We who preach the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish good will between Christ and the world. We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, the world of sports or modern education. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. A.W. Tozer

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Movie Guide is Dishonest


When I am interested in seeing a movie, one of the first things I do is check out what Plugged In has to say about it.  I also like to check Debbie Schlussel’s reviews because they are from a conservative, yet non-Christian viewpoint.

Another review site I learned about a long time ago is Movie Guide, founded by Dr. Ted Baehr.  I don’t know how I got on his e-mail list, but now and then I get something from him which 99% of the time I just delete without looking at.  So I’ve never gone to Movie Guide for reviews in the past.
Movie Guide is ostensibly a Christian review site, so I would expect it to be accurate and not misrepresent movies it reviews.  But I learned yesterday that this isn’t the case.
I took my wife to watch the movie, “Brave.”  It was a fun movie, but like virtually all movies there was ideology presented which would be contradictory to Christianity.  (But so is just about everything in the world!)  However, in regards to marriage it was just fine.  The story began with the princess being subjected to having local men vie for her hand in betrothal by a engaging in a contest.  She is not happy with the idea of this type of marriage arrangement and actually contrives to win her own hand in the contest.   The girl is just not interested in this sort of marriage!  At the end of the movie we learn that love will be the new way of choosing one’s mate, and that if someone wants to win a woman’s hand, they must first win her heart.  Sounded like a good idea to me.
However, when I arrived home I had an email from Mr. Baehr linking to a “review” of the movie, and the review had the headline, “BRAVE Attacks Marriage Hastening Demographic Winter.”  This, of course, piqued my interest.  Here is how the article began:
The movie BRAVE tells the story of a young princess in Scotland who will do anything not to get married, including go to a witch to cast a heinous spell on her own mother who is the Queen. This self-defeating and unnatural message is being pushed by Pixar and the Walt Disney Company at a time when Europe is facing demographic winter. This is very irresponsible.
Several of us have just returned from speaking and teaching in Europe. In many countries, marriage is dismissed and demeaned. As a result, the very survival of these people groups is in question.
The review then went on to cite an article about the lack of births in Europe and the problem of declining marriage and families.  It had absolutely nothing to do with the subject of the movie.  The “review” then ended thusly:
The action steps that parents need to take is to be careful about letting their daughters and sons be infected by the messages of BRAVE, and to contact Walt Disney Company and Pixar and ask them to be more careful about their productions for children.
It then ended with the people and addresses of Disney and Pixar.
Well, this was a blatant misrepresentation of what the movie presented about marriage.  Did the movie have some other ideological problems?  YES, albeit fairly minor.  Did the “review” address any other issue?  NO.  It just claimed the movie attacked marriage.
So I e-mailed Mr. Baehr the following:
Did you guys even watch the movie?  I just came back from watching it and you are making something up that wasn't there.  The girl was NOT against marriage - she was against forced marriage to someone chosen by family or won in a contest.  Yes, it was revisionist history in that regard, and a subtle feminist slant having her being so "macho," but if you watched the movie to the end the point was made that they should have the right to pick their OWN mates based on love, and the guys were told to win her heart before they could win her hand.  And you have the audacity to say the movie attacked marriage?!?!
I would say this is a good example of bearing false witness.
I agree I was a bit abrupt and frank, but having just come from the movie and knowing this was supposedly a “Christian” review, I felt a bit peeved that they would lie in that fashion.
Mr. Baehr replied as follows:
“I agree to disagree and Thank you so much!”
Okay, I just told him of the blatant error from my personal observation of a movie (by the way, Plugged In agreed with me) and his response was that it was just a disagreement.  That’s sort of like calling someone’s answer for two plus two being “five” a “disagreement”!  There are facts that must be considered, not just an opinion.
So I posted back:
Agree to disagree?!?!?!  You lie about what the movie is saying and call it a disagreement?
The movie NEVER attacked marriage.  The girl didn't want to marry some guy who won her in a contest.  The end of the movie she will wait to marry someone for love.  How in the blazes is that attacking marriage?!?!
His response:
Your accusations are specious and ridiculous
BRAVE is Rousseauian and anthropocentric
& she whines constantly while calling upon a witch to follow her heart - shades of Anton LaVey and Aleister Crowley.
If you want to discuss, civily, Please call me at my office at 805-383-2000  on Monday.
You are in my praise and prayers
The only accusation I made was that the review lied about the movie, and it certainly wasn’t “specious and ridiculous” because I gave the facts.  His other charges against the movie had nothing to do with the “review” or my complaint.
I responded:
I am not calling you, and I am discussing this civily.
I don't care about all those other problems with the movie - that wasn't what your link addressed.  
The point is that you LIED and claimed it attacked marriage.  The girl wants to choose her mate and not have her mate chosen for her, and you call that attacking marriage!
I suggest you change that charge.  Charge the movie with true and accurate problems - don't make up something not in it.  As a Christian you are supposed to set an example for integrity.
The last communication from Baehr was simply:
You are wrong.
Today I watched the video review by Mr. Baehr and he did even more misrepresentation - he said she consorted with a witch to change her mother into a bear; the girl only asked her to change her mother - and the idea was to make her change her mind!  The girl had no idea what the witch had in mind.  Baehr also stated it was “very feminist,” which it wasn’t.  Were there some feminist leanings?  Yes, but mostly subtle - not “very feminist.” 

Here is the issue:  A supposed Christian movie review site falsely accuses a movie of attacking marriage and when the accusation was proven to be in error there was no desire to correct the misrepresentation; instead the person in charge stated that I was the one in error.
Since this organization demonstrates a lack of integrity in such a simple matter, I could never recommend it as a source of information about movies.  How do I know every review doesn’t have false representations so as to promote an agenda?
False teachers aren’t just in the realm of theology - they are also in the realm of culture.

4 comments:

Hermana Linda said...

It looks to me like he is trying to gaslight you. He appears to be the kind who will not listen to reason and will never admit fault. He reminds me too much of the spiritually abusive.

Anonymous said...

I think the movie is not only an attack on marriage, but on family and family values as well. The heroine is not made to suffer any consequences for her actions, since everything turns out fine in the end and she basically gets her way, even though it almost starts a war. Sure she experiences hardship in trying to make things right, but let's face it, she used magical means to try to influence her mother to see her point of view. In modern terms, this would be akin to brainwashing. She should not suffer any long term consequences for this action?? Also, the film predictably portrays the father, and all of the men for that matter, as buffoonish and secondary to the women. The father even becomes the antagonist toward the end, so much so that the heroin has to draw a sword on him! How does that promote family values? I'm sorry, but I think there is a completely legitimate case to be made here that this movie is an assault on marriage and family.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

Anonymous,

You know, the story was not intended to teach Christian values - it is a secular film and as such had secular values. As I noted, the ideology in the film was against Christian ideology.

The issue was whether or not the movie attacked marriage by having the girl do everything she could not to marry as she was set up to do - and the answer is NO! Marriage was stated at the end as something which one chooses for themselves, and they choose their own mate.

This was the argument presented by the article. Everything else is a red herring.

How many novels do you read which have 100% Christian/family values? Do you read newspapers, watch TV or other movies? NONE of these are 100% in line with family/Christian values. But we still use them, do we not?

And if you get right down to it, is there really any entertainment with 100% Biblical values? I've never seen one. Some come close but will then twist the Bible or other doctrine.

The movie was a fun story and the major point was made about the relationship and what was wrong with it. Anything else one should be able to teach their children what is proper.

The Piper's Wife said...

The biggest part of Brave which bothered me was the way the men were portrayed. This is typical for hollywood. I had hoped that the father would have had some good dialog with his daughter to redeem the buffoonishness. Even so, I know this is from hollywood and just use this a conversation starter.

As for the main character not suffering, I would disagree. Not all of our discipline in life is physical. God works on our inner person. I saw this young woman struggling emotionally and for a hollywood movie that was surprising.

One way she suffered was in the near loss of her mother even at the hand of her father who couldn’t understand his wife was THE bear. The father was only trying to protect her and others from the bear not knowing it was his wife, and the daughter only drew the sword to force him to stop.

I do not champion witchcraft, manly women, or buffoonish men, but I do not see this as anything near hollywood attacking marriage or family values. For what movies we have offered to us, this movie was good and a great one to have conversation over.

on another note: I completely agree with the gaslighting from this rude movie reviewer.

Christians! Even Christian movie reviewers ----Honor God with your responses!