Why Christian Movies Are So Terrible, and Why Hollywood is Heading Down the Same Path

Why Christian Movies Are So Terrible, and Why Hollywood is Heading Down the Same Path, by Steve McAlpine.

Jared C Wilson gets five out of five stars for his review of the state of Christian movies: Why Christian Movies Are So Terrible. He nails it, especially the first point, that Christian movies are made, not by artists, but by propagandists.:

Christian movies are more akin to propaganda than art, because they begin with wanting to communicate some Christian theme — the power of prayer, the power of believing, the power of something — and then the story is crafted around that message. This is true even when the story is something based on a real-life incident. Delving into the depths of human character and motivation is subservient to getting the message across. This is why so much of the dialogue in Christian movies violates the classic writing proverb, “Show, don’t tell.”

Which brings me to the extension of Wilson’s argument, once which I have noted, not among Christian movies in general, but secular movies in general: the increasingly blatant use of propaganda to promulgate the new faith of this secular sexular age. … Religious zeal that is looking to evangelise the unbeliever.

In the past Hollywood’s production values and ability to show and not tell, even when presenting the most obviously anti-gospel frameworks, meant that general culture imbibed those values over time. …

But increasingly there’s nothing subtle or nuanced about the messages being presented by mainstream movies either. Which is sad. The best movies are great conversation starters, but when the movie decides to both hold the conversation for you, and come to the conclusions that you should be coming to if you’re the socially healthy modern liberal westerner we all know you should be, then it’s fallen into the same trap Wilson points out in Christian movies — the shift from art to propaganda.

Hollywood, in this culturally dividing times, is increasingly unable to nuance. But nor does it want to. …

Hollywood is going to increasingly see the world in fundamentalist religious categories; good/bad, black hat/white hat, and the stories will become far less interesting, and will honour the audience far less than they once did. That’s the trajectory we’re on.

The bad person has to be real bad. Dick Cheney has to be really bad in Vice. Any nuance has to be photoshopped out of the picture, as Greg Sheridan noted in The Australian just this very weekend. Sheridan knows Cheney’s real story as well as anyone and the movie cannot manage more than a cardboard cut out of a complex man. …

Of course this is not to say that good movies are not being made. Many are. It’s just to say that when Christian movies do propaganda, they tend to do it in a cack-handed manner. Everything signals “Propaganda! Fresh Propaganda! Come and get it here!”

And Hollywood? Much better at it. So much better. It can — and has, for decades, made smooth, sweet, beguiling and bewitching propaganda that shifts the way we think, that changes our minds, and our actions, subtly and over time on a matter, and all without us ever realising we have done so. Which is, after all, the point of propaganda, is it not?