I’m working on a column that I am finding thoroughly cathartic in the way that confession is always good for the soul. The gist of the column is to walk you good, innocent and trusting pop-culture lay people through the creepy world of flattery, false friendship, pandering, manipulation, bribery and even coercion that goes into getting writers, publishers, radio personalities and television producers to give air and page time to upcoming movies. This world gets even smarmier and shocking when one experiences it, as I have, in Chrsitian circles, in which people who have a relationship of spiritual authority to their flock, are goaded, provoked, guilted or bribed into using that authority in the perverse enterprise of getting their flock into plunking down money to ultimately just enrich Hollywood studios and movie producers. Trust me, if an endorsement from a Christian leader doesn’t make sense to you, or if it seems like a Christian media outlet is giving a lot of coverage to some obscure or stupid movie, know that the simplest explanation is probably the correct one and someone is getting something from somebody. (Althought, I suppose it should also be said, that sometimes our Christian just have really, really bad taste – but that seems to me to be inexcusable too for a 21st Century disciple.)
Everyone needs to know about the whole seductive and ego-inflating word of junkets, free trips and movie swag. I want to unburden myself of the power that that world has exerted on me in the past. I want to talk about how the attraction of access to celebrity feels, and how easy it is to let yourself be manipulated when someone dabbles the glamorous stuff of Hollywood like a carrot before the hungry, mostly struggling, professionally, um, humble bunnies that make up the Christian media. Goodies, and famous people, and pricey hotels and getting to play with the cool kids — and all you have to do to keep coming back for more is give the PR people what they need: more exposure for their product, critical praise, or at least a soft-peddling the flaws of the really bad stuff, or in the worst scenarios in the Christian world, giving an ugly or perverse movie some kind of spiritual cover — like calling the blasphemous Da Vinci Code “an opportunity for dialogue.” Buying favor is nothing new in Hollywood, but it shouldn’t happen in the Church, and I think people need to know that it is happening all the time, and in very surprising places.
Stay tuned for some spicy bits I’m thinking of as “Follow the money, Church!” or, “What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul, but for Noah/Man of Steel/Constantine/The Mighty Macs/Bella/Son of God/The Nativity/Kingdom of Heaven/The Da Vinci Code?”