Blackballed like Jazz?Posted: March 29, 2012
An article from my pal Mark Moring over at Christianity Today magazine outlines the recent drama (pun intended) surrounding the upcoming release of the film adaptation of Don Miller’s bestseller Blue like Jazz.
According to director (and thoroughly respectable artist) Steve Taylor, the “Christian Movie Establishment … is out to get us.” CT’s explanation of who is claimed to be behind the media siege seems sadly, all too plausible. Baptist pastor and studio executive Jim McBride (of Courageous, Fireproof, and Facing the Giants “fame”) is said to have issued a “fatwa” against the Taylor/Miller film, denying a future job on any of his productions to people involved in the production of the movie. The trailer is being pressed from screenings because of false information (including the blatantly false claim that a voice-over on the preview says “I hate Jesus”).
The full article is here. Plenty more head scratching and sad machinations after the jump.
I had the opportunity to watch the rough cut of Blue like Jazz last fall, and thought it well made, provocative, and generally SHOCKINGLY GOOD. Though I’ve not seen the final edited version (releasing April 13th), they would have to have done something mighty drastic to ruin it. At the time, Taylor and Miller mentioned vague worries about distribution difficulties within the mainstream Christian film establishment. It’s too bad that those worries seem to have materialized.
The film was well written, well acted, well shot, and ultimately (though a completely different experience than reading the book) an honest and relate-able account of one young man’s struggle with Jesus. It is a genuinely Christian film, telling the truth about people, including our flaws and betrayals, our joys, human strength, and uncanny ability to profoundly mess up our lives.
And that might just be the “problem.” In a recent blog post, Steve Taylor comments on the state of “Christian” film:
“[O]ver the last five years or so, “Christian Movie” has calcified in the public consciousness into a genre where:
- Sentimentality trumps substance
- Good intentions trump artistry
- All conflict must be tidily resolved
- “Safe for the whole family” is a de facto requirement
- Or as writer David McFadzean summarized, Christian movies are like porn – poorly lit, poorly acted and you always know how they’re going to end.
. . . So maybe I should be flattered that, based on recent evidence, the Christian Movie Establishment . . . is out to get us.”
The fact that “Christian” filmmakers are apparently working to limit the distribution of this raucous and lovely film is evidence of the moral, as well as artistic bankruptcy of the “Christian” film industry. Though we only have one side of a sad little story, it’s hard to not think that they’ve become so hopelessly inbred, corrupt, and insecure that they are willing to actively suppress a decent film that might actually be compelling to their overly insulated audience base.
In my opinion, if this man is trying to keep you from seeing a film, then it might be worth watching. With that in mind, request that your local theater screen Taylor’s upcoming movie, get together a big group of friends, and go see Blue Like Jazz.