Tag Archives: Christianity

Why are Christian Movies So Cringey?

 

Christian films are, by and large, terrible. The writing is terrible, the dialogue is terrible, and the special effects, if any, are cheap and minimal. They try to hard to be “hip” and “with it,” causing them to fail spectacularly. There is no sense of self-awareness or any desire to answer difficult questions, so many ventures boil down to flimsy affirmations and comforting pity parties over supposed religious persecution, all because they can’t force all children to pray in schools. If you’re drinking, take a sip for all of these being present in a film, and one extra if there is at least one jerk “atheist” character.

I say “atheist” in air quotes because oftentimes, it’s a character who does in fact believe in God, but is mad at him for some reason. Note to the writers: that’s not atheism. That’s called misotheism.

 

C Me Dance, God’s Not Dead, Left Behind, I’m Not Ashamed. They remind me of environmental movies. Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s, we were inundated with film after film about man destroying the planet, with humans fitting into one of three categories: man who has “seen the light,” man who has yet to “see the light,” and evil man. Misguided humans had a chance of redemption, but otherwise, you were either with nature or actively fighting against it. No shades of grey, and no subtlety.

It’s a shame to me to see this happen to Christian films. I was raised as an Episcopalian, and the strongest lesson in my memory has always been “love thy neighbor as thyself.” My church focused less on “repent ye sinners” and more on the idea of being kind to one another, encouraging us to make the Earth a loving place on par with Heaven itself.

I have also seen some very good and interesting movies based on Bible stories, such as The Prince of Egypt and The Ten Commandments. Comparing the effort that was put into those films with the slog of awful, cheap pandering films that have come out in recent years feels like comparing a fillet mignon steak with a Hungry Man T.V. dinner.

 

Even something like Oh God was less preachy and demonizing, mostly because it could be genuinely funny. And God was just so likable!

It made suggestions for interpreting God’s motivations and laws, and didn’t paint its skeptical lead character too harshly, or too positively after he started to really believe. Its tone was curious and wondering, seeking to understand what a massive, enigmatic figure might be thinking about His creations, whereas Pure Flix movies and their ilk want you to never question God.

As someone who still considers herself a Christian, I don’t want weaksauce pandering. I don’t want to see wimpy arguments and enemies being straw-manned just to make myself feel superior. I actually like difficult questions and being made to think about what I am being given, though I am sure that is not to everyone’s taste. But still, could we maybe try a little harder? Make an actually compelling argument, outside of “Christianity good, everything else bad because we say so”?

 

Really, these movies are prime wish-fulfillment. The makers and their audiences want to believe that they are the good guys, and that anyone who opposes them is just bitter and Devil-enabled, trying to block their righteous path. They see the world as an awful place full of sin and temptation; you know, violent video games and sexually-charged media and the like. They want wholesome, family entertainment, but hey, maybe they’ll find a Christian rock band to throw in there to give it the barest facsimile of “coolness.” That way they can draw in the kiddies, and pretend that they aren’t completely out-of-touch with the world they fear so much.

On some level, I get it. I understand that times and standards are constantly changing, and that can be scary. But it also speaks of a level of selfishness, wanting things to stay exactly the way they are, and only wanting their own religious beliefs to be catered to and validated. My biggest issue with modern Christianity is how many of its practitioners seek to control people and stamp out any dissent, any questioning of authority or text. Some of them also use their faith as a status symbol, propelling them above the rest of their fellow men because they are “God’s chosen people.” That is not what I was raised to value, and when I see how much actual persecution occurs in the name of Christianity, it makes me sick and angers me deep down in my core.

Christian movies are bad now because they’re hypocritical. They attack science as if it’s some kind of faith that people blindly follow, instead of replicable, established series of theories and experiments. They attack atheists and non-believers for being rude and mean without a word about how many Christians snub those outside of their circles. They want to be able to preach in schools, but God help you if someone of Muslim or Hindu faith requested the same privilege. These films don’t understand basic laws or structures, put in place just as much to protect them as to limit them. They just want to cry persecution and smirk smugly when their characters win in the end.

What was once a decent enough sub-genre is now a ghetto of thought and creativity. There are also some pretty unsettling ideas about gender roles in there too, as you might imagine.

 

In my opinion, tested faith is stronger and more substantial than blind faith. Conversion by well-reasoned arguments is so much better than that by threats of death and hellfire. If you really want to convert more people, think of how to appeal to their curiosity, and the critical side of their brain.

Well, that, and don’t be a pompous jerk about it.

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The Worst Romantic Movie I Have Ever Seen

Happy Early Valentines Day! And say what you want about Hollywood schlock, at least there is usually chemistry involved.

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For a movie that claims to be about true, real love, Old Fashioned has not an ounce of love to be found. A woman named Amber moves into town to get away from an abusive past relationship, only to take up residence above an old antique shop called Old Fashioned. The owner and landlord, Clay, is a former frat boy-turned born again Christian, and he insists that he can’t be in the same room with any woman who is not his wife. So whenever he comes up to fix things, he makes Amber wait outside. Sounds charming, right?

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Amber is for some reason charmed by his convictions, and proceeds to purposefully break things around her apartment just to get him to visit. Sounds healthy, right?

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At one point, she drills holes into her refrigerator. Any other landlord would throw her out on the street for this, but okay.

When they finally go on a “date,” Clay’s church gives them this wonderfully intrusive book questionnaire, and Clay insists on asking questions such as, “How many children do you want?” On the first date. 

And just so you know, other questions range from, “What are your pet peeves?” to, “What percentage of your annual income is appropriate to spend on a pet?” And, “Do you believe in the death penalty?” No, I am not kidding. Dates are apparently a bunch of malarkey that Clay is just too real for, because who wants to come to any of these questions naturally over the course of dating for months? That’s obvious crazy talk.

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But hey, at least it’s not that sinful Fifty Shades of Grey, right?

Clay has a friend who is a shock radio deejay, and this gent constantly says mean and horrible things about women. But later, Clay interrupts his other friend’s bachelor party – which he was invited to, for some reason – and self-righteously reprimands his friends and the stripper they hired for degrading women…

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You know, Clay, some people would argue that what you’re doing is just as bad; trying to be a knight in shining armor and treating women less like complex human beings and more like sacred mannequins that you can’t even bring yourself to touch, lest you sully them. You cost the stripper a paycheck and tips that night, which she might have really needed, and you didn’t even stop to consider that she might be perfectly happy and fulfilled in this line of work. You saw something you judged to be “wrong” and tried to correct it without any real compassion or critical thought.

But ignoring all of that, you didn’t think to stand up to your deejay friend and straighten him out at any point before this. How is this a step too far, assuming that the other guy’s fiancé is aware and is comfortable with it?

My point here is that high-and-mighty is a suit that looks poor on most people, but especially if you can argue that they are just as flawed as the folks they are criticizing. Just food for thought.

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Clay constantly asserts that dating is stupid and superficial, but he seems to be conflating dating with one-night stands. There is quite a difference between those two things, but I guess Clay knows better than me because he “used to be” a part of that culture. It’s kind of unclear whether or not that means that he’d prefer arranged marriages instead, but even if I believed that he was ever really that wild and crazy, Clay’s pendulum has now swung so far in the opposite direction that I’m not convinced that his new way is all that healthy either.

Meanwhile, Amber seems nice enough. She’s described as “quirky,” but it’s in a really forced and awkward way that comes across more like hardcore Christians trying to make a relatable 20-something with no prior knowledge. But of course, anyone looks better standing next to Clay, the future axe murderer.

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I have no idea what Amber sees in Clay physically, mentally, emotionally, or what-have-you; it’s like watching Padme Amidala and Anakin Skywalker all over again, but without the occasional welcomed reprieve of epic space battles and CG aliens. Even before the hilariously offensive dating guidebook is introduced, Clay already comes across as controlling and arrogant, but afterwards, not only does he have to control almost every aspect of the relationship, but he can’t even be bothered to kiss or compliment her. I’m not saying she should force him to, but at the same time, nothing else about this relationship makes sense to me.

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In my mind, “love” is wanting to be with someone; to be happy with them, and make them happy. Even if he didn’t want to do things for Amber’s benefit, does Clay feel nothing when he’s around her? Does he never feel compelled to say, “You’re so beautiful,” or even just something like, “I love you laugh/smile/jokes/etc.”?

Sex doesn’t even need to enter into it. One or both of them could be asexual, or just really, really wholesome, and still you could convince me of why they enjoy each other’s company!

Instead, they are together because the writers say so, plain and simple. They want these two to be together, and so they are. Huzzah…

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What is even funnier is that Amber makes some new friends in town, and all throughout the movie, they are mocking Clay and telling her she could do so much better than him. I can’t disagree, especially when one of his good friends is such a misogynistic buttmunch, and he won’t stand up to this guy except when he wants to. It’s like the movie is lambasting itself; like it knows exactly what the problem is, but refuses to fix it.

I can’t defend this thing on any level. It’s unintentionally funny at times, but it’s also kind of psychotic and disturbing too. When Hollywood gives you film after film of crazy, unhealthy romcoms, at least there are different flavors to them. At least there is usually some passion, or half-way decent writing. People can choose to wonder how much of that relationship is implied to be a) normal, and b) what you should strive for.

With Christian film companies like Pure Flix, you know exactly what they are telling you at all times. It basically translates out to, “Shame shame shame! Gawd gawd gawd!” “You should be ashamed, disgusted, and afraid of where society is going, and where you’re going. Here’s a hint: it rhymes with ‘knell.’”

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It’s so much more condescending and obnoxious. As someone who still identifies as religious, I even dare to call it ‘preachy.’ 

 

*1/10 

The images in this article do not belong to me, but are being used to critique.