The Song “Shares the Weaknesses of Most Faith-Based Films”

The Song “Shares the Weaknesses of Most Faith-Based Films” September 26, 2014

The Song
Gee, what do you think this story’s about?

I’ve received two emails this week asking for my opinion of The Song. This is what I can offer…

The Song told me what it was in the advertisement that appeared for it in the sidebar of my blog.

(By the way: Almost everything that is advertised in the banners, sidebars, and footers of my blog is stuff that I would encourage you to Avoid At All Costs. Seriously. I cringe when I see what is promoted in the spaces around what I write. I apologize that anyone has to endure such stuff. Some of it is silly Christian propaganda. Some of it is just online varieties of the excrement you find smeared on tabloid covers in the grocery aisle. And some of it is downright poisonous. Right now, I see a link at the bottom of my blog that promises pictures of “Ugly Stars That Had Plastic Surgery” and “Forgotten Stars of the 90s: What Do They Look Like Now?”  and “20 Nerdy Child Stars Who Became Hotties.” But that’s a tangent. Back to the subject at hand.)

The Song is a new “faith-based film.”

Personally, I believe all movies are expressions of some kind of faith.

But when I hear something labeled as a “faith-based film,” what I understand that to mean is that it was made to “send a message” that persuades doubters and unbelievers, and because of its proselytizing stance, it will end up playing almost entirely to the already converted. It disqualifies itself as art in that is is fashioned to “send messages” rather than cultivate questions, to “get results” instead of inspire the imagination. Because of that, I am not interested. Not even slightly.

I won’t bother with The Song unless moviegoers whose judgment I trust offer powerfully persuasive reviews that make me reconsider.

Anyway, can you guess what the main character of this “faith-based film” is? You get two guesses, because the main characters of faith-based films usually come in two varieties.

Nope, he’s not a Football Player Who Needs Faith. Yes, he is a Musician Who Needs Faith, and who looks ready for his turn on The Voice.

“Based on The Song of Solomon” says the poster. “Even the wisest of men was a fool for love” says the slogan. Does this look like a film about “the wisest of men”? We see a typically show-biz-handsome musician looking troubled between a smiling and obviously “godly” blonde and a smirking, obviously “dangerous” brunette. It’s clear who the intended audience is: Women who read Christian romance novels.

Do you need a plot summary at this point? Yes, Jed’s a rising star. Yes, he finds true love. Yes, as he begins to find success, he’ll be tempted by the Sexual Threat who comes with the standard-issue tattoos and “edgy” jewelry that usually signify danger in “faith-based” films. (I grew up surrounded by such visual stereotypes, and it didn’t take long to learn how entirely false they are.)

Speaking of moviegoers whose judgment I trust — here’s the guy I trust most: Steven Greydanus. He’s seen The Song. And guess what?

Whatever else the film’s biblical resonances do, they undermine the weight of the characters and story, or at least underscore their limitations.

Jed is a Solomonic figure only in externals. As a character, he’s bland and passive, with no sense of greatness — a far cry from the dynamic, ambitious son of David. If his prayer for wisdom is heard, there’s no sign of it; when he falls into sin, it isn’t the fall of a great man, just the stumbling of another shallow sinner. If wisdom isn’t one of your character’s defining traits, should Solomon really be your model?

Jed’s awkward, offhand prayer for wisdom emphasizes the triviality of his story. Solomon prayed for wisdom because he felt overwhelmed by responsibility for his father’s legacy. Jed prays for wisdom because writer-director Richard Ramsey wants to connect him to Solomon.

“The Song” shares the weakness of most faith-based films, which are effectively made by the faithful, for the faithful.


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