The Christian Copy

fireproof_sucksI have been a Christian all my life and I want to start by saying that I am not against Christianity in any way, with that said; why do most movies and TV shows made as “Christian Alternatives” suck?

Maybe sucked is too harsh of a word but I still feel like using it. I can count the number of good, non-cheesy Christian movies I have seen with one hand. The same thing goes for Christian bands, and most products or productions put on by us Christians.

I once knew a man who was a fellow writer; me, him and another good friend of mine shared our current work, and he came back saying that our writing needed to have more God in it and that we were not sharing the right message. Not everything we create needs to be a sermon from the pulpit, there is something to be said for projects that just show good values or making clean entertainment.

The perfect example of a great Christian independent movie was the 2001 movie “Extreme Days” This movie was really funny and only cheesy when it wanted to be. It was not overly preachy and had a great message behind it too. The movie was about four boys on a road trip and the lessons they learned about life and God along the way.

I think I see one reason that Christian movies fall a little flat. I love movies and see them as much as I can, and I know the good elements of a good movie. Most good movies have an A plot that is the external conflicts or completion and a B plot the internal conflicts. A good movie will use the A and B plots and have them play off each other and make you care for the character and want to see them overcome their external and internal conflicts.

Christian movies more often than not will down play or totally leaves out the A plot. They focus too much on the internal changes that the character goes through. Christian movies care more about the changes and conversions of the heart than any other element, and that is well and good, but it does not make for the best movies.

I always feel like Christians take “be in the world but not of the world” as “do nothing like the world.” God has given us all gifting’s and Hollywood has had many years to perfect the art of the motion picture, and if you ignore it. You ignore the talent and God-given skill among the people who make movies what they are.

The world is not split into the Christian and secular worlds, there is good and bad in each world and when we see them as two worlds and see the need to make Christian copies of things we see as secular, then I think they lose quality.

You can make a Christian movie that is not cheesy, and you can have a Christian band that does not sound like other Christian bands. When we make products from Christians by Christians, it’s not really leaving the church walls. We are called to be a light and when we make a good movie that is not shoving God down people’s throats and make music that is clean but still amazing it is more of a light in the dark then anything else.
The Fedora Nerd – Ben Crawford

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10 thoughts on “The Christian Copy

  1. Dude, this is a GREAT article.

    I think the whole Christian entertainment industry is a symptom that belies a heinous virus that exists in many churches, and one that you touched upon in your article. This virus doesn’t have a name, but if I were to assign it one, it would be Scaredoftheworldsoitseasiertohideinourownlittlecomfortableworldnotfulfillingthegreatcommision…itis.

    A little history:

    Throughout the 1960s, heavy-handed Christian values were overthrown by the hippie generation. Christians retreated, overwhelmed by social changes—but we still wanted the pleasures of modern culture, only without any tempting content or foul philosophy.

    Our reaction was to build a cultural wall around ourselves complete with self-prescribed content filters and an isolationist attitude. This cocoon was a comfy, safe place for Christians, but the cocoon became a time capsule. We spent decades discussing what we hoped the world was like rather than dealing with how things are.

    Our isolation also bred well-intentioned but poorly trained artists. Instead of playing with the big boys, Christian filmmakers remained in the minor leagues.

    Christian audiences learned to accept substandard artists who make substandard works. We no longer have any expectations of quality. Like expecting a church youth group to compete with off-Broadway, we are ill-equipped and out-matched (courtesy, Relevant Magazine).

    And you know what the most disturbing part is? Some people actually think these films are good. There were many sad, culturally naive people at Access when I was there who told me that “Facing the Giants” was actually worth watching. And “Fireproof”? OSCAR WINNER. All I could do was shake my head and wonder why their parents raised them to be afraid of the world. I pray for these people. I pray for them. Pray.

  2. Boom! I love this post, Ben! It’s fantastic! And I think you hit the nail on the head.

    I’ve seen a lot of Christian films, and most of them just fall flat on their faces. “Facing the Giants”, which TONS of Christians loved, I hated. It’s number two on my “Worst Movies Ever Made” list, beat out only by Napoleon Dynamite. When asked if I liked it and I tell people THAT, I get all kinds of looks. The “How dare you” look, the “You’re a bad Christian” look, the “You didn’t get it” look. And occasionally, the “Finally! Someone who thinks like I do” look.

    I’ve been told, “But it’s made by Christians, and it has a good message”. Yes, it’s made by Christians, and it may have a good message, but that doesn’t mean it’s a GOOD MOVIE! A poorly made movie with a good message is still a poorly made movie. “Oh, but they made it for only $100,000!” Yes, and it LOOKS like they did. Facing the Giants has some of the WORST acting I have ever seen. Period.

    I respect that Christians are trying to get into the industry, but if you’re making movies that ONLY Christians would like because ONLY Christians would see that it was made with a good message, then you’re missing the mark. Christian movies need to be made with the viewers in mind. That doesn’t mean you have to put a ton of swearing and sex in it. Heck, you don’t need all that stuff, but at least try to make them realistic. Facing the Giants was fake…even for a Christian home. The people don’t talk like real people, and they don’t act like real people. So I see a movie that has unreal stuff in it.

    What I would say to Christians who want to make movies, keep in mind that they need to be realistic, believable, and don’t be afraid to show darkness the way it is.

    That’s my two cents. 😀

    1. “Facing The Giants” gave us so many great moments to mock, that I appreciate whomever made that film for these reasons alone, including:

      “Mam that’s whack!” – Token Black Coach

      “I’m standing for my son…”

      “You made the team… The daddy team!”

      “Oh God, Oh God, I’m, I’m overwhelmed”

    2. I agree with you on the quality issue, with having a little video production knowledge i would say it’s not super hard to make it look good but as for the acting it’s hard to find good actors but even a good actor can’t always make a bad script good. Everything hangs on the script, i will forgive some bad quality shooting and editing if the acting and story is good but once you lose that you are sunk.

  3. The world doesn’t need any ‘Christian’ anything. It needs Christian people doing/creating excellent work.

    What you create will come from the heart. And if your heart is good, then good will come out.

    The world doesn’t need more Christian music; it needs more good music created by Christians. We don’t need any more Christian books; just good books written by Christians. No Christian movies; just good movies made by Christians, etc…etc…

    My favorite band, Dream Theater, is not a ‘Christian’ band, yet two of the members are professed non-denom Christians, one (or two) Catholic and the other Jewish. It is some of the most God glorifying music I can think of. Why? The talent these people have been blessed by God with! They are amazing players and people!

    Do what God created you to do. Create what He inspires you to create. Don’t force some ”message’ just because you think that in order to ‘use your talent’ for God it MUST include some sort of salvation message or gospel message. When you free yourself from the bonds of legalism it is there where, I feel, the creative person can do their best work for God. Then, if someone asks ,’Wow! Dude! That was awesome! How’d you come up with that?!?’ you can say, ‘Just using the talents God gave me’. And that’s all you gotta say. 😉

    1. Jason you hit the nail on the head, i think that is the heart of what i was trying to say. If you create from your heart and use the talents that God gave you it’s a message in it’s own right.

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