Given the abundance of theatres in Raleigh, it can be safe to say that this is a city that loves films. Thousands of us flood the theatres every weekend to be entertained by the best filmmakers have to offer. Oftentimes, films premiere at film festivals. The Sundance Film Festival is the largest showcase of independent films in the world. This summer, a number of films have had clear anti-Christian sentiments. If the current trends are any indication, more and more Christians will go from being portrayed as stupid, slow characters to evil, psychotic villains. This is nothing new, but the trend seems to be more prominent as of late, leading our culture further down the troubling road of stereotyping. There are many exceptions, of course, but anti-Christian elements in films are consistently becoming more pervasive.
So how should Christians respond to anti-Christian material in movies/programs—the kind of material that stereotypes Christians as being maniacal antagonists? Behind the Screen, a book written by several professionals in the film industry, gives a few points that might be of note to those who have ever encountered such content.
1. Stay rational. Don’t picket or send angry e-mails/mail. Remember that the cast and crew of these shows are people just like you. Those that are able to get to the point in their careers where they can work on films and/or television shows nearly always care about their jobs, and believe it or not, most do want people to like what they do. Otherwise, they would be out of jobs.
2. Write a letter to the creators of the show/film. This needs to be a hand-written letter, because it shows you care. Begin by mentioning what you like and/or admire about the piece, even if it’s only one or two things. Do you think it is well made? Do you like the believability of the actors? Let them know what you like first, and they may be willing to your advice on how to improve the program or make a different kind of film.
3. Persevere. In Matthew 5:11-12, Jesus tells us that troubling times will come. Persecution from the media, and the scoffing of individuals at the mention of the wrongful stereotyping of Christians should come as no surprise. Stand firm in your faith, but understand that every time a Christian is depicted in a negative light doesn’t necessarily require a swift response, so if you do respond, please pick your battles wisely.
Films and TV shows are wonderful ways to convey stories, but unfortunately, the depictions of Christians becomes increasingly more stereotypical and unsettling. So respond wisely, understand what is happening, and hold fast to your faith. This problem is unlikely to go away, but love others, serving as Christ served, thereby dismantling stereotypes others may have developed from watching certain films.