Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Kids Are Not All Right

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Cecile B. DeMille, a founder of the Hollywood film industry is quoted in the book, "DeMille: The Man and his Pictures" (p. 160), "Its a sobering thought that the decisions we make at our desks in Hollywood may intimately affect the lives of men and women and children through out the world."

IRS Scandal Update: Monday afternoon, ABC News released a chilling report that details what journalists have faced trying to get some answers from the Cincinnati IRS office.

ABC says an "armed uniform police officer with the Federal Protective Service escorted"reporters through the building. ABC says if the intent wasn't to "scare off" employees who might talk, "it was the effect."

Breitbart is reporting that employees at the IRS building have been threatened with their jobs if they are caught talking to the media.

Tea Party Patriots are planning a protest at IRS facilities across the nation today at 12 Noon. s this blog went to publication I was unable to find a list of scheduled events. I may have more information on my live radio program this morning at 9 AM PDT.

Peter Guber, chairman and CEO of Mandalay Films---one of Hollywood's most successful independent film companies with more than 50 Academy Awards nominations and over $3 billion in earnings from films, also understands the power of Hollywood decisions. Among Guber's many films are two that stand in stark contrast, yet he used the same principle in making the films. Both were successful at the box office.

"Soul Surfer" is a Christian themed film starring Carrie Underwood. Perhaps you have seen the movie.

The other, "The Kids Are All Right," is a gay themed film about two "married" lesbians, played by Annette Bening and Julianne Moore, who deal with family issues ranging from artificial insemination to inter-family issues and conflicts.

Peter Guber tells "Psychology Today" how he makes his films that change people's minds and hearts.

Guber tells Psychology Today that in his 40 years of film making "I've come to see that stories...are far more than entertainment. They are the most effective form of human communication, more powerful than any other way of packaging information."

This is why Cecile B. DeMille was so successful and why Peter Guber has been so successful in building a film empire.

How this power and insight is used is the purpose of my comments today.

After making "The Ten Commandments" with the late Charlton Heston, DeMille wrote this:
More than 3000 years ago, the great charter of human relations was brought down from Sinai on two tablets of stone by one who was also a builder between man and man and between man and God. In the drama that took place there on Sinai you have in two brothers, Moses and Aaron, a perfect contrast between public relations used to delude humanity. Both Moses and Aaron saw the peoples need. Aaron taking the short view and looking for the quick result gave the people something glittering to worship, the golden calf.

Moses gave them the truth.

He gave them hardship, privation, a long, parched, sun baked hungry trek through the most desolate and forbidding deserts to the foot of Sinai and the Ten Commandments. Between those two, the calf of gold and the Law of God, the struggle for men's minds and hearts continues to this day. The outward form of the struggle changes but it goes on in every age, facing all men with the same question. Which do you put first, material values or spiritual values?

Therein is the question in our culture today: Which values will prevail? Which will be advanced by the entertainment industry? Which will be mocked and marginalized?

From the time of DeMille and his Old Testament values and sensitivities to the power of film and entertainment, we have seen much change.

Hollywood has generally abandoned any form of Judeo-Christian Truth and values, and has constructed their own version of a golden calf. They now worship secular progressive relativism. And there are many styles of worship.

In their world there are no "ten commandments." Truth is evolving, the Bible is myth and irrelevant, each person must discover their own truth, and Hollywood is anointed to prophetically lead the culture in the way it should go. And make that way seem right.

Here's how they do it.

Please understand I am only using Peter Guber as an example of someone who has, as DeMille before him, mastered the craft of making films and television powerful enough to "change minds and hearts." I am not suggesting he represents our values. He does not.

He told Psychology Today, "Stories hit the viewer emotionally and thus connect him or her to the characters in the film."

He says, "The viewer can very quickly come to identify psychologically with the characters in a narrative or share an experience---courtesy of the images invoked in the telling."

Guber says, "Telling purposeful stories is the most effective means of persuading people and the most effective way of translating ideas"---or values.

The march to normalize homosexuality on television began in 1987 with the ABC drama "Thirty Something."

In its third season the program showed two homosexual men in bed. This was the first time this had been done in television history.

ABC immediately lost a little over $1 million in revenue, however, then network president Robert Iger said "social and creative responsibilities" to air the program are most important. He said, "I am grateful that ABC was willing to air the program at a loss."

This is how deep the resolve runs in Hollywood.

Obviously in Iger's mind and likely the mind of those who ran the network, normalizing deviant behavior was more important than making money for their stockholders.

In the decades that have followed, the industry has built upon that moment.

The Hollywood elites have become a new class of prophets, speaking their version of truth into the living rooms of families across America and throughout the world.

DeMille knew the reach and influence of film (and television) and so do they.

The difference?

DeMille saw the industry as a means to make money with a responsibility to affirm goodness and Judeo-values in the culture. Today's film and television producers see the industry as a way to secularize and remake the culture and hopefully make money.

Television and film have the capacity to mold the moral premises of large segments of our society by telling stories that advance their social agenda, particularly among the uninformed.

The apostle John gives Christians a clear response and a simple test to discern the difference between "the spirit of truth and the spirit of error."

He writes in I John 4:1-6, "Whoever agrees with the teachings of Scripture is from God; whomever denies it is of the spirit of anti-Christ."

That is very clear.

Hollywood is the largest and most pervasive "storytelling" mechanism in the world.

If it is to be challenged or changed, it can only be done by and through the transforming power of the gospel---the greatest story ever told.

And by the people who are willing to tell their personal story of redemption, salvation and transformation, not perhaps to Hollywood or on a big or small screen, but to a neighbor, a friend, the person up or down the street. And in doing so, sometimes face being mocked and ridiculed---or at least misunderstood because our story is different than Hollywood's story.

And it has a great ending.