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A Mountain of Replies

  • Christine Hawkins Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 20 Dec
A Mountain of Replies

Our review of Brokeback Mountain, a film depicting a gay relationship between cowboys, prompted an avalanche of responses from readers. In our weekly newsletter, we asked readers whether they thought we should review such films in the first place, despite the controversial subject matter. Most of the more than 100 readers who replied said yes, we should review such films because it helps them make informed decisions about what movies to watch. But many readers also said no, for various reasons. And some took us to task for giving Brokeback 3 stars, despite our clear explanation that a high rating does not constitute an endorsement or a recommendation—of either the film itself or the lifestyle depicted therein.

We've compiled some of those reader responses, which represent quite a wide spectrum of attitudes and sensitivities concerning film reviews and homosexuality—and a Christian response to both.

I think you should review movies like this. Be in this world, not of it, right? In order to be in this world, we need help to navigate it successfully and to steer clear of potholes. Thanks for keeping us informed.

No, I don't think you should review it. I don't want you or anyone else exposed to graphic sexuality, homo or otherwise. I think you should just "black flag" it and let the perverts have it to themselves.

You should definitely review movies that are receiving high critical acclaim and attention. I depend on your reviews to give me guidance in deciding whether or not to see a movie. Even if I know I will not see it, I value the review given from a Christian perspective to help me understand more what the movie is about and how to discuss it with others.

You shouldn't review such films. To devote so much attention to it participates in the titillation, the hype and worse. You may in fact be guilty in part of promoting it for some simply because of the attention and the manner in which it is done.

The film is gay propaganda. It promotes adultery and a sinful lifestyle making it worthwhile for their mutual pleasure. Movies like this should be labeled by the filmmaker with a disclaimer of not endorsing these activities. You should not do any less in your movie review.

Your review was thoughtful, respectful, and yet true to God's Word in its discussion questions and disclaimer. After reading about a pastor who protests at gay people's funerals with signs that read "God hates fags," I realized how a thoughtful, loving approach is so crucial to reflecting both the love and truth of Christ. Thank you for doing so with your review.

Yes, you should review it, but it shouldn't warrant anything close to 3 stars, because its content is despicable,and is a clear, ideologically inspired attempt to drag the culture down even further. CT readers want a different perspective.

I think it is responsible and necessary for Christian publications to review all films—no matter what they depict. Christians are called to be light in the darkness. If we don't know what we are fighting, we can't effectively go to the places or speak logically/rationally about the darkness we are trying to overcome. If we speak out against something without understanding about what we are speaking of, we come off as brainwashed and unable to think for ourselves.

Homosexuality is a sin. This film "celebrates" sin. I would be perfectly comfortable if you said that seeing it will add nothing to the spiritual life of Christians, and that seeing it would be a negative experience.

As a gay Christian who has lived the story of Brokeback Mountain and survived to come to understand, appreciate and embrace his God-given sexuality, I was so impressed with your open-minded review. Your discussion starters are so thoughtful and intelligent, and I hope Christian viewers will consider these questions with the open heart and open mind that Christ would expect. Your thoughtful review was a beautiful example of true Christian values in stark contrast to the nasty, political, power grabbing, divisive style of Christianity that is so prevalent today.

So, sodomites write reviews for you now? I had heard that cT (small case intended) had become a notoriously banal depiction of christian writing (small case intended). Your review probably broke the camel's back for many. I expect that a Christian magazine would review movies considerably different than a local newspaper. Obviously it is no longer your intent to look at movies with a biblical frame of reference. You failed your target audience and perhaps your (G)god. Perhaps your god is the one who calls his people to slavishly impress the secular reviewers rather than those backwards evangelicals who are still looking for some help. Cowboys know how to chase women, and perverts need no encouragement. May God have mercy on you.

The reason I read your reviews is so that I can make an informed decision about movies. I am a big girl, and the Holy Spirit can lead me in every aspect of my life—including movie viewing. I am glad that you tell it like it is. You seem to have the attitude of, "This is what we see, but you decide for yourself"—unlike other reviews that have a condescending "We're the experts" tone.

You most definitely should NOT review movies about homosexuality. The Bible clearly states that we should not even mention what sinners do.

I see no problem in reviewing a film even if it reveals issues that as a Christian I may choose to not view. The review would allow me to make a more informed decision. I doubt that I would have known much at all about the movie Brokeback if you had not reviewed it. Now conversations around the water cooler can be more informed, and provide opportunity to bring a Christian perspective to the conversation.

I don't mind when your reviews comment on the cinematography, or acting, or other technical aspects of the film, but I would prefer that the dominant remarks be about a Christian response to the film. Ebert and his cronies can tell me all the technical stuff. But no secular critic will spend time developing the "Christianity and culture" guidance. I think you should distinguish yourself more.

In your review, you have utterly failed your duty to give the biblical, and not simply the artistic, perspective on the subject of homosexuality. Your weak "this film will give you lots to think about" cop-out is incredibly disappointing. Giving this film three stars will mislead some, especially young people, into seeing a film which is not for Christian consumption. Has CT so lost its moorings that we are seeing the final slide towards apostasy and "friendship with the world," which is enmity with God? What happened to having a moral backbone, even in our approach to the arts?

One of the things that I enjoy about CT Movies is that your reviews go far beyond "this movie has bad words or violence or sex in it, so Christians shouldn't watch it." While I have no interest in seeing Brokeback Mountain (for several reasons), I applaud your thoughtful review of it and the discussion questions you suggest at the end of it.

You write that your 3-star rating "is not a 'recommendation' to see the film, nor is it a rating of the 'moral acceptability' of the subject matter." And Turkish Delight is delicious. You can't give a review with 3 stars and not take into account the story! Are you kidding me? I lived for 22 years as a lesbian, fully entrenched in the gay community. Father God healed my lesbian neurosis. What happens when we start thinking that the landscape in the movie is pretty while ignoring the obvious debauchery of the story? Or, we elevate the acting while ignoring the spoken words? Are we not consenting with our silence? Are we promoting the sin? More importantly, our lack of integrity by not calling sin sin does the biggest disservice to the homosexual; you cannot offer healing and wholeness if you can't see (or ignore) the cancer.

We need an informed opinion about films, especially when they are controversial. So many times Christians react to movies with the jerk of the knee instead of the mind. Your reviews of such films help me at such times.

Giving Brokeback Mountain three out of four stars because of the filmmaking, acting, and cinematography is not based on any Christian quality the film has. Because Christians believe homosexuality is not an acceptable lifestyle, a movie about homosexuals should not get a high rating, because a high rating is the same as an "endorsement."

I do not see your 3-star rating as an endorsement. To rate it one star because its subject matter is morally offensive would be to confuse the issues. You have been clear and I applaud you.

There's a lot that is good in your review, but there should be a clear, unequivocal condemnation of homosexuality. People need to make their own minds up, but we need to lead them to make the right choices. This particular by-product of Hollywood culture is being discussed all over the country, therefore, it is imperative for Christian reviewers to express their disdain, disapproval, even hatred (why not?) towards this kind of abomination. A stronger stance is called for.

If you guys never reviewed this film I would have no idea of its content. I also would have probably gone to go see it, which I most definitely will not do now that I know. So my answer is yes, keep reviewing these films. I pray you will continue to do my dirty work for me.

No you should not review this type of film. Just tell us not to bother watching it.

I find it appalling that a supposedly Christian magazine would write a review about such a film. Do you people stand for anything in your beliefs? Or is compromise a value that you embrace? Compromise in the name of societal relevance is no excuse. Please remember 1 Thessalonians 5:22: "Abstain from all appearance of evil!"

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