Bob the Tomato

  A man familiar to millions of kids as the voice of Bob the Tomato was speaking to a crowd of parents at the Hard Rock Café in Florida's Universal Studios. It was Phil Vischer, the Christian creator of the popular Veggie Tales videos for kids. But Vischer wasn't in Bob-the-Tomato mode tonight, telling amusing stories about talking vegetables. Tonight he was reading aloud from something much more sobering: the annual reports of two entertainment giants, Time-Warner and Disney. The lessons he drew from these reports say more about the entertainment world than we hear from most media critics. First, Vischer opened the annual report of Time- Warner, the largest entertainment company in the world. As Vischer put it, "you can tell an awful lot about a company from its annual report." Vischer read aloud Time-Warner's stated commitment to values. He noted that the word values appeared over and over—but somehow, he said, the report never really defined what the company's values actually were. Since Time-Warner is the distributor of the extremely vulgar film, South Park, as well as Gangsta Rap music, we can guess why they never define exactly what they mean by "values." Vischer next opened Disney's annual report. According to Vischer, the report went to some lengths to explain that the Disney name and logo are meant to suggest something squeaky-clean. But it also said that in order to keep their shareholders happy, the Disney corporation is obliged to produce some things that would shock Mickey Mouse—such as the revolting film, Priest, which included graphic scenes of homosexual sex. Then Vischer talked about his own company, Big Idea, which makes Veggie Tales videos. Big Idea isn't publicly held, so it doesn't produce an annual report. But the company did create a book featuring art from its videos combined with letters from people who were inspired by the videos. One family wrote that they began attending church after receiving Veggie Tales videos from a Christian relative. "We [at Big Idea] are convinced that great art—combined with great storytelling—can change the world," Vischer explained. Hollywood's profit- motivated 'art,' he added, "has taught our kids that the easiest way to gain stature is to pick up a gun. Couldn't art spread lessons in kindness and mercy with equal aplomb?" "We pursue art," Vischer declared, "to help a hopeless generation find its way back to a loving God. Art for the sake of impact." Lofty as it was, the audience loved every high-minded word of it. Their kids may not have understood—but they DO understand Vischer's Veggie Tales videos, which combine a powerful moral message with hilarious characters and absurd situations. I often talk about how important it is to have a Christian worldview, and how we need to live it out in every sphere of our culture, being salt and light in everything we set our hands to. Phil Vischer, who produces videos about talking vegetables, is doing just that—and he's doing it superbly. If I were Michael Eisner—the CEO of the Disney corporation—I know what I'd be doing. I'd be looking over my shoulder.


Chuck Colson


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