Friday, January 12, 2007

Hollywood Shares the Gospel

The other thing that struck me in class on Wednesday night was the prevelance of Christ-like figures in our media. After listing some qualities of Jesus on the white board, we began tossing out films that had characters who fit these traits. The list was diverse, despite the fact that there were only six of us in the room. It included:

Braveheart
Hamlet
Green Mile
Lion King (your welcome)
Blazing Saddles (would you believe it came up twice??? Don't ask me how because I don't know)
Tombstone
Lord of the Rings
Platoon
X-Men
Matrix

My memory of other flicks mentioned now fails me, but this list shows that quite an extensive variety of movies contain, at the very least, arguable Christ-figures. The spectrum runs from the ubermasculine war movie to a child's Disney movie to Western to drama to comedy. Oddly enough, I don't recall a chick-flick being mentioned. Funny how "love" stories didn't make the list.

If we look for him, Jesus seems to be everywhere in movies. This fascinates me, as Hollywood is not known to be a particularly friendly place to Christianity. Yet, Christ-figures pop up in so many of the works. Oftentimes it seems intentional and purposed. The fella in the Green Mile had the name John Coffee, for goodness sake (initials J.C. = Jesus Christ). I bet he was 33 years old too.

One of the most defining features of these characters is that they all sacrifice, and usually die, for the sake of others. This is probably Jesus's most defining work, as he said that the crucifixion and resurrection were the times for which he came. The braintrust in Hollywood seems to have found that this story of sacrifice and love strikes a chord with audiences. We like it. We buy it. They keep putting it out there. Supply and Demand 101.

It makes me wonder if maybe we aren't hardwired to respond to this basic story of someone sacrificing for the sake of others. That if we were created by something, that intangible part of us we often label the "heart" or the "soul" was purposed to be naturally drawn to this story line. That maybe Hollywood's supplying of this demand might reveal something about who we are.

Perhaps the individual human existence turns on this story, that it is somehow part of who we are and who we will be. Perhaps the entirety of human existence turns on this story, that it conveys why we are here. Perhaps it is the most important story of our time.

Perhaps. Just a guess.

1 comment:

Chris said...

If you're into reading, Ben (which I would have to assume you are, being a capable writer as you are), then you might want to check out a book entitled "Hero With A Thousand Faces" by Joseph Campbell. It's thick, and he discusses how every story has a hero and a basic plot with some overarching elements. He's not a Christian, but it's amazing to see the correlations in various myths worldwide...

CS Lewis once said that any truth we encounter in story is a shadow of the great drama of God. It's no wonder that sacrificial death is such a great Hollywood feature--God did it first.


Oh, and, as previously mentioned, it's "John Coffey, like the drink, 'cept not spelled the same." Clearly you belie at least one of the movies you haven't seen. ;-)