After condemning Christianity Today in public, what’s Mr. Ted Baehr’s next amazing statement?

After condemning Christianity Today in public, what’s Mr. Ted Baehr’s next amazing statement? March 7, 2006

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!

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  • Stuart B

    So will there be a fourth Xmen cast movie or just the planned Wolverine movie?

    IF…IF they were smart, they’d do both, and eventually merge the two into some super movie…Wolvie3/Xmen6, with a cameo from Spidey and Human Torch.

    Alas, I have no executive power…

  • wngl

    Zak Penn earned my perpetual enmity when he pointed a flare gun at Werner Herzog in The Mystery at Loch Ness (I think that’s the title; if you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend this poor attempt at a “mockumentary”.)

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Thanks. I remember seeing the WB logo before the film. Must have been attached to a trailer.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Ah. I took your line about having no history with the comics and extrapolated it to mean that you still have no history with them. My bad.

    Oh, and re: your last line about Warner etc., these films were actually produced by Fox. And FWIW, Zak Penn (one of The Last Stand‘s two credited writers) has a “story” credit on X2, though the “screenplay” is credited to three other writers — including David Hayter, who also wrote the screenplay for the original X-Men.

    (According to the IMDB, X2‘s other two credited screenplay writers, Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty, both have screenplay credit on Bryan Singer’s upcoming Superman Returns, for whatever that’s worth.)

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Joss has been writing the comic book series Astonishing X-Men for a while now. And they’re great. Much better than this film. You should go back to the start of his series and check it out.

    The plot about “the cure” in this film was a severe mishandling of Joss’s story.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Joss Whedon? He doesn’t seem to have any X-Men credits at the IMDb.

  • Peter T Chattaway

    Whatever we make of his opinions, I would hope at least that Baehr is open to correction where his FACTS are wrong. He says this year’s Academy Awards got “the lowest ratings ever”, but according to the Associated Press, that honour actually goes to the ceremony that took place three years ago, when Chicago won Best Picture and The Pianist won Best Director.As for the alleged “snubbing” of Narnia and The Passion, neither of those films made my top ten lists — indeed, as we discussed at some length here, the Narnia movie was an almost shocking disappointment, and, compared to its source material, it was really no more Christian than Star Wars or The Matrix or any other movie in which someone dies and comes back to life — so I can’t say it bothers me that the Academy overlooked them. The Academy also “snubbed” Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Star Wars: Episode III: Revenge of the Sith, both of which made more money than Narnia in 2005; and it “snubbed” Shrek 2, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Spider-Man 2 and The Incredibles, all of which made more money than The Passion in 2004 (although the animated films were, at least, recognized in their own special ghetto-ized category). The Academy does NOT exist purely to give its rubber stamp to the box office.That said, as I explain at my blog, this year is unusual in that it just might be the first year ever in which the Best Picture winner is NOT among the year’s Top 25 box-office performers. As it happens, Brokeback Mountain is in the domestic Top 25 for 2005, but Crash, the film that nabbed the award in the end, is all the way down at #49.

  • Anonymous

    So, this is where Larknews comes up with it’s story ideas……

    I wouldn’t worry to much Jeffery, et al. about “dr.” Baehr. His performance rant is nothing new – and his target audience is not us (I do have a friend of the family however who would just eat this up and spam the world with it if they could – sigh)….

    Keep the faith,

  • Gaffney

    My two favorite things in Baehr’s take on the Oscars:

    He makes note that George Clooney didn’t debate certain issues with Jon Stewart during his acceptance speech. Because an acceptance speech is supposed to be a debate…

    And in proving that Mr. Clooney is part of the Neo-Marxism conspiracy, Mr. Baehr lists George’s mention of supporting the Civil Rights movement. In other words, Mr. Baehr is still ticked that the progressives force him to share his drinking fountain with Negroes.

    Any history study of the Church’s role in the Civil Rights Movement will show that Christianity and Hollywood are both “out of touch.”

    Maybe, Mr. Baehr, that isn’t such a bad place to be.


  • Martin

    What’s really scary is that without his mustache, Ted Baehr looks a lot like my dad. Ewwww.

    And, Jeffrey, you know why Baehr gets more attention than the more thoughtful critics: He’s more entertaining. It’s the same reason Pat Robertson gets more attention than the more thoughtful cultural commentators. Just imagine, a TV producer looks at your Oscar comments and Baehr’s, side by side. “Well, they’re both glad Brokeback didn’t win Best Picture, and they’re both complaining that Sophie Scholl didn’t get more nominations. So that’s a tossup. Hm. Which one will goose our ratings more?”

  • Gene Branaman

    “And you and I both know that ratings are always the measure of excellence, right?”

    Exactly. Just as the Oscars are the measure of excellence, too. Baehr needs to get some perspective. He’s taking all this WAY too seriously.

    Honestly, I really liked the Narnia movie. I saw it 3 times & liked it better each time. Was it perfect? No. Is any adaption of a beloved book perfect? Not for everybody. Was it the best of the year? Heck, no. Should it be rewarded just because of it’s positive message? Yes, in certain circumstances – but that’s not what the Oscars are about.

    What are the Oscars about? Well, that’s a tall question. Supposedly they’re about excellence in achievement but we all know that doesn’t happen consistently. They’re definitely about popularity. Sometimes about agenda. (And that agenda is not necessarily a political or social one. Sometimes it’s just that the accademy felt Jessica Tandy needed an award, to name one example, & Driving Miss Daisy was a convenient vehicle to recognize her lifework.) But the Oscars are not consistenly about . . . anything, frankly. Except extravagance. They are what they are.

    In this case, A is really A, Ms Rand. To attempt to read anything more into them is to make oneself mad.

    Like Mr Baehr.

  • Jeffrey Overstreet

    Brokeback Mountain is an artfully crafted film with great performances, beautiful cinematography, and is evidence of the formidable talent of one of the best filmmakers working today.

    There are a lot of things that make the film a worthwhile work of art, and a lot of things in it worthy of praise.

    When you write it off like that, Mr. Anonymous (if you us to take your accusations seriously, you need to stand by your words), you’re exposing your ignorance about art, not culture’s ignorance about the film.

    Just because something offends you doesn’t mean it’s wrong. You’ll need to do better than that. And, even if we accept your opinion that homosexuality is thoroughly wrong, that doesn’t mean the MOVIE is wrong. As I’ve mentioned many times, if the filmmakers wanted to GLORIFY homosexuality, they missed all kinds of opportunities to do so. “Brokeback Mountain” shows that its central characters are irresponsible, rather simple-minded, and prone to dishonesty and bad decisions.

    When you rant like that, you make it clear that you really don’t know what the film is about… and moreover, you make it clear you haven’t been paying attention to the conversations that have gone on about it on this blog by discerning Christians who *have* seen it and thought about it.

    If you’re so concerned with what the Bible says, how about remembering the passages about demonstrating gracy, humility, and love before you launch into another venomous rant.

    The Old Testament, by the way, includes all kinds of instructions. If you think that all of them are mandatory laws for Christians today, you may be in for some surprises.

  • Thom

    “The powers that be say that a movie needs to make 100 million to be a blockbuster so why was it even nominated?”

    Um…because box office is not why a movie is (or should be nominated). From the press Narnia got, I would guess it was not nominated, because it was not one of the best films of the year. The number of people who saw it do not matter. If Christians persist in this argument, they have to do so ignoring the number of money makers that, in fact, do not conform to our moral codes. See Wedding Crashers…huge hit.

  • janet

    “”One more thing. The Chronicles of Narnia made over 300 million and wasn’t even nominated for best picture. HMMMMMMM, makes you think don’t it?””

    And McDonald’s has billions and billions served. So clearly they are the epitome of haute cuisine.

    … Right?

  • Anonymous

    Food for thought: Why is everyone so fired up about this brokeback mountain movie? It really hasn’t done all that well in the theaters anyways. The numbers I’ve seen say its only made about 76 million. The powers that be say that a movie needs to make 100 million to be a blockbuster so why was it even nominated? In fact, all the movies nominated for best picture made even less than BBM. And most people I’ve talked to say they have not and will not see it.
    This is a clear cut case of the liberal agenda trying to force their homosexual opinion on us. And I for one am sick of it. Homosexuality goes against nature and God. You ever see two bucks doin it in the woods? And Leviticus 18:22 says Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination. I mean really, how much more proof do you need? Call me narrow minded if you wish. Personally, I don’t care. I don’t claim to be perfect by any means, I’m a sinner just like the rest of you but at least I know what sin is and homosexuality is a sin period. And I for one am sick of seeing it on TV, in politics (gay marriage) and now in the movies. GIVE IT A REST PEOPLE, IT’S WRONG!!!!
    One more thing. The Chronicles of Narnia made over 300 million and wasn’t even nominated for best picture. HMMMMMMM, makes you think don’t it?

  • )p(

    Oops…Anonymous, that was me.


  • Justin

    It’s better for you to be silent and let men think you are a fool, then to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

    Is there any more doubt?

  • Anonymous

    “So why is it that 9 out of 10 Christians I know who love the movies can’t read this guy’s diatribes without laughing?”

    Hehe not only Christians. I have a background in social cultural theory in the tradition of the Fankfurter School. Juergen Habermas is still a personal hero to me. So according to Baehr I am one of the real devils out there…so be afraid…uhm…yeah…lol ;)

  • Thom

    I really hope that Ted Baer and his army lose the “Culture War”.

  • Ellen Collison

    This is downright painful.

  • Justin

    I’ll just assume by mentioning Chicken Little, that meant he approved of the main character dropping his pants on the awards show.

    I was willing to politely disagree with him until he got to the “homosexual sodomy disease” bit. Say that to children who have HIV around the world. I have zero patience with crap like this.

    Still, no thanks to Baehr, I think the nominated movies were awfully preachy and humorless this year. Considering the audience at the Oscars didn’t take too many of Stewart’s jabs well, this all may just be a sign that everyone (Baher, Hollywood, etc..) needs to lighten up.

  • Eriol

    This is insane. He makes Fred Phelps look like Jon Stewart.

    I doubt Movieguide readers have ever watched the Oscars, so he seems just to be assuring them that the world is going to Hell. “Knowing” George Clooney is soon going to be at Lucifer’s right hand is apparently an extremely comforting thought.

    The only thing I’ve seen from the Oscars is Clooney’s speech, and I quite liked it.