the popularity of family-friendly movies like “The Blind Side,” “Ice Age: Continental Drift,” “The Croods,” and “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
“People are crying out for good faith-based, patriotic entertainment that’s morally and spiritually uplifting,” Dr. Baehr concluded.
The Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry and Movieguide® (www.movieguide.org) are an international non-profit ministry, advocacy group, and watchdog dedicated to “redeeming the values of the entertainment industry by influencing industry executives and by informing and equipping the public about the influence of the entertainment media.”
Movieguide® Down Under:
Redeeming the Media Through Australia
By Tom Snyder, Editor
Movieguide®’s efforts to spread media wisdom in Australia are going well, said Founder Dr. Ted Baehr, author of “The Media-Wise Family,” about the first leg of his current speaking trip to the land of kangaroos, koala bears, sunny beaches, and crocodile hunters.
“Australia produces a lot of people who go to Hollywood,” Dr. Baehr said, naming Mel Gibson, Russell Crowe, Director Baz Luhrman of THE GREAT GATSBY, Nicole Kidman, and Hugh Jackman.
“So, it’s a big influence on America. Therefore, Movieguide® and the Christian Film & Television Commission® [CFTVC] need to be an influence on Australia.”
CFTVC and Movieguide® (www.movieguide.org) are nonprofit companies dedicated to “redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and by informing and equipping the public about the effects of the mass media.”
Media wisdom is learning how to discern good media from bad media and learning to choose the good media and reject the bad media, as well as teaching children to tell the difference and teaching them about biblical faith and values, including God’s biblical standards for living.
During the current trip, Dr. Baehr and Movieguide® Vice President Robert Baehr so far have talked with producers and other people in Australia who want to make movies, including one of the Australian deans of the New York Film Academy.
In Hobart, Tasmania on Saturday, they talked with a group of parents about teaching their children to be media wise.
Tuesday, Ted spent the day with 25 Entertainment Industry leaders and then talked with about 200 business leaders in Gold Coast, Queensland in Australia.
“They were really enthusiastic and interested in the things we were doing,” Robert Baehr said.
Thursday through Sunday, Dr. Baehr and Robby will be speaking several times at the World Congress of Families VII conference in Sydney, which includes family advocates from around the world, international civic leaders, and many people from the Australian government.
One of the media panels includes a special advance screening Friday of the movie RETURN TO THE HIDING PLACE, a movie about a Christian Resistance fighter opposing Hitler’s National Socialists in the Netherlands during World War II, slated for release later this year.
One of the stars from the movie, Rachel Spencer Hewitt, will appear on the panel, as will the movie’s Producer/Director Peter Spencer.
Dr. Baehr will also be speaking at the conference on “A Culture Worth Preserving: The Importance of Storytelling,” “Blockbuster Stories that Build Character and Restore Family Values,” and “The Culture-Wise Family.”
Robby Baehr will speak twice at the conference, once on “Reaching the Next Generation with the Pro-Family Message” and once on “Social Media: Friend or Foe?”
For more information, visit www.movieguide.org or call 1-888-248-6689.
TO THE WONDER is a romance from acclaimed director Terrence Malick (TREE OF LIFE, THE THIN RED LINE). Though it’s not a masterpiece, it’s likely his most personal movie yet.
Ben Affleck plays Neil, an American spending time in Europe who falls deeply in love with a French single mother, Marina. The movie follows them as they explore different French landscapes, only catching snippets of dialogue here and there. Marina decides to move herself and her daughter to Oklahoma to live with Neil. Oklahoma is a big change for Marina. Everything is flat and largely unpopulated, so what seemed like a good idea clearly wasn’t.
Marina and Neil begin to divide and fight. Interwoven in between the dramatic clashes between the couple are moments at church, where Father Quintana preaches on love. In the midst of the couple’s interactions, Father Quintana’s excerpts on love and his prayers to God are heard through voice over.
“You love, whether you like it or not. Emotions come and go like clouds. Love is not only a feeling, you show love. . . Love is a command”
Father Quintana himself struggles with his faith. He’s seen meandering around his empty house, clearly lonely, praying for the closeness to God he once had, but his loneliness doesn’t stop him from doing ministry. If he’s not preaching to his parish, he’s in the community helping those who are less fortunate.
Neil and Marina’s dispute escalate to the point where Marina decides to leave and go back to France. After Marina leaves, Neil reconnects with Jane, an old friend he grew up with in his youth. A new romantic relationship begins between them.
The relationships and emotions portrayed in TO THE WONDER are incredibly honest. Malick breaks away from traditional storytelling technique more than ever with this tale. Everything in the movie feels authentic and real. The beautiful visuals of both grand and small landscapes, mixed with the powerful orchestral music, help bring out the story’s emotion. Ben Affleck in particular gives one of his best performances as the reflective and deep thinking Neil, even though he says very little.
Father Quintana’s voiceover provides an abundant amount of wisdom that’s both Biblical and convicting. He quotes Scriptures like, “Husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the Church.” Sadly, Neil fails to exhibit any of the qualities that Father Quintana preaches so often, which is why Neil’s relationships end in a passionate mess.
What Malick fails to do is give the audience any sense of closure or fulfillment, either in the narrative or emotionally. Some positive lessons of love and faith can clearly be gleaned, but the story is overly ambiguous and ultimately not uplifting. TO THE WONDER also has brief graphic nudity, sensuality, and implied adultery, so the movie is excessive.
Julianne Moore plays, Linda, a high school English teacher who helps her former student perform his play, in THE ENGLISH TEACHER. THE ENGLISH TEACHER has a straightforward storyline and does have some funny elements, but overall it’s crude and has a mixed worldview.
Linda Sinclair is a high school English teacher in her middle 40s. Her highest passion and focus in life is to inspire her students to read and write. This has become such a focus that she’s never gotten married. Thinking that life should be as good as novels, Linda hasn’t found her “Prince Charming” yet.
One of Linda’s old students, Jason, comes back to town after living in New York and writing plays. Pressured by his overbearing father, Jason is about to give up writing for going to law school. When he lets Linda read his latest play, however, she believes it’s completely brilliant and should be performed by the theater students. However, she must convince the principal and flamboyant theater teacher, Carl, first. Carl falls in love with the play as well and thinks it would be so much more exciting then the stale plays they always perform.
Once they get the approval from the principal, Carl, Linda and Jason start the production. When Linda and Jason sleep together, however, everything gets out of hand and chaos ensues. Will they be able to perform the play?
THE ENGLISH TEACHER has a straightforward storyline. The acting is good, but overall the movie is pretty forgettable. Most of the comedy is crude, although the general theme is to sacrifice when you love something or someone. Thus, Linda sacrifices in order to get the play done. That said, a large part of the movie’s plot is Linda sleeping with Jason. THE ENGLISH TEACHER also has plenty of strong foul language, so extreme caution is advised.
PIETA is an artsy Korean thriller that doesn’t quite work, partly because it has some really disgusting, but thankfully brief, content and some pretentious arty attempts at symbolism that abuses Christian icons and imagery.
The movie, which takes its title from paintings of the Virgin Mary cradling the dead body of Jesus Christ, is about a brutal young debt collector who cripples poor workers who can’t pay his loan shark boss. A woman approaches him claiming to be the long-lost mother who abandoned him as a child. The young man brutalizes her because he doesn’t believe her, going so far as to rape her. However, when she expresses guilt and forgiveness, claiming that her abandonment turned him into such a mean, evil person, he starts to express kindness toward her and others. This leads, however, to a tragic, depressing ending that tries to use more Christian symbolism but ends up being rather pretentious and ultimately shallow and abhorrent.
PIETA is too artsy to be worthwhile aesthetically. That’s even more true when considering the movie’s entertainment value. Worse than this, however, is that the filmmakers try to take advantage of Christian symbolism in a tale with very strong sordid content. Thus, there’s an extremely disturbing rape scene, disturbing violence but little blood and gore, a suicide, a revenge theme, lots of strong foul language, and other lewd, disturbing content. PIETA also has an apparent anti-capitalist view, according to the director, who sees his movie as a strong criticism of a financial capitalism turning Korea into a “money oriented” society. Thus, the movie seems to have a strong Romantic worldview contending that it’s society that corrupts people. The director says he wants his movie to encourage the viewer to cry out, “God have mercy on us!” but that doesn’t come across in the movie at all.
Some may find PIETA interesting and profound, but, ultimately, it’s too cryptic, too sordid, too pretentious, and too much.
HATING BREITBART is a documentary that follows the late journalist, news executive and conservative-libertarian pundit Andrew Breitbart who died March 1, 2012. It has a strong moral, patriotic worldview supporting limited government and exposing the Democratic Party and the left wing’s smear machine against conservatives, especially Tea Party members. There is some foul language, however.
The documentary opens with Andrew complaining about the media, including Hollywood and national “journalists,” “dictating the terms of the narrative in this country.” He says he’s also sick of them mocking citizens in “Middle America.” The movie then cuts to people in the news media crudely mocking the grassroots Tea Party movement and calling them “racists.” Back to Breitbart complaining that these are the kind of smear tactics that leaders on the Left constantly level at conservatives and libertarians, including Christian evangelicals.
Using clips of Breitbart’s activities in the three years before he died, the documentary exposes these lies and slanders from the media and from the Left, including major Democrat Party leaders and supporters of President Barack Obama. It also shows how leftists and the media ignored Breitbart’s exposure of the corruption in a key campaign group supporting Democratic Party candidates like Obama and their policies. Finally, it shows how they distorted one of Breitbart’s columns about apparent racism in the anti-discrimination group, the NAACP. The NAACP used to be a dedicated civil rights group, but it has become a corrupt institution that excuses the failures of liberal policies in helping African Americans succeed while always condemning any successful black person who takes a conservative stance on issues, such as Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Interviews with supporters and critics of Breitbart help complete the picture of this super-smart, compassionate “rabble rouser.”
“You declared war on us,” Breatibart tells the Left and the mainstream media at one point. “You declared war on me. . . . It’s that simple.” Later, he adds, “What the Left has stood with political correctness is to try to get those with whom they disagree to shut up. . . . We have to confront these people. . . . We have an obligation to fight back.”
Andrew Breitbart was a vanguard of the “New Media.” For instance, he became editor for journalist Matt Drudge’s website “The Drudge Report” in the 1990s and helped Arianna Huffington (when she was a Republican) with creating “The Huffington Post.” He then went on to create his own cutting-edge websites, starting with Breitbart TV followed by Big Hollywood, Big Government and Big Journalism. Over the years, several of MOVIEGUIDE®’s editors, including Publisher Ted Baehr, met and talked with Andrew at multiple functions. Andrew was a very personable and passionate man with, unlike most of today’s leftist journalists running the national “news” media, a heart for real news. Though he admitted he wasn’t a “religious conservative” and sympathized with some libertarian notions, he expresses sympathy in the documentary with the positions of “social conservatives.” For example, Andrew was a critic of Planned Parenthood, which doesn’t report some rapists or pedophiles to the police and promotes the killing of babies in the ninth month of pregnancy and even beyond. Just before he died, he told a mutual friend that he had found faith in Jesus Christ and wanted to be baptized in every state in the USA.
Ironically, the New York Times just recently vindicated one story Breitbart was pursuing, about massive fraud in the Obama administration’s Dept. of Agriculture (see http://www.politico.com/story/2013/04/new-york-times-andrew-breitbart-90681.html). Also, recent reports have confirmed that President Obama and his people in the Internal Revenue Service targeted Tea Party groups, Christian evangelicals, and other conservatives who oppose their policies. Once again, an investigation confirms conservative suspicions about big government and corrupt, fraudulent liberal policies and principles!
HATING BREITBART is an inspiring rallying cry for conservatives and libertarians, including Christian evangelicals, to continue the passionate fight that animated Andrew Breitbart. It has a strong moral, patriotic worldview that extols truth, justice, limited government, liberty, and fiscal responsibility. It exposes the lies and slanders of the Left, which are the primary methods by which Democrat Party flunkies and other leftists stop citizens and voters from becoming conservatives. However, there is some foul language, plus some bleeped “f” words. In addition, there’s talk about the two journalists who posed as a pimp and his prostitute in order to expose the corruption in one of the Democratic Party and the Left’s activist groups. For these and other reasons, MOVIEGUIDE® advises extreme caution for HATING BREITBART, especially for children.
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS gets lost. The script has several openings and several endings. The timing of the direction sometimes seems off. Moreover, there is some annoying content, including a significant, excessive amount of foul language.
The movie opens with the Enterprise exploring a primitive planet. To save Spock, Captain Kirk lets the natives see the starship, violating the Prime Directive not to change a primitive planet’s culture or history.
Back in 2259 San Francisco, Captain Kirk is removed as commander of the starship and reduced to first mate. Then, a Starfleet traitor named Harrison wipes out a top-secret Starfleet weapons facility in London. All the commanders are called to strategize at headquarters in San Francisco, and Harrison tries to wipe them all out. During the battle, Kirk’s friend and mentor, Admiral Pike, is killed. After the battle, Harrison transports to a remote spot on the Klingon home planet.
Kirk is given back his command by the head of Starfleet, Admiral Marcus, and he goes on a mission to kill Harrison in Klingon territory with newly developed photon torpedoes. However, Spock convinces Kirk it’s wrong to kill the man without a trial. Making matters worse, the Enterprise has undergone a mysterious engine malfunction. So, Kirk decides to arrest Harrison on a remote section of the Klingon homeworld while the Enterprise is being repaired.
Things get even more complicated when Harrison shows up and saves Kirk and his people from some Klingon soldiers. During the battle, it seems as if Harrison has superhuman strength.
[POSSIBLE SPOILERS FOLLOW] After the battle, Harrison tells Captain Kirk that Admiral Marcus is the real villain because Marcus wants to start a war with the Klingons. He says Marcus wanted Kirk to kill him to silence him. Sure enough, Marcus suddenly appears commanding a new spaceship and threatens to blow up the Enterprise if Kirk doesn’t give Harrison to him.
Epic battles ensue. Meanwhile, Harrison’s story starts to unravel. Will Kirk find out the truth before he and his friends are killed?
A great movie makes you feel good after watching it. With some poignant references to the best STAR TREK movie ever, THE WRATH OF KHAN, STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS isn’t a total disaster, but it ultimately exhausts the viewer. For example, the movie has several cobbled-together openings and two or three endings. Perhaps Director JJ Abrams and his writers had their minds on other productions. Some of the timing in the action scenes seems very clunky. Instead of building suspense, they dissipate it. Dr. McCoy and Scotty have some positive references to God but Spock says at one point that there are no miracles, and it seems as if the heroes do everything themselves. In addition, there’s a ridiculous shot of Captain Kirk waking up in a bed between two alien women with tails, and another shot shows the admiral’s daughter in her dark underwear while she’s changing into a spacesuit. [SPOILERS FOLLOW] Also, when her father dies, the daughter seems not to care at all. Of course, he does turn out to be a bad guy who believes that the ends justify the means, so the movie does make some strong moral points.
The script to STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS contains some plot holes. For example, Kirk and his team never stop to wonder why Admiral Marcus has given them 72 new photon torpedoes to kill Harrison. Wouldn’t two or three be enough? Also, Harrison flees to the Klingons’ section of space, yet he tries to convince Kirk that Admiral Marcus is the one who wants to start a war with the Klingons. Why should Harrison flee there if he wants to stop the admiral’s dastardly plan?
There are some other problems. For instance, the ending has the Starfleet officers dressed in old Soviet-style uniforms and an obnoxious UN-type flag. The movie also contains a gratuitous, excessive number of obscenities. Finally, at one point, Spock says the many are more important than the one, a true recipe for a disappointing movie about a not-so-heroic Captain Kirk.
VENUS AND SERENA is a candid story of the power perseverance displayed in the careers of tennis superstars Venus and Serena Williams. The movie tells their story from the year 2011 when Serena was hospitalized due to life-threatening clotting of her lung artery. Also, Venus deals with an autoimmune disorder that drains all her energy. This story is intercut with their past, scenes of the duo’s humble beginnings in the ghetto of Compton, California, and the trials and triumphs of their present lives.
VENUS AND SERENA is well shot and creatively put together to tell a captivating story. For example, tight close-ups of Serena as she comically comments about her various personalities to fit her mood or activity are intercut with shots of her displaying her different personalities. The clever placement of shots in the editing weaves two stories together into one as Serena and Venus struggle to come back and work through illness and pain in 2011. Although the footage is shot with Venus and Serena at home, on the courts, in the hospital, and even a closet, the audio is clear and subtitles are given when necessary. There are also a number of celebrity appearances and interviews with Billie Jean King, Jogn McEnroe, Chris Rock, and President Bill Clinton.
VENUS AND SERENA gives a rare behind-the-scenes look into the lives of these two athletes on and off the court. They are inseparable and enjoy each other’s company when at home. They speak about their love of tennis despite challenges, such as health issues and coping with racism. Venus and Serena also express their love and appreciation both of their parents for their coaching and support, although the parents divorced when the girls reached adulthood. One recurring theme is to never forget your roots, even spiritually. Their parents made sure the Williams sisters did not forget their heritage as African Americans. Their mother reminded them to celebrate their blackness, so as their fame grew as adolescents, they continued to wear their hair natural, donning their signature braids and beads.
VENUS AND SERENA has several positive themes such as faith, perseverance and redemption, but there is some foul language requiring caution, especially for pre-teenagers. VENUS AND SERENA has a light Christian, moral worldview. Serena’s experience on the long road to recovery once the blood clot was discovered in her lung compelled her to draw closer to God and realize how important her Christian faith truly is to her. VENUS AND SERENA shows both the epitome of human strength as well as the frailty of human beings, and the ultimate power of God’s grace and personal humility.