Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hollywood's Idea Of "Marketing To Christians"

According to the International Herald Tribune (the overseas version of the New York Times), that amounts to refraining from gratuitously insulting people of faith and assaulting their cultural sensibilities:

*Actor Peter Sarsgaard said that while shooting the Disney thriller Flightplan, he was told to strike the word "Jesus” from his dialogue; the directors didn't want him to "take the LORD's name in vain."

*Focus on the Family was one of about 30 groups invited to see an early trailer of Disney’s Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, based on C.S. Lewis’ works, which Christian groups regard as an allegory of Christ’s Resurrection.
One out of thirty. Wow, that is progress....

*Jonathan Bock, who founded Grace Hill Media to specialize in Christian marketing, was hired to help promote Kingdom of Heaven and Cinderella Man and is advising Sony on The Da Vinci Code, based on a novel that challenges basic Christian dogma.

KOH is blatant pro-jihadi/anti-Christian propaganda and TDVC is a lot worse than just a "challenge to basic Christian dogma." Wouldn't "appealing to Christians" be more along the lines of, oh, I don't know, making films that depict the Crusades accurately and champion "Christian dogma"? Or at least not pointedly and deliberately belittle it?

Hey, here's a question: why doesn't a studio make an Islamic Da Vinci equivalent? You know, depicting Mohammed as the seventh-century Arabian equivalent of Pedro de Pacas? C'mon, you know why, and it isn't just the spectre of Salman Rushdie and Theo van Gogh, either.

*When Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie steal a neighbor’s car in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a crucifix is seen hanging from the rear-view mirror. And in the next scene the two wear borrowed jackets that read "Jesus Rocks.”

"We decided to make the next-door neighbor, whose crucifix it is, be hip, young, cool Christians," the movie's director, Doug Liman, told the New York Times news service. "It's literally in there for no other reason than I thought: 'This is cool.'"

Would it be too much to ask if Mr. Liman fleshes in anything else about this next-door neighbor? I mean, heck, I have a crucifix hanging from my rearview mirror, but if I was going to emblazen any sort of evangelistic slogan on a jacket or T-shirt, it would be "Jesus Saves" (or "Jesus is coming/and is He pissed"). At best, this illustrates that Mr. Liman is sufficiently ignorant about his purportedly sought-after demographic that he's clearly elevating "hip, young, and cool" over "Christian." At worst, it's sheer tokenism.

And in any case, the flick isn't about the next-door neighbor, but "a bored married couple [that] is surprised to learn that they are both assassins hired by competing agencies to kill the same target." It's also rated PG-13 for "sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong language" - probably not the sort of entertainment fare on which most genuine Christians would expend their hard-earned lucre.

But man, Angelina Jolie sure has a set 'o knobs on her, doesn't she?

The only example cited that comes close to fitting the "marketing to Christians" spin is this one:

*Universal Studios screened the movie Ray for church groups as a way to build positive "buzz" for the film by word-of-mouth; the director had already expurgated the script to mollify the film's backer, Philip Anschutz.

But I have to ask, how much of that was "marketing to Christians" and how much of it was "marketing to African-Americans"? Did Universal seek out evangelical/fundamentalist churches as well?

If the above is supposed to represent an effort to "mollify and attract" the faithful back to the local decaplex - and is supposed to have been inspired by The Passion of the Christ, a film that actually was marketed to Christians - I would say they have a looooooooong way to go before, as it were, "reaching the Promised Land."