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GET PLUGGED: The ‘Christian’ movie review

Found this on Christian Nightmares. Movie reviewer Bob Waliszewski ‘plugs you in’ with why you SHOULDN’T see Eat Pray Love and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World!

And surprise surprise he finds out that BOTH flicks do not contain the “Christian message” as defined by Focus on the Family’s “Plugged In” department.

In fact, Bob says Eat Pray Love misses the truth by a “country mile”–or should it be by THREE country miles–hahahaha! (<-Bad joke.)

But what I want to know is this: Did Bob go to the multiplex expecting to uncover the “Christian message” in these movies? I mean, they weren’t made by TBN’s movie studios or directed by Mel Gibson, so chances are good that they don’t include an old-fashioned alter call.

Thoughts?



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Alise

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:05 pm


My thoughts are simply that Scott Pilgrim kicked all kinds of butt. Absolutely loved it. Wish I could be watching it again Right Now.



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Daniel Darling

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:11 pm


Matt, I’m a big fan of your stuff, but this was pathetically unfair. Not because you picked on Focus, one of your favorite targets. Like any large Christian organization, they are subject to criticism and worthy of it at times. But what is wrong with an organization telling their constituents why they have concerns about a movie? I’ve always found them to be balanced, not-legalistic in their reviews, etc.

Its easy to take potshots, man, but sometimes I wonder if you think anything in the church is worth praising. Again, I love your stuff. Those were just my thoughts.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted August 16, 2010 at 7:21 pm


    Hey Daniel,

    Thanks for your message… but can I ask this: Where did I criticize Plugged In for doing movie reviews? I only questioned whether or not they actually expect to find the “Christian message” in a mainstream movie that doesn’t advertise itself as a movie containing a “Christian message”… If the focus is language or sex or other content that goes against their message, then say that… but to go looking for a Focus-friendly “Christian message” in Eat Pray Love is far more “pathetically unfair” than my post…



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Brent

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:14 pm


I’m not surprised that you generally disagree with Plugged In, but if you don’t want to use it, then don’t listen to it. Just go see whatever movie you want go see…but when your son is 12, and wants to go see “That video game movie” and you don’t have time to review every movie on your own, you may go back and check it out…I’m just sayin’…



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted August 16, 2010 at 7:24 pm


    Brent,

    Chances are slim that I will use Plugged In…

    And again… I’m not against Plugged In doing what they do… that was not the point of this post…



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sarah

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm


I just saw Eat Pray Love and liked it, but I liked the book. Henceforth I am obviously an horrible atheist. Our job as Christians is to see God in the world. Not to superimpose Him into the world by any means, but to derive what lessons we can from what we take in. I once worked at this beautiful Christian camp and was surrounded by fjords and seals and whatnot. I said to a friend, “God is so obvious here” and he said, “God is obvious everywhere, we just have to look.” Bottom line, your faith is not threatened by Julia Roberts doing some yoga.



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Marlen

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:22 pm


I find the pluggedin website/link by Focus on the Family to be very helpful when checking out movies that our teens might want to see, but that we have not viewed ourselves. I am not sure why he would be surprised that the movies did not contain a Christian message because, as you stated, they are not slated to be “Christian-themed” movies. Nothing in their advertising indicates that at all. Most of the time the reviews are informative and unbiased, just giving info. on different elements (spiritual, violence, language etc.) to allow parents and individuals to make an informed choice about a movie. Sometimes we have read a review and decided not to let our children go to a movie and other times we have risked it and allowed them to see the film. Sometimes we have agreed and sometimes we haven’t. It is a review site that gives one person’s opinion. Can’t believe everything you see/read/hear on the internet =)



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Leanne

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:23 pm


I am debating on how sarcastic I want to be……
Thank God for Christians who will warn us and tell us what is good to watch, read, etc. otherwise we would actually have to think for ourselves. We might actually have to think about the hard questions our faith raises and other faith raises about ours. We might find our God is big enough for those questions and also find we somehow grow in intellect and faith.
Ok, I guess I decided to go full sarcasm. Sorry all.



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Jeff

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:26 pm


CBN as “news” is more laughable than Fox News.

I’m sure the majority of people who are watching CBN/700 Club are uptight and would heartily agree with what Bob is saying.

Most of what they have to say on CBN makes me throw up in my mouth a little. That being said, I *do* have standards for what I’ll allow my kids to see in the theater, and I’ve utilized Plugged In online numerous times to pre-screen a movie’s content before taking my kids to see it, or renting it for them. The last thing I need is for my 9 year old to be watching a superhero flick, and hear overtly obvious and non-vague sexual references, or a sporadic F-bomb.

I think this is an instance where you can’t throw the baby out with the bath water.



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    Jeff

    posted August 16, 2010 at 7:28 pm


    To your comment regarding the “Christian message” to be found (or not found, as the case may be) in these movies…..Christians are always doing that. It’s as if somehow, they think the world is going to get some legitimate idea of faith, theology, and belief system through what they watch as entertainment. So yeah, in that respect, I def. agree that it’s ridiculous.



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Mike

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:46 pm


But considering Mel Gibson’s antics of late, would you REALLY want to look for a Christian message in his movies?



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Dustin

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:47 pm


I’ve read several of this guy’s reviews and I think it’s pretty silly to say that he goes into movies expecting an altar call. He’s not slamming these movies because they don’t have a blatantly Christian message, he’s merely pointing out that they contain messages that many Christians would consider to be anti-Christian. You don’t have to agree with his take on the films, but I think the criticism here is pretty unfair.



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    Matthew Paul Turner

    posted August 16, 2010 at 7:48 pm


    LOL… okay… I give up… you guys are taking this post way too seriously…



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KatR

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm


You aren’t being fair here. I mean, without “Plugged In” some poor sheltered soul might stumble into “Eat Pray Love”, having been suckered by the word “Pray”, and discover that there are other religions besides Christianity. EEEK!



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Andie Redwine

posted August 16, 2010 at 7:59 pm


“That’s an antichrist message. Well it’s good to know what to avoid that would be uh get people into a lot of trouble and be a big disappointment. What could you recommend for folks who want to see a movie this weekend?”

Probably something with Kirk Cameron in it.



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Dianna

posted August 16, 2010 at 8:35 pm


I gave up when he confused an MPAA rating with a “should.” He comments that Scott Pilgrim is PG13, so “supposedly every 13 year old oughta go see it.” That, right there, is a clear misinterpretation of what MPAA ratings are for – they are advisory, much like the job this “reviewer” is trying to do.

My main problem with this reviewer is that he fails to have any understanding of what “art” is. Art is SUPPOSED to challenge you, be contrary to your belief systems in some ways, and make you question things. Because he goes into the theater with this expectation of a narrowly defined “Christian” message, he fails to notice any of the subtlety of the art form – while I haven’t seen Scott Pilgrim or Eat Pray Love yet (darn living in Japan!), I can’t imagine that Edgar Wright put together an entirely artless film that doesn’t have something redeeming Christians can pull out of it.

He gets far too distracted by the trees that he can’t see the forest, and that’s just a bad movie reviewer in general. I dislike him not because he’s Christian, but because he doesn’t understand what movies are for.



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Jeremy

posted August 16, 2010 at 8:40 pm


Why does he not mention The Expendables? It opened at number 1!

How do you be out of touch… with being out of touch?



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Laura

posted August 16, 2010 at 9:05 pm


Yeah I have to chime in on the side that he is not expecting every secular movie to have a Christian message. However, I think it is healthy and deserving to evaluate every movie by what message it is preaching, and every movie does preach some message to an extent. A thoughtful religious person will then take that message and compare it to the worldview they support, to see if it matches or not. That is something Plugged In does pretty well, and they don’t really pick and choose movies to review, they just review all popular new movies.



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Jen

posted August 16, 2010 at 9:11 pm


Ohhhh, PluggedIn… you’ve been the bane of my existence for quite some time now. My mother loves to check out their reviews before my sister and I view any movies. Did I mention I’m 20 and she’s 17? Well, my mom no longer decides for me (like she used to), but now she just strongly advises as to if we should or should not see it. I do find it hilarious that PluggedInOnline’s movie reviews are always trying to find a Christian message within secular films. Huh… does this make sense? Of course not! And I’ve also found that their reviews are often over-cautious and even ridiculous at times. But, that’s beside the point.

One thing I found funny “They rated it PG-13, so apparently every 13 year old should go see it.” I actually laughed out loud at that comment. How ridiculous.

It’s also funny to me that he implies that the MPAA would have some sort of Christian perspective. Of course they won’t increase the rating because of LGBT messages! The MPAA isn’t a Christian organization, they don’t see LGBT relationships as any different than hetero relationships. And quite honestly, I don’t see much of a difference between them either.

Same with his perspective on Eat Pray Love. What, he thought that since the word “pray” is in the title, it must include some great Christian perspective? Funny, funny.



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Charlie's Church of Christ

posted August 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm


is there no such thing as art for Christians anymore? (And no appreciating MercyMe doesn’t count).



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    sharideth

    posted August 17, 2010 at 8:26 am


    it gets squashed like the uncomfortable bug it is, charlie. don’t you know that we’re suppose to be suspicious of anything new and go make another lord’s gym shirt?



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    Aaron Dodson

    posted August 17, 2010 at 9:45 am


    but… but… but… what about thomas kinkade? and those amazing abreadcrumb and a fish shirts?



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Kevin

posted August 16, 2010 at 9:40 pm


The reality is people will enjoy this and take this seriously and take his reviews seriously. And in some ways if people have concerns about content then I understand why.

Where it misses the mark and what MPT is saying is that really expecting a Christian message from people who are not Christian or potraying it is silly.

An for the record, I have issues with Focus on the Family.

Now if you excuse me,I need to go back to Fireproof :)



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John

posted August 16, 2010 at 10:10 pm


i go to plugged in all the time to get their take on movies…but don’t worry,I won’t scathe you with…something scathing..

I appreciate what they do,but sometimes they gave away too much of the plot (ruined Toy Story 3 for me–and no,i don’t know why i was seeing what they said about Toy Story 3..)..and sometimes they do overdo it thinking that Hollywood would put out a big time “faith” film (as Robert Duvall put it, they just make fun of the church/”the heartland”). But I understand their point of view,and if you can understand that you can work your way down to whether or not you want to see the movie…

that said I want to see Scott Pilgrim…

and a hardy lol at the Mel Gibson line…does TBN do movies? they should do something with Benny Hinn…plenty of action,drama, sex,betrayal,etc….good fiction.



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Rick Garner

posted August 17, 2010 at 12:15 am


Most reviews are crap. Really. They’re just opinions of one reviewer who either really likes the film, book, or whatever. What’s great about Plugged In is that opinions of the reviewer are there but more so are the breakdown of the film’s contents.

Violence, Drugs, Language, Sex, Positive and Negative messages, and Spiritual content are outlined.

Ultimately, some people have no concerns over what movie they go see. It’s rather disappointing the amount of language that some PG and PG-13 films contain. So, it’s okay for a 13-year-olds (and younger with PG) to be exposed to God**** and two different four-letter words multiple times?

I agree that Plugged In shouldn’t go looking for Christian messages in movies but I really don’t think that’s their mission. They are simply outlining films so consumers will know what they’re buying.



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Adam Shields

posted August 17, 2010 at 4:08 am


I would never think of going to Focus on the Family for movie reviews. So that probably shows my bias. I do think that parents should be able to figure out what is in a movie before going to see it. But I would much rather use http://kids-in-mind.com or similar service. Kids-in-mind gives you very explicit detail on all Sex, Violence and Language. You will get a note on a guy walking around in boxer shorts on Despicable Me. Or in the Marmaduke review (it got a 1 in sex because there is a beach scene and women are in bikinis and low cut tops revealing cleavage.



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RobM

posted August 17, 2010 at 5:52 am


I’ve heard these reviews so many times, and thought “please people don’t listen to that guy”. When I hear his reviews it normally warns me off horrible movies (when he recommendes), and like trying to criticize Scott Pilgrim makes me wanna go see it now. I hadn’t had any desire before.



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Cindy

posted August 17, 2010 at 6:14 am


I appreciate knowing what a movie stands for, which plugged in does, but Focus, please don’t insult my intelligence and critical thinking skills by assuming that going to a movie is going to change my Christian beliefs! Also, this movie reviewer seems pretty happy to “take one for the team” by seeing all these evil films!!



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Riggs

posted August 17, 2010 at 7:21 am


One thing to remember is that this guys target audience is not the same as the average reader of this site. Based on my observation, the average reader of this site is a very liberal, “free in Christ”, younger generation type of believer… nothing wrong with that. The average reader of the “Plugged In – Focus on the Family” materials tend to be more conservative, old-fashioned, tighter boundaries for themselves and their children believers. Nothing wrong with that either…. to each his own. Obviously people appreciate the message of the “Plugged In” and the “heads up” they provide for movies because they continue to come back and use them as a guide to know what is ok to show their kids.



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Nathan

posted August 17, 2010 at 7:24 am


Matt, I noticed your page has an advertisement for “Nanny McPhee Returns”. She has a talking pig. That has gotta be anti-Christian.



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Vincent Cervantes

posted August 17, 2010 at 7:28 am


As I was watching this video one word kept running through my mind: censorship. It is amazing how much Evangelical religion and culture attempts to censor the “big bad world” from everyone. I don’t understand how avoiding these films helps me in my faith whatsoever.

God forbid we expose our children to bisexuality and homosexuality, because there are no gay people in the world…

How can we keep ourselves in a bubble and yet believe that we are equipped to deal with a multicultural world? By censoring what our families watch and instilling fear in people from seeing certain films because they “lack” Christian values, I don’t think we’re doing ourselves any favors. Instead it teaches us to fear the world outside our bubble.



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sharideth

posted August 17, 2010 at 8:28 am


dang matt, looks like your diet plan of losing ten pounds out of your nether regions worked out today. everybody’s taking a bite.



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    sharideth

    posted August 17, 2010 at 8:28 am


    oops, sorry. i shouldn’t say dang. i might go to heck.



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Joel

posted August 17, 2010 at 10:04 am


Homosexuality and other religions being shown in a less than a critical light?!? How dare they! Don’t they realize that Christians should be shielded from anything that might cause us to question our leaders? You might not have criticized them, Matt, but I do. Narrow-minded, legalistic and intolerant, groups like Focus on the Family stand against everything I believe Christ taught.



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DebbieInIllinois

posted August 17, 2010 at 12:02 pm


I have found Plugged In t be helpful in deciding what movies I want my kids to see. On the website, I never got the feeling that they were telling me what I could or could not let them see. They just say “here’s what’s in it,” and allow me to make up my mind.

I have never seen the guy in this clip, or seen anything of the kind on tv. I’m strictly going by their website.

I agree that I don’t go to the movies looking for a “Christian message” but I don’t want my kids to see an anti-Christian message.



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Ryan Rushing

posted August 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm


If Christians made better movies, I don’t think we’d in this conversation.

This is just another unimportant topic. *sigh



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Jenn

posted August 17, 2010 at 12:23 pm


Okay fair enough FOTF can review a movie, but to review a movie expecting to find a Christian message and having that as the yay or nay factor is really sad. Personally I think it completely negates our common-sense and our individual interpretation of the art (if you can call a Julia Roberts movie art).

As an aside – these ideas really make me sad – we’ve lost our ability to interact with art critically and take from it what we want and leave the rest behind. Then again what do I know I love most of the books that FOTF would love to have burned.



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bethany

posted August 17, 2010 at 12:44 pm


I think this is becoming an increasingly sensitive subject in our culture. Hollywood continues to widen their standards for films to accommodate “cultural diversity”, which changes how our culture thinks about diversity and socially acceptable behavior. Should you shield your children from films that depict homosexuality/bisexuality as perfectly acceptable behavior? YES. No, you can’t hide these things from your kids forever. But filtering out the things that they are not yet able to distinguish and discern is perfectly fine.
What I really dislike about Plugged In is that they talk as if the whole Christian subculture is made up of young families, couples with young kids. Can we take a step back and think about the fact that as a discerning adult who may or may not have children, you can go see whatever you want because you have the capacity to discern for yourself what is right or wrong?!
It isn’t Matt that’s really thrown the baby out with the bathwater. It’s Plugged In and Focus on the Family that continually throw everything having to do with pop culture out the window because it isn’t a slave to their Christian message.
Aren’t there several passages in Scripture that talk about not expecting non-believers to act like they know the Truth when they don’t? [Somebody help me out here!]
I firmly believe that Christians have unrealistic expectations for non-believers. It rids of us our relevance to them and only widens the relational gap and makes it harder for us to reach out.
And it’s unrealistic and ridiculous to expect believers to abstain from secular films, music, and literature. I’d rather get a daily root-canal then subject myself to the atrocious acting and “music” produced by the Christian sub-culture, let alone CBN news rather than NPR or CNN.



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Daniel Darling

posted August 18, 2010 at 12:58 pm


Matt,

Hey, I guess I was a little taken back because it seems you didn’t read the entire review. And I don’t think Focus’ aim was to “find a Christian message” in EPL. But I think they were trying to tell parents and other viewers what the messages were so they could be aware before they see the movie. I kind of like that service. Doesn’t mean they “approve” or disapprove anything.



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