The Culture Wars Played Out in the American Cinema House

We have seen it before and we will see it again: the culture wars played out in the American cinema house, this time covering the topics of same-sex marriage, Darwinism, and Evangelical scandal. Check out the trailers for these recent films.

The Kids Are All Right (2010)

8: The Mormon Proposition (2010)

Creation (2010)

Christianity Today review | Stephen D. Greydanus

The Trials of Ted Haggard (2009) available on DVD

David Neff | Haggard “Deserves What He Got” | Christianity Today

Further reading:

• Brett McCracken, Finding the Line: When Is It Wrong to Watch a Movie? | Relevant Magazine

• Brett McCracken, The New Christian Film Criticism | Relevant Magazine



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  • Jeff Q

    I saw the preview for “The Kids are All Right” last week when I saw the new Twilight movie with my wife (gotta do whatcha gotta do sometimes.)
    To me, the title is what stuck out. One of the arguments against same-sex relationships has been that it is not a “normal” environment to raise a child. So we’re being told subliminally (or maybe even outright) that “the kids are alright.” The daughter is raised by a lesbian couple and turns out “alright,” even though the main point of the movie seems to be her desire to have a relationship with her father, which would seem to totally contradict the main idea behind the movie….
    I saw through the title right away, but I wonder if someone that does not have a Christian worldview would notice that.

    • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com Christopher Benson

      JEFF: Like you, I immediately noticed the title for The Kids Are All Right. Correction: the choice of words is “all right” not “alright,” which has connotative significance. You may be interested in this exchange between Jeremy Zondlo, a film critic for HollywoodJesus.com, and Lisa Cholodenko, the director:

      When asked about where her ideas for some of the scripts she’s written, specifically this one, have come from, she unsurprisingly defers back to her experiences as a young undergrad in San Francisco. “Certainly moving to San Francisco when I was 18 and emerging here and kind of coming out… all that probably formed my worldview in some way. It was certainly here that I first started thinking about gay families. I left San Francisco when I was in my mid twenties but I already knew people that were starting to make families and have kids and that was something that stuck with me.”

      As far as containing any specific message about gay families in particular, Cholodenko says, “I think in a way its kind of a family values movie. I certainly don’t advocate people staying in marriages that are horribly unhappy or contentious or stressful or stressful to the point where they have a negative impact on the kids.

      “I wanted to in part make a film that was an accurate portrayal of what it takes to be in a long-term relationship and keep your family intact… and that it’s complicated. In the end there’s something really good and really strengthening in working through problems and crises and keeping your family intact so I’m a proponent of that.”

      There is, of course, a big discussion about family values in same-sex marriages and how the kids will end up turning out if they are brought up in them. The title of the film comes from a place that is a more or less subtle answer to that question. With its roots based in a documentary about the Who that essentially had the same name only spelled differently, the title is partly a nod to that film, if anyone remembers it or has even heard of it; and also, according to Cholodenko, “This really speaks to the bigger issue. The irony here is that the moms are the ones that are kind of coming unglued. The kids are fine.”

      • Jeff Q

        I did notice the difference in titles, but honestly thought it may have been a typo! Sorry Mr Benson :)

  • Chad Huffman

    I am grateful for this post. I was not even aware that these films were, or will be, in the marketplace of ideas and cinema.
    I am humbled. How do I begin to discuss these issues with other people, if that opportunity arises? I am humbled at seeing the opportunity for fruitful discussion, and feeling like I am so inadequate to take part in it.
    Then again, that is what we study, and pray for. To be ready to give an answer, to discuss, and too love.
    Thanks so much for posting.

  • http://www.mereorthodoxy.com Christopher Benson

    CHAD: Thanks for your comment. I included the Christianity Today review of Creation and the interview with the filmmaker of The Trials of Ted Haggard because their engagement is commendable: neither hostile nor ignorant, but discerning and loving. I hope a Christian film critic will review The Kids Are All Right with biblical conviction, cultural sensitivity, and aesthetic sophistication.

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