From the Camdens of 7th Heaven to the O’Neals of The Real O’Neals, there are plenty of fictional Christians populating our TV shows. Those portrayals are refreshingly diverse and imperfect, but one wonders if they are all accurate or the best representations of Christianity.
Choose a couple of shows, such as 7th Heaven vs. The Real O’Neals, and compare and contrast their approach to Christianity. What do the shows make look attractive about this religion? Off-putting? Which one is the best representation of modern Christianity? What do these shows say about Christianity in general, particularly to audience members who aren’t followers?
I disagree about relevance and interest, but I do understand what you mean. Maybe contrasting two different shows, one with a more "traditional" approach and one more "modern" one? 7th Heaven vs. The Real O'Neals, perhaps? – Stephanie M.5 years ago
Is there really a true portrayal of Christianity? There are so many sects of the religion, and so many individual views of those sects, that any interpretation can seem normal to at least some viewers. – MikeySheff5 years ago
Hmmm, that's a good point as well. Let me ruminate on that for a while. :) – Stephanie M.5 years ago
You could also add movies such as A Walk to Remember – Munjeera5 years ago
I thought of that, as well as movies that are specifically targeted toward a Protestant Christian audience (mostly people from the Bible Belt). Examples: God's Not Dead, Courageous, Fireproof. I've seen these movies and been entertained by them, but the narrowness of the intended audience bothers me. It also bothers me that in many cases, Christianity is the defining trait of the main characters, and that the directors take the easy way out (i.e., painting an atheist professor as unnecessarily cruel to his students, and then letting a car run him down). That's what I mean by an unhealthy portrayal of Christianity. I just wish the entertainment industry could get past either treating Christianity as a joke, or as something only fundamentalist Protestants are interested in watching. I also wish writers of Christian-based movies would do a better job of presenting Christians as multifaceted, normal people. Anyway, rant over. – Stephanie M.5 years ago
I really felt the title "God's Not Dead" should be adjusted to "Stereotypes Are Not Dead." Every single stereotype was portrayed in the movie: the strict Asian dad, the freedom loving hijab wearing young girl who wants to express herself and the atheist professor. I do not believe the sequel was any better. Why is it so difficult to write Christian screen plays? Even The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe fell flat in the dialogue. But The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was much better in my opinion. Frustrating! – Munjeera5 years ago
@Munjeera: It is frustrating and in its own way, gives Christians a bad name. I have rarely, if ever, seen Christians portrayed as "normal" people in the media, or their lifestyle portrayed as such. Instead, Christians often come across as goody-goodies with persecution complexes which...no. Some of the things that have happened to American Christians are grossly wrong. But compared to the followers in other nations, we have it made. – Stephanie M.5 years ago
I actually live in Canada so it is a little bit different here than in America. I have not felt that movies with Christian themes have nuance. I really liked A Walk to Remember. I think that Mandy Moore did an excellent job, and Roger Ebert agrees. Shane West, also was believable. I am not sure what it is but most movies with Christian themes focus too much on stereotypes and the characters come across one-dimensional. A Walk to Remember was based on a true story written by an older brother whose younger sister died of cancer. If I were rating Christian movies, I would put A Walk to Remember at the top. Movies based on religious themes would be a good comparison overall. Maybe it is difficult to pull off for any religion. – Munjeera5 years ago
The Simpsons both reflected and defined the church-going, 'religious only on Sunday morning' type of Christianity for an entire generation. They may have portrayed God and Flanders in a comic light but they ultimately shaped millions of people's views. – jackanapes5 years ago
Blindside was one of the worst movies in terms of racist portrayals towards the Black community and valourizing White Christians. Are there any diverse people that screenwriters ask when writing on diversity? We do it here on The Artifice and that is why our platform puts out quality material. It is difficult to see my own blind spots so I value the feedback I receive when I publish an article here. If we can do it, why don’t Christian movie producers check with diverse communities. I remember when the movie “Jesus” was produced, there was great concern the movie could evoke anti-Semitism. The producers went to the Jewish community, asked and received constructive criticism. How hard is it to get diverse feedback? – Munjeera2 years ago
I've never actually seen The Blind Side, but I'm not surprised about the criticism. Unfortunately, my tribe (evangelical Christians) doesn't have a very good history with diversity of any kind, and IMHO, it hasn't improved. That is, most pastors I know are trying to take a stand against racism and I'm sure some are doing a good job (b/c of the pandemic, I'm not 100% sure of what everyone's words and receptions have been). But others are either using the same old platitudes, or aligning themselves with those who riot and commit horrible violence--sometimes against Blacks and other minorities--in the name of anti-racism. It's a complex issue, to say the least. On a personal note: have any of you seen how Christian media portrays disabilities? It's even worse. Characters with disabilities are so inspirational and sappy, it's sick. A lot of them die at the end. And this same Christian media always throws around the word "retard" or "retarded." Now, I will admit I've had villains use this word in my own writing because, well, they're villains and they suck and that's what they do. But in Christian media, everybody who isn't disabled says it. It's accepted as fact: "This person is retarded. Retarded is an acceptable word, as long as we say it in the right tone." Ugh. – Stephanie M.2 years ago