The Christian Pop Culture Review
A little while back, I submitted a music review to a Christian website for publication. The editor was a bit uncertain about publishing the review because the film clip featured a scantily clad woman dancing. It was not bad enough to earn anything more than a PG rating, but he expressed his concern because he had previously received complaints for recommending secular movies and music. If the song or movie in question contains something questionable, should we as Christian reviewers recommend it? Should we only positively review works that we can 100% get behind? I’m hoping that this is the beginning of the discussion. Really keen to hear what other people have to say.
Do we only review stuff that we can whole heartedly recommend?
If I were to go down this line, I don’t think I can do any reviews of popular culture at all. There will always be elements that, as a Christian, I can’t agree with – whether it be sexual content/references, swear words, or drug references. More importantly, there will always be world views in play that are contrary to the Christian world view. Even a G rated Pixar movie will have messages and subtext that we can’t get behind as Christians.
Reviewing pop culture (from my point of view) has two purposes. Firstly, to look at our world’s pop culture and contrast it to the message of the Bible, showing where our world has distorted or missed the point of God’s intention. Secondly, to look at our world’s pop culture and see where it gets it right. What things do we see in our pop culture that we can affirm as good – what can we use as a launch pad for Christian engagement. For example, friendship is often held up in popular culture as being a good thing. The Bible also says its a good thing. Let’s see how we can, from that common ground, point to Christ.
There’s a lot more to think about and discuss here. What else should be considered?
Tags: Christian Reviews, Culture, Movies, Music, Reviews, Secular
Just today I came popologetics, a book that seeks to answer this exact same question. Check out a fairly extensive review at http://markmeynell.wordpress.com/2012/07/04/the-pop-culture-game-changer/
I’ll have to check it out.
Hey Joel! Agreed with a lot of what you said here. But to answer your question (“Do we only review stuff that we can wholeheartedly recommend?”), it depends on the publication. I can understand the reaction of that particular editor; he has to think about the publication as a whole, as well as the possible reaction to whatever he publishes, and then pick and choose his battles accordingly.
Personally, I’m with you: it’s helpful to bring a Christian perspective on all products of popular culture–to point out the points where a work of art differs from the Bible, as well as the points where they converge. It’s a skill that’s part of critical thinking–of discernment–of being able to distinguish “good” from “evil”–i.e. wisdom. If I may generalise grossly, it seems like discernment in this form is a skill that many Christians lack, and so for them it’s easier to just live in the Christian ghetto instead of engaging with the world around them. Yes, we are not “of” this world, but at the same time, we still live in the world this side of Jesus’ return. To Christians who feel that things like popular culture can take us away from Christ, I would say that there is always that danger, but at the same time, making the effort to cultivate discernment and wisdom gives us valuable weapons in the war against becoming worldly, and that abstaining is not always the answer because then when you encounter things of the world you don’t know how to deal with, you are left more vulnerable.
On this topic, I reckon you’ll be interested in Sophie Lister’s approach (she’s a film reviewer for Damaris Trust). See my interview here.