At The Movies

Not really. It’s been years since the AstroWife and I went out to see a movie. Truly, it’s been years since we’ve even been tempted (yes, they’re that bad, Hollywood). It’s not like we’re all that hard to please. It’s just that 90% of the offerings are routinely aimed at teens or 20-somethings, and the remainder, well, we’d just rather not have our intelligence insulted.

The movies we buy on DVD reflect that, too. We find the wit of, oh, The Thin Man (any of them!) or Hitchcock (ANY of them!) or even light fare with Doris Day or Cary Grant far superior to, let us say, anything with Angelina Jolie or Meg Ryan in it. I had no idea who Heath Ledger was until yesterday (but I was aware of Brokeback Mountain. Again, not my demographic).

So I was surprised to see this.

In some ways, 2007 was the Year of Pro-Life Cinema.From the church-friendly Bella to the raunchy Knocked Up, film after film depicted its main character facing an unplanned pregnancy and opting not for abortion, but for carrying the unborn child to term. Sometimes the mother kept the baby (Knocked Up, Waitress), and sometimes she gave the baby up for adoption (Bella, Juno, August Rush). But in each of these films, the mother, and sometimes the father, made a critical decision that was decidedly “pro-life.”

Could it be a new trend in Hollywood? If so, that would be the biggest cultural change of the century. The Christianity Today article asks if it’s a trend.

While several Christians in the industry applaud the pro-life choices depicted in these films, they’re reluctant to call it a trend.”There’s no question that after a polarizing 30-year battle over issues like abortion, we’re seeing a new environment in Hollywood and in the culture in general,” says filmmaker and media guru Phil Cooke. “But I’m always hesitant to make ‘pronouncements’ about the entertainment industry, because media often simply reflects changes that are already happening in the culture.” Indeed, abortion rates have been slowly declining in the U.S. in recent years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and The Guttmacher Institute.

Rob Johnston, professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, notes that with the exception of Bella, these films aren’t being made by Christians.

“The church cannot take credit for this newfound interest [in pro-life storylines],” says Johnston, author of Reframing Theology and Film. “Rather, we need to thank a growing number of filmmakers for portraying the preciousness of life. All life has a sanctity that increasing numbers of people are recognizing.”

Well, that’s good news. Sorta.

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2 Comments on “At The Movies”

  1. pcpphilip Says:

    Thanks for the mention Joe, and your comments are good. In my book “Branding Faith: Why Some Churches and Non-profits Impact Culture and Others Don’t,” I deal with a lot of these issues. I’m writing this from the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, and my biggest comment would be that we need to figure out a way for Christians like yourself to know about many of these new films. Your missing a lot out there, and even at Sundance, we’re seeing Christian issues being dealt with in a much more serious way. Thanks for talking about these issues…

  2. Joe Says:

    Well, my pleasure.
    And you’ve hit on an important issue. I have missed a lot that’s out there, but my gut tells me that it’s because of the way it’s promoted.
    Twenty years ago, I would never have thought that the Tom Cruise movie Risky Business was anything but a teen exploitation flick because of the ads. It wasn’t. Today, all I see are promos for films that seem to be made for – someone else.
    It’s a pity, because that’s probably wrong.
    Combine that with the issue of staying at home with the DVD vs. going out to a theatre (can’t we have the choice of both? We’ll see!) and I understand why Hollywood is – um – in a state of flux.
    Great article!


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