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Monthly Archives: August 2013

Miley, the Preacher

I didn’t watch the VMAs this year.

I’ve watched in years past but, honestly, I’ve become one of those people who doesn’t recognize half the acts and is wondering why the unrecognizable half has replaced acts I know and love. I also haven’t finished vomiting since seeing Nicki Minaj’s disgusting perversion of catholic rituals and symbols in her act during the 2012 Grammys, so music shows aren’t high on my “must watch” list.

But, another year, another act. Several have sent me links to Miley Cyrus’s – well, I’d call it an act, but that implies there was some talent shared and I try to avoid overstatement. (See it in The Blaze story HERE – but do not have young eyes or ears in the room.)

While the blatant display of pseudo-sexuality wasn’t new or original, I did find something different about Ms. Cyrus’s performance. Did anyone catch how succinctly she represented the screed of Hollywood?

Doin’ whatever we want, this is our house, this is our room, and we won’t stop.

Can’t you see we own the night?

…Its our party, we can do what we want to

Its our house, we can love who we want to

Its my mouth, I can say what I want to 

This child (did anyone notice that she was using TEDDY BEARS as fellow dancers?) displayed complete adherence to the “principles” with which she is surrounded each day. Whatever I want, I get. Whatever I think, I do. I, I, I. Me, me, me. I decide. I rule. You don’t matter. It’s all about me.

And, physically, she demonstrated exactly where she has been taught her worth is based: her physicality (I would say “sexuality” but what she displayed had as much to do with a true representation of sex as smashing an apple against a wall shares the fruit’s exquisite taste).

Why scream at Ms. Cyrus? Why expect her to act any differently than the religion of the industry that raised her up? What if we took the road less traveled here? Rather than heap coals on the individual, what if we speak with respect for her underlying identity as a human? Rather than shun or gossip about the teen girls who come to church dressed in short skirts and too much makeup, what if we went out of our way to be kind? Maybe in being kind, we can befriend, and in befriending, we can exchange care for each other – a care that, eventually, transmits the Truths of value, beauty, respect, decency.

If we do that, then might we eliminate the need to explain that fondling another woman’s husband, baring your body, and simulating fake sex are inappropriate and debasing to everyone, everywhere? (Including actual talented artists and writers who help us understand aspects of sexuality with forethought, consideration, and care. Read Havah: The Story of Eve by Tosca Lee for an example or Thin Places: A Memoir by Mary DeMuth.)

Rail against the industry, sure. Require it to adhere to standards of basic decency in distribution. To take its privilege to communicate on a mass level seriously and with maturity. Absolutely.

But, when it comes to naming specific individuals – especially young ones like Ms. Cyrus – befriending the person seems to me much more in line with efficacy and love.

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21 Comments

Posted by on August 26, 2013 in Industry Reflections

 

Not a Boycott – Ideology Trumps Dollars

megaphoneboyBeck – a brilliant media leader – told me to organize a rally at Disney during our interview Wednesday. Tons of commenters here on the blog and elsewhere have echoed his instruction. The refrain goes something like, “They don’t care what you believe. They care about dollars. Hit them where it hurts: their pocketbook.”

But ya know what?

That’s not true.

This is not a conversation about capitalism. It is a conversation about ideology. Not because I wish it to be or am defining it that way, but because the ones in power have made it that way.

TV money is harder to track than film money – at least, for a consumer. So, let’s take a look at the film money for just a second.

Do you know which movies make the most money in this country? The ones rated G and PG. Do you know which ones make the least? Those rated R. This is not new. It’s been this way for at least ten years.

John Fithian, president of the National Association of Theater Owners, called for more “family titles” at CinemaCon earlier this year. He said, “If exhibitors could make one recommendation to our studio partners, it would be make more family titles and fewer R-rated movies. Only two R-rated movies made the top twenty last year, even though more R-rated movies were distributed than any other rating category.” (full story here)

So, we already are showing Hollywood with our dollars what we want and have been for a while. It hasn’t changed the content. Why?

Well, I’m reading an interesting book by Ben Shapiro, Primetime Propaganda, that brings the conversation back to television production. In this book, Shapiro (whom I’ve never met and know nothing about other than what is in this book) shares actual conversations he had with studio heads, television writers, producers, and actors. And what they shared with him – according to him, because his Jewish last name and Harvard ball cap communicated “liberal” – was that there is a purposeful push of a liberal agenda/mindset through our television shows.

Not because it makes more money, but because it accomplishes an ideological purpose.

That’s why I don’t see efficacy in jumping on a bandwagon of, “Let’s have a rally. Let’s boycott.” I don’t see it making an actual difference because dollars are not what is driving film and television production and distribution. The dollar is not king here. Worldview drives production. (Also why I’m grateful Beck has bought studios!)

The only way to change what is getting made is to change who is making and distributing it, or change the ideology of those currently making and distributing it.

That is a Herculean task, which is an understatement. But it’s not insurmountable. It can be done. If you want to vote with dollars, then put your money behind the production and distribution of quality shows and films. Be proactive in this, not reactive. Don’t be content with tossing your TV and never darkening the door of a theatre.

If you don’t have access to production and distribution individuals, or aren’t sure how to get started, go over to the SON site. The whole reason we started that was to equip and encourage individuals producing and distributing good content for the mainstream audience. To be very transparent, while I serve as the co-chair of SON, I do not draw a salary from it. It’s a non-profit, and a young one at that. Every dollar over there goes to support the audience we’re serving: writers and creators of quality, mainstream, commercially-viable entertainment. I can’t tell you how many writers I’ve listened to who are frustrated beyond belief because their (very good) script or novel gets tossed out for having a person of faith in it or not including a sex scene or an element that pushes the chosen mindset.

If we’re determined to stop doing something, how about we stop our inactivity? Our disengagement? Let’s be a people of committed action – not against, but for. Let’s be for the content we want and support it. Can we do that?

(If you are a part of an organization that supports the creation and distribution of good, mainstream media content, let me know. It’s going to take ALL of us to turn this ship.)

 
76 Comments

Posted by on August 16, 2013 in Industry Reflections

 

Update to Morning Sex Ad

I went to church this morning with a whirlwind swirling inside. My husband – still on his business trip – is as calm and stabilizing a force to my frenetic pace as the magnetic pointer in a shaken compass.

So, when my quiet little blog here had well over 40,000 people stop by for a read about the soft porn ad that played during Good Morning America last week – burning an image into my son’s 8-year-old brain that will never go away – I really, really wanted my husband home. To talk. To think out loud. To process and react. Pretty sure we’ve used up the minutes on our cell plan at this point. (And thanks, Apple, for the wonder of FaceTime!)

CommentersI’ve read the vast majority of comments y’all left on the blog, my FB, Todd Starnes’ FB, Joe Pags’ Twitter, and on other FB and Twitter feeds. Thanks to everyone who echoed the outrage and offered encouragement and empathy. Reading your words planted my feet even more firmly in this particular piece of ground.

There are entirely too many of us to just let this roll.

In the aftermath, a few things have happened:

  • I filed an official complaint with the FCC (and learned how backed up they are in handling complaints)
  • I talked with the General Manager of my local ABC affiliate, WZVN
  • The GM confirmed the ad aired 8:26-8:27AM EST
  • Another individual checked his feed in Reston, Virginia and confirmed it aired in that timeslot in his market, too
  • The GM believes – and the presence of the ad in the Virginia market indicates – that this ad aired from the national feed provided by ABC
  • This means that the soft porn ad was not just seen in my local SW FL market, but all across the nation

I’m grappling with the next best step and wondering, “Why was that scene SHOT in the first place?” Yes, it’s for a primetime show and, yes, primetime and premium channel standards are bottom of the barrel when it comes to including sex and violence – but full on, both partners naked, sex? On a major network like ABC (not a premium channel like HBO)?

Why are we all just turning it off instead of demanding THEY knock it off?

I was floored by how many commenters said they got rid of their TV, canceled their subscription, etc. With all due respect – WHAT? Television is one of – if not the – most powerful, effective forms of media for transmitting our beliefs, our cultural norms, what we deem entertaining and encouraging as a society. I’m trying desperately to understand the merits of just removing ourselves from it. Of disengaging completely. When we do that, we cede the territory…and it becomes what it has become, which is what our children inherit.

If we don’t engage, what changes?

After the past few days of this, I’m pretty tired. Some of those comments were downright mean. And, the clients at Glass Road still need their work done and our efforts at SON are ongoing to equip and encourage creators of television, films, and books and did I mention we just moved and I’m still battling back the boxes? The To Do list right now, frankly, freaks me out. Y’all probably have a ton going on, too.

But we can’t let this go. We can’t relegate it to the bin of, “stuff we can’t do anything about” and move on like it didn’t happen, can we? 

How do we justify seeing evil and walking away?

 
239 Comments

Posted by on August 11, 2013 in The Misc Bucket

 

Morning Sex? (warning: graphic image)

This morning, I woke up with both kiddos in bed with me. Their daddy is out of town on business for a few days – giving me ample opportunity to avoid bedtime scheduling madness (guess who’s the disciplinarian here) and revel in those snuffly sighs and giggles that escape just before exhaustion overtakes them and they drift into dreamland.

kiddossleeping8-8-13We slept in.  School starts here in 11 days. Gotta sleep in while we can.

Eventually, Andy and I rolled out of bed and went into the living room to start our day in the customary way. A pastry. Some cereal. Flipping back and forth between Morning Express (hi, Robin Meade!) and Good Morning America (hello, GMA crew!). We love Robin’s laughter and the lighthearted interaction among the GMA team, the care they seem to give each other when topics turn serious.

Ella heard the television and stirred. I watched from the living room as she sat up, wiped the sleepy from her big brown eyes, and yawned. The GMA segment went to commercial.

And then, wham.

Confusion.

Disbelief.

Did that just flash on my TV screen?

In front of 8-year-old Andy?!

No way.

A camera trick. A clever angle.

I told Andy – his blue eyes had gone wide – to get something from the refrigerator (out of sight of the TV).

Snatched up the remote.

Rewound.

There it was.

GMABetrayal

On my TV.

During a major network news program.

At 8am.

What HELL just ascended into my living room and burned itself into my precious boy’s brain?

I hit pause, grabbed my iPhone, snapped a picture, and then got the image off the screen before Andy could see again or Ella could find out why Mommy’s face registered shock. A quick post to Facebook later and many joined in the chorus. Then Facebook notified me my picture had been “reported as inappropriate due to nudity”.

Now Facebook has removed my post.

Thanks for the affirmation, Facebook.

I understand we’ve ceded the idea of morality in primetime. A moronic move, but one we (and by “we” I mean Jesus-following folk) have to own. But this wasn’t primetime. This was a commercial about a primetime show airing while we all enjoy cornflakes and coffee and wish our kiddos a good morning.

My kid saw that. Not because I took him to a movie wholly inappropriate for his age. Not because I quit parenting and just told him to turn on the TV at 10pm and watch whatever. Not because I turned on a show this morning that he had no business watching with me.

He saw that because somewhere, someone made some decisions.

Someone decided the writers of Betrayal weren’t delivering a story that would hold viewers’ interest on its own.

Someone told talented actors that their craft alone – delivering solidly written lines in a believable fashion – wouldn’t cut it.

Someone told a director and set crew that their crafts alone – finding the right angles, setting a mood with lighting – wouldn’t get it done.

Someone decided that what was needed to get people to actually watch Betrayal was taking off the actors’ clothes and having them simulate sex – at least, the Hollywood version of it.

And then someone who does the ad placement at GMA and for the show Betrayal decided what was needed to make this ABC show another “most watched show” for the network was to place that ad smack in the middle of my morning. And yours. And millions of other family members.

Not because the ad says, “Hey – incredible story, right here. Entertaining. Created with excellence. Worthy of your time.” No, the ad says, “Hey, people screwing. Breaking vows. Right here. Take a look. More tonight. Bring your kids and anybody else that’s in the room right now.”

Really? This is what we’ve come to? Show titles like, Deception, Scandal, Pretty Little Liars, Betrayal, and Revenge? Simulated sex scenes at 8am? Glorifying the breaking of wedding vows as high drama and entertainment?

No.

Just no.

I am not going into that darkness without a very loud, very public, foot-stomping, loud-voiced, fist-raising, steely-eyed FIGHT.

I will fight to help create shows and movies and books that are engaging, entertaining, thought-provoking, and society-uplifting. I will choose to believe that the basest among us in this industry are not the standard bearers or setters. I will stay committed to educating myself and others so that the quality of our work enhances the content thereof.

I will not accept that the presence of standards equates to the hatred of anyone and is therefore somehow unacceptable in the public square.

I’m not advocating censorship or a return to Father Knows Best. Sometimes, a sex scene is needed. Read A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty for a good example.

But don’t genuine storytellers and storymakers have a responsibility to the artistic ability with which we’ve been entrusted? We do not take the gift of our readers’ and viewers’ time – their precious, precious time – and debase it. We do not take the exquisite gift of love-making and use it as a cheap trick to raise ratings or sales. And we most definitely do not take highly adult concepts and plop them down in front of children. 

Is this really where we’ve come to…and where we’re content to stay? Is this all we want to do with our art? Our technology?

 
646 Comments

Posted by on August 8, 2013 in The Misc Bucket

 

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