Movies are now produced at costs that rival the gross national product of some small nations. Media including TV, music, internet, games, and casual cell phone use cost as much as it would to feed nearly every person in Africa. But there is another cost that cannot be calculated in dollars.
It seems like a competition between film producers that has no top end. The Da Vinci code cost a whopping $125,000,000 while Harry Potter cost $150,000,000. The Chronicles of Narnia comes in at 180,000,000 but falls short of the heaping price tag for King Kong which was $207,000,000. This is big money but after all it is only money.
All media has a by product that costs far more than money, they all pedal influence. That product costs more than the unsuspecting American may ever know and in many instances is more than they want to know. It is hard to believe that the debate about how media influences our young still rages. Hollywood remains aloof while it awaits the final definitive scientific study that proves that our children are worse off for the influence of media. Their fear is that a final answer would at last make them culpable. If they really cared perhaps they’d be willing to give up the cost of the next big movie to do a study of their own, say about $200,000,000. Not likely you say? You would be right about that.
It takes no rocket science to look at Hollywood’s record. It is hard to deny the effect even if you can vociferously defend the cause. The effect is the raping of the minds of our youth and people with a low capacity to discern what is moral, decent, safe, and in some cases healthy. While Hollywood still insists that not all the facts are in on this subject lets peruse what is known about it.
Children see between eight and ten thousand murders on TV and films before they graduate from elementary school. Add to that upwards of one hundred thousand acts of violence and aggression. These figures are doubled by the time they are eighteen. Actors and movie makers claim they can’t make the connection between those pictures and the behavior of our children even while countless studies and reports have concluded in no uncertain terms that they do adversely affect our children.
Do the sponsors ascribe to the movie producers view of how much their movies, TV programs and games influence youth or the weak minded? Not for a second. If they did they would not foot the average $10,000 dollar a minute cost of producing a commercial. They would not pay upwards of $500,000 for a thirty second spot on the next TV broadcast of the Super Bowl. As Hollywood waits for science to prove whether their wrecking young minds the sponsors are using the humble science of mathematics to influence the buying habits of millions of people throughout the world. Put another way, can a thirty second spot influence millions of consumers while one hour and a half of murder, pummeling, dismemberment and slaughter have no effect on a young persons mind and spirit? I think we all need to do the math here!
Studies don’t need to prove what has run parallel in equal and direct proportion to the pro-active influence Hollywood has had on our children and our children’s collective behavior. Hollywood pushes sex and close behind that rape, molestation and pornography run rampant. Switch to violence and kids start killing each other at an alarming rate. Witness Columbine and similar incidents. All the best minds in education and science are debating what if any the negative influences of a few sharply defined and explicit images have on our children. As if it was just not possible to find a real and tangible connection. An obscure Chinese man only one generation behind us was not so naïve. Mao Tse-tung mustered the youth of the most populated country in the world in a revolutionary rage that brought to dust centuries of previous dynasties and culture. He did this with a little book full of comic figures. A far cry from TV and films but this little doctrinal comic book nevertheless raised the youthful ire of an entire continent to act in unison against everything the Chinese once held dear. Why didn’t someone tell Chairman Mao that youth wouldn’t be influenced by his little picture book? Maybe someone from Hollywood should have volunteered to tell him that he should wait until the definitive study was in from the halls of science. They could have saved an entire nation from the ensuing mayhem. Another not likely goes here.
Not just hiding behind their feigned ignorance of the facts, Hollywood often resorts to the old “It’s just entertainment” excuse to wrangle out of any responsibility. I doubt that “I didn’t know the gun was loaded” will make a very good defense when all the dust has settled. I received an e-mail recently from someone who took exception to an article I wrote on Dan Brown’s movie The Da Vinci Code. He said “Surely you must be joking when you ask how so many people can “believe” what’s in the Da Vinci code. Putting aside the fact that I have seen no numbers on how many people actually do believe what’s in Dan Brown’s entertaining bit of historical fiction, I find what he has written no more or less believable than another bit of historical fiction has been translated and retranslated by countless authors over the centuries”
Twenty four major translations later the book I believe he was referring to still has only one main message. Last time I looked it was the same as it was in the first century, put simply “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16 Hollywood’s message should be this immovable, this hopeful, and this comforting. On last check I heard only death, sex, and mayhem coming from the entertainment bunch.
Whether someone believes in the bible or not it doesn’t alter the fact that the best Hollywood has ever done cannot make up for the wholesale damage it does to the collective psyche of a nation. But let’s get more specific. If even one life is adversely affected in the flimsy name of entertainment isn’t that one too many? Or have we become so comfortable with statistics that we can allow media to ruin the lives of just a few people, because after all it’s just a few. Is it OK to accept the percentages or are all people equally important in this land where Abraham Lincoln dared to think that all men are indeed created equal.
Media may indulge itself by touting the low percentage of people who actually did their worst because of the media’s influence, but is that acceptable. The media influenced Charles Manson through a Beatles song to engage in one of America’s goriest murders. John Hinckley influenced by a Jodie Foster movie tried to murder one of our most beloved presidents Mr. Ronald Reagan. In 1994 Oliver Stone released his movie “Natural Born Killers” after which a young couple from Oklahoma deeply inspired by that film went on a killing rampage. One person was killed and another was left paralyzed before they were stopped. This extreme behavior was undoubtedly caused by the media but it is tucked away in the Hollywood conscience by the soothing idea that it’s just a few extremist, just a very few people out of a nation of three hundred million souls. Let’s examine this kind of thinking.
In Luke 15:7 Jesus said “I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth…” Conversely can anyone argue that if one sinner’s repentance brings joy, then one sinner’s final demise would bring sorrow? Would we try to placate God’s sorrow over the loss of one of the creatures he made in his image and offered his Sons life to redeem by saying it was just one or perhaps a few out of the whole bunch. If a woman had six children she loved dearly and you destroyed just one could she be assuaged or comforted by the fact that after all it is only one sixth of her family.
No, a whole nation is not likely to go awash because of the Da Vinci code movie. The God of this world will get whatever mileage he can squeeze out of it. Someone who is teetering between decision and indecision about Jesus Christ will be made to doubt. Some souls somewhere will start down a path to judgment because of this film. How many may do this is not certain. What is certain is that if only one is lost it is far too many.
To lead even one of God’s creatures to perdition has a price tag no one in media could ever imagine. The online Wikipedia encyclopedia has a list of over one hundred of Hollywood’s most expensive movies. Those top one hundred are in the list only because the spent $100,000,000 or more. Millions of people along with the media crowd have chosen to hide behind the old adage that “the Bible is open to too many interpretations.” I will offer yet one more interpretation for them to doubt. Luke 15:7 is clearly saying that in the end the price of all one hundred of the most expensive films cannot cover the loss of even one lost soul.