New for Conservative Christians: Film Reviews, Not Protests
Like other reviewers of "Brokeback Mountain," Steven Isaac was impressed by the quality of the filmmaking. But for Mr. Isaac, who reviews movies for the conservative Christian organization Focus on the Family, the movie, about a love affair between two male ranch hands, posed other critical challenges.
"The actions of (the film's cowboy lovers) cannot be endorsed" according to the 'Brokeback Mountain' review from the Office for Film and Broadcasting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
"When Ang Lee brings his considerable talents to a film that promotes homosexuality, which I believe personally hurts our culture, you get a movie that sells its message more effectively than one by someone less talented," Mr. Isaac said in a telephone interview. In a review that acknowledged the film's virtues, published on the Focus on the Family Web site pluggedinonline.com, he objected that it portrayed the characters' tribulations as consequences of an intolerant society rather than of "the destructiveness of acting on homosexual temptations."
"Brokeback Mountain" has received overwhelming acclaim from mainstream critics, but elicited a different reaction from conservative Christian media: respectful and often laudatory, but finding biblical fault with the film's content.
As the Office for Film and Broadcasting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops put it, "While the actions of Jack and Ennis" - the film's cowboy lovers - "cannot be endorsed, the universal themes of love and loss ring true." The office originally rated the movie "L," for limited, signaling that it was suitable for adults who can evaluate it from a Catholic moral perspective. But it changed the rating to "O," for offensive, so readers would not think the movie's treatment of homosexuality was "an acceptable Catholic moral position, which it is not," said Msgr. Francis Maniscalco, director of communications for the bishops' conference.
This critical ambivalence represents a change in the way conservative Christians engage popular culture, said Robert Johnston, a professor of theology and culture at Fuller Theological Seminary, an evangelical institution, in Pasadena, Calif. Until recently, he said, Christian groups would have ignored a sexually explicit movie like "Brokeback Mountain" except to protest it.
"Ten years ago, conservatives would say 'Schindler's List' should not be shown because of its nudity," said Professor Johnston, adding that he had not yet seen "Brokeback Mountain." "But just as in the wider culture, evangelicals as a group are becoming more sophisticated in their interaction with popular culture. There's been a recognition within the evangelical community that movies have become a primary means, perhaps the primary means, of telling our culture's stories. For this reason, evangelicals have become much more open to good stories, artfully told, but they also want stories whose values they can affirm or understand."
Reflecting this new approach, Christian media have increased their cultural coverage and influence lately.
The mainstream evangelical magazine Christianity Today last year started Christianitytodaymovies.com to coincide with the release of Mel Gibson's "Passion of the Christ." The site gets 125,000 visitors a month.
What i wanna know is this since when do church officials get to critisize movies? And why should what they think be worth anything? It's obvious much like the little mermaid incident with the christians that okay if you don't like the movie that's fine. And then shove moral ethics down our throats. Because they think it's wrong..............It must be. FUCK THEM religious bastards who are closed minded.