Too many times, Christians of all stripes have been the object of ridicule and distortion in Hollywood productions. The Christian community has been the favorite whipping-boy of an entertainment industry that has profiteered too often by portraying people of faith as evil, intolerant and hypocritical. And now, in another tragic benchmark, the Sony Pictures release, The Da Vinci Code, attacks the very divinity of Jesus Christ, undermines the supernatural origins of the Scriptures, and maligns the Church as murderous and a promoter of lies.
Flexing Our Consumer Dollars
Boycotts rarely achieve desired results. PR campaigns can work, but they require extensive time and resources. Is there anything else can we do?
The answer is “Yes!” Hollywood, meet the first ever organized Christian “othercott.”
A what? An “othercott,” in which Christians all over the world flex our consumer dollars by supporting an alternate project on the weekend that The Da Vinci Code opens. It’s a strategy that is smart, because it understands that the main thing that impacts Hollywood is money. It’s also satisfying, because it gives us something to do besides sitting on the sidelines whining and complaining because we don’t have the power to do something.
We do have power. As we saw with The Passion of the Christ, when we stand together, the Christian audience can make a movie a global phenomenon. By intentionally diverting our dollars and especially our kids’ dollars we can certainly make Sony Pictures regret they decided to target Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.
Jesus Said Pray for Our Enemies, Not Pay Them
Sony Pictures has been brilliant in marketing The Da Vinci Code. They actually hired some Christians to promote this terrible film as an opportunity for “dialogue” about Jesus. In an effort to be open to evangelizing opportunities, lots of well-meaning Christians have taken the bait. But it’s all a scam. Sony Pictures doesn’t care a whit about religious dialogue. Their main motivation is increasing the bottom line. And if they can do it by slamming Christians, all the better.
There really is only one question for followers of Christ during this pivotal moment: Do you think it’s appropriate to reward Sony Pictures with hundreds of millions of dollars at the box-office for blaspheming Jesus Christ in such a flagrant and outrageous way?
The fact is this: If we support the movie we reward Sony for its effort. If we just squeeze our eyes shut and try to ignore the movie, Sony wins again by default. They still win the all-important opening weekend, probably because millions of our Christians will pump their money into The Da Vinci Code coffers. And with the huge success of The Da Vinci Code, we will have to brace ourselves for a spate of worse and worse films trying to cash in by attacking our faith.
We Can Do Better Than Stand Back and Watch This Happen
Roll up your sleeves. With the input of Christian professionals in Hollywood, we have come up with 10 “other” things you can do besides going to see this blasphemous movie and paying Sony Pictures for the privilege.
But first, got some questions?
Q. “But how can I respond to the movie if I don’t see it?”
A. As cultural commentator Barbara Nicolosi succinctly said, “You don’t need to see the movie or read the book to talk about all the issues that it raises. Just like you don’t need to watch pornography to argue against it. If you really think this movie might be an opportunity to spread your faith, know that you can talk about Jesus, the Bible, Mary Magdalen and the history of the Church all without letting Sony Pictures turn you into a stooge for them.” Fortunately, there are plenty of good Catholic and Evangelical Christian resources that lay out all the major issues/problems in the book and answer them thoroughly.
Q. “But I would enjoy seeing the movie.”
A. Of course, most movies are greatly entertaining. The Da Vinci Code might possibly be the same. But there is a huge price-tag to pay for a couple of potential thrills in the theater. Do we want to fund the efforts of the people who hate us? Can we justify rewarding Sony Pictures for demeaning Christ? Please think well before exposing yourself and your kids to the disease of doubt and distortion that is The Da Vinci Code.
Q. “But this is a great evangelism moment for the Church!”
A. Maybe it is. Some people might be truly seeking the truth in The Da Vinci Code. For most movie-goers, however, Sony Pictures’ The Da Vinci Code will stoke the fire of cynicism and anger towards Christianity. Neither of these set the conditions for evangelization. But, again, if you do encounter someone who sincerely wants to talk about Christianity after seeing this film, you can certainly engage them without having to see the movie. In fact, it will be a refreshing statement if we Christians can say to friends, “I am not going to support that movie because it is blasphemy against Jesus Christ. I know its premise and would love to discuss it with you but I can’t justify supporting it.”
Q: Why are we choosing to support Over the Hedge in the othercott?
A. In order for the othercott to be effective, we need to put our efforts behind another feature film that is opening on May 19th, that would also be getting a wide release. A wide release means that the film will be available all over the country in all the major cineplexes and theater chains. We also wanted a movie that would have a PG or G rating, so that our families could see it. Over the Hedge is the only other movie opening on May 19th that fits our profile. We are certainly not promoting Over the Hedge as a perfect film. We are promoting it as much more of what we want to see from the entertainment industry than vicious attacks on our Church. We are in no way affiliated with Dreamworks or Over the Hedge.
Q. “Won’t the othercott just be pumping more money into a corrupt Hollywood?
A. Hollywood is really not the monolithic entity that we tend to think. It’s actually a collection of fiercely competitive corporate conglomerates, all jostling for ratings and market share. The only way we Christians are going to have any impact on what ends up on the screens will be if we start strategically supporting the kinds of movies we want to see, and just as strategically avoiding the movies that are offensive to us. In Over the Hedge, Dreamworks has a better movie on May 19th for us and our kids. They deserve to win the weekend over Sony Pictures.
Q. Does this othercott really have any hope of making a difference?
A. Absolutely. Sony Pictures is tracking this effort. The othercott will be covered in many top media outlets including USA Today, the New York Times, NPR, and many, many more. Every extra dollar that comes to Over the Hedge over the industry expectation will be attributed to this effort. We can be heard. Flex your dollars. Remember, Christians effectively exposed the Disney Corporation in the 1990s because of some of its nefarious work. It effectively lost its reputation as a “family-friendly” company. If Sony wants to embrace movies that are seriously offensive to Christians, it should feel the effects as well. As Christians, we have an obligation to speak up.
Q. Is there anything else we should do?
A. Yes, one of the most important things we Christians can ever do: we can pray. We must pray. We must pray for Dan Brown, director Ron Howard, actor Tom Hanks, and all the people who have been part of producing this terrible project. We need to pray for the many theater-goers who will be negatively impacted by this film. We need to pray that Christians will be prepared to discuss the errors in this film, and not be infected with doubt because they are unprepared. And we must all collectively raise our voices in a chorus of praise, to counteract the blasphemy that will be shown on movie screens all over the world on May 19th.