Can Anything Good Come Out of Hollywood?

  Did you hear the one about the shipment of Oscars they found in the garbage? Well, it's not a joke, though it is a nice bit of symbolism. This year's Oscar winners are, for the most part, movies that tear down values that Christians and moral conservatives hold dear. There's nothing I can recommend in "American Beauty" or "The Cider House Rules." So let me tell you about a great new film that didn't win any Oscars Sunday night. It's called "My Dog Skip." This film is not so much about a dog, but about a boy growing up in Mississippi during World War II. A true family movie that you can take the kids to, or go by yourself. Willie Morris, a Rhodes Scholar and long-time editor of Harper's Magazine, wrote this touching memoir as a tribute to his terrier pup. Skip was a gift from Willie's mom, and a catalyst whose unconditional love changed the boy forever. Liberal reviewers hate pictures like this. "Too nice," they say. They agree that the performances are nuanced and subtle, but too sentimental. After all, we're much too sophisticated these days for stories about small-town life in the forties. Well, wrong again! In a theater full of parents and children, the audience is often silent, captivated, even when adults speak about serious matters like heroism and cowardice. But kids cheer loudly when the spunky dog makes it safely out of danger—just as we used to do when the celluloid good guys won over evil. Liberals really hate stories like this because they don't believe them. Life never was that good, they think. And they can't afford to believe otherwise, for if such values really exist, then all their social-engineering and constant striving to improve society would be meaningless. Well, life isn't perfect in "My Dog Skip." The film refers to segregation and school-yard bullies. Young men go off to war full of excitement, and some return in pine boxes. But there is an innocence we can only envy today. Plenty of critics liked the movie. Roger Ebert gave it two thumbs up. More raved about "The Cider House Rules," of course, written by John Irving "to make a positive statement about abortion." And they rewarded Best-Picture winner "American Beauty," with eight nominations and five awards—yet the film's a cynical assault on the middle class that some have called "anti-American." Director Sydney Pollack, who made films like "The Way We Were" and "Out of Africa," said in a recent interview that films do influence behavior because they affect us at the emotional level. Pollack grew up watching classics like "The Best Years of Our Lives" and "A Place in the Sun." Asked if filmmakers have a responsibility to society, Pollack said, "Yes... I learned what values were, what was admirable, or heroic or cowardly behavior... as much from movies as from schooling or upbringing." "My Dog Skip" doesn't depend on cartoonish characters or off-color humor. It has complex characters, and lessons about courage, loyalty, and respect for life. Philippians 4:8 says: "if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy; meditate on these things." These are all elements of a healthy worldview, and that's another good reason to see "My Dog Skip."


Chuck Colson


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