Entertainment writers tend to be — how shall I put this? — very, very secular. Because of this demographic bias, they often have certain blinders. Hit Christian movies can sneak up on them like special forces troops creeping through tall grasses to find the enemy and rip their throats out. Now that I’ve got your attention with that rather . . . grotesque simile, I’d like to clear a story off of the GetReligion assignment desk.
Michael W. Smith is a huge name in the Christian music scene. According to one source, fans have purchased over ten million of his albums, and that is probably low-balling it (here’s his not terribly helpful website). He’s also written a few best-selling books and is a friend of President Bush.
Steve Taylor is possibly the most controversial artist in the history of evangelical Christian music (often called CCM). When I played “Lifeboat” for my college roommate, he called it the most offensive thing he’d ever heard. The controversy over “I blew up the clinic real good” got Taylor’s album pulled from stores and his tour in Australia was basically cancelled.
Back in the eighties, Taylor also managed to regularly enrage the devout. “We don’t need no color code” was a send-up of Bob Jones University’s anti-miscegenation policies. He railed against evangelical conformity and easy believism, praised the pope, and regularly mocked televangelists. In one interview, he rather forcefully rejected the idea that all Christian rockers should do altar calls: “I resent the sometimes fascist mentality on the part of some Christian bands, like their way is the only way and if you don’t do that you don’t care about kids or something like that.”
In the mid-nineties, Taylor put his solo career on a long hiatus and decided to work the other end of the music industry. He produced and wrote songs for groups such as Guardian and the Newsboys in their prime. He founded Squint Records, which signed and promoted bands such as Sixpence None the Richer (think “Kiss Me”) until the company was sold out from under him in 2001. After that he dabbled in several film projects.
The point of all this? Taylor started shooting a movie, tentatively titled “The Second Chance,” in Nashville in early October, starring Michael W. Smith in his first acting role. This has potential hit written all over it and yet the coverage so far has been almost non-existent. A Nexis search of the last 60 days netted only one substantial mention of the movie and that, it turns out, was a press release. CCM magazine, the Rolling Stone of Christian rock, has run a few items, and a number of fan sites have pitched in with details, but that’s about the end of the list.
My suggestion to entertainment reporters: Don’t let this one catch you off-guard.