Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Christian Nation

America is a Christian nation. I'm coming to grips with that truth. For a while, I wanted to believe that this country was built on democracy, not faith. Well, I just can't deny it anymore. Christians keep these 50 states running. I'm convinced.

What, this doesn't sound like Dylan Peterson to you? Oh, just wait. You knows there's more to this than my opening paragraph.

Let's start by looking at the driving cultural force in the country: the film industry. Over the weekend, Avatar was number one again. Apparently it's the highest grossing film of all time now, but I don't care about that. I was more interested by the takers for numbers 2 and 3. The Book of Eli, and Legion.

My friend and I were watching a video on CBN, laughing about an elderly Charismatic woman who claims she is growing new teeth under her gums (a miracle, as a result of praying to God for new teeth at a revival meeting in Kansas City. True story.), when I noticed an advertisement for the Book of Eli next to a banner for the Pat Robertson-founded Regent University.

Now, at first this seems like a juxtaposition. The new Denzel Washington movie being advertised on a site that reports on faith healings and sinful Haitians? What's this all about? After reading a couple reviews, I was delighted to find out that the Book of Eli is a post-apocalyptic tale about a man who has the last Bible in the world, and kills to protect it.

Did you catch that? The Book of Eli is about a man who has the last Bible in the world, and kills to protect it. See why this ad is on CBN now? The HOLY BIBLE is the MacGuffin. Christian media outlets will support Hollywood every time when this happens. Believe me, I've worked for a national Christian radio network, and a national Christian publication. The bosses love stuff like this. When Christianity shows face in the major market, it's an exciting day for the station managers and editorial directors. "It's about the Bible?! And stars Denzel Washington!! Let's get the producers scheduled for an interview right away! This is big!"

Here's where it gets interesting though. The Christian media bosses don't have to try hard anymore to get the producers on the phone. The producers are sitting at home, twiddling their thumbs WAITING for the call from them. These movies are made specifically for the Christian audience, because the producers KNOW that Christians gobble this shit up every time. The proof is numbers 2 and 3 at the box office this weekend. After the highest-grossing film of all time came a movie about a man who kills to protect the Holy Bible, followed by a movie about Michael the archangel and a Legion sent by God to destroy the world.

America buys Christianity. Christianity keeps America afloat. This is a capitalist nation, preserved by the Christians.

The other blatant culture proof of Christianity's mainstay in capitalism is the music industry.

Throughout the past decade, people stopped buying music. Everyone just started downloading albums illegally, Radiohead released In Rainbows, and, yeah. I won't give the history lesson--we all know what happened. The music industry went down the shitter.

But, there was a demographic that didn't stop buying music. Those with holy capitalistic convictions. Those who follow the 8th commandment into the 21st century. The religious kept buying albums. And what sorts of albums do the religious buy? Why, Christian albums of course.

So now let's have a look at what may be the most popular band in America right now, Owl City. This is awful, shitty music. A glorious rip-off of The Postal Service, coming seven years after Give Up. Only Owl City employs the vocal talents of Christian pop-punk superstar, Matthew Thiessen (Relient K), and acknowledges its influences as "optimism, photography, air travel, vegetarianism, fashion, abstract art" and of course "God." (and no, there isn't a hint of irony there either.)

How can such a legitimately awful band be one of the top selling musical acts in the United States of America? Easy: Christians. Christians are supporting their own, getting giddy when their brothers and sisters in Christ have their songs sung on American Idol.

What the Christians don't realize is that they're not the minority anymore. It's not like when Jars of Clay or POD started getting play on major market stations. That was exciting back then. Christian bands on mainstream radio wasn't typical. But now, it is. But Christians still act like it's the 90s'. Every time Christianity makes an appearance in the culture, Christians act like they're a minority group infiltrating the system (in the world and not of it). I don't know why the wool is over their eyes still, but it's just not like the 90s' anymore.

During my time at the national Christian media outlets, the publicists from Hollywood came directly to us. Hollywood wanted us to talk about their new "spiritual" release. We usually received the packet from the publicist before anybody had even heard of the movie. The marketability of Chrisitanity is very high right now, and Hollywood (and the music industry) knows this. Christians are still spending money. They don't steal. And they'll spend more money on things that seemingly support their belief systems within the culture. So if a movie about the Bible being the last, true remnant of man's hope for salvation comes out, of course they're going to buy it--they agree with it. Who cares how violent or contradictory it is, they want more propaganda.

Of course, Hollywood isn't creating Christian propaganda. It's just giving the buyer what it wants. And as long as the Christians feel like they KNOW what the world wants ("absolute truth! glavin!"), they'll solidify America as a Christian nation for many years to come. As the Coen brothers aptly put it in O Brother Where Art Thou, "there are vast amounts of money to be made in the service of God Almighty." Keep on serving Him Christians, and the studio will keep on making those vast amounts. America runs on Jesus. It's time we swallow that bitter coffee. And put the slogan on a t-shirt.

1 comment:

Mr. Piro said...

Brilliant closing line.