The traditionally-minded people of this country want some entertainment and are willing to pay for it. A report by the website Movieguide found that movies with traditional themes, involving Christian, patriotic, moral, and capitalist messages, outperformed ones with more liberal messages by 6-to-1. In a marketplace, where the customer is always right, you would think supply would increase to meet this demand. This doesn’t seem to be the case though. Entertainment options look like they will continue to be overwhelmingly targeted towards the more secular folk.
In fact, if you perused the popular culture, you might assume that this country was made up of teenagers whose parents were out of town for the weekend, and would find very little evidence of this large Christian demographic. From the popular tv shows it might appear as if one of our nation’s favorite past-times was watching somebody’s face hit the concrete and then rewinding it to see it again in slow-mo.
One man who has made a killing at this gig is Daniel Tosh. He has a own show on Comedy Central, Tosh.0, that simply finds painful and embarrassing videos of human beings at their most degraded moments, and then adds further degradation with mildly witty commentary. “Oooo, that must have hurt.” It’s America’s Funniest Home Videos if every video was the one where the kid hits his dad in the nuts with a baseball bat.
Just to illustrate the extent that this type of humor will go, look at Mr. Tosh’s standup routine. In one bit, he makes a whole audience roll in laughter mocking a Christian boy that was decapitated (a real life tragedy in Atlanta) by a girl’s leg as she was going by on a rollercoaster. He had gone to retrieve his hat after the ride, and went beyond the safety-fence. The girl who collided with him shattered her leg in nine places and had to have a cast for over a year. It was a true story, and a heartbreaking one, but to Tosh he thought it was simply hilarious.
Here are a couple of his super-funny highlights, “And I know he was in a church youth group, and they don’t believe in evolution, but that kid was getting picked off sooner or later!” Hahahaha And now he turns his attention to the girl, who has to live the rest of her life with accidentally killing this poor kid. He is equally as pleased with her situation. “I don’t know if you’ve ever worn a cast or not, but everybody and their mother will come up to you, ‘How’d ya break your leg?’” Pause for more uproarious laughter. “She’ll get to say, ‘I fu**ing punted a guy’s head 90 yards.”
If you really want to see it, this is the best I could find of it on youtube. It starts about 4:50 in
Now to be fair to Danny, his show is breaking all kinds of records in its time slot. It’s not just the nice, moral entertainment that is in high-demand apparently. The material is getting less and less appealing to the “family audience,” but what else are we going to do, play monopoly? So we find the least bad thing usually. The entertainment industry is clearly aware of the large Christian market, but mostly chooses to ignore it and put out garbage. For example, popular music is geared towards songs almost exclusively about sex. I really don’t think they even know about any other topics. I kind of feel like a grouchy old man saying that, but flip on the “pop music” station and try to find a song not about the pursuit of substance and sex-fueled euphoria.
Both audiences are huge markets, but one is being starved. They are dying for some crumbs from this industry but rarely get tossed anything. When there is a well-made item created that piques their interest though, you see the potential of the audience that is being ignored; case-in-point, Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. This movie was in Aramaic and it still managed to be an amazing success. Would you be surprised to learn that it (not Wedding Crashers, Showgirls, The Hangover etc..) is the best selling R-rated DVD of all time, and the top grossing at the box-office, beating the #2 movie by almost $100 million?
Now we all remember that after that, Hollywood jumped on this clear train to success and made a long-string of Bible-based movies that were a hit with the whole family. No, I don’t remember that either. In fact, that didn’t happen at all. What could explain that? Was Daniel Tosh not available to play the Apostle Paul in the movie “The Road to Damascus?” That was probably it. I hear he’s pretty busy at the moment though, poking corpses with sticks and chuckling to himself.
Honestly though, how many people would kill for a movie rendition of the life of any number of saints, Old Testament prophets, apostles, or even all those other moments of Jesus’ life before the crucifixion? Or what about some inspiring stories surrounding great moments in American and Western Civilization? Would it be too much to ask for one well-done movie about the American Revolution, and without some revisionist axe to grind? I guess Mel Gibson did one of those too, “The Patriot,” but does he really have to carry the whole load? Considering Mel’s last few years, we probably need a new champion anyway.
In the sports world, guess who the most popular athlete of 2011 was according to ESPN. It was Tim Tebow, by far. Now if anybody thinks it is because he was the greatest athlete of 2011, well…no comment. It was a crumb. We got a crumb and gleefully gobbled it up, trying to enjoy it and simultaneously ignore the fact he was being mocked all over the place. He was also considered the most controversial athlete. Ya know, because he isn’t banging supermodels or accidentally shooting himself in a nightclub. He’s weird.
It looks like the traditional folk might have to stop subsisting from crumbs from Hollywood’s table and create our own stuff. I can’t act, sing, write movies, do stand-up comedy or any of that, but if 80% of this country says they are Christian, I’m sure a couple of them can. Make me a movie about the life of St Patrick. He got kidnapped at sea by pirates, was enslaved on a rural Irish farm for the remainder of his childhood, escaped by boat back to England, became a priest, and then came back with a boatload of monks and somehow converted a bunch of people with face tattoos. And then everybody got drunk and had a parade. It would make a great movie.
That was one off the top of my head, but I’m sure those more creative than I can start writing scripts now. Do it. There are millions of Christians waiting to be entertained.