Stop Complaining About Hollywood and Step Up to Make a Difference
By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher
Note: This article is excerpted from Dr. Baehr’s book, “The Culture-Wise Family.”
Go to www.movieguide.org. MOVIEGUIDE: THE BIBLICAL GUIDE TO MOVIES AND ENTERTAINMENT gives you a detailed review of each movie so you can choose the movies to see and those to avoid. Each review provides a biblical perspective, enabling you to discern based on your biblical worldview.
MOVIEGUIDE® equips you to confront ungodly communications and take every thought captive for Jesus Christ.
While some Christians decide not to watch any movies or use any other mass media of entertainment, more than two-thirds of the born-again, evangelical and/or charismatic Christians watch what Non-Christians watch. Many parents have written us saying they had no idea what their sons and daughters were watching until they subscribed to MOVIEGUIDE®. Now, they talk about movies with their teenagers and discuss why they should not watch specific movies and videos. Other people thank us for making them aware of things they missed in a movie or video, which helped them be more discerning.
Many teenagers have told us they didn’t notice the evil in the movies until they started reading MOVIEGUIDE®. Many say they turned from those films toward the Bible. Others say they gave up movies entirely.
The power of the consumer
The power of the consumer to stop pornography and violence is illustrated by the success of two mothers in 1984, Kathy Eberhardt and Karen Knowles, who forced Tri-Star Pictures (owned by Columbia Pictures) to pull from the theaters a grotesque movie, SILENT NIGHT, that had cost Tri-Star millions to produce. The movie is about a crazed lunatic who dresses in a Santa Claus outfit, then rapes and chops up women up in front of their frightened children.
These outraged and mothers picketed the Grand Theatre in their hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They said they feared the movie might cause teenage viewers to emulate the movie’s violence. They made reference to the NBC-TV movie THE BURNING BED. After it was shown in Milwaukee, a local man murdered his wife by pouring gasoline on her and lighting a match, copying the murder in the TV movie.
This protest spread from Milwaukee to Chicago and, after just a few days of protesting, Tri-Star relented and pulled the multi-million dollar release from national distribution. Two women had defeated the modern Goliath simply by taking a stand.
In 2007, New Line Cinema and Warner Bros. Pictures released a big budget version of the first movie based on a series of overtly Anti-Christian, atheist fantasy books, THE GOLDEN COMPASS. They hoped the movie would be the next LORD OF THE RINGS and generate a new blockbuster franchise. They forgot one thing – THE LORD OF THE RINGS movies were based on a brilliant, enthralling, gripping, and poignant trilogy of redemptive fantasy novels by Christian scholar J.R.R. Tolkien. Catholic and Protestant Christians led a mild boycott of the atheist movie, and it bombed at the box office, on home video and on Cable TV.
Through the Christian Film & Television Commission®, we have undertaken to reestablish the church’s presence in Hollywood. By God’s grace, we are making a difference.
In fact, we have seen great breakthroughs visible in the movies being released at the box office. When we started MOVIEGUIDE® in 1985, the major studios in Hollywood released few movies with any positive Christian content or values at all – less than 1% and often only one or two! By the time we started the Annual MOVIEGUIDE® Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry in 1992 and 1993, however, there were 27 such movies, or about 10.38% of the market share.
Incredibly, 28 years later, in 2019, at least 169, or 63.77%, of the major movies released theatrically by the movie industry contained at least some positive Christian, redemptive content. That’s a numerical increase of 526% and a percentage increase of 514%!
Finally, since we started in 1985, there were only about two or three movies being released theatrically with strong, explicit Christian, redemptive content or values, but last year there were 76 such movies! That’s at least a 2,433% increase over 35 years, and a 61.80% increase since 2012, when there were only 47 such movies (note: the increases are bound to slow down over the years because, before MOVIEGUIDE® and the Annual MOVIEGUIDE® Awards Gala, no one was trying to promote Christian, faith-based movies and television programs). Also, since 1996, when we began a box office analysis of movies with strong Christian, redemptive content, the number of movies with such content has increased from only 16 to 76 or more, a growth of 375%. Even more importantly, the total box office for movies with strong or overt Christian, redemptive content has increased from only $0.208 billion in 1996 to nearly $5.514 billion in 2019, an increase of about 2,551%, not counting inflation.
Undergirded by the Grace of God, the reasons we have had such success in Hollywood are four-fold:
- We have been able to demonstrate through our extensive research to Hollywood executives that movies with Christian, redemptive values, family movies and clean mature-audience movies do better at the box office.
- Many of the Hollywood movie executives and talent now have families and want to produce movies and programs that their families can watch.
- Many Hollywood movie executives and talent are now involved in their own causes and find it difficult to deny the influence of the media with regard to violence and sexual mores when they claim it influences people politically or environmentally.
- Many Hollywood movie executives and talent are coming to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and are going or returning to the Church.
Some of the signs of success, in addition to the box office numbers cited above, include:
Several television and movie producers have consulted with us on their scripts and, following our advice, rewrote them to appeal to a broader audience.
Many top Hollywood movie producers and talent have met to strategize producing more family movies and more movies with positive Christian, redemptive content.
Top movie executives and producers continue to meet with me and our COO to learn more about broad audience movies and programs.
Doors to the most important offices in Hollywood have been opened and evidence mounts that a powerful sea-change has occurred in the entertainment industry at the highest levels.
Disciple your neighbor!
After speaking at a large church in Atlanta years ago, a woman named Pat Logue told me our biblical reviews and our “Taking Hollywood for Christ” banquet had changed her life.
She owned a successful video store and loved horror movies. One of our MOVIEGUIDE® families (Mr. and Mrs. Robert Mikesell and their children) had witnessed to her every time they came into her store. They loaned her copies of MOVIEGUIDE® and prayed constantly for her. Soon, she came to Christ.
Several years ago, the Mikesells invited Ms. Logue to the MOVIEGUIDE® “Taking Hollywood for Christ” banquet. Logue became convicted about the moral quality of the movies in her store, and found she couldn’t watch horror movies anymore. In fact, she could hardly watch the movies she had to put in her store.
Though her clientele changed from pagans to Christians, she was appalled at what Christians were renting. God convicted her that she had to destroy the 3,000 video tapes that constituted the remaining stock of her store.
One day, I took my son, Jim, with me to a car dealership. Jim was having doubts about the efficacy of witnessing to people personally in this hectic, secular world of ours. I asked the salesman if he knew that God loved him, and the man told us he was unhappy and going through a divorce. So, I witnessed to him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and shortly thereafter, he told on the phone me about how he got back with his wife and changed jobs so he could be closer to her.
If you take the time to disciple your neighbor, you can change the world, at least the world around you, and maybe even save someone’s life. How many teenager suicides could have been prevented if someone had witnessed to them about the abundant life that a personal relationship with Jesus Christ brings?
Point of View
MOVIEGUIDE® is commissioned to analyze movies from a Christian, biblical, moral point of view. We make only two demands: clean movies and television programs, clean speech and wholesome entertainment for all Americans, and more movies and television programs for the world’s nearly three billion Christians.
Signs of revival
Though pessimistic voices say the golden age of Christianity is over, and suggest the Christian faith is being replaced by Islam and other beliefs, Christianity is still the world’s fastest growing religion, though it may be declining in some countries. In fact, it’s growing faster than the world’s population.
The Lausanne Statistics Task Force reports the ratio of Non-Christians to Bible-believing Christians now stands 6.8 to one, the lowest ratio in history. The evangelical movement, worldwide, is growing three times faster than the world’s population.
Furthermore, while the mass media tries to associate Christians with rednecks and rubes, the Barna Research Group says church attendance increases with education.
Finally, leading researchers say that, throughout the world, there are signs of revival.
What will happen?
We will continue to make an impact on the entertainment industry, encouraging production of positive, morally uplifting films and television programs. We will continue to help the heads of the entertainment companies understand the issues involved. And, we will help more Christians and moviegoers develop discernment.
However, God is more concerned with our character than our accomplishments. He will patiently work on us until we’re ready to fulfill the mission He has given us.
The great missionary/explorer Dr. Livingstone left England for Africa at a young age to bring the Gospel to the Dark Continent and to deliver the people of Africa from the slave trade. He preached every day for years with little success. He suffered malaria attacks more than 60 times and lost the use of one of his arms to a lion while rescuing a black friend. Then, he disappeared into the uncharted jungle.
A brash major newspaper reporter named Stanley was sent to find Dr. Livingstone. After one year, by the grace of God, he found Livingstone being cared for by the slave traders he had come to destroy. Stanley told Livingstone that he came to expose him as an example that all Christian missionaries are frauds and charlatans. However, what Stanley encountered in Livingstone was a humble man who was willing to admit his flaws. Stanley was so moved that he came to know Jesus Christ. Livingstone died a few months later, loved by the Africans he had helped.
Stanley’s articles opened up Africa to the Christian missionaries and within a few years the King of Portugal signed an edict abolishing the slave trade. All Livingstone had set out to do was accomplished, but first He had to become the humble man of Christian character who could serve as a vessel for the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ. In a similar manner, you must allow Him to grow in your life the fruit of the Holy Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control, before you can reach the world with the Good News of His salvation.
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