Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Noncreative Process

Welcome to the last week before school, where I defer packing to a later date by blogging all...the...time.

Observation about writing:

Bait-and-switch does not work with writing. Bait-and-switch works pretty well with marketing. Abercrombie will tease you with hot, wet men and then sell you a baby doll t-shirt that will fall apart in the third hot-water wash. See? Bait-and-switch all the way, and Abercrombie's stocks are solid. However, if you start with a dark comedy, you sure as heck must end with a dark comedy instead of a melodrama. I'm still working on that. Darn you, melodrama. Chicken pox on all of your houses.

Observation on religion and creativity:

Here's a paradox that would have caused me to doubt a while back. If Christianity is real, Christians should make the best movies. However, they do not seem to do so. Is Christianity real? In other words, Christians--and I'm going to generalize here, so you can beat me up and steal my lunch money if you want to, but I've been pretty apathetic this summer so I might not cry-- believe they have a divine channel--the Holy Spirit--to the source of all creativity. Blaise Pascal (who I read like he's going out of style, 'cept he's not because he's BLAISE PASCAL) described God as "a master talent ruling all the rest." So, why do movies made by Christians tend to suck?*

(*Side note: There is no such thing as a "Christian" movie. It's a movie.)

And don't give me the "funding" issue. Look at "Clark and Michael." Does their production budget look intimidatingly unending? Look at any retro, cult-classic horror movie. Horror movies didn't use paper currency or financial backers until the eighties. The old stuff, like the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was made with sweat, tears, and real blood!

You know what I think? We could make better movies, but we don't. A lot of Christians are scared to be artists because it's not mainstream. It's not the clone thing to be an artist, to reference Steve Taylor's biting satire of Christianese culture, in which the point of being sanctified is not to be like Jesus, but to be like everybody else in the church.

You know what? That scares me. A lot of evangelical Christians are scared of Obama becoming president. That is a stupid fear. It's not like cloneliness. Cloneliness is antithetical to the entire Bible.

If you consider yourself a follower of Jesus and you believe that you are, innately, an artist of any kind, don't try to squelch that! You were born a unique expression of God's creativity and it's your responsibility to discover what that means for you.

I love entertainment. Nothing is more telling about a culture or subculture than the entertainment they produce. I want every country, every religion, every fringe group to produce a play and then I want to see it. I almost wish there were more Zoroastrians in the world because they'd make really awesome movies that would knock the entire Left Behind series out of the water. Maybe after I write my science-fiction musical, I'll write a Zoroastrian eschatology play. There is nothing better than a good ol' end-times piece of theatre. Just look at Endgame.


Anonymous said...

Well that's probably part of it.. It's like they are content with making theatrical Tv movies.. I also think there is a tremendous lack of creativity/inspiration within the Christian Cinema..

It's bad, but I always watch Christian movies expecting to dislike them. It's been a while since a Christian made movie made me say oh wow!

There haven't been a lot of explicitly Christian movies that stood out as being great..

Have you noticed that there aren't very many fictional Christian Movies (except those based on novels, and tend to not be that good )? What's holding Christian screenwriters back?

Now granted, there are genres that would be hard to make in a scriptural context (Movies with action heroes, for examples..)

And a lot of Christian material seems to be a Christianese version of secular stories.

I'm not saying there aren't any good Christian movies they are just hard to find because of the overrated/underrated/under advertised promblems.

Also, Christian films tend to be indie films, and indie films tend to range in quality and are often obscure.

I know this sounds like a wimpy solution, but perhaps the best "Christian" movies are made by secular filmmakers targeting themselves to Christians (and maybe Jews) and that trend will probability continue.

If there is no better way, the best we can probably do is encourage secular mainstream studios to make movies targeted towards Christians.

John A. your brother!

Heather said...

I TOTALLY agree about the movies. We were recently given a Christian movie and both of us found ourselves expecting it to be terrible. After it was over we were like "Well, it wasn't awful." It is terrible that for the most part our descriptions are limited to awful and not awful, but never good. I would say that "Passion" was well done but like John said that was secular making a "christian" movie. I do have to say too that unfortunately this holds true in the music world as well. Why is that the creativity come primarily from non-christians while the bulk of the Chrisitan artists are stuck in the early 90's with no signs of ever coming out. Good post. I always love your humor. You will be missed this fall. :(

Katelyn said...

Most evangelicals are afraid of Obama becoming president--This drives me nuts; it's not like he's the anitchrist, people! Give me a break.

I think one reason that Christians are afraid to exercise their creative talents is because entertainment has for so long been a "secular" and "worldly" thing, an arena in which Christians should have no part (so some think). I think we could and should infiltrate entertainment--think of how many people that would reach!
But like I said, a lot of Christians just don't want to do anything remotely similar to unsaved, worldly people. And it's sad, because God has given so many Christians so much talent but they're too afraid to use it.