Peter BeckPeter serves as assistant professor of religion at Charleston Southern University where he teaches church history and theology. While serving as senior pastor in Louisville, Ky., he completed his PhD in historic theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His dissertation, The Voice of Faith: Jonathan Edwards's Theology of Prayer, is soon to be published. He, his wife Melanie, and their two kids, Alex (12) and Karis (7), live near Charleston, SC. Peter's goal for his teaching and writing ministries is "love from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith" (1 Tim 1:5).
- 2009 May 28
Okay, I have to admit up front that I’m old school. Sociologically-speaking I’m a Baby Buster. As I see it, though, I was born close enough to the previous generation that I feel more like a Boomer than a Buster. That said, however, I’m not opposed to new things. I listen to an iPod not an 8 track. I watch movies on disks not reels. I’m writing this on a laptop not a typewriter.
But, some things are better off left alone. I’m talking about Hollywood’s never-ending, self-repeating fascination with the remake.
Remakes are nothing new. Hollywood has been doing them for years. Dracula, that nocturnal lover boy, originally cast as Nesferatu in one of the earliest motion pictures, has been revisted in film over 100 times in America alone. However, it seems that in recent years Hollywood remakes outnumber new stories 2 to 1.
Some remakes are subtle and well-done. For example, there’s an entire generation of hopeless romantics out there who think Tom Hanks, that sleepless widower from Seattle, was the first to have an affair to remember or that Harrison Ford was the first leading man to fall for Sabrina.
Others aren’t so successful. Did the world really need a large screen version of those good ol’ boys who never meant no harm from Hazard? And while we’re thinking about it, who bewitched Nicole Kidman into thinking her acting career would improve with just a twitch of her nose?
The type of remake that bothers me the most is those that take movies (or television shows) from other eras that were the standard-bearers of their time and try to update them with cooler graphics or hipper actors. Am I the only person that thought Gene Wilder was the perfect Willy Wonka? Can Kurt Russell really do a better job than Gene Hackman rescuing the survivors on an upside down cruise ship?
So, why do they do it? Why constantly challenge the gold standards of film?
Obviously, the drive to make money ranks way up on the list of potential answers. “Hey, if it worked before, surely it’ll work again.” Part of the reasoning must arise from new technologies. Who couldn’t resist the temptation to take modern technology and make King Kong look far more realistic than his rubber predecessor? But, I think there’s a more profound motive lurking just below the surface.
Mankind, not just those who live in Hollywood, has an innate sense that they can do better than the original.
Adam thought so. You would’ve thought he’d be pretty happy with the way things had turned out. He had a beautiful wife. The yard was well-landscaped. Heck, he was in charge. But, he wanted something else. He wanted to be better than the Original – God.
We see the same thing in regards to the Gospel. Every so often someone comes out with an updated version, a new and improved model that must be seen to be believed. In recent years we’ve seen the “DaVinci Code” grab the interest of millions of readers and viewers. It doesn’t seem to matter that the story doesn’t comport with the biblical account. In fact, it is this very difference that makes this one more fascinating.
Last year, National Geographic, those defenders of all things natural, became biblical scholars. Timed perfectly to coincide with Christians’ celebration of the Resurrection, they introduced a new gospel, that of Judas, as if he understood the first one. Yet, interest in this remake has been blown out of proportion to its actual value – hermeneutical or otherwise.
Why? Because the remake has a Jesus we can relate to. He’s more like us than the original. This Jesus has a pride issue. This Jesus is really a sinner who wants to be a saint. He wants to be somebody and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
This isn’t the biblical Jesus. I doubt Jesus would recognize himself in this remake. Oh sure, he’d recognize the sin and pride. But, he’d be shocked by the role he’d been cast in. Yet, that’s what the world wants, a better gospel, one that makes them feel good about themselves, one that they’ve created.
Remakes are rarely as good as the original. Often they are just pale imitations. Remakes of the Gospel are heresy and must be rejected outright. The new Jesus is no savior; he’s a sinner. He’s been recreated in the image of fallen man. And we like it that way. The original Jesus was a classic. There will never be another like Him. We’re fools for believing that we can do better. We’re damned for believing that we have.
This summer don’t just skip the movies. Don’t make your protest against Dan Brown's gospel a silent one, one notable only for your absence from the theater. Speak up and let the real Gospel be heard. Tell your friends and your family about the Jesus of the real Gospels. Take them to the Truth not a glitzy, but hollow, remake.