Monday, January 26, 2015

Fifty Shades of SpongeBob

I usually don't voice extremely strong opinions about what's showing at the movies. Thanks to free speech, we can go see whatever we want at the neighborhood cinema (unless North Korea gets involved). Heck, that's why I want to make movies! I want to say what I want on that screen. However, Fifty Shades of Grey being billed as a "romance" on Valentine's Day makes me uncomfortable. In school as a substitute, I hear kids talking about taking their dates to see it on the 14th. Huffington Post writer Carey Purcell voiced my sentiments in her article "Fifty Shades of Feminism" when she said, "I sincerely hope that […] the Christian Grey ideal of romance is not one that will be perpetuated throughout our culture." I can tell you right now that if I took a young lady to the movies I would not want her to think my idea of love went hand-in-hand with abuse, objectification, and pornography.

Are petitions and picket lines going to prevent people from buying a ticket to this movie? This blog post is about how to successfully boycott a film. And not just Fifty Shades of Grey, but any film you don't want to see succeed at the box office. And you might even have a little fun in the process. (No, the answer is not to buy the film from the studio and burn it...a tactic Evangelist Bill Bright tried when The Last Temptation of Christ came out in 1988. Crazy.)

Here is a passage from Andy Crouch's book, Culture Making, where he quotes Barbara Nicolosi: 

"Any publicity is good publicity. Protests not only fuel the box office, they make all Christians look like idiots. And protests and boycotts do nothing to help shape the decisions being made right now about what movies Hollywood will make in the next few years. (Or they convince Hollywood to make more movies that will provoke Christians to protest, which will drive the box office up.) Some suggest we simply ignore the movie. But the problem with this option is that the box office is a ballot box. The only people whose votes are counted are those who buy tickets; if you stay home, you have thrown your vote away, and you do nothing to shape the Hollywood decision making process regarding what movies will make it to the big screen" (p 70). 

So how do you cast your vote against a movie? The answer: go out and see a different movie. The vote that speaks loudest to Hollywood producers is "the power of cold hard cash laid down on a box office window on opening weekend." I promise you that the studio executives will laugh at the online petitions and hit "delete" from their e-mail inbox without reading past the subject line. But they will take dollar signs seriously. 

So this Valentine's Day weekend, consider seeing…
Kingsman: The Secret Service (Action)
The Last Five Years (Romance/Musical)
Selma (Drama)
Paddington (Comedy/Animation)
SpongeBob: Sponge Out of Water (Comedy)

Come on, you and I both know SpongeBob is destined to become the Valentine's Day classic of our generation.

The studios think audiences will like to see the sexy faces of Jason Dornan and Dakota Johnson on Valentine's Day. But what the executives want to see are the sexy faces of Washington, Lincoln, Hamilton, Jackson, Grant, and Franklin. And you can choose to do whatever you want with those faces when you pull them out of your purse or wallet. Choose wisely.