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Idol Chatter

Evan_Noah_idol.jpgThe autopsy on “Evan Almighty” continues, as Hollywood suits and evangelical media mavens all try to figure out why the modern day Noah story was not the faith-based box-office monster everyone expected it to be. In a recent Fox News piece, Mark Joseph details much of what went wrong–starting with Steve Carrell’s Marilyn Monroe pose on the movie’s poster–and includes some serious inside-baseball on Christian movie marketing strategy.
What Hollywood means by “faith-based” movies isn’t necessarily what religious audiences think they are getting—or what they want. Devout evangelicals get plenty of Bible stories at home, thanks. If you make an absorbingly realistic version of what they read in Scripture, like “The Passion,” they’ll come out to see it. But mostly what they want from Hollywood is relief from what they see as an assault of sex, liberal social attitudes, violence, and talk about butts. A movie that overloads on bird-poop jokes, even one about talking to God, is still just a movie with bird-poop jokes.


Christians want propriety not only in their films, but in all their pop culture products. When Wal-Mart announced recently that it would begin carrying religious toys, the overjoyed CEO of One2Believe, a Christian toy company, told USA Today, “Our goal is to give the faith-based community an alternative to Bratz dolls and Spider-Man.” Christian toys won’t save any souls, he means. They will give Christian parents a break from the mass-culture junk.
The faith-based gap seems to exist everywhere in Hollywood, even in its fledgling Christian community, where an R-rating is held up as a sort of badge of credibility. “I’d rather see an R-rated film that tells the truth than a G-rated movie that isn’t real,” says a Christian screenwriter. But is it too much to ask that movies, like much of a devout Christian’s daily life, be real and rated G?

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