Tag Archives: hollywood

Judgment Day Is Coming to Hollywood

Harvey Bill sexual predators.jpg

Often I’ve heard that tiresome canard “I don’t go to church because it’s full of hypocrites.”  People dismiss the truth claims of Christianity because of the hypocrisy of Christians.  Mahatma Ghandi famously said “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”  Setting aside the fact that Ghandi is hardly an expert on Jesus, and his comparison between Christ and Christians came from having created a “Jesus” to his own liking, Christians do fall short of perfection.  The truth is the Church is filled with hypocrites.  But Christianity is the one place hypocrites can go to be cured from their hypocrisy.  Church is the “hospital” for hypocrites.

In fact, in the 1980s, a cleansing judgment on hypocrisy began with the house of God.  Several scandals centering around sexual and financial improprieties rocked the Church scandal.jpgChurch.  Televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart made headlines for their sexual and financial infidelities.  Oral Roberts insisted in a fund-raising campaign that God would let him die if he did not raise $8 million.

The Catholic Church endured its own cleansing when allegations came out of priests who struggled with homosexuality molested young boys.  An analysis of the abuse of children under age 17 by priests from 1950 to 2002 showed that over 10,000 victims reported being molested.  Some have suggested that there may have been as many as 100,000 victims.  Nearly 5,000 priests were accused, which is roughly 4% of the 109,000 priests in the American Catholic Church.

These televangelists and pedophile priests made Christianity a laughingstock.  But the Church dealt with the hypocrites by removing them from their ministries and from fletch lives2positions of leadership.  Instead of letting the Church deal with its hypocrisy by itself, Hollywood, as a representative of the larger pop culture, lambasted the Church by making televangelists the villains in their movies like Chevy Chase’s Fletch Lives, Steve Martin’s Leap of Faith, and Steve Curry and Annie Potts’ Pass the Ammo.

Hollywood couldn’t keep itself from throwing stones at the Catholic Church with movies such as Philomena, The Magdalene SistersStigmata, The Da Vinci Code, and 2015’s Spotlight about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the child abuse allegations and cover up by the Catholic Church in Boston, starring Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, and Mark Ruffalo.

However, Hollywood over the years built its own sexual-predatory glass empire equipped with several casting couches.

Having continually cast stones at those who promote high moral standards, judgment is now coming to Hollywood.  (By “Hollywood” I mean American pop culture at large, but especially those in film media.)  Hollywood has its own long history of scandals and hypocrisy.  Does anyone remember fugitive child rapist Roman Polanski, and Woody Allen’s sexual liberties with Mia Farrow’s adopted children?  Hollywood protects its own.  It even awarded Polanski an Oscar for Best Director in 2003 to thunderous applause, and Meryl Streep’s standing ovation. 

Corey Feldman spoke out against the pedophilia in Hollywood that he said led to his friend Corey Haim’s death.  Hollywood and the media put on the full-court press to shutdown the truth from getting out.  During a segment on The View in 2016 with Corey Feldman as a guest, Barbara Walters asked him, “Are you saying they’re pedophiles?…Are you saying they’re still in this business?”  Corey Feldman answered “Yes.”  Barbara Walters then lamented that Corey Feldman was “damaging an entire industry.”  No, it wasn’t the pedophiles who were damaging an entire industry.  Barbara Walters hypocritically blamed the victim for speaking out. 

Hollywood came to the defense of President Bill Clinton who preyed on a White House intern.  His sexual misconduct was excused because he kept abortion legal.  (Just ask reporter Nina Burleigh who famously said “I would be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.  I think American women should be lining up with their Presidential kneepads on to show their gratitude for keeping the theocracy off our backs.”)  Hillary Clinton and James Carville worked overtime to smear Bill’s many accusers as “trailer trash.”

Now, dozens of women have accused media mogul Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape.  In the throes of this scandal Harvey said “I came of age in the 60s and 70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.  That was the culture then.  I have since learned that it’s not an excuse, in the office – or out of it. To anyone.”  Essentially, he is saying “Please excuse my moral ignorance. Now that I’m caught I’m a changed man.”  But, it was a story that the media knew about as far back as 2004.  NBC, however, spiked the story and flushed any of its remaining credibility down the drain.  In 2004, the New York Times dropped the Weinstein story when two actors, Matt Damon and Russell Crowe, urged the publication to back off.

Hollywood cannot sweep these accusations under the rug.  As more accusers come out, more and more people in the film industry have to admit to their knowledge, and their silence.  But, what has Weinstein done that Bill Clinton did not do to Paula Jones, Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, Gennifer Flowers, Monica Lewinsky?  Why does Harvey have to go to rehab in Europe while Bill was able to serve out his term as president and remains at large?  In order to protect itself and its devious sexual practices, the power brokers of Hollywood will try to make Harvey the sacrificial lamb. 

The scandal of sexual deviance, however, does not end with Harvey.  Treating women (and young boys) as sex objects seems to be a systemic problem in Hollywood.  Ben Affleck recently apologized for groping Hilarie Burton and is now accused of groping a makeup artist.  The Left’s new Trump-hating darling, Jimmy Kimmel, is taking some flak for having done a bit for his “Man Show” that had women guess what was in his pants, telling one of them “Maybe it would be easier if you put your mouth on it.”  According to the UK’s Mirror, other Hollywood studios, producers, and actors are in fear of being exposed for their own “lay for pay” deals.  The Harvey scandal may just be scratching the surface.

In the midst of the televangelist scandals, Hollywood ignored its hypocrisy.  How did Hollywood respond to these Church scandals such as the PTL scandal?  They empowered the “victim” by having her take her clothes off.  The $269,000 hush money Jim Bakker paid to Jessica Hahn couldn’t keep her mouth shut, or her clothes on.  Touting her as “no longer a victim,” Playboy featured Jessica Hahn in pictorials in November 1987, September 1988, and December 1992.  She even made an appearance on Married with Children in 1991 as Al Bundy’s shoe-loving temptress, who tried to seduce the married Bundy into an adulterous affair.  Hollywood took the “victim” of the PTL sex scandal and starred her in roles as a hussy.

Doesn’t anyone else see the hypocrisy in that?

Hollywood was not concerned that preachers failed to live up to their moral standards.  Hollywood was angry that preachers had moral standards and that they insisted those standards are universal.  With the televangelist scandals of the 80s, Hollywood could safely drone on and on about “hypocrisy” in the Church while eschewing moral standards and ignoring its own hypocritical scandals.

No, the Church does not hold a monopoly on hypocrisy.  With the silence on Roman Polanski, Woody Allen, Harvey Weinstein, institutional pedophilia, Hollywood has a lot of explaining to do.  Having made much about Trump’s bragging that he could grab women with impunity, Hollywood now has to deal with an epidemic of studio executives, media moguls, and producers grabbing aspiring actors with impunity. 

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has now expelled Harvey.  In a statement the Academy said this expulsion was “to send a message that the era of willful ignorance and shameful complicity in sexually predatory behavior and workplace harassment in our industry is over…The Board continues to work to establish ethical standards of conduct that all Academy members will be expected to exemplify.”  Let us hope that is true.  Will Hollywood apply this new standard to the likes of Polanski and Allen?  Doubtful.  Unlike the Church, Hollywood is not submitted to a higher moral authority than themselves.  Instead of dealing with the larger problem, I’m afraid Hollywood will continue in its hypocrisy while hoping to make this current controversy just about Harvey.

Advertisements

A Fireproof America

OK, I’m going to start populating my new blog with articles I have previously written.  Here’s one I wrote in February 2009.

A Fireproof America
by Christopher S. Brownwell
Fireproof2
And the Oscar for the Best Picture goes to . . . Fireproof.

Okay, so that didn’t happen.  Fireproof isn’t exactly the type of film Hollywood rewards at its self-important awards gatherings.  The movie doesn’t play into the stereotype with which Hollywood saddles Christians.  Hollywood constantly paints Christians as fire-breathing, judgmental, self-righteous, religious bigots.

The movie Pleasantville is a clear-cut example of this stereotype.  Set in black and white, the film pleasantvillemakes the point that immorality adds color to your life.  When the youth of the town engage in sexual playfulness, they turn from black and white to color.  The director of the film then clearly equates religious scruples with racism.  The religious bigots of the town respond to this tide of colorful awakenings by the youth by placing “No Coloreds Allowed” signs in their storefront windows.  This humanist worldview found in Pleasantville sees Christianity as an old-fashioned, antiquated philosophy that has outlived its utility.

When Hollywood doesn’t characterize Christians as hateful Bible-thumpers, Christian characters are usually shallow and underdeveloped like Alice Lomax, the mother of Keanu Reeves’ character in The Devil’s Advocate.  Alice Lomax: “’Fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great.  It has become a dwelling place of demons.’ Revelation 18.  Wouldn’t hurt you to look it over.”  Kevin Lomax: “Couldn’t forget it if I tried.”  Alice Lomax: “Oh, really? And what happened to Babylon?”  Not hateful, but still an uneducated Bible-thumper.

Often Hollywood’s “love” stories are like cotton candy: very sweet, with no substance.  In Titanic, Rose DeWitt Bukater was trapped in a superficial, self-congratulatory patriarchical world.  Her way to rebel against it was to pose nude and then sleep with the artist.  This artist, Jack Dawson, lived hand-to-mouth.  Rose’s mother, Ruth Dewitt Bukater asked Jack “And you find that sort of titanicrootless existence appealing, do you?”  Jack Dawson responded “Well, yes, ma’am, I do. . . I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what’s gonna happen or, who I’m gonna meet, where I’m gonna wind up.  Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people.  I figure life’s a gift and I don’t intend on wasting it.”  There was no real love between Rose and Jack.  “Love” to them was just a means to fulfill a selfish need in each of them.  Rose, to rebel against rich patriarchy; Jack, to squeeze every bit of pleasure out of his life.

Too often Hollywood is the arsonist who would burn marriage to the ground.  The celebrated Brokeback Mountain, which was nominated for Best Picture in 2006, subtly takes a swipe at marriage.  That two men find themselves attracted to each other is not the issue.  The real issue is that they were willing to abandon their marriage vows to fulfill their own sexual gratification.  Marriage was a shackle that got in the way of fulfilling their identities.

Wedding Crashers tells the story of middle-aged boys who crashed weddings, fishing for foolish women who would fall for their bait.  In the end they both found “love” and women willing to wedding_crashersOpforgive and forget that they spent their entire adulthood seeking one-night stands.  So, go ahead.  Live it up now.  When you are finally ready to settle down, you will have no problem finding love too.

Fireproof was in no danger of winning an Oscar.  The movie portrays the Christ of Christianity as the solution rather than the problem.  Caleb Holt, played by Kirk Cameron, puts into his marriage only what he expects to get out of it.  His affections turn from his wife to other things: his demand to be respected, the digital dream girls he finds on the internet, and his dream boat for which he’s been saving.  He angrily explodes at the perceived disrespect from his wife.  His wife wants out of the marriage.

At this point, the prevailing wisdom would say “Just bail.  Cut your losses and move on.  Marriages are a dime a dozen.”  But, that is not the message of Fireproof.  Marriage is meant to be for life.  Sure it’s hard.  Sure there will be rough times. But, as Ken Bevel’s character states “Fireproof doesn’t mean the fire will never come. It means when the fire comes that you will be able to withstand it.”

In surrendering to the love of Christ, Caleb Holt found freedom to truly love his wife and sacrifice for her.  The hope he found in Christ led to a change in his outlook and his behavior.  (If you haven’t seen the movie, but would like to, skip to the next paragraph now.  I’m about to reveal the tear-jerking ending.)  He humbled himself and began to help his wife by doing the little things around the house.  He destroyed his computer and gave up his addiction to pornography that kept him from seeing the beauty in his wife.  In an act of heroic selflessness, he gave up his life’s savings meant to buy his boat and secretly paid for the desperately needed medical equipment for his mother-in-law.

Kirk Cameron’s apology scene captures the emotions of the moment so exquisitely, deserving of fireproof_008an Academy Award. I am not saying that Kirk Cameron or even Fireproof should have gotten an award, even though Hollywood awards talentless actors like Sean Penn, and banal, uninspiring movies like American Beauty or Chicago. But, alas, neither Kirk Cameron, nor Fireproof were considered for an Oscar. The movie’s worldview runs counter to the messages Hollywood is selling. In a world where the political winds are enamored with “hope and change,” Fireproof demonstrates just the kind of hope and change Americans need.