By Jerry Newcombe
For good or ill (often for ill), Hollywood wields enormous influence on the culture. But we the people often fight back when they go too far in their anti-Christian and amoral ways.
The Hollywood Reporter (9/10/13) notes that the next Johnny Depp Pirates movie has been postponed. Included in the article was the idea that Disney was potentially skittish about releasing the movie so soon after the major failure of The Lone Ranger with Johnny Depp.
So Johnny Depp then is to blame for The Lone Ranger doing poorly? Why did the movie fail? One answer is: It was anti-Christian and anti-American—contrary to the popular radio and TV series that propelled the Lone Ranger and Tonto on the national scene.
Dr. Ted Baehr is a missionary to Hollywood. Year after year, his research shows that by-and-large the anti-Christian movies do poorly at the box office, whereas the well done movies with pro-Christian content do very well. (All things being equal.) I consider him a friend, so I asked Ted for some comments on why The Lone Ranger failed. He sent me some great stuff.
Ted Baehr and co-author Tom Snyder note in a recent article: “Year in and year out, the Christian Film & Television Commission® and Movieguide®’s annual study of the movie box office figures proves that wholesome family-friendly movies and inspiring movies with Christian faith and values, no graphic foul language, sex, or nudity, and strong conservative, patriotic elements make the most money, especially when compared to movies with Anti-Christian, Anti-American, leftist values and abundant foul language or explicit sex and nudity.”
They wrote about this film in particular: “Why did the Lone Ranger ride into theaters only to fail miserably at the box office? What went wrong with the beloved hero and role model that multiple generations grew up watching? A few will blame the director, others will blame the marketing team, and some might just believe the competition was too tough. What few are pointing out is the obvious fact that Disney’s THE LONE RANGER is not a movie for kids.”
They note that, “Only 16 percent of the moviegoers were under the age of 18. Disney shouldn’t be surprised at all by these numbers for several reasons. The Lone Ranger character was created to be a role model for children. And even if Disney’s version provides some role model material, it’s presented in a world that is too gruesome and violent for young children to handle. The fact that THE LONE RANGER garnered a PG-13 rating should have warned Disney of its fate.
When the Lone Ranger and Tonto first appeared on the radio in the 1930s and TV in the 1950s, they were positive role models for children. Good was good, and bad was bad.
In fact, Ted Baehr and Tom Snyder point out that the series producers “even wrote up a creed of what principles their characters stand for”:
• “I believe…
• “That to have a friend, a man must be one.
• “That all men are created equal, and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
• “That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
• “In being prepared physically, mentally and morally to fight when necessary for what is right.
• “That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
• “That ‘this government of the people, by the people and for the people’ shall live always.
• “That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
• “That sooner or later. . . somewhere. . . somehow. . . we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
• “That all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever.
• “In my Creator, my country, my fellow man.”
Theologically, I prefer the Nicene Creed, and politically, the Declaration. But, nonetheless, this extolling of good virtues over bad ones typifies fare from the “the Golden Age of Hollywood.” That was a time before the 1960s, when the church abandoned their Hollywood offices, and morals became relative. Good often became evil and vice versa.
Baehr and Snyder add: “If Disney is still wondering why THE LONE RANGER tanked at the box office, it’s because they alienated not just a young audience that would enjoy such a character, but a young audience that could be inspired.” They also write: “Hollywood forgot that there’s a large portion of America that attends church weekly and salutes the American flag.”
I would hope that Hollywood would take note at this recent box office failure and not draw the wrong conclusion. Some of the leftists that control so much of the movie-industry want to continue to impose their liberal view of the world on all their products. But as legendary movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn once advised, “If you’ve got a message, send a telegram.”
Dr. Jerry Newcombe is a key archivist of the D. James Kennedy Legacy Library and a Christian TV producer. He has also written or co-written 23 books, including The Book That Made America: How the Bible Formed Our Nation and (with D. James Kennedy), What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? His views are his own. www.jerrynewcombe.com
Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.
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