Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Robert Pittman, Founder and Chairman of MTV, stated the following concerning MTV’s philosophy, “We are dealing with a culture of TV babies. They can watch, do their home work, and listen to music all at the same time. And at MTV we don’t shoot for 14 year olds, we own them. And the strongest appeal you can make is emotionally. If you can get their emotions going, they forget their logic. Then you’ve got them. They will accept almost anything over the screen. The only people that understand the new way to use that television set are the people who grew up with it.”
Through very sophisticated marketing concepts, MTV learned how to eliminate the space that existed between entertainment, advertising, programming, branding, news, and marketing. These became indistinguishable from each other. MTV helped to establish the idea that marketing was more important than the program you were producing. Hollywood embraced this concept thoroughly at the beginning of the third media age. The marketing of a film became more important than the film itself. Thanks to MTV, every form of media soon realized that the best way to maximize market share and to increase profit margin was to focus attention and resources on the marketing and selling of what a show or film represented rather than to concentrate on the programming itself or quality of the programming.
Monday, November 29, 2010
Many people reasoned that “if I survived all this, there must be a reason--perhaps a better life for myself and my family”. They wanted to believe in the American Dream. But what is the American Dream? Is it based on freedom, justice and the pursuit of happiness? Or did the new emerging media have a different view of the American Dream and was more than willing to sell it to us. It now had the perfect delivery system, television.
Television had the ability to influence culture (shared beliefs and behavior patterns or general consciousness), particularly how we spend our money.
Advertisers used this to create the desire for goods and services. Americans came to believe that what they saw on television through advertising and entertainment programs was a lifestyle that they believed was achievable. This was a version of the American Dream presented by Wall Street and the entertainment industry. Television and consumerism were the perfect companions.
Friday, November 26, 2010
Let’s start with an understanding of the four modern media ages. The First Media Age or The Golden Age of Hollywood started at the beginning of the 20th Century. It was the beginning of mass communication and entertainment as we know it today. New technologies such as radio and film ushered in the age of modernism and served as a melting pot of ideas and philosophies.
Much of America had changed since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Most people lived on farms in rural areas isolated from outside influences. As a result, family and the immediate community had the biggest impact on world views, religious beliefs, values and morals. Before The Golden Age of Hollywood, most people rarely traveled more than 20 miles from their homes. All of that changed in the latter part of the 19th Century as people moved from the countryside into cities due to the availability of jobs.
During this time, people were fascinated and infatuated with anything modern. They had a desire for knowledge, understanding and enlightenment. Modernism provided a framework that helped to explain life’s mysteries. Radio and film developed during this period and offered a conduit where these ideas could be shared. There were also plenty of subtle philosophies floating around that found a home in the new, emerging media age such as Marxism, Darwinism and evolution.
Radio offered people an opportunity to hear information and news as it happened and also provided the first home entertainment experience where the family could gather around an electronic media device. It caused the world to become smaller, practically overnight.
By the early 1920s, men like Carl Laemmle, William Fox, and Louis B. Meyer came to control and dominate Hollywood for decades to come. Amazingly a few individuals would now have the power and influence to create movies for the entire American population and the world. They would decide which films would be made and which ones would not, which ideas would be expressed and which ones would be discarded. They would decide what was important and what was not. Never had so much power been placed in the hands of so few men.
It was a version of the American Dream based on wealth and materialism. The ideas that fueled the American Dream are complex. These ideas were powerful and capable of shaping the destiny of our nation, including our spiritual direction.
The First Media Age laid the foundation on which all future media ages would be built. Worldviews and various philosophies may have been subtle by today’s standards but, nevertheless, the seeds had been sown.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Have we turned the American Dream from opportunity and freedom to our ability to use and maximize our credit cards? Can we spend our way to the American Dream as individuals or as a nation? The media culture must convince us that having it all is the American Dream and without it we cannot be happy.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
When a series of events came together at the right time and place in our nation’s history, we created a perfect storm, which caused media to be transformed into a force capable of creating a media culture. What rare combination of circumstances has made the media a significant and powerful force in our culture? When did television, movies and other forms of media stop being entertainment and become a media culture capable of shaping our beliefs, attitudes and behaviors?
The modern media culture developed over four distinct time periods starting with the development of the film industry in the early part of the 20th Century continuing to the creation of the digital age in the late 1990s. The story behind the perfect storm is also interwoven with the so-called mythical American Dream. To understand the perfect storm and how we are influenced by today’s media, we must understand how the American Dream has been manipulated.
So what is the American Dream and how is it tied to the media culture? More importantly, how has it changed the face of Christianity over the past few years? According to this survey, most white, middle class Americans see the American Dream in terms of financial security. African Americans tend to see it as wealth. Only 8% of those surveyed viewed it as a sense of happiness. Mike Ford, founding director of Xavier University Institute, says the American Dream “is a time-honored core belief that we have for ourselves as Americans--that the next generation will have it better than we did.” If Ford is right, that means the American Dream is always a moving target. It will continue to grow and expand
Monday, November 22, 2010
Why is it that most people three hours after leaving church cannot remember the pastor’s sermon, much less three days later? Obviously, the Bible says when we preach the Gospel, the Word never returns void. So there is always going to be some impact. But it is as if we are running against the wind in an ever ending battle with little or no results. It’s not as if I’m trying to make this worse or that I’m trying to ruin your day, but sometimes you just have to face the truth and ask the tough questions. Of course we want to be effective and reach people with the saving knowledge of our Lord. That’s what it’s all about.
So what is our main obstacle? The issue most people have failed to see or what I call the 800 pound gorilla in the room is today’s mass media culture? It is relentless. It is like a hurricane wind that continues to blow. The media culture never takes a day off. It surrounds us and engulfs us. No wonder we can’t remember what the sermon was about.
We will start to dramatically change the culture and the world when we recognize the issue we are facing is the mass media culture, and when we realize we all have a part in solving this solvable problem. What drives me crazy and what is at the core of today’s rant is when we continue to do the same things and expect a different result. Don’t you think it’s time to come up with a new game plan now that we know what we are facing?
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Friday, November 19, 2010
(6) God can speak to us through the storytelling process. Theology is primarily a story which starts in Genesis during the creation process and ends in Revelation with God’s ultimate destiny for mankind. Therefore, storytelling must be important to God. He has used it as his primary means to communicate to his creation.
Storytelling was Jesus’ primary means of relating to people during his ministry. Matthew 13:34, says, “Jesus always used stories and illustrations like these when speaking to the crowds. In fact, he never spoke to them without using such parables. This fulfilled the prophecy that said I will speak to you in parables. I will explain mysteries hidden since the creation of the world.” NLT
So how did Jesus use parables to reveal the hidden mysteries of God? First, he always had a point. All good stories are about something.
Jesus used symbolism and metaphors. Symbolism and metaphors help to forge a connection between dissimilar objects and themes.
Jesus told familiar stories that were tied to everyday activities. He didn’t talk about things that the average person wouldn’t understand. He wanted to connect to his audience. In fact, Jesus was culturally relevant.
Jesus told interesting stories full of drama, conflict and personal struggles. You do not have a story unless you have some form of conflict. Jesus embraced four story concepts, which are the only concepts in the storytelling process--man vs. man, man vs. himself, man vs. nature and man vs. the supernatural. In each one of these story concepts, conflict is essential.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
(5) God can speak through the divine. God can speak to all of us in everyday circumstances. Because God is present in the world, he can use all things to fulfill his purpose. Therefore, he can speak through people. He can speak through nature. He can speak through objects. He can speak through creation. We can receive inspiration from God at any place and at any time. God does not limit himself but uses everything to speak to us. That means both Christians and nonbelievers can find their inspiration to create art that reflects his glory and truth in the ordinary things that exist in this world.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
(4) God can speak to us in dreams and visions. What about speaking to nonbelievers? Can this be a form of inspiration for filmmakers and media makers? What does the Bible have to say?
Joel 33:14-17 says, “God does speak--sometimes one way and sometimes another--even though people do not understand it. He speaks in a dream, in a vision of the night when people are in a deep sleep, lying on their beds. He speaks in their ears and frightens them with warnings to turn away from dong wrong and to keep them from being proud. He does this to save people from death, to keep them from dying”. NCV
Could some of today’s modern filmmakers be experiencing dreams just like Nebuchadnezzar but are also unaware of the source or the meaning of the dream? However, they are telling their stories in movies. Because the message is from God, people are responding because it is touching them at the deepest emotional level.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
(1) God can use our gifts and talents to inspire us. We did not create our gifts or talents. They are a gift from God. Because we are made in the image of God, he can inspire us to use them for his glory.
(2) God can inspire us through the creation process. Filmmaking and media making is a creative endeavor. When we create, we are mirroring God’s creative process. God’s nature is to create. He reveals himself every day through his creation. It would make sense that anything we create could contain God’s truth as well, including our art.
(3) Whether you are a Christian or nonbeliever, the Word of God is true. At some level, we are able to recognize this whether we are familiar with God’s Word or not because his Word has gone forth and exists everywhere in the world. The Bible is a story about man without God and man’s efforts to find something greater than himself. That story has been reflected in much of our art throughout history. That includes films and modern media. Hollywood cannot create anything new.
Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 says, “History merely repeats itself. It’s all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, ‘Here is something new!’ But actually it is old; nothing is ever truly new.” NLT In other words, Hollywood cannot find any new stories. They are in the Bible. Whether they realize it or not, their movies reflect Biblical stories.
Is there any film, TV show or other form of media that Hollywood has ever produced that does not reflect these themes from Ecclesiastes? This helps to explain why God is at work in entertainment. Much of what Hollywood creates is a reflection at some level of stories from the Word of God. We are all interested in finding the truth. That’s why secular filmmakers are often drawn to Biblical themes. Whether they realize it or not, they recognize truth.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Most nonChristians as well as some Christians embrace an Aristotelian story concept where the viewer is faced with a purgation of emotions. These stories will be more subjective and will lead us into our inner conflicts. It’s often a journey into fears and desires that we do not want to confront.
Friday, November 12, 2010
By asking these questions, it is quite possible that people can encounter God more at the movies than they can in church. We may see our lives portrayed on the screen and realize we are that person with all the consequences that our actions will bring. We are faced with recognizing our need for God or our need to change. Movies also allow us to better understand the human condition with its complex assortment of emotions such as fear, anxiety, love, hate, anger, despair, hope, etc.
Within the story we can see, experience and feel. The experience becomes more real and accessible than what we often encounter on Sunday morning. As we covered earlier, God speaks to us through all aspects of life. His presence can be felt throughout all of human culture because man is made in his image, and the Spirit of God is present in all of mankind. At some level movies can be more than capable of reflecting God’s truth and divine purpose for each of us because they are more tangible expressions of God’s grace and love.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
As crazy as the plot sounds, he believes that a life-like doll that he orders online is actually a real person. His family and, more importantly, his Christian community rally around him in love and grace to help him in his recovery. It’s a beautiful story and a perfect example of Christian love at work. What we find in Lars and the Real Girl is a Christian community we all hope for—unconditional love, acceptance, and redemption.
The film presented an opportunity for dialogue and discussion with the Church. Unfortunately, for the most part, we couldn’t get past some of the more disturbing elements of the film to see the truth that Dogma was presenting. Most people in our society want to have an honest and frank discussion about the nature of God. Who is he? How do I find him if he exists? Dogma presents opportunities where we can enter into such dialogues but only if we are willing.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
How is God at work? Here are some examples that may challenge the conventional thinking of our time. The Truman Show from 1998 and The Matrix from 1999 depict a world in which man lives in a false reality but is unaware of it. What they see before them, they accept as reality.
Juno is a story about a teenager with an unwanted pregnancy. Helen Page plays Juno MacGuff, who contemplates what her choices are. She seeks a family to adopt her child. Diablo Cody wrote the screenplay for the film based on her own high school experiences. Juno is an endorsement for adoption over abortion.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Ecclesiastes 3:10-11 Work (God-given task) is given to man by God in order to exercise himself, but this labor is ultimately controlled not by man the creature, but by God the Creator. Work in itself brings neither contentment nor spiritual satisfaction. Man cannot comprehend the great whole but only the parts. Nevertheless, God is working with the whole universe and mankind, and only in eternity will man discover and understand the divine design. BELIEVER’S STUDY BIBLE