If you’ve seen Unbroken in theaters, you might have caught a preview for a new movie billing itself as a “Christian” production. The trailer’s soundtrack is current CCM, and the Dove Foundation has already rated it glowingly. So it’s safe to say that this product is being pushed in fairly mainstream evangelical circles. This isn’t Steve Taylor’s pet project. It’s the kind of thing for which your local Christian morning show might give away tickets when it gets a wider release. People are coming out of early screenings all smiles, saying what a “great message” the movie has and how much it moved them.
Indeed, judging by the trailer, it looks like the script, story and acting alone should bring a lump to any film-lover’s throat.
Okay, in case your stomach wasn’t strong enough to venture clicking on the trailer, I’ll provide a brief recap: In an unspecified hamlet of white American suburbia, one earnest teen heartthrob dares to raise his voice against the tirades of an Oppressive White Male political candidate, who’s running on a platform of “fighting” lies, corruption, and sexual immorality. I’m not sure what’s supposed to be wrong with that, but anyway, our hero hears it as a message of “hate,” and he decides to Do Something about it. That Something turns out to be running for Congress against Mr. Oppressive White Male, at the age of 17 (I gather this legal sticking-point is somehow resolved in the plot). The stage is set for a showdown between the two sides, where Millenial Teen Heartthrob can be spotted mouthing such profundities as “We cannot choose hate! We have to choose each other!”
Hang on, I need to go ransack my closet for some insulin. BRB.
Back now. Where was I? Oh yes, I was trying to decide which fallacy to talk about first. I guess the bad-guy provides as good a starting-point as any. Yes, “This is a war!” bellows our villain of straw. “Cast those people out!”
Yeah! Wait, out of where? Out of office? If they’re corrupt, lying, etc., sure. Out of churches? I don’t know, be specific and use examples. Out of the wrong bathrooms? Absolutely, yes.
I’m sure the movie gets around to addressing such fine-grained distinctions somewhere in its running time. I’m sure this trailer is a really bad way to judge the movie as a whole, and it’s actually an informed, insightful look at today’s incarnation of the American culture wars.
I found even more troubling details on the Dove Foundation’s content run-down. Predictably, a character in the movie privately “comes out” as gay to the main character. And apparently, Mr. Millenial Heartthrob even says that he’s “not sure about homosexuality” (whatever that’s supposed to mean). There’s also a promotional video with more footage, in which Teen Heartthrob adds “exegetical gaffe” to his laundry list of bad lines:
If you believe Galatians, if you believe all one, then that means that God doesn’t hate anyone he created. We have all sinned. He doesn’t hate anyone! I’ve heard you talk about how we have to separate ourselves from these people in order to protect ourselves, but, sir, I think separation is the exact wrong thing. I think we need to stay one strong community. A community that tries to understand each other, rather than trying to judge one another.
Sweetheart, make yourself comfortable and let me teach you about something called the “zero-sum game.” Wait, no, no, no, that’s a big word. Let me tell you a couple of bedtime stories instead.
Story #1: Our city passed a local ordinance some years ago that was designed to make sure that, among other things, people who “identified with the opposite gender” could use opposite gender bathrooms if they so chose. For obvious reasons, my mother and the rest of the conservative community campaigned against this ordinance. At one city council meeting, a young man dressing as a woman approached my mother’s friend and began to bully her by asking repeatedly, “You hate me. Why do you hate me?” My mother’s friend, who’s about the nicest person you could meet, tried to respond gently, “I don’t hate you.” But the young man ignored her and got right up in her face before finally walking away.
Story #2: An acquaintance of mine shared that she was working at a clothes store, when a man came prancing up in a dress and demanded that she render an opinion on how he looked. She cast about frantically for something to say that wouldn’t cost her her job, and finally settled on something truthful but mild like “I don’t think it’s really your style.” Luckily, she didn’t lose her job. She was more fortunate than the guy whose lesbian boss bullied him into reacting to her announced “wedding,” then used it as an excuse to fire him.
I’ve got more. Do you want to hear them? Oh, never mind, I see sleepy little eyes starting to glaze over. I’ll just leave this cup of warm milk riiight here. Sweet dreams!
Now, am I urging my readers to run out and tweet/Facebook your outrage at the mind-numbing shallowness of this film, and encourage your friends to share? Actually, no. I’m making a post about it, because I think it’s good for people to be informed about the shifting tides of mainstream evangelical thought (if “thought” be the proper word in this context). However, I’m actually hoping that the painfully bad film-making alone will sink it, and the whole thing will go out with a whimper. Any extra press attention it gets just for being politically shallow will be richly undeserved on every level. Now of course, if it does get extra media attention, then I suppose (*weary sigh*) that more conservatives are going to have to talk about it. But I hope and suspect it will just die quietly, and the rest of the world can trundle on in blissful ignorance that this bit of evanjellyfishery ever made it to a movie screen.