Salty popcorn and the projector light – Answering the Facebook warriors

Being in the mix of the entertainment industry

 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:13-16

Have you ever gone to the theatre and bought a box of popcorn and it is evident that it has been sitting there for some time? After putting the first handful into your mouth you find it stale, has no buttery taste and all the salt has settled to the bottom of the box. It’s less than satisfying and takes some of the joy out of the movie viewing experience. 

If the popcorn situation isn’t enough, how about attending a film in an older theatre and the projection comes through a wall that can be blocked by someone standing up? Some of these beautifully refurbished movie houses still manage to miss this one element of cinematic viewing. Which is made worse by the person who is unaware of this issue and continues to get up during a screening.

The primary purpose of bringing up these little annoyances when attending the local theatre is to draw attention to the attached teaching of Jesus. For those Christians who say they believe in his words and live by them, it is essential to remember that salt is only useful when it is in the mix and we should never get in the way of God’s projection.

Those articles in your newsfeed

Every season brings the next blockbuster film that gets the public’s attention and with that there is usually a well-intentioned article that encourages people to ban a film because of its underlying message or a questionable character. Without realising that this is usually a targeted marketing ploy by the studio, many Christian news outlets and social network warriors fall in line and unwittingly push out these articles. Which many times turn out to be of little consequence to halting people from attending the film. Many times these Facebook guardians of the faith became part of a grassroots marketing effort that gains free promotion and aids in the success of the film. 

Allowed to protest

This commentary is not intended to say that people should not speak out against wrongs occurring within their sphere of influence. Individuals and groups should take every opportunity to take a stand against an evil that happens in the world, but it is advisable that this protest would come from an educated position as opposed to a reactive ‘like’ on the latest click bate. Railing against an industry that has so much influence on the minds of this modern world is like spitting into the wind and these online rants rarely result in any changes with producers, writers or marketers. The best form of protest is not to attend the films, to not stream the shows or to avoid watching the television programmes in question, hitting the studios at the box office is the only thing that garners any notice. A basic of business, no money means no production. 

Back to the point… salty popcorn and effective projection

The Christian community abdicated their influence in Hollywood early in Hollywood’s history. Reading through books like Robert K. Johnston’s Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film in Dialogue shows that the opportunity of discussing content with filmmakers was lost in the 1950’s and 1960’s. Even though many followers of Jesus would like a ‘seat at the table’ within this sphere of influence, it is difficult to get an invite to join in the conversation. 

The actual solution is much slower than a tweet on Twitter, but there is an option. It involves helping those who are the salt and light within this industry. Supporting the few Christians who work in the entertainment sector and allowing them to work to make inroads for better content. 

Encouraging artists, writers, directors, and producers to develop quality material that incorporates a redemptive message will have more of an effect than any article on Facebook. Understanding that not every film or television show will include Bible passages or the name of Jesus, but that there is a market for film and television shows that contain aspects, attributes and components of God and his message. Not that there is a need for more Christian films, but to look to a more effective goal of gaining ground in an ever-growing industry. 

A couple of aspects that are key takeaways from the words of the man from Nazareth is that salt is ineffective when it remains in the shaker and light is most effective when it is allowed to shine. Christians must work to be in the mix of this aspect of modern life to influence their surroundings and to not get in the way of the true light of the world. 

Lights, Salt …Action

Next time something comes along on your newsfeed about the entertainment industry and the temptation is to ‘like’ or ‘love’ it. Take a moment and pray for those involved in the industry and consider supporting those who can indeed make a difference in the entertainment realm. Do more than believing the latest article on Buzzfeed by taking time to go to organisations that can help you to gain insights into the information. Educate yourself and encourage those who are trying to make a difference in this influential business by being the salt and light within the darkness of the movie theatre. 

Organisations to support that work within the industry

Brehm Centre 

Centre for Public Christianity 

Reel Dialogue 

SPARC

Christians in the Media

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Russell Matthews

Russell loves film and enjoys engaging in discussions about the latest cinema offerings and then connecting this with the Gospel. He has worked for City Bible Forum for over 10 years, is a reviewer for Insights Magazine and Entertainment Fuse and has a blog called Russelling Reviews. He moderates events for Reel Dialogue which connect the film industry with the general public.