March 7, 2013
Don’t Like Film Violence? See “Movieguide”
By Mike McManus
After 26 people were killed in Newtown, CT, it
was revealed that the killer steeped himself in violent films
and games as well as shooting his mother’s assault weapons.
As the nation has debated what might be done to reduce gun
violence, many have asked if anything can be done about violence
in movies and television. In December the Hollywood premier for
“Django Unchained,” a vengeance film packed with bloody
shootouts was cancelled in the aftermath of the Newtown
But not for long. The film quickly earned more than $116 million
and won the Academy Award for best original screenplay.
“Movies have been transfixed by violence from the beginning,”
writes Manohla Dargis in The New York Times. He reports that the
inventor of films, Thomas A. Edison (of light bulb fame) made a
film in 1895 about the spectacle of death in “The Execution of
Mary, Queen of Scots.”
“Far more disturbing is Edison’s “Electrocuting an Elephant,”
(1903) in which Topsy, a real Coney Island elephant was killed
on camera with 600 volts of electricity.”
However, Ted Baehr is making a difference in Hollywood. A lawyer
with a doctorate in theology, Baehr produced “The Chronicles of
Narnia” and “The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe” for CBS-TV in
1980 that was viewed by 37 million people and won an Emmy.
He went to Hollywood where he created the Christian Film &
Television Commission at a time when Disney had stopped making
feature-length cartoons. “Hollywood was like General Motors who
decided one year to stop making convertibles. It was a stupid
decision,” he declared.
“GM realized it had to make different kinds of cars for
different kinds of people. Today there are films for Hispanics,
African Americans, and we’ve shown them that the church is
gigantic, and they need to make films for it.
“Now 40% of films are aimed at families,” he says. “You have to
have conflict to have a story, but you can build conflict
without violence. “Finding Nemo” shows it can be done.”
And movies aimed at families can be very profitable. “Ice Age”
has earned $740 million worldwide. Furthermore, Baehr has helped
Hollywood understand that if they put too much violence and sex
in movies, they do not earn as much as family films. Why? They
don’t earn as much internationally (can’t be shown in Muslim
Baehr has fashioned three tools to educate Hollywood. Most
important he created “Movieguide,” which reviews all major
films, and gives Christians a trustworthy guide to the best in
new films, TV shows. Go to Movieguide.org and sign up for two
weekly e-mails with reviews of films that will lift your spirits
and offer wholesome entertainment to your family.
Second, “Movieguide” bestows awards to the best films and TV
each year, right after the Academy Awards. On Wednesday night
the Hallmark Channel aired Movieguide’s 21st Annual Faith &
Values Awards Gala.
“Les Miserables” won the $100,000 Epiphany Prize for the Most
Inspiring Movie of 2012, In accepting the award, the President
of Universal Pictures Mike Knobloch, said the movie’s message
“To love another person is to see the face of God,” which
represents “the spirit of this award.”
He added that the prize money will be donated to charity. The
Epiphany Prize has been funded by the John Templeton Foundation
A game show, “The American Bible Challenge” won the $100,000
Epiphany Prize for the Most Inspiring TV program of 2012.
My prediction for the 2013 TV winner is “The Bible” running
Sunday nights during Lent on History (formerly The History
Channel). Episode One last Sunday night depicted Noah, Abraham
and Moses’ most exciting moments. Historically accurate
according to Scripture and inspiring. It was viewed by 20
million people, crushing competing network TV’s ratings.
What’s most remarkable and encouraging is the fact that “Sex and
Obscenity Don’t Sell,” as Movieguide reports: “Moviegoers prefer
clean movies without explicit sex, nudity, foul language and
rampant immorality.” In its Annual Report to the Entertainment
Industry, Movieguide gives hard evidence.
Films with no foul language earned $51 million on average
compared to only $27 million for those larded with the F word.
Movies with no sex earned $51 million vs. only $19 million for
those featuring sex.
By contrast, movies with “Christian, Redemptive Worldviews and
Values Earn the Most,” reported “Movieguide.” “Les Miserables”
has earned $148 million so far, and “Lincoln” (a nominee for the
Epiphany Prize), earned $180 million.
Why are so many good guys winning in Hollywood?
Credit goes to Ted Baehr and his creation of “Movieguide.”
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