Category: The Median

On-Screen Inspiration

Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman is the story of Diana Prince (Wonder Woman), a superhero who comes from another world to earth in an attempt to put an end to WWI. She first thinks that if she can defeat the spiritual god of war (Ares) mankind will stop fighting.

Diana Prince: Only an Amazon can defeat Ares . . . . And once I do, the war will stop . . . . Once I defeat him, the German men will be free from his influence and the world will be better.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

But after defeating Ares, she finds that the war doesn’t stop. Wonder Woman discovers that there is another factor at play.

Diana Prince: I used to want to save the world. To end war and bring peace to mankind. But then, I glimpsed the darkness that lives within their light. I learned that inside every one of them there will always be both. The choice each must make for themselves—something no hero will ever defeat.

Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned . . . (Romans 5:12)

In the Room Where it Happens

By Dan Rupple

In the Broadway mega-hit Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison are behind closed doors, deciding on foundational policies that would still have major ramifications today . . . and all behind closed doors.

On the outside stands the excluded Aaron Burr, bemoaning that he’s not in on the conversation. When George Washington asks, “What do you want, Burr?” Burr replies, “I wanna be in the room where it happens!”

“I wanna be in the room where it happens!”

To have our voice heard, for individuals to have the ability to speak into conversations that affect their lives, to be represented . . . all go to the heart of our democracy. However, in the media world—which consists of private for-profit corporations—many influential decisions are being made, and often only the loudest voices get “in the room where it happens.”

Second only to profits, perhaps the leading influencers that dictate what the world sees on its screens are the numerous, diverse voices representing many of the demographic threads of the American fabric. These voices speak for fragments of our culture divided by gender, race, political leanings, lifestyle, ethnic background, or other special interests. Some are large and some are small, but their objective is the same: to effectively urge, and often vehemently demand, that their factions be favorably reflected in TV and film characters and storylines.

What is our voice? . . .

  • Ours is an absent voice.

Why isn’t the Christian voice being heard? In a previous Median (February 17, 2017, The Church and Hollywood . . . in the Beginning), I chronicled how during the infancy of Hollywood, America’s Christian community was the deciding voice. But a few decades later, offended by what Hollywood was offering, people of faith pushed back their chairs, walked out of the room, and cocooned themselves in the sanctuary of our churches. The generations that followed were discouraged from entering the media business. As the church relinquished the responsibility of providing or supporting positive, life-affirming films, the secular film culture filled the void!

So for many years, the term Christian media professional became an oxymoron. The Christian light in Hollywood dimmed and was in danger of being extinguished. However, America’s largest people group—followers of Jesus Christ*—is all too often not “in the room where it happens!” The closest we get to the decision-making process is when we decide whether or not to turn on our TV. (*75% of Americans identify with a Christian religion, Gallup Dec 2015)

Christians will often complain that the “religious” people they see in movies or TV are either pious hypocrites or insane serial killers who claim that God spoke to them through their dog. Where is the portrayal of a compassionate, thoughtful, caring person of authentic faith?

There’s an old adage among screenwriters: “Write what you know.” So, what if the screenwriter doesn’t know any Christians? A good writer who does his research may be pleasantly surprised by what he finds. But a lazy (or perhaps already biased) writer may simply fall back on prevalent unflattering false portrayals . . . and the cycle continues.

From the screen, this image spreads throughout our culture, leaving many who are without a sincere Christ-follower in their lives to buy into the not-so-Christ-like stereotypes of Christians as portrayed in today’s media. Jesus called us to be the light of the world . . . where is light needed the most, but in the darkest of places? We are the salt of the earth . . . where does righteousness need to be preserved more than in a powerful, often godless, influencer?

  • Ours is an assumed voice.

“Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, [a man lame from birth] asked to receive alms . . . expecting to receive something from them.

“But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!”’ (Acts 3)

As the lame man did with Peter and John, people often have an expectation of what they are going to get from a Christian. These expectations are usually based on preconceived assumptions. Some have a positive notion of a person of faith, much like this lame man did . . . that Christians are a generous, compassionate, giving people. But sadly, many have a much more negative perception of Christians, that we are a hypocritical, judgmental, mean-spirited group.

In the media world, the assumption adopted by many media leaders has been built by years of hearing a voice of anger bouncing off the pages of hate letters or the shouts of protest outside their office windows.

But what if a kindhearted, thoughtful Christian voice displaced this erroneous assumption? What if the Christian voice, like Peter’s and John’s, offered something so much better than protest . . . something that was reasonable, affirming, and beneficial to our culture, as well as their financial bottom line?

  • Ours is a needed voice.

Films are often promoted as “The Feel Good Movie of the Year.” These are films that touch our hearts, bring a smile to our faces, movies that make us cheer or shout with glee! Films whose happy endings conclude with scenes of redemption (Les Miserables), self-sacrifice (It’s a Wonderful Life), good triumphant over evil (Star Wars), standing courageously by your convictions (Chariots of Fire), “right” winning the day (High Noon), or that which was lost is found (Finding Nemo).

 Isn’t it interesting that all of these themes which so resonate with the human spirit are values of the Kingdom of God? It’s the way God wired us! These movies give us a glimpse of how the world was supposed to be! We are spiritually transported back to the reality of walking through a garden in the cool of the day, conversing with our Creator.

Films that inspire us to be our better selves are not only successful; think of the positive effect they have on our culture.

The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in.  —Harold Goddard, U.S. Educator

Entry into “the room where it happens” is earned through compelling creativity, excellence of craft and being a constant, genial, reasonable, beneficial voice.

Mastermedia has been and continues to be that kind of voice into the hearts of media’s decision makers. And we endeavor to expand our voice . . . to deserve our seat at the table . . . to always be “in the room where it happens!”

Feel Good TV Ratings Surge!

With “The Heart of TV” as their tagline, Hallmark’s ratings are booming. Last year the channel saw substantial viewership growth—the only non-news cable channel in the top 15 to do so.

Heather Long at The Washington Post* opines, “. . . it really started surging in late 2015, right about the time the election—and the Trump phenomenon—took off. During election week, the Hallmark Channel was the fourth-most-watched channel on TV during prime time. Let that sink in. It had more prime-time viewers than MSNBC did, and it was just behind CNN and ESPN.”

It’s feel-good TV. Hallmark movies and series like When Calls the Heart, Chesapeake Shores, and Signed, Sealed and Delivered (pictured here) have happy endings. The main characters do the right thing. The problems get worked out. The guy and girl, whatever their age or grumpiness level at the start, always end up together.

“The environment [in our culture] is undeniably contentious,” says Bill Abbott, CEO of Crown Media. “We are a place where you can go and feel good . . . . We intentionally branded ourselves as the happy place.”

“The happy formula is working,” says Heather. “At a time when pundits are ready to proclaim the death of cable TV, Hallmark is starting up [its third channel]. That’s how much demand Hallmark believes there is for its family-friendly, feel-good shows.”

If you aren’t watching the Hallmark Channel, you might want to check it out!

*August 21,2017