What Do People in the Flyover States Want in a Movie?

I once heard someone say that the last thing God “saves” in a Christian’s walk is his/her politics. I’m not sure about that. I think it’s his/her entertainment choices.

Even within red-blooded, minivan driving, PTO attending, Red Cross supporting, apple pie eating, flag waving America, there’s a big disagreement as to what constitutes a “conservative movie goer” and what that conservative movie goer should be spending $12 (and an additional $8 for a bucket of popcorn) to see.

Christian Toto, a conservative movie critic that I have a lot of respect for, recently wrote a piece encouraging people to see Patriots Day, out on Blu-Ray and DVD today. He argues that if conservatives don’t support a film like this one, they may not get many like it in the future.

Here’s an excerpt:

Peter Berg is a conservative movie goer’s best friend.

Berg, the director of Lone Survivor, Deepwater Horizon and now Patriots Day, understands what makes America tick. He appreciates the blue collar workers who keep the nation chugging along. Berg’s movies salute them without irony or disdain.

…conservatives should applaud his vision… There’s simply no one else doing what he does in the industry.

Which brings us to Patriots Day. The story recalls the horror of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing which killed three people and left dozens severely wounded. …Here are five reasons every right-leaning movie goer should see Patriots Day ASAP [and then he lists them].

I understand why Toto is so passionate about rallying movie goers to see Patriots. There was a lot to like. But I disagree with his stance. He overlooks another aspect of what at least many of us in the flyover states want, and that’s a more complete-family-friendly experience at the theater for ourselves and our children.

Patriots Day is rated R for several reasons. Berg let fly over 150 f-bombs in a 133-minute film (more than one per minute). When I screened it, I knew I was in for a long night when I counted about 20 harsh profanities during the first three minutes. I hate cussing and I despise being bombarded with it.

Without trying to over-spiritualize things here, the Lord isn’t a big fan of swearing either. After all, the Creator tells us in His Word (Col. 3:8): “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander and filthy language from your lips.” Even more egregious for me personally (and I know a lot of other Christ-followers, too) are the misuses of Jesus’ Name as if the Savior of all mankind was something foul or unseemly. Patriots Day abuses our Lord’s Name about a dozen times! I wanted a PG-13 Patriots Day and Berg gave me a hard R (like his Lone Survivor).

As much as I appreciated the pro-law enforcement sentiment of Patriots and bombing victims’ inspirational recounting of their stories during the credits, this is not a film I personally can give a thumbs up. Not even close.

I have the wonderful privilege of doing a number of radio and Skype interviews each week regarding Hollywood’s newest releases. When deejays asked about Patriots Day, I often described it as a mixed bag, and mentioned the problematic elements as spoiling what “could have been” a good film.

While we’ll see how the movie does in its DVD release, Patriots underperformed at the box office, earning less than $32 million in North America after its makers spent more than $45 million to create it. I can’t help but think that if Berg had given us a PG-13 version, the folks in the flyover states really would have turned out to support it.

So, back to Toto’s takeaway that “every right-leaning movie goer should see Patriots Day ASAP.” What are your thoughts? And more importantly, if you agree with me, how do we send the message to the Bergs of the world, since staying home or not buying a DVD might just send the message that flyover America really doesn’t want or care about “conservative” films?

Who wrote this?

Bob Waliszewski is the director of the Plugged In department. His syndicated "Plugged In Movie Review" feature is heard by approximately 9 million people each week on more than 1,500 radio stations and other outlets and has been nominated for a National Religious Broadcaster's award. Waliszewski is the author of the book Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids With Love, Not War. You can follow him on Twitter @PluggedInBob.

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