Walden Media and the Moral Story
Keep your eye on Walden Media, an up and coming power player in the Hollywood business, as noted recently by Entertainment Weekly (America's magazine of choice). The story of this company's rise is an interesting one, and one that illustrates how many Christians fail to grasp what a "moral" story really is. In our constant attempt to wring all complexity or ambiguity out of stories, we have traditionally defined moral stories solely with reference to the amount of sex, violence, and profanity present. This despite the fact that the Bible contains sex, violence, and even vulgarities, thus demonstrating that such things can be present in the telling of "moral" stories. We have largely ignored the most central element of a "moral" story, which is the overall perspective or moral vision that the story communicates. Failing to recognize this has led to many Christians embracing shows as wholesome (due to the lack of sex, violence, and profanity) that are in fact communicating immoral messages. On the flip side, it also leads to rejecting shows with a sound moral vision because of certain undesirable content elements (Buffy the Vampire Slayer comes to mind, as I argue in my book).
Walden Media is run by a man with the awesome name of Cary Granat. Formerly, Granat was the President of Dimension Films where he produced the Scream and Scary Movie franchises. He left that company to create Walden Media, which specializes in turning great children's literature into film: Charlotte's Web, Holes, The Chronicles of Narnia. Why the change? He became disillusioned with the messages that were being communicated through his prior films. What bothered him, however, was not the sex, violence, and profanity that characterizes the Scream and Scary Movie franchises; it was the cynicism that such movies promote.
A movie may be quite pristine in content, yet loaded with cynicism or other unhealthy perspectives. Because Christians have naively equated "good" and "bad" media with either the absence or presence of sex and violence, we have missed out on much in popular culture that is beneficial and embraced much that is not.