by Rubel Shelly
By now you've probably heard about the phenomenal success of My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Hey, chances are pretty good that you've been to see it!
After a slow start, the low-budget movie that opened in a limited number of theaters has become one of the most profitable movies this year. Word-of-mouth rather than slick and expensive ads sent people to see it. And Hollywood movie moguls say over and over again that they just can't account for its success. Greek Wedding has been out five months now, and it was No. 2 at the box office again last week. Contrast that with the typical big-budget film that hits big one week, drops significantly the next, and falls out of the top five within a month or so. And it carries a PG-rating. So what's going on here?
Several movie critics have said this movie proves that Hollywood doesn't know what a good movie looks like anymore. Others have pointed out that the movie succeeds because it bucks the Hollywood standard of torrid sex, heavy violence, and overwhelming special effects. It is a simple and fairly predictable story of a thirtysomething Greek woman who falls in love with a man who isn't Greek. People are pushed out of their comfort zones. Prejudices and stereotypes have to be faced. It is a touching story with genuine belly laughs along the way.
No, it isn't a perfect movie. It has some implied sex. There are some words that Christians regard as profane. But even with these disappointing features, it is tame by the standards movie producers have used for decades now.
An economics professor at the University of California Irvine released a study a couple of years back saying that films with R-ratings for sex and violence aren't good investments for the industry. He reported that R-rated releases were less than half as likely as PG films to gross $25 million in domestic ticket sales. Yet more than half the films released in the decade he studied were rated R.
So do I think the habits of movie-makers are about to change? Not on your life! Their claim that "We only give the public what it wants" isn't true and never has been. They have an agenda. And it is overtly negative toward faith, chastity, and other positive virtues. Voyeurism, sex, and foul language are stock in trade.
You could wish the negative stuff were "only" entertainment that didn't have such damaging effects on our culture. But it isn't. And it does. In the meanwhile, you and I can practice mature discernment and model it for our children.
© 2002, Rubel Shelly. Used by permission. From Rubel Shelly's "FAX of Life" printed each Tuesday. See Faith Matters for previous issues of the "FAX of Life."
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