In the battle for the big box office bucks, it pays to make a movie high on conservative family values, capitalism, and biblical principles. At least that's what Movieguide asserts, and is prepared to release a 70+ page report to back its claims.
Movieguide, a website and biweekly journal that evaluates motion pictures and other entertainment products from a conservative Christian perspective on suitability for family consumption, is holding its Faith & Family Values Awards Gala on February 10th at the Universal City Hilton Hotel in the heart of liberal Hollywood. Held annually, the awards presentation is meant to bolster the organization's efforts to promote positive American Values by "choosing movies and television shows that positively impact the world community by presenting a balanced view of what makes America great - its ideals of justice, liberty, religious freedom, and protection of the innocent." While the organization gives no further definition, clarification, or background on its use of the word "balanced" in its awards description, many wonder if the word would be offended by its inclusion in such a biased context?
Movieguide's annual report compares movies and TV programs based on more than two dozen criteria, including whether or not the movie champions capitalism or socialism, or if it denigrates biblical principles. By the way, you can pick up a copy of the report... but it will cost you $1,000! No word on whether customers are discouraged from sharing it with those who can't afford it.
The report for 2011 included 91 movies, including Thor, Soul Surfer, Moneyball, Hugo, and several others that totaled high numbers in the organizations "conservative/moral" categories and went on to an average of $59 million each in box office totals. Meanwhile 105 movies that scored high in "liberal/leftist" categories, such as Super 8, Red State, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Bad Teacher and Happy Feet Two only raked in a paltry $11 million average. Oddly, not mentioned in the report though are several movies released last year - The Hangover Part 2 and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 - that bucked the trend by raking in a whopping $581 million and $702 million worldwide respectively. Doh! By the way, those films were negatively labeled as to promote "fringe world views" and "obscene behavior." Hell yea!
Other criteria taken into consideration for awards eligibility are violence, sex, political correctness, revisionist history, environmentalism, feminism, homosexuality, and other hot-button political issues. No confirmation on whether the appearance of Sean Penn has an effect on a film's ranking in Movieguide's system, however.
While we certainly understand the need to keep a reasonable check on American and human civility and respect that Movieguide can run whatever type of awards program it wants, we're not totally convinced of the integrity and value of a "system" that autonomously categorizes movies as either "liberal" or "conservative" and then cherry picks box office results to fit into the claim that moviegoers in the U.S. (and most overseas) prefer inspiring, heroic, films that extol free-market principles and representative government. Stats lie and the claim is simply disingenuous. For instance, Pray the Devil Back to Hell and Call + Response would certainly be considered movies high on Biblical principle but grossed a mere $300,000 between them, while Avatar, heavily steeped in the filthy scourge of environmentalism, went on to become the highest grossing film of all time. See, we just used statistics to prove a point.
This year's nominees for Movieguide's Best Movie for Family Audiences are:
- The Adventures of Tintin
- Cars 2
- Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
- Mars Needs Moms
- Mr. Popper’s Penguins
- The Muppets
- Puss in Boots
- Soul Surfer
Wait, what? The Muppets? Isn't big oil bad? Fox News think so, anyway.
This Friday's gala, sponsored the Christian Film & Television Commission and emceed by actor Dean Cain, is hosted by Ted Baehr who was accused several years ago by Christianity Today of accepting payment for consulting and promotional activities on behalf of six movies that were positively reviewed in Movieguide. Just sayin'.