July 22, 2017

When Hollywood Offends

DATE: March 08, 2011

FROM: James C. Stephens

RE: Proposed Disney’s New Series Title~Good Christian Bitches

TO: DAVID

I’m a bit perplexed about the title of your series. Is it a PR scheme? Are we as Christians really that predictable? So predictable that you’d play off our boycott tendency to market your product? I sometimes wonder what goes on in production and marketing meetings at Disney.

I’m sorry that you’ve found so little material to work with. Is creativity that limited a commodity?

I’m not really that angry. I’m more saddened. Seriously.  I wonder what Walt would think? WWWD?

In reality, the book sounds like an interesting and convicting documentary, remedial indictment and corrective of cultural Christianity in the South. It is sad that women would use prayer as a social means to dig up more gossip. It’s a scenario that plays itself out on many religious, atheistic, agnostic, and secular playing fields across America.  I remember as a Christian openly sitting in on a Buddhist meeting in West Hollywood and hearing them self criticize their system and  teacher Osel Tendzin who had given AIDS to a number of women followers before his death and the tragedies that befell their community. It’s a problem for all of humanity regardless of one’s religious or secular background. The awful decisions we humans make that inevitably affect entire communities.

I don’t envy your position as an entertainment executive as you make decisions as to which program to launch hoping as a business to make a profit. As a teacher we do carry a moral responsibility on our shoulders as we influence those who are in our class, or in your case with those who will watch your program. I loved the fact that Johnny Depp made Pirates because he wanted to make a film that his kids could watch. Novel idea that family entertainment.

So what to do with this hot potato? Does it have a redemptive purpose? I recall talking with a professor at USC sometime ago about a personal trial that my family had faced and the Christian stance we’d taken not to sue the other party who had wrongfully taken advantage of us. Her response was, “That’s why some people sue Christians because they know they’ve been taught to love their enemies, turn the other cheek, and rarely ( at least in the past) do they sue. So, how would a Muslim react to your series? A Buddhist? A Jewish neighborhood? I guess that’s why I don’t understand the title of your series. I suppose if it addressed them all in a kind of equal opportunity fashion that would be more like the Simpsons. But from the lead PR for your show it seems that the knee jerk reaction coming from  the Christian community might be “Why is everybody always picking on me?”  Easy target?

It just makes it harder and harder for me to talk to my conservative Vietnamese, Chinese, Cambodian, Hispanic Christian friends who dismiss the media as immoral. It’s difficult to defend Hollywood as an industry which has seemingly become more like the self indulgent French Court of old. The people don’t have bread? Let them eat cake!’ type attitude.  For my family who are and have been engaged in media, it hurts. For a fan whose grandfather James Montrose worked on Warner Brother’s Sound Team for the first talkie the Jazz Singer, or as Tony’s cousin, Wally on Leave it to Beaver, I feel  the remaining balance of human decency in Hollywood is running low. In times like these, we need not kick one another, but to remember we are all part of the same race. The human race.

I thought the lesson our nation learned from the recent events in Arizona to be quite clear. Tone down our rhetoric. Think about how our words and actions affect others that are not so inclined to be civil.  What is the lesson for Hollywood? Even wise men make mistakes. After John MacArthur, Jr., the Executive Pastor of Grace Community Church spoke out frankly and sincerely about Islam on Larry King live, his life and his family’s lives were threatened and he had to hire special security to protect his family. I’m not saying that we should not be able to engage in free speech or to seriously discuss religious differences. That is the beauty of a free society. It also carries with it a great deal of responsibiility.

Sincerely,

James Stephens