Porn To Christian Media: “We Are Not So Different, You & I…”

It’s all about the money shot/come-to-Jesus moment.

Nobody watches porn for the production values, the writing, the directing, or even the acting.[1] They watch it to see the money shot, and they want to see as many of them as possible, as close together as possible, and w/o any distracting nonsense like performances or story getting in the way.

In a way they’re like old fashion musicals:  A thin plot that exists to string together a series of acts.

The key difference is that often the musical numbers, if selected & staged correctly, become the story & make the film more interesting.  Even so, the most common musical form today is the music video, and again for the same reason:  The audience knows precisely what they want & doesn’t want to wait around to get to it.

Porn films (and far too many music videos) have a well earned reputation for cheap, shoddy production values, shallow acting, and stories that -- when they exist at all -- lurch along by fiat, not organic flow.

Far too much Christian media suffers from the same crappy standards.

A big hunk of the responsibility can be laid at the feet of audience expectations:  Nobody who knowingly shells out money for Christian media is going to be happy if the central characters end up rejecting Christ.  It’s like going to see a Superman movie where he loses ‘cuz he’s exposed to kryptonite:  Nobody is gonna be pleased with that.[2]

As a result, audiences know going in that Christian media is going to hit certain notes; and heaven help the maker of Christian media who fails to deliver.

As long as their expectations are met, audiences for Christian media are loathe to object to bad writing/performances/art/production values.  Indeed, a significant hunk of them will think it’s disloyal to express any negative reaction to any Christian media whatsoever…

…even if it ultimately fails to enrich them and only reinforces antipathy for other Christian media.

Hard core fans of all genres will be with us always, and this is why the porn industry never has and never will produce an aesthetically/dramatically/thematically worthy release:  The very nature of their medium effectively gets in the way of genuine art.

Musicals -- even music videos -- have a better chance, because their audience expectations are much wider and more open.  The new and the innovative may not please all music lovers, but as a rule it’s gonna please some of them, and this is where works of quality & genius arise.

Still, a whole lotta them are crapola.

One key reason why porn can never aspire to anything of genuine quality[3] is that in the end, what interests their audience can be boiled down to a handful of highly repetitive actions.

Like Tetris, there are only so many way the pieces can fit together.[4]

Conversely music, while it has a set of limitations as its starting point, has much more room to expand and re-arrange those limitations.  The same notes that produce Beethoven’s 5th can be found in “Friday,” only not in the same order/quantity/quality.  You can & should shock & delight a music lover with some new, innovative way of arranging & presenting those notes.

Here is where creative Christians run afoul of far too many people in the church:  For a lot of folks the “notes” of the Bible are fast & immutable; there is no way to reexamine them & reinterpret them for contemporary culture.

Any attempt to re-arrange those “notes” is seen as tantamount to blasphemy by those church members.[5]

A lot of creative Christians respond to such charges by saying, “Shuck this fit:  I won’t be shoehorned into a narrow range that denigrates my capacities as a creator for Christ.  If I can’t be a creator of Christian media, then let me be a Christian who creates media.”

There’s no reason for contemporary Christian media to be the theological equivalent of porn:  We should be erecting Notre Dame cathedrals, painting Sistine Chapels, writing Divine Comedies, filming Metropolises, not cranking out the equivalent of Big Bad Boyz Vol. 46.

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[1]  I was going to add “…or the costumes” but remembered there are some niche titles out there where the costuming is part of the thrill.

[2]  This is the brilliance behind Jack Chick’s tracts; no yutzing around with complex apologetics:  “Biker Joe, you’re going to hell!”  “Oh, no!  What must I do to be saved?”

[3]  And I draw a distinction between porn -- where the whole raison d’etre is the proverbial money shot -- and serious works of art & literature that may have scenes that cross over into X-rated territory.

[4]  Seriously, people, it's not like they’re designing new sex organs.

[5]  Which raises an interesting side question ---  “Should we seek to improve Christian media by first improving the quality of Christian audiences?” -- that we shall leave to another day.

Thinkage

The Problem With Christianity As It Is Practiced In North America Today [re-edit]