Here is Ted Baehr, still thinking he is the voice of Christian film criticism … and frighteningly enough, many of them would say that he is… as he sums up the Oscars.
Here are a few choice statements:
Of course, by shutting out the best family movies with godly, Christian messages – like “The Chronicles Of Narnia,” “Dreamer,” “Madagascar” and “Chicken Little” – the Oscar ceremony ensured that it would get the lowest ratings ever from the TV audience, the vast majority of whom are families and Christians with TV sets in their living rooms.
And you and I both know that ratings are always the measure of excellence, right?
It’s hard to know where to begin in pointing out the problems with Mr. Baehr’s approach. Sure, Hollywood has its problems. But if you start out by pointing to disposable animated films like Madagascar as examples of excellence, you’re not going to get very far. Popular? Sure. But McDonald’s is popular dining fare… that doesn’t make it excellent.
The Oscars heralded quite a few films with “godly, Christian messages” this year. Crash challenges viewers to be cautious, to sift their thoughts and behaviors for perspectives tainted by presumption and prejudice. It asks us to consider why people are so quick to behave contentiously with each other, and what is missing from our lives that we lash out so quickly. Yes, it has a lot of foul language, and viewers should proceed with caution; but guess what–people really talk that way in the world I encounter every day, and just because an artist portrays human beings in various misbehaviors doesn’t mean he condones those misbehaviors. Haggis’s film portrays immorality; it never even comes close to glorifying it or recommending it.
Good Night and Good Luck, while flawed in a few of its historical details, urges us to be vigilant in seeking the truth, and not to let our zeal to overcome evil lead us to rash judgments and a tendency toward distrust and suspicion. That sounds like “a Christian message” to me.
Capote shows us how someone can approach in the guise of compassion and care, and still be a villain. And it coaxes us to consider the detrimental effects of fame and success, and how the drive to become significant and famous can lead us to moral compromise. (Of course, it is also about a homosexual man. But homosexual men are as precious to God, and as capable of good choices, as any other kind of sinner… including those who are pious and judgmental. Unfortunately, this particular sin seems to send some Christians into exceptionally harsh judgment, rejecting any film about such characters even if the film makes no attempt to glorify homosexuality–in fact, the film is not concerned with that issue whatsoever.)
Brokeback Mountain, while widely misinterpreted as a celebration of homosexuality, portrays the despair and damage suffered by those who lie, cheat, and plunge into a reckless and hasty sexual relationship. It also shows the damage of prejudice and hatred. It is not wrong to hate sinful behavior, but it is very wrong to behave hatefully toward sinners and to punish lost souls for being lost.
Junebug, one of the most gracious and honest portrayals of a Christian family and community I’ve ever seen on the big screen, encouraged us not to judge each other for our differences of tradition and belief. In fact, it was a story of the humbling of a New York elitist, who comes to appreciate the love and care shown in a traditional Christian family. But some Christians wrote it off because the New York intellectuals had some colorful langague (which is an honest portrayal) and because of a glimpse of a married couple making love… scenes that were tastefully filmed and far from gratuitous.
Madagascar? Good grief, it was widely criticized for its shoddy storytelling and poor craftsmanship. I couldn’t sit through more than half an hour of it, it was so devoid of character development and heart. Just because a film is “clean” doesn’t mean it is good. Just because you’ve pumped a couple of vitamins into a dish doesn’t mean it’s excellent cuisine.
As expected, the sexually explicit homosexual movie “Brokeback Mountain” took a couple major awards, and George Clooney walked off with an Oscar for his supporting performance in “Syriana,” a radical, anti-American diatribe.
Brokeback Mountain is not a ‘homosexual movie.’ It is a film about homosexuals… and, I might add, it’s about homosexuals whose reckless behavior leads to severe consequences. And Syriana was a thoughtful exploration of very complicated issues. It wasn’t an anti-American diatribe, although it did offer some critical perspectives on American practices that are open for debate. But according to Baehr, it’s not just an anti-American diatribe… it’s a RADICAL anti-American diatribe.
Someone “Crash”-ed the party for “Brokeback,” however, when the provocative and sometimes worthwhile “Crash” beat out “Brokeback Mountain” for Best Picture. Even so, “Crash” contained the highest amount of foul language of any of the major nominees, and the movie had other moral and political flaws.
And as you well know, if a film reflects sinful behavior, then it is sinful, and abhorrent, and disqualified for Christian viewing, right? Come on. People swear. It is not a sin to hear swearing. It is a sin to speak in a foul manner. Crash seemed to me to reflect the way that people often talk to each other in heated exchanges. I hear this kind of language around the big city all the time. It is a symptom of deeper problems, and if we can’t portray the symptoms, we can’t effectively explore the problem.
Paul Haggis, the writer-director-producer who picked up two Oscars for “Crash,” and George Clooney, exposed the neo-Marxist agenda of most of the nominees at the Oscar ceremony.
Haggis quoted Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht, saying, “Art is not a mirror held up to society, it is a hammer by which to shape it.”
Wait… Mr. Baehr, aren’t you always talking about how Christians in the media need to work to shape culture? Are you claiming to disagree with Brecht on this point?
Clooney, responding to Jon Stewart’s point that many people think that most leaders and celebrities in Hollywood are “out of touch” with America, said, “It’s good to be out of touch. I’m proud to be out of touch.” Clooney then mentioned the involvement of some in Hollywood in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and in promoting awareness of the deadly homosexual sodomy disease, AIDS.
Ummm… why not just call it AIDS? Why qualify it as “the deadly homosexual sodomy disease AIDS”?
The four best movies, and most conservative and Christ-centered movies, receiving any nominations – and pretty minor nominations when you think of it – “Pride & Prejudice,” “The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe,” “Sophie Scholl” and “Merry Christmas,” didn’t win any of the major awards.
Do you think this might have anything to do with the fact that they weren’t the best options in the categories? Heck, Narnia was lucky to be nominated for Best Special Effects, when Star Wars, Episode Three, a far better achievement in effects, got snubbed! Moreover, Pride and Prejudice, while a good film, was nothing exceedingly remarkable when compared to other recent period pieces, or even the other Jane Austen adaptations. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was a decent, but flawed and rather lackluster, adaptation. Even Christian film critics were rather critical of the film. Sure, the story is wonderful, but Adamson’s adaptation was mediocre and his alterations to the story show a lack of understanding and imagination.
And here comes the big finale, which will make your head spin:
Not only are the Oscars out of touch with the vast majority of Americans, they have indeed become an “atheistic pleasure dome” ruled by neo-Marxist liberals and cultural pimps who hate the traditional American family and its Christian values.
Their hatred stems from the communist influence of the Frankfurt School in Germany. The Frankfurt School was started in 1923 by a group of Marxist intellectuals and modeled after the Marx-Engels Institute in Moscow in the Soviet Union. When Hitler came to power in 1933, these Marxists fled to the United States to teach at famous colleges like Columbia University, Princeton and the University of California at Berkeley. Eventually, they became founders and powerful leaders of the counter-culture revolution in the 1960s. This revolution started the movement for “political correctness” in America.
America’s education system, not to mention its government, its popular culture, its military, its business community, and its news media, have been transformed by this insidious Fifth Column of “Cultural Marxism.” We are now suffering the consequences of this quiet, politically correct invasion. This is what the current Culture War in Hollywood and America is all about.
It’s fascinating, isn’t it. It’s like he’s convinced that the more demeaning labels, incriminating associations, and derogatory remarks he can heap on Hollywood, the more money he will make from his readers. The sad thing is, it probably works. Even sadder, when the mainstream media wants to hold up a representative of Christian engagement with film, Baehr is, more often than not, their choice… even though he consistently argues that good box office is a sign of good work (ridiculous), and that “clean” = “excellent,” whereas his standards for “clean” are questionable and his grasp of technical excellence is poor.
Want some more hilarious Baehr-speak? Check out his latest rant about The DaVinci Code!