28 December 2005

The New York Times’ John Leland moves beyond the neverending Narnia/Passion stories to find another trend among conservative Christian moviegoers: they’re reviewing films they once would have protested or mentioned only to condemn, such as Brokeback Mountain, with one eye to their artistic merits, and another to their biblical fidelity. An interesting story — if not exactly news — but Leland seems a bit in over his head when wondering what a Christian conservative could make of pop culture movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, betraying a lack of imagination that would seem to reinforce heartland complaints about coastal condescension. (Dismissing the belief-drenched Serenity as “wholesome fluff” won him no favors here either…) But ‘lest anyone get confused by the humanized image of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops intially commending Brokeback Mountain’s themes of love and loss, Leland promises us that the bad guys here still wear black: the USCCB revised its review and relabeled the movie “offensive,” and Focus on the Family gets the last word in the piece, reassuring Times readers that their main intention isn’t promoting art, but a self-interested effort to not give un-biblical movies added publicity through protests. Whew. That would have been close.