When I started this blog, I did not start it to grapple with my own issues and background as much as for recognizing the good in media. It is so frustrating sometimes to listen to the tidal wave of hate against Hollywood, calling movies a ‘cash grab’ or a ‘quick buck’. Everyday people doing their jobs to make money just like we do, except, often, what they do for work affects how we see the world. Hollywood, the way I see it, has always striven for a better standard of behavior, especially as far as treating people. Personal actor problems such as: parties, drugs, and feuds aside, the primary message of the fictions played out for us by Hollywood stars seem to be tolerance, kindness, integration. Continue reading
I have taken a sabbatical of sorts from this blog and in doing so, have rediscovered its purpose in my eyes. God is our Creator, every creative inclination, every perspective that holds truth, He was extremely involved in creating. Thus, every movie, every TV show, every song put out by Hollywood and “The World” is expressing, on some level, a truth that is God-made. Therefore, such expressions of creativity are important and worth discussing.
God is in everything, because He cannot be bound. Everything I have written was written because God first breathed into me His breath of life and His power of creativity. So, I do not hate any movie (though I may always be personally uncomfortable with horror as a genre.) There is always something there to remind me of God.
Many have disagreed with this perspective. They say God can’t be in movies about
those who drink to excess
and the creation and redemption of a villainous character.
As Christians, I feel, especially in our movies, we shy away from reality. We imagine this perfect world, clean of any evil and blissfully overrun by people exactly like us. Can that really be the purpose? To destroy Hollywood and every thought that doesn’t evoke the Name of Jesus, to sing only songs that speak of His awesomeness and none that genuinely struggle with understanding why hurt happens?
The world is filled with people, through Hollywood, friends and just strangers you meet in public, who have stories to tell. They have feelings to express and shows that resonate with them because the shows write out what they struggle to understand.
I guess I’ll just throw out the example of South Park. As a kid, I thought South Park was everything wrong with our society. Come to find out it actually points out the wrong that is already there. I have judged in the past people who enjoy South Park because it’s gross and raunchy and anti-Christian. But, as with most of the media out there, South Park is taking what has been experienced and broadcasting it. From a South Park perspective, Christianity makes no sense. You are a sinner and will live in eternal torture but Jesus loves you and wants you to pay TV evangelists money so they can heal you. To South Park, and from the perspective of many, Christianity is just a giant SCAM.
The crazy thing is that, while He may look differently than expected, South Park’s imagining of God is actually pretty on-point. Jesus is level-headed, caring and transparent. But Christians are ridiculous. I love the interactions with God/Jesus and professing Christians. There’s always a theme: You guys aren’t getting it. It’s about living a life that brings joy to others, not beating yourself down because you suck or telling other people that they suck.
And to quote my own pastor, Heaven and Hell are not really places, one to which we aspire to go, one we aspire to avoid, so much as perspectives on life. The difference between open eyes and closed ones. Waking and sleeping, Love and hate. What if we lived it more like that, than a guilt trip on who is the best kind of Christian. What would that look like?
Hey everyone! I’m starting a series for my blog, hoping to get back on track and to really speak up about my semi-unconventional understanding of Hollywood. So many people fear Hollywood, or make it out to be this twisted or evil thing. I’d like to help change that perspective if I can. Many complaints against Hollywood speak of its desensitizing nature. The way that the violence makes people think hurting people is okay or that having sex with random strangers is a good idea.
But, I have observed also the good that has come of Hollywood, a good that I think is far more widespread than the evil. Just look around at the world now. They say it’s the last days, the evidence is in the depravity of the world, but look at the world now, post-Hollywood in comparison to a century ago and pre-Hollywood, or even to two millennia ago, in Jesus’ time. One hundred or so years ago, racism governed our country, including racism against Caucasian immigrants and the unfortunate history of the well-known Civil Rights battles. Prior to the all-inclusive influence of radio, TV and movies, parents beat their children under protection of the law. There is more, I believe, that has been greatly affected by the innovation of Hollywood. We’re so constantly talking about the media and its bad messages, why do we so rarely recognize the life-changing ones?
In this series, I hope to discuss the influence of Hollywood on a broader spectrum, drawing from music, movies, TV shows and life to show the positive outcome of Hollywood’s infusion into the world, especially America. Always, what makes Hollywood matter is the people involved. That is the foundation of the PVX Pearls vision and the only reason Hollywood has influence at all. So, let’s take the sandy outlook thrown around America all these years, capture it and find that pearl!
This weekend I had the opportunity to come back home to prepare for what I call the event of the century. I found myself staying in a home which disallowed movies and TV on the premise that it is a poison and a near demonic influence in the home. Of course I didn’t exactly obey the restrictions as I had my own laptop on which to watch all the horrendous shows provided by Hulu and Netflix (the most evil Nickelodeon, and the treacherous Disney Channel.)
I just get frustrated with people who dismiss Hollywood. One person, or a few people tell you it’s messed up (since they’ve seen soooo much of Hollywood and gotten to know every individual person really well) so you believe it and lump them all together to ignore, accuse and ridicule. Why? Gosh, how dare you be so quick to judge. Oh yes, I am certainly judging you. How dare you hate on people whom you’ve never met?
Christians… why do you hate your enemies??? When in Hollywood, we see ever so faint traces of Godly traits, traits which are barely present in Christians. I’ve really learned to love my enemies through Hollywood and the movie making business. Why paint those who have yet to show themselves to you, as enemies? Albeit those traits are in a concoction of crazy through which it can be difficult to see the beauty. But they are there. I believe that when given the breath of life we are also given a seed of truth. Not the big Jesusey Truth. Just truth in general, and we tend to interpret that truth differently as life goes on. So there are traces of truth in all things. All truth is God’s.
So, for example, when Lady Gaga or Glee Cast sings Born This Way, it is true. God makes no mistakes… this is not an attack of hatred on the Christian faith… it is almost an asserted answer to a question… Gosh! We know God makes no mistakes… so how are gay, lesbian, bi, transgender persons not born that way?? I’m not trying to say Lady Gaga isn’t strange… or even demonically possessed. It’s a nonissue. God speaks through what He wants to. We can choose to dismiss his beautiful and creative child, or we can listen to what she’s trying to say. Sometimes, she’s just saying she’s horny. Is that really so bad? Aren’t we all often horny? It helps me personally sometimes to know that others get horny to the extent where there are millions of songs about wanting sex. Why is this dirty, horrible, shameful? We are sexual beings, amongst other kinds. Our bodies respond to attraction, we don’t control the flush of emotions that come with lust. I don’t think Jesus was saying “You must never lust” He was saying “You lust, that makes you just as in need of my Salvation as someone who commits adultery.” It wasn’t a list of rules we must painstakingly follow. It was an invitation to be humble and therefore forgiven, to recognize our sins are just as horrid as the next person and not one single person is better than another. So, in conclusion, lust happens. We look at someone or think of sex and maybe even enjoy it… even act on it. Whether we act on it or not, either choice is in need of a Savior. Neither more than the other.
That does not mean that we must accept and befriend and allow ourselves to be influenced by those who act on lust, but it does mean we need to understand we are no better and both of us need a Savior equally. Why bottle the lust inside… writing about it, singing about it, crafting a story around it, these create empathy in the world. We understand one another because we all lust. Doesn’t make it right, it just makes it common.
And commonality breeds kindness, empathy, sometimes even friendship. I believe that all of us, we are attracted to transparency in people, to that gritty realness. Recognizing and being open about your own issues softens the blow when you find flaws in others.
What do you think? How many people do you know that you’re sure have never lusted? Do you think Jesus meant to convict and steer people away from lust with his words to the crowds? Or do you think He simply wished to show people their sin and understand their unworthiness?
* It has taken me years to come to these conclusions and I do not seek to offend, I seek to ask questions and spread kindness, even to those in Hollywood and those who some consider “The worst of sinners.”
Love you all whoever you are and thank you for subscribing to my blog!!!
Dear Pearl Finders,
I do not often talk about things other than Hollywood in this blog. I’d like to change that. But before I do that I must say this: Truth is, more than anything, I want to be a part of Hollywood, not the glamour and the shady party stuff you hear about all the time, the movie making process part! It just sounds so wonderful to write a story with other people, bouncing ideas back and forth on story boards and script ideas, considering casting, working with animators or CGI effects teams, just creating something magical on paper and then bringing it to life. That is my passion. That’s why Hollywood draws me.
I cannot believe that Hollywood is what it is purported to be! Shameless, coercive, destructive and vapid in its people and in its messages. Movies have changed lives, TV shows have saved my life from a dull existence more times than once. Music, no matter what kind, can uplift our spirits and speak to us in a way no one else does. God uses Hollywood, he turns the bad for good, you just have to seek it out, dig it up, mull it over and watch it form into a pearl.
I care about it, I think about them, the individual actors, directors, screenwriters, effects persons, casting directors, producers, score composers, even the extras! They remind me that my dreams are achievable, I don’t have to stay in the same line of work in the same small, dull hometown I’ve lived in since I was seven. It depends on the choices I make, and the chances I take.
Life is about finding what to live for. And I believe the pearls of life are worth living for. The little things that at first appear insignificant, boring, even dirty or strange, but once given time and a little bit of energy, emerge as glowing strings of pearls.
Since Maleficent is a relatively new movie, I will try to be as vague as possible so as to avoid spoilers. I have become irreversibly obsessed with the ABC television show Once Upon a Time which is known for providing its “villains” with back stories, bringing proof to the old adage “Evil isn’t born. It’s made.” I believe this is the forerunner for Hollywood’s current fascination with redefining true love and exploring villainy. Thus the retelling of Sleeping Beauty through the eyes of Maleficent, the self-proclaimed mistress of all evil, was a tough story to tell.
In Finding Pearls, I hope to find what most deeply offends and address that offense, so we can take the dirt and sand and turn it into a beautiful pearl. Some have posited that Maleficent humanizes the villain far too much, so that she is actually very separate from the Disney sorceress. Others have argued that seeking to discover what makes a villain a villain is essentially the same thing as agreeing with a villain’s choices and actions, and should be expressly avoided altogether. A lot of this latter attitude seems to come from the Christian community. I find this troubling.
Do we really think we are so strong and good for not choosing a villainous path? Life is made up of choices. Some good, some bad. I would argue that not a single human being, Christian or otherwise, has made all of one kind of choice their whole life through. That being said. Christianity, and the rules of general human decency is about seeking to understand and love our fellowman no matter where they are at.
I appreciated this movie, though it was difficult to reconcile it with the original Disney. The problem for compassionate people with the original Disney is that there are absolutely no redemptive qualities in the notoriously evil fairy who literally calls on all the “powers of hell” and seems motivated to incredible and despicable evils simply because she was not invited to the christening of Baby Aurora (with whom their appears no personal relation). Much as I love the Disney version, Disney’s most horrendous and terrifying character is literally holding onto a sixteen-year-long grudge over being snubbed for a royal baby’s christening. She is so irrational and disturbingly wicked, it is near impossible to find very much compassion for Disney’s original animated Maleficent.
Not so with the 2014 live action retelling. We get to see Maleficent as a child, we see her kindness towards her fellow forest friends, we can see her fly and the freedom she gets in flight. We see her innocence. And then we see it taken, we see her harden. And we are able to understand why she would feel offended and wish to curse the Baby Aurora.
Many people seem to believe that some people are born evil. This goes all the way back to Cain and Abel. And it is probably my biggest pet peeve. I’ve seen it also so often in cinema. This is especially notable in the heralded classic Gone with the Wind in the characters of Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler. Supposedly they’re bad, and that’s all they’ll ever be. That infuriated me! I really don’t believe this. What makes life so wonderful is that we all have our story. Much as it seems Hitler was always the cold and calculating, racist general whose infamous secret deeds made the world step back in awed disgust and horror to remember the great scope of man’s evil; there was a time that Adolph Hitler was an infant, a toddler, a child, a teenager, and even, a Catholic. We don’t always get the opportunity to see the world through another’s eyes. I believe, Hollywood has made that possible.
I think the most overwhelmingly difficult villain for today’s Disney to redeem has to be Maleficent. But I was impressed by this movie. It had incredible effects, almost Narnian or Tolkienesque. A surprising story, it managed not to scrap, in its entirety, the original Disney version, or the Grimm tale.
Watching movies like Maleficent, helps me to see what motivates others. How they are feeling, what they are thinking, and I see their hopes, wishes, hurts and dreams. I am able to see the whole person. Not just the few isolated moments in history of their seemingly irredeemable evil. As Christians, or even, a simply hopeful race of people, we get to believe in redemption, no questions asked, no one can ever be out of reach.
Original Animated Comparison picture~ http://www.thereelbits.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/maleficent001.jpg
Live Action Maleficent Comparison picture~ http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2014/05/08/article-2623624-1DADA5C600000578-704_634x501.jpg
Animated Aurora and Maleficent~ http://images2.fanpop.com/images/photos/6400000/Maleficent-and-Aurora-sleeping-beauty-6461922-500-375.jpg
Live Action Aurora and Maleficent~ http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/disney/images/d/d9/Maleficent_(2).png/revision/latest?cb=20150329222510
Here is a poem I wrote while grappling with the Pearls concept. This is the story of my journey. I hope you will join me in choosing to find Pearls in Hollywood’s seemingly endless sea of sand.
Maybe the world isn’t out to get us.
And maybe its adages can have our trust.
People, not just Christians are made in His own reflection.
Yet, when the world speaks, we react with such rejection.
But imagine Continue reading
Hello blog readers! I can’t even begin to explain how long it has taken me to finally sit down and start writing this introductory blog entry. I have, I suppose, so feared that people might write unkind things about my writing, or think me unkind in what I’ve written. And I have thus been very apprehensive at the prospect of sharing my apparent talent for writing and observation.
So, please, do try to bear with me. There will be times I will sound vaguely Old-Englishy, even Jane Austenesque, and still more times where I may sound so laid back as to seem lazy or uneducated. Again, I hope you’ll bear with me! This is a test for me, finally pushing myself to write. I invite constructive criticism, but will not publish comments with outright criticism of me, specific blog content, or any of my readers. This is an environment in which I hope to discuss the good in the world, in the context of the bad.
I call this concept Finding Pearls in a Sea of Sand. Continue reading