Tuesday, August 2, 2011

How EXACTLY Do You Influence the Culture?

A commenter on my last blog post asked a really good question. He said:

"Brianna, I commend you for wanting to wanting to influence our culture with media that draws us nearer to Christ. I'm curious, how do you intend to do this?"
My response to him ended up being so long, that I decided to turn it into its own blog post. Here's what I wrote:

I think there are two main aspects of films that can draw people closer or further away from God, and from truth. They are: (1) The characters, and (2) The worldview of the films.

First, the way the characters behave has a HUGE impact on viewers; whether it's a surface impact, or a subtle impact, taking place in their subconscious. I once read a survey that showed that, even if they wouldn't admit it, teenagers who watched movies or TV shows with teenage sex in it, were more likely to engage in sex themselves during their teenage years. (I'm sorry that I do not have this survey or the statistics in front of me... but I remember that it was in a "Brio" magazine, so if any of you absolutely have to have the statistic itself, I could probably dig around for it. :))

Anyway, this was just one statistic involving one issue, but the point stands that we ARE impacted by what we see on television, or in the movies. I remember that when I was a little girl, after watching a movie or TV show, I would often start to behave, in a small way, like the characters I saw. I realized what I was doing and tried not to do this, because I was sort of embarrassed, but as a kid I somehow just couldn't help it. Younger minds are especially susceptible to what they see on the screen, but even adults are impacted, whether they realize it or not. 

(Pictures from
So, I said all that to say, that the characters should be GOOD ROLE MODELS. Not perfect -- they should be real people -- but when they make mistakes, those mistakes shouldn't be glorified or encouraged with the way the story works out.

And, the most important thing they should model is a RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. When we watch characters pressing into God and growing in their walk with Him, who's to say that won't impact us in a positive way, in the same way "teenage sex" shows would impact us in a negative way?

Now, for the second thing: The worldview. The worldview of a film is, I think, almost as -- if not AS -- powerful and influential as the characters. Is it a world where evil has the upper hand and there is only a faint hope for good to win? Is it a world where sin is portrayed as good, and something to model? Is it a world where we are all "animals", on the same plane with dogs and birds and ants; where we all climbed up from the goo over millions of years, and Creator God is just a make-believe fairytale?

Or is it the world portrayed and explained in the Bible?

We might know what we believe. But then, when we start watching movies with worldviews that contradict our views, those worldviews begin slowly seeping into our minds. Eventually, we start thinking in those worldviews, even if they're not what we really believe. And if we really let them get a hold of us, those worldviews will become what we actually believe, instead. And then we are falling headfirst away from Truth and away from God.

As a final thought, here are a few movies (off the top of my head) that, in my opinion, can draw people closer to God in the way I describe. Now, a note: none of these movies, of course, are exactly the way I personally want to make movies. Everyone has their own style, myself included. But, with each of these movies, there is at least something about them that I like.

* What If - Encourages people to dedicate their lives to God, not to themselves.
* The Chronicles of Narnia series - An analogy that shows Christ and His sacrifice with a fresh perspective (esp. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe)
* Faith Like Potatoes - Based on a true story, encouraging us to have faith in God; shows how God can change a life.
* To Save a Life - Deals with teenage suicide, depression, etc.; a call for the church to look past our judgmentalism and reach out to people.
* End of the Spear - Based on a true story, about bringing the gospel to a tribe centered around killing and revenge; a message of powerful, emotional forgiveness.
* Come What May - About doing the right thing, regardless of the outcome; and honoring God through absolute purity in relationships.

So, that was just a few movies I thought of off the top of my head... there are plenty, plenty more. What are some more that you can think of? 

Pursuing the Truth in Christ,