Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 11/21/22

Just in time for Thanksgiving (and National Adoption Month), the life-celebrating family drama Lifemark arrives on Pure Flix tomorrow (11/22). The film stars Kirk Cameron for whom adoption is a very personal subject. Our conversation follows the trailer.

JWK: So, November is National Adoption month. Your wife Chelsea Noble, who you met while working on Growing Pains, was adopted herself and four of your six children are adopted. So, this film is kind of personal to you.

Kirk Cameron: Yes, it it is. As you said, my wife is an adopted child (and) my four oldest kids are adopted. That makes me an adoptive dad and that’s who I play in the movie…It’s an incredible film. I was really honored to play that role and to help produce the movie with the Kendricks

JWK: What would you like people to know about adoption?

KC: Speaking as an adoptive father, I would say that the adoption option has been largely overlooked by a lot of people – especially in this pro-life/pro-choice debate. That’s why I’m so grateful that Lifemark came out right after this Roe v. Wade decision was effectively overturned at the Supreme Court level. Everybody fighting over this issue, I want them to think about the adoption option. I mean here’s an option that brings real hope and real help to a young lady who’s facing an unplanned pregnancy. This is an opportunity for her to provide life and to essentially save someone’s life – the baby’s – and provide an answer to the prayers of some couple who’s not able to have children. There are many, many couples who want to adopt kids because they can’t have any of their own. I think Lifemark presents this adoption option in such a beautiful and tangible way.

JWK: I think it’s one of the most effective pro-life dramas I’ve ever seen.

KC: Wow!

JWK: I think a lot of that has to do with the naturalistic writing that seems very real and the fact that if focuses on the positive option of adoption. Adoption is not something that’s generally explored in the media these days, particularly in drama.

KC: No, it hasn’t been. There have been other movies in the past that have been pro-life movies that focus on the abortion itself, like maybe Unplanned, but this is a movie that focuses on adoption – and it wasn’t made up. It’s just a true story. It’s how it really happened. You can watch the short documentary that Lifemark was based on. It’s called I Lived on Parker Avenue and you’ll see that all this stuff really took place – the skydiving, the high school wrestling, the whole backstory (of) the girl changing her mind on the abortion table, the funny friend, all of those things. It’s hard to argue with a true story. This isn’t made up just to make a point.

JWK: I thought the dialogue came across as very real – particularly that of the birth mother when she was talking about her story. Did that come from talking with the real person?

KC: Yeah, it came from the real person. When we interviewed the real people we just lifted the words that they said and put it in the script. So, that dialogue was real. Those things that she said, they feel real because they are real.

JWK: I think often when you listen to people argue in favor of the choice of abortion, they often portray people on the pro-life side of the debate as somehow in favor of creating a real-life Handmaid’s Tale where the goal, for some reason, is to subjugate women.  My experience talking with people in the pro-life movement has been far different. I think this film shows that pro-lifers just want more positive options for women and, of course, to save unborn babies. They’re not anti-woman.

KC: Yeah, 100%. I agree with what you said. So often perception is not reality. All this stuff about controlling women’s bodies and all this rhetoric, at the end of the day it’s wrong to subjugate and kill other people because they don’t fit in with your plans. That’s the case with the vast majority of babies that are aborted. It doesn’t matter that they’re tiny. It doesn’t matter that they’re that they’re not fully developed. It doesn’t matter that they’re dependent on other people. There are lots of people who are developmentally disabled and dependent on other people. Large or small, (they) don’t deserve to be killed because they’re inconvenient. Let’s just look through the lens of love and say “How do we help this young lady who is in a situation that she’s overwhelmed by? How do we look with love and compassion toward the child that has been growing in the womb? And how do we engage the biological father to take some responsibility and help out with this situation? Oh, and by the way, there are all these parents who would love to adopt a baby because they can’t have children of their own. There are options here that we’ve not really explored as a country and I think Lifemark is gonna open people’s eyes.

JWK: How does it feel to be a pro-life advocate and have your motives twisted so much?

KC: People can say what they want to try to twist the motives of people and make them look like they’re crazy or whatever but I don’t pay much attention to it. To tell you the truth, John, I just smile, I thank God and I just keep doing what I know is right. I think if we do the right thing over the long haul, at the end of the day we can trust that God’s gonna bring about the right results.

JWK: What role do you think abortion played in the recent elections. The punditry seems to be – and it may be true – that abortion hurt the Republicans. If that’s the case, how can pro-lifers better communicate their side of the debate?

KC: I’m not sure what I want to say about that. I had somebody come up to me and say “Hey, you know, if Republicans – or conservatives or pro-life Christians and Catholics – if they really want to dig their heels in and keep this pro-life thing, they’re never gonna win elections.” Well, that’s the most backwards upside-down thinking to me. I mean we’re gonna sacrifice people’s lives to try to win an election? What if we were to say that about any other group of people? “Hey, if you really want to keep protecting black people or you really want to keep saving the lives of some other minority group or some ethnic group you’re never going to get anywhere in this world? You just gotta give that up.” Well, that’s just crazy. We either value human life or we don’t. If we’re going to try to save the world by sacrificing people’s lives by the millions I think we’ve already lost.

JWK: Speaking of black lives, I’ve seen statistics that show nearly four times as many black babies are being aborted as white babies. I wonder why that doesn’t get brought up in the debate more often.

KC: Yeah. There’s so much we could say there, right? There’s a whole can of worms to get into with all of these political issues being used as leverage and tools for certain groups of people to try to gain power and get people to vote for them. At the end of the day, I know where I stand on these things. I want to call good good and evil evil. Rather than being a politician, I’m a storyteller, a movie maker and an actor and I think true stories like the one you see in Lifemark make a big difference.

JWK: As I said, I think Lifemark is a very effective pro-life film largely because of its positive message about adoption. That brings me to the whole idea of messaging. I personally think the pro-life movement should focus on education – putting out the scientific facts about what is going on in a woman’s womb during pregnancy – and positive alternatives such as adoption and other assistance for women who find themselves in this situation. I think the movement loses ground when the issue comes to punishment, either of the woman or her doctor. What if punishment was taken off the table but you also removed the profit motive? What if abortion providers were taxed to the point that they’d only do it out of a true sense of altruism? No punishment, just no profit. I think the debate would change considerably if you removed any sense of coercion or punishment – just take away the money from the equation. I’m wondering what you think of that.

KC: I would be curious to see what would happen. Why don’t you propose it, John, and we’ll see if we can get some sort of legislator to try to get that on the books. I don’t know what would happen with that. That’s an interesting approach. I haven’t heard anyone else mention that.

JWK: What you tax you get less of, right?

KC: I don’t know. It’s such a no-brainer for me. It’s so black and white for me. I mean if we were to try to get rid of any other evil by taxing it – like slavery or something like that – it just seems like (the right position is) we can’t do this at all.

JWK: I have to say Lifemark is a terrific movie but one scene you mentioned earlier did kind of throw me for a loop a little bit. I’m talking about the skydiving scene which you said actually did happen. I mean this in a lighthearted way but it struck me as a little surprising that a woman meets the child she decided not to abort about 18 years ago and her first suggestion is “Hey, let’s go jump out of a plane together!”

KC: (laughs) Yeah, that was really interesting. I think one of the fun things about the story was to learn that David – as a 19-year-old young man – had this really adventurous spirit. He loved to go cliff diving. He loved to do exciting, sort of daring things but his adoptive parents did not want to do those things. Those things were the last things they wanted to do. So, he always wondered where did he get that daring, adventurous spirit from? And then you find out, when you meet his biological mother, here she is out on ATV machines racing though the forest. She’s throwing hatchets and knives against trees – and she asks him “Would you go skydiving with me? He’s like “Heck, yeah! I’d love to go!” So, that was fun – and that really did happen.

JWK: I don’t know if you want to get into this but there was a time when a movie like Lifemark would have been at home on The Hallmark Channel. I know your sister Candace Cameron Bure just left Hallmark to make projects for The Great American Family Channel. Apparently, she’s not too happy with the movies they’re making at Hallmark these days. I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on that?

KC: I don’t know all the details of Candace’s departure from The Hallmark Channel but, you know, people have looked to The Hallmark Channel for so long to have these traditional family values and, certainly, those values are changing. The definition of those things are changing. I know Candace feels very much in sync with the values of the leadership at (GAC). So, her new movie’s coming out. I know she had a big part in writing the script and it represents her values and her faith and she wants to bring Christ back into Christmas. I think they’re really leaning into that over there. She’s very happy (about) the transition.

JWK: Any chance you’ll do a movie together?

KC: Candace and I were going to this first Christmas movie together but schedules didn’t line up. Because of Lifemark and some other things, I wasn’t able to do it with her. So, I was supposed to be in this very first Christmas movie but it didn’t work out.
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Grab the popcorn! Old-fashioned Hollywood patriotic epic Devotion arriving just in time for Thanksgiving. Based on the bestselling book of the same name, the uplifting (in more ways than one) aerial war film, opening Wednesday (11/23) tells the harrowing true story of two elite US Navy fighter pilots during the Korean War whose heroic sacrifices would ultimately make them the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen, one of them being Jesse Brown. Brown became the first African American aviator to complete the U.S. Navy’s basic flight training program and was a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross. Check out the trailer below.

John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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