Today a colleague asked me if I thought there was an anti-Catholic bias in Hollywood.
It got me thinking.
I looked through my file of published articles and found one I wrote in 2006 at the invitation of US Catholic, a national Catholic magazine published by the Claretians. I re-read it and I am still of the same opinion as I was then: Horray for Hollywood (US Catholic Octoebr, 2006)
Guide for Catholics on Media Bias
Back in 1999 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a helpful guide to Catholics who perceive a bias in the media, presumably the news. I think this leaflet can be very useful when we may perceive there to be a bias in the entertainment industry as well. This guide is available online at
A point that seems most significant to me in the leaflet says that concerned Catholics be wary of making accusations that are generalizations or are inaccurate: “Religious bias is a serious matter, and accusations should not be made lightly or with insufficient evidence….” To me, this means evidence that is based on research, analysis, and quantifying results.
(When I read through the leaflet today it called to mind Bill Maher’s 2008 lazy film Religulous – all the points describing what media bias looks like were in this film! But it also made me think that as believers it behooves us to be able to explain, to articulate, the faith that is within us to cynics. It may not convince, but at least there is an opportunity for conversation.)
I have some wonderful Catholic friends who get excited whenever anything worrisome appears in their email boxes. Before checking out the “rumors” or information, they forward emails to all their friends. In the last six months I have received several emails telling me to sign a petition because Terrence McNally’s play “Corpus Christi”, about a gay Jesus and gay apostles, is going to be released soon as a movie. According to www.snopes.com, this rumor has been going around at least since 2000 and it is false. Indeed, there is no mention of it at the Internet Movie Database (www.imdb.com) and Google doesn’t turn up anything. I recommend checking out rumors that seek to incite moral panics before passing on misinformation.
Media Literacy Education & Media Mindfulness
Media literacy education can also serve believers and citizens well because media mindfulness is a set of life skills (critical thinking) for the 21st century. These skills include core concepts and key questions to educate all ages who engage with the media to do so deliberately and critically (not negatively.) See www.medialit.org, www.PaulineCMS.org, and National Association for a Media Literate America. Media literacy/media mindfulness provide a way for thoughtful media consumers to respond to media stories in all forms: respectful, dialogic, informed, and responsive rather than reactive.
I am looking forward to the new document coming soon from the Pontifical Council for Social Communications on the media (see my blog entry below).