Friday, May 2, 2014

What's wrong with Christian films these days?

I am currently writing up Part 2 of my review of "God's Not Dead", but I want to share some thoughts on what I've noticed about Christian films today and an idea that may vastly improve the quality of future Christian films so believers won't have to be totally embarrassed by them.

Preaching to a dwindling choir

Many Christian films today aren't made for a general audience. They cater to strictly Christian audiences of a specific type. But in times past, Christian films were made with the intent not simply to depict Biblical stories, but also to genuinely entertain a wider audience. "Jesus Christ Superstar" immediately comes to mind as an excellent example. Even if you weren't Christian, you'd find something enjoyable about the film.

Today's faith-based films focus more on drilling conservative evangelical "values" and horribly poor attempts at proselytizing/evangelization. Take a look at "God's Not Dead", "Revelation Road"(and it's sequel), or the "Left Behind" movies. All they do is reassure believers with a pat on the head and foster a toxic sense of superiority coupled with a persecution complex. Today's films(with the exception of Darren Aronofsky's "Noah") are too high on the preaching and too low on enjoyment. Anybody who isn't an evangelical Christian with a persecution complex will roll their eyes and walk away first chance they get. How can Christian filmmakers fix this problem?

Want better Christian films? I "Noah" guy...

Ideally, if Christian filmmakers want to really make their movies respectable, they should do as Darren Aronofsky did, and treat their myths as exactly that and not take themselves too seriously.

But since that's out of the question for the majority of Christian film companies who treat Scripture as "truth", here's an alternative idea suggested by "The Thinking Atheist"'s Seth Andrews that may give Christian filmmakers the perspective they sorely need when making a film that intends to proselytize:

Before releasing the film to the general public, host a free screening specifically and only for atheists . When the screening is over, ask every member of the audience two questions over a live television stream: 1) Has this film changed your views on Christianity? 2) Are you more interested in becoming a Christian? And please explain your answers.

I guarantee the answers and their reasoning will be quite eye-opening, to say the least.