With respect to Hollywood, I am in partial agreement with the assertion that the industry reflects reality, albeit an exceptionally warped version of the same. Examples would include the countless action blockbusters depicting Muslims, Middle Easterners and African Americans as stereotyped caricatures, perhaps with a view to allaying the inherent bigotry of an insular audience that derives comfort from having gross generalisations of minority groups re-enforced in the popular media. In the aftermath of 9/11, for example, I vividly recall having watched numerous American and UK programs in which the Islamic call to prayer was used to the same effect as the John Williams Jaws theme, namely to generate a sense of fear and menace.
Whilst I believe the statement “Hollywood needs Christianity” - as asserted by various Christian spokespersons - to be nothing short of preposterous, a lesson in morality, cultural sensitivity and social responsibility is long overdue. For example, consider the movie 'Black Hawk Down', directed by Ridley Scott which is gripping, intense and beautifully shot. It is also replete with historical inaccuracy and, at best, is a stunning misrepresentation of what happened in Somalia. Although the US entered Somalia in 1992 with the best of intentions, the overall military operations were characterised by intelligence failures, partisan deployments and the belief, held to this day, that you can bomb a nation into peace and prosperity. Instead of lessening the conflict between competing warlords, the US actually enhanced it by backing clan chiefs Mohamed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi against others of their kind.
Americans generally hold a black and white view of the world, such that movies addressing ‘grey’ or contentious topics serve to confuse and are hence regarded as morally ambiguous (e.g. Syriana, Munich and Brokeback Mountain). Indeed, the American movie producer Michael Class even saw it fit to launch the “American Values Award for Music and Television” some years back. In doing so, Class misses an indescribably important point, that just because a movie deals with a confronting, difficult and provocative subject, it is not automatically rendered immoral.
Further, the fact remains that the history of the Catholic Church will invariably prove a ample reservoir of inspiration for any person seeking to pen a story on the dehumanising effects of being force-fed dogma by an authoritarian and oppressive regime. Rather unsurprisingly, it is precisely this type of story with which a great many children relate and/or identify, albeit under the proviso that the under-age protagonists use intelligence, imagination and, above all else, free will to overcome the odds stacked against their favour. At day’s end, children, moreso than any other demographic, are expected to categorically accept the teachings of supposedly well-meaning guardians and elders. Should they then be taught through various mediums, entertainment included, to exercise critical thought before accepting blanket assertions, I fail to see the supposed harm caused as a result.