Understanding “Flyover Country”
Every employee in a marketing firm, right down to the coffee runner, knows at least one key marketing axiom: know your audience. This is generally true of Hollywood as well—mention a common demographic to a studio executive and he or she will know their artistic tastes inside and out—with the notable exception of religious communities. Hollywood seems perennially out of touch with the interests and values of religious people, especially Christians. In The Lion, The Professor, and The Movies, Joseph quotes Walden Media’s president, Michael Flaherty, on religious audiences: “Throughout human history most of the great events and figures have been motivated by faith. . . . But then, at the same time, if it’s not in the DNA, you can’t apply it like makeup—like ‘oh, we’ll put a faith scene here to appeal to the church crowd.’ They’re a sophisticated audience, and they know when something isn’t genuine and authentic.” Religious audiences can tell when a work of art is pandering to their sensibilities, and filmmakers need to dig into the culture and theology of that audience if they want to produce successful and well-crafted religious films.