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Why aren't "black Christian films" scandalous?


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#1 Overstreet

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 02:25 PM

What gives?



#2 The Baptist Death Ray

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 02:33 PM

Well, Ebert *did* pan Diary of a Mad Black Woman.

... and then he was deluged with hate mail for it. A lot. Some of it quite incendiary.

I think that would discourage quite a few critics.

#3 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 04:11 PM

<sarcasm> Blacks aren't real people, so no one cares if they have religion. </sarcasm>

But seriously, there IS a stereotype out there that emphasizes the religiosity of black people while downplaying or outright eliminating the religiosity of white people.

This is why, for example, you have black people barking the name "Jesus!" for comic relief in Michael Bay films. If white people talked like that, they'd be kind of creepy, and therefore not funny. But black people talking like that are perceived as harmless, and therefore funny.

This is also why films about the Civil War and the civil rights movement often show black people praying and singing hymns, while the white people just twiddle their thumbs and nurse their drinks (e.g. Glory, or Ghosts of Mississippi -- I interviewed the real-life guy that Alec Baldwin's character was based on, and he said he wished the film hadn't eliminated the role that faith and prayer had played in his life).

Christian art lives in a ghetto. Black culture lives in a ghetto. So if black art expresses itself in Christian terms, who cares, it's all still safely stuck in its ghetto. Whereas if those uppity Christians start to move out of their ghetto and into the culture at large -- why, it's time to put them back in their place.

That's my theory for now, at any rate.

#4 Jason Bortz

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 04:23 PM

A subjugated religion for a subjugated people, then? Acceptable because it's 'their thing' and possibly quaint...?



#5 Anders

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 06:00 PM

So what we're saying, if I'm correct, is that the way which Black religious films have been recieved says less about the mainstream impression of "white Evangelical" culture and more about how race is percieved in the United States?

Or does this have to do with the way that "Black Christians" and "White Christians" have interacted with the media at large? Do "Black Christians" have a better relationship with their media counterparts? It seems to me that people like the Rev. Jesse Jackson, etc. have traditionally been on better terms with Black entertainers than "White Christian" leaders. Could you see James Dobson hanging out with Justin Timberlake? Didn't think so. I guess what I'm trying to ask here is this: Is this answer to Jeffrey's question based on race or on religion?

#6 Denny Wayman

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 11:27 PM

I find this reality fascinating. It is true on so many levels. It was glaring for me a few years ago when the Reformed Temple here in Santa Barbara wanted to join with our Black Baptist congregation in a worship service (we only have less than 2% African-American in Santa Barbara) and they were surprised/offended when the Baptists told them they would not join them unless they worshiped Jesus. It is as though they did not think they were really believers in Jesus or something. Almost in a patronizing ignorance they felt the black Baptists would be honored to join them.

In the book DIVIDED BY FAITH their research found that the 20 top TV shows that whites watch, are completely different from the 20 top shows blacks watch, except for Monday Night Football. IMHO, this separation of culture along with the vibrant worship in a film like THE GOSPEL causes those who are not Christians to see it as cultural rather than religious. I find the Christianity presented in the film authentic and recognizable. I easily identify with their experiences and am a brother to their lives. It is interesting that in the film there are white congregants in the church and clearly accepted as a part, though a small minority.

Denny


#7 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 14 October 2005 - 11:48 PM

Oh, another example of this sort of thing is when the first Survivor came out, and a big hoo-ha was made about Dirk Been (the white guy) being a believer, but almost nobody except for me (as far as I could tell) made a point of underscoring the fact that Ramona Gray (the black girl) was ALSO a believer -- her official profile says "She regularly attends the First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens in Somerset, New Jersey", and the journal she wrote for Entertainment Weekly includes some Bible quotes, so hey, why didn't THIS get any of the attention that Dirk's Bible-waving got?

As far as our public discourse is concerned, religion is just what black people DO (and whether that reflects a positive attitude or a negative, patronizing towards blacks and/or religion, I leave to the reader to decide); it's only when white people get religious that it's kind of weird.

#8 Ron Reed

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Posted 18 October 2005 - 07:10 PM

QUOTE(Jeffrey Overstreet @ Oct 14 2005, 11:25 AM)

I can't get access to that site. Could you summarize? Toss in a couple quotes? What films get mentioned?


#9 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 25 October 2005 - 11:14 AM

Hollywood trend: targeting religious blacks
When Tyler Perry's film adaptation of his play "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" opened earlier this year and pulled in $22.7 million in its first weekend despite less-than-stellar reviews, jaws dropped. Almost immediately, film studios began looking for something else that could bring what many consider to be a long-ignored audience into movie megaplexes -- religious blacks. No fewer than five similar-themed projects are on the horizon.
Asbury Park Press, October 18

Edited by Peter T Chattaway, 25 October 2005 - 11:14 AM.


#10 utzworld

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 03:27 PM

Now that "Madea's Family Reunion" has done $50 million in 2 weeks (not to mention proving to ignorat studio executives that, indeed, Black people do go to the movies), expect to see a truckload of retreads, copycats, and variations of Tyler Perry's winning formula.

By the way..."The Gospel" was a stinker! The only people I know who liked that film were Whites who got a kick out of seeing our worship experience played out on screen. The target audience, however, thought the acting was flat, the story predictable and incomplete, and, most important, the film itself lacked heart. That's why Tyler Perry's doing boffo box office. His stories are just as predictable and the acting is straight out of the "All My Children" school of acting. But he sure can tug the heck out of his audience's heartstrings!

That's rule #1 for making films for the African-American audience: We don't just watch movies. We EXPERIENCE them. That explains our propensity for talking back to the screen!

As for the success of the (3!) Black Christian films compared to the lack of success of mainstream (White) Christian films, I'll come back to that later.


#11 utzworld

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 08:02 PM

QUOTE(nardis @ Mar 9 2006, 07:41 PM) View Post

I was surprised to find out how much I ended up caring about the characters in "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" - at first, I was kinda put off by what Chris calls the "All My Children" aspects of the movie


The "All My Children" reference was to the acting (particularly the role of "Victoria" as played by Lynn Whitfield) in "Madea"...not "Diary".

Edited by utzworld, 09 March 2006 - 08:03 PM.


#12 utzworld

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Posted 18 April 2006 - 12:08 PM

Bishop T.D. Jakes just signed a production deal with Sony Pictures to produce more Christian based films.

A step in the right direction? I think so.

#13 utzworld

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Posted 10 May 2006 - 04:31 PM

QUOTE(Alan Thomas @ May 9 2006, 11:26 PM) View Post

The music discussion has been moved here.


TY, Alan...

#14 Darrel Manson

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Posted 14 May 2006 - 10:16 PM

Moving to TV, Huff has a bit of Christian (clearly evangelical) content centered on his African American receptionist.

#15 utzworld

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Posted 16 May 2006 - 03:02 PM

QUOTE(Darrel Manson @ May 14 2006, 10:16 PM) View Post

Moving to TV, Huff has a bit of Christian (clearly evangelical) content centered on his African American receptionist.


I don't watch TV (except for reruns and "Deal Or No Deal") so I don't know this show at all.