Last fall I had a conversation with an industry professional in LA about the anticipated release of 12 Years a Slave, and he commented that he thought Christian audiences wouldn’t be into the film because it had a negative portrayal of a man of faith. He thought that Christians wouldn’t go see the movie.
I laughed and told him that Hollywood’s assumptions about what Christian audiences would like are often really off-base, because many Christians will accept and engage elements in films that, at face value, might seem offensive to them if it’s simply presented well.
A lot of Christians get stuck on the issue of Message vs. Art when it comes to film, and you’ll find a lot of discussions happening when any controversial film is released. Christians find themselves conflicted because they enjoyed the viewing experience but didn’t agree with the message or presentation of something or another in the course of the story.
There’s a new film coming out (currently being promoted on Indiegogo for distribution and marketing funding) which has a very overt message of Christianity-is-an-accepting-religion and a positive portrayal of a black gay character (who runs a local homeless shelter).
The film is called Pass the Light, and it’s your quintessential high school-centric small-town drama where a kid gets annoyed at a Christian campaigning for congress on a platform of sin-hating and decides to run against him as the accepting and loving Christian alternative.
Speaking of the portrayal of the gay character, writer Victor Hawks said in a Huffington Post article:
When shopping our film around, though, we were asked flat-out to cut the character Trevor and his entire storyline. We received this message from major studio players and sales agents at big agencies all the way down to smaller distribution houses. They all said they “loved the film” but needed Trevor to be cut simply because he was gay, as the “core Christian audience will not accept a gay character.”
It wasn’t a discussion but an ultimatum.
If we were to cut this character just because he was gay, we would be saying, “It is OK that you are erased. We’re more comfortable if you don’t exist. And you can’t be Christian if you are gay.”
They didn’t cut the character and eventually found a distributor. The movie will premiere on February 6.
I’m curious to see how the Christian community will respond when it comes out. Will they embrace it or reject it on the basis of an ancillary character who isn’t demonized for his sexual orientation?
(Thanks to Virginia for the link)