I just got into a verbal dispute on Facebook with a couple of my friends. At the rate I'm going, I won't have any friends left. I figure I can keep my mouth shut (or my fingers tied in this cyber age) and have lots of friends, or I can speak out what I believe and what perhaps God is putting on my heart, and risk alienating people. Obviously, I've chosen the latter. The latest cyber tussle was over another movie. This time it was Disney's new film Maleficent.
I read the Dove review of this movie and thought that my initial reservations against this film, based on the title and the graphics, were perhaps premature. Then I read this review: http://goodfight.org/a_v_maleficent.html And then the one at movieguide.org: http://www.movieguide.org/reviews/maleficent.html
My concern went off the Richter scale.
I grew up thinking that Disney was an agent of God on Earth. Movies like Pinocchio, Snow White, Bambi, Lady and the Tramp, Pollyanna, and others helped shaped my personality. I thought they taught me the difference between right and wrong, bad and good. I made it my goal to own those movies some day. This was before the advent of DVD's, but when they became available, I procured copies of those movies for my library and for my children's viewing pleasure. I was proud to be passing along the values I learned through showing them those movies. Now 20 years later, I'm second guessing myself and Disney's films. Were they really as innocent and beneficial as I first thought?
Read this article to get an idea of Walt Disney's faith. http://www.disneydreamer.com/Waltfaith.htm He doesn't mention Jesus by name, but he definitely had faith in something greater than ourselves. Disney's decision to use magic instead of God makes sense from a financial standpoint, but does leave questions in my head. Was Walt Disney a cheerleader and trail blazer for the New Age? Was he a humanist? The jury is still out on Walt.
But what about the new Disney? Southern Baptists tried to boycott Disney back in the 90s because they didn't think the entertainment giant was exerting a Godly influence on people. In perusing the list of movies made by Disney since Walt's death from lung cancer, I see a few that are potentially troubling with a long list of films that seem very innocuous. There doesn't seem to be a clear cut pattern of Disney leading unwary Christians down the path to destruction. But then again, I have seen very few of those movies, including Maleficent. However the review by Joe Schimmel reverberates in my spirit because I see what he describes there as being the plans of the evil one. He is not content to simply lead a large host into hell for a big marshmallow roast, but he wants to be worshipped as not only God but as good. He must convince the people of planet earth that our traditional thinking is reversed. God is really the bad guy and Satan is the one working to bring happiness, unity, love, and peace to the world.
One of my friends made a powerful and poignant defense of the film. That puts me in a huge dilemma. This is a problem that faces all of us. All around us we will hear conflicting and convincing arguments for everything going on in our world. Trying to determine where truth lies is a tedious and frustrating process. It's much easier to be convinced that movies and books cannot possibly be dangerous, just like all of the foods that we eat.
How about this for a rule of thumb? Since there are more movies released than I can possibly see, what if I simply avoid any that might be potentially harmful? Will I miss out on eternal blessings by doing so? Not in a heartbeat. Would the converse also be true? I'm optimistic that God is ingratiated every time we take the higher road in life. This might sound like a very simple solution but there will still be some complexity and some mental effort needed. Every film is going to receive criticism of some type. We still need to evaluate the comments made and determine whether the film is generating the type of criticism that would indicate potential danger that this movie contains material that the enemy is trying to sneak past our defenses. I've previously made this statement concerning Harry Potter books and movies. If you truly love Christ, you would not want to do anything that would cause Him grief. Abstaining from Potter won't cause Him any pain, but if Potter is actually a snare of the devil, then embracing Potter and criticizing those who blow the whistle on Potter, would be quite grievous to our Savior.
By the way, Good Fight Ministries is a watchman on the wall, especially in the area of entertainment. Comparing their movie reviews to the ones from Dove is like comparing a doctoral thesis to a Freshman English creative writing assignment. One point to ponder is that their reviews contain a lot of spoilers, since they explain everything that happens and the interpretation of how Satan would use that to twist truth. Check them out at http://goodfight.org