Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
trevor

Art vs. Propoganda - (originally 'What Encourages You?')

Recommended Posts

Hey all out there. newbie here would like to ask a question of all who are willing to respond.

What would you like to see in movies/filmmakers/hollywood stars that would encourage you in your faith?

Would stars talking to Oprah about their Christianity encourage you? Or do you scoff at that notion?

I guess in other words what would be the ULTIMATE that you would like to see come out of Hollywood coming from a Christian perspective?

I presume to say that it is probably not Left Behind 3. smile.gif

tks!

-trevor

no quote

ps i edited the subject to attract more posts. they say sex and Oprah sells, so maybe it will work. smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What would you like to see in movies/filmmakers/hollywood stars that would encourage you in your faith? Would stars talking to Oprah about their Christianity encourage you? Or do you scoff at that notion? I guess in other words what would be the ULTIMATE that you would like to see come out of Hollywood coming from a Christian perspective?

Great art encourages me in my faith. Beauty encourages me in my faith. Excellence encourages me in my faith. Sermons can encourage me in my faith too... but they have no place in art.

Anything else distracts us from the point of moviemaking. Sure, I'm happy if an actor can talk openly about his faith to Oprah... but the whole culture of interest in celebrities and their lives, whether they are Christians or not, is an entirely different (and, I think, extremely damaging) phenomenon. The ideal actors and filmmakers would endeavor to remain out of the headlines to keep from diluting the attention given to their WORK.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffrey,

Thanks for your comments. I agree with you that:

Great art encourages me in my faith. Beauty encourages me in my faith. Excellence encourages me in my faith.

Those things encourage me as a Christian as well. But when you say that sermons have no place in art, you seem to be saying that film shouldn't have sermons in them, or shouldn't try to "preach". Is this what you are saying? So even if a movie first meets the criteria of great art, beauty and excellence, could it then be allowed to "preach"? Or are you of the opinion that films should never evangelize? (And i don't mean evangelize in some abstract, show the beauty that God created and people will seek God, but in a more direct, Jesus Christ died for you and are you willing to accept him as you Savior kind of way) Filmmakers that are Christians, are they allowed to explore their own personal faith through the film medium? Even if that faith is a desire to share Christ and lead others to know Christ?

When making the Temple, God appointed artists to be involved. So here, it seems that art and worship and church all went hand in hand.

Exodus 31:1-5

Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.

But are we saying that should only be for the church and doesn't apply to modern art that is outside of the church (i.e. film/hollywood)?

Thanks for indulging my curiosity!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

AlanW,

So are you saying that celebrities are not allowed to publicly discuss their faith? Or are you just saying that if they did, that's their own business, but it wouldn't personally encourage you?

tks!

-trevor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, and welcome...

I must admit I'm a little flummoxed by the question. It's because I frankly don't know what I want to see until I see it.

Two of the movies that have stayed with me most this year, thus far, are documentaries that I never would have been caught dead watching, had I been told about their plots. "Rivers and Tides" and "Winged Migration." Their plots, on paper, look like force-fed nature class summer school, with Mutual of Omaha sponsorring it. But both films transported me to a world that's, well, our very own world, that I've been too busy to discover.

But if I were to say nature film documentaries with no particular plot just fresh ways of seeing normal things, then I'm afraid to paint myself in a corner. I have just defined a genre. I have just provided a blueprint as to what I have liked in the past, and a formula for future generations to follow. A continuous presence of such films will become... predictable.

Two great movies that surprised me in the last eight years are "Breaking the Waves" and "Magnolia"--two films which explored specific characters with a personal relationship with God, and did so objectively, even positively. But both films earn their 'R' ratings, and veer off into plots that might make the Baehrs of the world queasy.

Perhaps I would like to see more films with such characters, perhaps of any denomination, whether Baptist or Catholic or Pentecostal, placed in a situation (realistic or fantasy) that will challenge them (and us). I like to relate the characters whenever possible, and I don't really need to see any more movies where the definitive climactic scene is that of the Altar Call--I can see why such movies are made, and I applaud the good intentions, but I think we need to move beyond that. The Gen Y/Millenial generation has been saturated with so much information regarding spiritual uplift that the warm fuzzies from making a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is likely to be looked upon as synonymous with that of following crystals or trying Feng Shui or playing Buddha. If an evangelical film were to be made, I'd be more happy for films that deal with multi-culturalism head on, and perhaps some very powerful faith-based story arcs, like that of "Les Miserables" or (to a lesser degree) "Time Bandits."

Film is very personal. I want a film to speak to me, now, on things which I can relate to. But what speaks to me is most likely not gonna speak to you. So storylines have generally regressed into something more basic, for fear of preaching to the converted.

Perhaps the best example is a little known cult-favorite of mine, called "Tampopo". Here's a film that's premise is nothing more than a series of extended skits all based upon a Japanese Noodle recipe, and yet it touches basic universal themes, so that nearly everybody can relate to it, despite its perceived limited accessibility. That is the best analogy I can muster, as to what will inspire me, and yet still be more than a therapy session. Find good stories, in any environment, with reallistically drawn but upstanding characters, being stretched proverbially, and challenged ideologically, that affect me emotionally. Or something like that.

Nick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Russell Lucas

All right. Who's sabotaging the titles?

At least add "OPRAH!" to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The more an artist approaches art with an agenda, the more it moves from the realm of art toward propaganda. I think there is a place for "message" movies, but it is in educational settings or at least places that do not hold it up as art. Art is exploratory by nature. It is the artist's attempt to create an equivalent of something that he experienced or something he is questioning, giving us room to explore for ourselves.

Sorry... this is sounding pretentious, but it's a hard thing to paraphrase.

I would encourage you to explore the interviews and articles here.

Michael Demkowicz's piece is especially essential for me.

Scott Cairns has a lot to say about it as well.

If you're interested in pursuing this question, I think you'd find a lot in these pieces that is worth taking with you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ok, thanks jeffrey, i will check those out. they sound very interesting.

i agree that art with an agenda is propaganda. but since when is sharing your faith with your art an "agenda"? isn't art an expression of who we are? an out-pouring of our soul? an attempt to communicate the deep inside of you to others? and if one is a christian artist, wouldn't it be appropriate to share that important part of your life, especially if it has so much to do with who you are and how you think and what inspires you? or are Christians not supposed to cover their faith in their art for fear of offending/prostelicizing someone? i am in no way saying that all christians who create art must create "Christian art" (if there is such a thing), but that if a Christian does touch on their faith in their art, why is that considered to be an agenda?

like Mel Gibson said about his upcoming movie, "I couldn't not do it"

-trevor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hey, who changed my subject title?!? that's not fair! am i not allowed to use the word sex in a title? does this group censor?!?

i am really bummed that my title was changed. it's like someone decided that my title choice was inappropriate and just came up with their own "better" title.

sad.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

if a Christian does touch on their faith in their art, why is that considered to be an agenda?

Oh, it doesn't have to be at all. But the more conscious attention given to "touching on" faith, the more deliberate the art seems, and thus the less artistic it is. How could a Christian create art that doesn't reflect their faith in some way? Seems like it would require some effort, and that the art wouldn't seem very genuine.

Further, I don't think art is an expression of "ourselves". Certainly, because we are the ones expressing, our "selves" are a part of it.... but art comes from our grappling with something outside of ourselves, something bigger than ourselves, something we can't express simply. I think that's why Madeleine L'Engle says that the artist, when doing their serious work, is "collaborating with God." The artist never fully knows the implications or expanse of what they are offering.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't somebody on one of the old boards say something once to the effect that "entertainment" is about catering to the selfish needs of the audience and "propaganda" is about catering to the selfish needs of the artist but "art" is about drawing both the artist and the audience into something Other than themselves? Something like that, anyway.

Obviously, there are other uses of the words "entertainment" and "art" (and probably even "propaganda") that don't fit into this neat trichotomy, but I think the underlying point still stands.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jeffery for the most part has addressed my beliefs on this issue nicely so I won't restate what he's said, merely add this.

I beleive the idea of art, like that of parables, is for the audience to be forced to wrestle with the truth. They must explore the meaning of something and once they have done that they own that truth. Mores so than if it is handed to them on a platter as it is in a newspaper, textbook or sermon.

If a movie begins preaching, then you might as well save a lot of time and money and just preach instead of making the movie. Because you have short-circuited the artistic exploratory process.

This is why it drives me crazy when people explain a song they are about to sing (it happens most often, but not exclusively in church). By the time they're done explaining and the music starts, I want to yell, "Don't bother! We got it!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow! Cool. I'm glad I read this thread. I was just about to post a topic concerning the lines drawn between art, entertainment and propoganda. This has interested me ever since my art history class as a senior in high school and I've had a lot of discussions about it with my old teacher from that class. I like the "definitions" Peter paraphrased from the old board.

I find that I enjoy movies and other forms of art that I think would fall into all three categories, although most of what I enjoy I would classify in the artistic category.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeh who said that, and what was the original quote

NB stef if you are going to claim it, be warned that I won't believe you!

Matt

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd still like to know why my original post title of "What encourages you - Sex with Oprah" was removed. Am i not allowed to have artistic freedom in my post subject titles? I can understand the need to censor foul language or deflamatory comments, but I really don't think that "Sex with Oprah" is either foul or deflamatory. In the guidelines there is:" You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, sexually-orientated or any other material that may violate any applicable laws." I don't think the word "sex" is what was meant by this description, but rather sexually-oriented material, i.e. porn, etc.

And then to change it to "The Problem with Preaching in Art", i would've never picked that because that wasn't my intent for the discussion forum. That narrows the discussion, when I was originally wanting to know what it is in film that encourages the community on this board in their faith.

Did I miss a guideline that says if you post a subject title that a moderator doesn't like or agree with, then that moderator will change it to better suit his/her tastes?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I seriously doubt that your thread title was censored because of its content. But rather because it was not really indicative of the direction of the thread.

As a fellow comedian on this board though, I can sympathize with the distruction of your joke for efficiency purposes. My condolences

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Russell Lucas

Yeah, Trevor, often a moderator will change a subject title if the original one isn't as descriptive as it could be or if a discussion goes in a different direction than what was originally described.

Still, absurd and/or playful titles are encouraged here. Some of my favorites (Thanks, Jeffrey and Steven) have been....

if it were a doll i would stab its eye out (A thread about Pleasantville, metaphor courtesy of stef)

and

Actor Thicke hit by hockey puck, and Falconetti still a babe!

(A thread that synthesizes the symbols of TV's Growing Pains and The Passion of Joan of Arc)

For yours, I'd suggest something sublime, like

ART VS. PROPAGANDA (ART WINS!), SEX VS. OPRAH (OPRAH WINS!)

Edited because I misspelled "propaganda" and didn't notice it until it had been detrimentally relied upon.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a fellow comedian on this board...

Now there's a joke. :wink:

Didn't somebody on one of the old boards say something once to the effect that "entertainment" is about catering to the selfish needs of the audience and "propaganda" is about catering to the selfish needs of the artist but "art" is about drawing both the artist and the audience into something Other than themselves? Something like that, anyway.

That is a great quote. No, i won't try to steal it this time, but i'd also like to know the original statement and where it came from.

I remember a LONG LONG time ago we had some discussions in which we debated art vs. propaganda, and i said i feel that all art is propaganda, and i still feel that way, so i don't fully understand the tendency to single out the Christians who propagandize. I guess i just come from the belief that says as soon as you try to sell art it's compromised, and as soon as you begin to create something catering to an audience's desire you are compromised as an artist.

Most of the "sermons" are in films that are already bad. They're easier to pick on for low quality than propaganda. If you look hard and long enough, you can see intent in just about anything. At the basic level, the intent is to sustain a living from other people buying the "art" as a commodity. We're locked in a system where this attitude is self perpetuating, and no one seems to care that we buy into pop culture, something that's been created in the last 100 years or so, instead of art. Pop culture does nothing but deify the creators of "art" and those that participate in it, which to me doesn't look anything like Peter's quote above.

-s.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ok, i guess i need to learn my place on this board. as a newbie, I shouldn't be so presumptious to think i could start up a discussion on a certain topic.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Russell Lucas

Nah, I wouldn't say that at all. I think the discussion you started was just fine.

If you never received a proper welcome, welcome! Glad you're here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

stef wrote:

: . . . no one seems to care that we buy into pop culture, something that's

: been created in the last 100 years or so, instead of art.

Um, hello? Popular culture has been around for as long as there have been people, and for as long as there has been money. The makers of Gladiator said they toyed with the idea of showing how gladiators were paid to promote their sponsors' products, but they decided against it because most people in the audience would have assumed that that was anachronistic, when in fact it was not. Granted, that isn't an example of the commercialization of ART, per se, but it IS an example of the sort of thing that we tend to assume is a very recent invention.

The only difference between the last century and all the centuries that came before it is that popular culture, like everything else these days, is now mass-produced and distributed on a global scale.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks russell,

i guess i might be making too big of a deal out of it. but the multiple changes of my original, sincere topic of "what encourages you" makes me think that the Good Ole Boy's (and girls) of this board know what is best and that they decide what someone should have/not have for their subject topic. that is all. when you're new to a board like this with such great converstations and so many intelligent opinions, it can be intimidating and vulnerable to start a discussion. So, it's not that i mind at all that the topic has veered, it's just the changing of the title thing that get's to me. so there's my rant. i'll stop crying like a little baby now.

-trevor

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Trevor... I am glad you started the topic. I hope you don't feel as if you've been discredited. We change thread topics here all the time to better fit the discussion as it evolves. (Heck... Alan even changed the title that runs under my avatar!) It's nothing personal, really. Stick around!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So back to the original question... What encourages you?

I'd re-iterate that art encourages me... in that art relentlessly reveals design, meaning, and beauty even when the artist is intent upon revealing darkness and meaninglessness. That's because in order for even the most nihilistic artist to reveal anything, he must bring about a kind of order that communicates, arrange a kind of expression that has a beauty of its own... and that's why artists intent upon sharing bleak and disspiriting visions often undercut themselves. Artmaking is an incarnational process, and incarnation is evidence of God.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest Russell Lucas

I am encourged when, in a story, I see a character having a surprising encounter with truth that changes them in ways they could not have foreseen.

...and in ways that we could not have foreseen.

I'm encouraged when an artist, despite having an obvious point of view which dictates that certain things are true and other things are untrue, can portray one's ideological compatriots with weaknesses and failings and one's ideological opponents with strengths and merits.

I'm encouraged when the outcome, however "positive" or "edifying" we may want it to be, is always in doubt, and if achieved, it is as honestly achieved as possible.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...