Hollywood's Attack on Religion Essay

Hollywood S Attack On Religion Essay

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Film Analysis
Hypothesis Hollywood uses Christian symbolism to convey meaning. Introduction As society continues to strive for integrity and the knowledge of other religions, Hollywood filmmakers strive to make equality in religious ...
Hollywood's Attack on Religion The section that I have chosen to analyze from the book Hollywood vs. America is "The Attack on Religion." In this part of the book, Michael Medved discusses the shift in attitude Hollywood has made toward religion, from acceptable to contemptible. He takes a look at the messages being sent in films, music and television in the last 15 to 20 years and analyzes
their effects. In general, Hollywood depicts religion in an unfavorable manner, according to Medved. Moreover, Medved also argues that, not only has Hollywood taken a hostile stance toward religion, but it has paid the price, literally, for doing so. All of Medved's arguments are well supported and documented, making them seemingly futile to argue against. Yet, Hollywood, which includes films, music and television, continues to disregard the obvious facts that Medved has revealed.
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In the first chapter of this section, "A Declaration of War," Medved discusses the facts surrounding the protest which took place on August 11, 1988, in opposition to the release of the motion picture The Last Temptation of Christ. MCA/Universal, which funded the Martin Scorsese film, called the protesters a "know-nothing wacky pack" (38). However, as Medved points out, the protest was "the largest protest ever mounted against the release of a motion
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picture" (37) and included such groups as the National Council of Catholic Bishops, the Southern Baptist Convention, twenty members of the U.S. House of Representatives and prominent figures such as Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Ken Wales, former vice president at Disney studios. Even with such strong opposition from these respected groups and people, the studio refused to listen and stood behind its First Amendment rights. MCA/Universal was even supported by
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the Motion Picture Association of America, which stated that "The . . . MPAA support MCA/Universal in its absolute right to offer to the people whatever movie it chooses" (41). However, Medved rebukes this statement, arguing that "absolute right" wasn't the issue ;the issue "concerned the movie company's choices, not its rights" (41). He supports this argument further by indicating that the MPAA would never support a film portraying Malcolm X as a paid agent of Hoover's FBI
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or portraying Anne Frank "as an out-of-control nymphomaniac" (41). By releasing The Last Temptation of Christ, the studio positions Jesus, God and Christianity below these prominent figures in history because it is portraying Jesus and other religious figures in uncharacteristic situations that would never be associated with these historical figures. This is supported by past experiences when movies were edited so as to not offend animal rights activists, gay advocacy groups, and ethnic organizations:
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Leaders of the motion picture business showed more concern with possible sacrilege against the religious traditions of a single Hopi village than with certain offense to the faith of tens of millions of believing Christians ;the prospect of
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being labeled "antiwolf" produced greater worry than the prospect of being labeled "anti-Christ" (42). Of course, the response to this is that the changes were made during the production of the other films, not afterward. Again, Medved argues back, pointing out that "Martin Scorsese and his associates kept their plans for The Last Temptation a closely guarded secret from all church leaders" (43).
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The press also distorted the movement against the release of the film by "focusing on one utterly unrepresentative individual as the preeminent symbol of that movement: the Reverend R. L. Hymers" (43). His predictions of impending apocalypse, his violent outbursts, and his history of legal problems "lived up to anyone's worst nightmare of deranged religious fanatic. Naturally, the press couldn't get enough of him" (43). The press also misrepresented
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the movement's main objections, according to Medved, by focusing on the "dream sequence" in which Jesus makes love to Mary Magdalene, "and asserting that this image alone had provoked the furor in the religious community" (44). However, Christian leaders objected to more than that ;they identified "more than twenty elements" (44) that were offending to them. In other words, "the press helped to make the protesters look like narrow-minded prudes" (44). As a result, Hollywood misled itself
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and the public into believing that the protesters' main objective was to censor the film. As Medved says, "What they [protester] wanted from the industry wasn't censorship ;it was sensitivity" (45). Besides the fact that The Last Temptation of Christ was so heavily protested against, it was a bad movie, according to Medved, who is also a movie critic. He even went on the record saying,
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It is the height of irony that all this controversy should be generated by a film that turns out to be so breathtakingly bad, so unbearably boring. In my opinion, the controversy about this
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