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Shawn Conley
 You're here » Christian Columns Index » Guest Writer

Coping with the Culture
Filmmakers Blame Christians for Box-Office Failure
by Shawn Conley - (AgapePress)
May 15, 2006
Category: Entertainment
IN MARCH 1992, Basic Instinct was released in theaters. Known for its sexually-driven characters and plot, the film boasted an opening weekend of over $15 million and was considered a box-office success.

In contrast, Basic Instinct 2 opened in March 2006 to a paltry $3.1 million.

This less-than-stellar dollar amount is due to several factors. It has been 14 years since the original, which itself was nothing spectacular, and the sequel has been widely panned by critics for its poor quality. Most Americans have better things to do than pay to sit through a bad movie.

But this is not the opinion of some members of the Hollywood crowd. On April 3, 2006, Paul Verhoeven, director of the original Basic Instinct, told the Hollywood Reporter, "Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States."

Verhoeven's comment is so ridiculous it is almost comical. When was the last time secret agents burst into a theater, ripped a film off the reel and burned it, then arrested audience members and mercilessly fined theater owners all because the film was "banned"?

Verhoeven went on to say, "Look at the people at the top [of the government]. We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values."

In essence, he is blaming Christians and conservatives for the failure of an erotic thriller and the decline of that genre. Never mind the poor reviews the film received from critics who, by a vast majority, are not Christians or conservatives. Besides that, Christians make up such a minimal percentage of the market for the movie that it is certainly not enough to take blame its failure.

Similarly, screenwriter Nicholas Meyer, who co-wrote 1987's Fatal Attraction, was quoted in the same article saying, "We're in a big Puritanical mode. Now, it's like the McCarthy era, except it's not 'Are you a communist?' but 'Have you ever put sex in a movie?'"

Not only is he complaining about how Hollywood is always picked on, but Meyer's concept of Puritanical is warped. With the Internet, television, video and DVD rentals, magazines, and countless other sources, there is more sexual content available today than any other time in history. There is nothing Puritanical about that.

The opinions of Meyer and Verhoeven echo those of many celebrities: conservatives, Christians, and especially George W. Bush, they say, are to blame for the woes of the film industry. Not only that, but they blame Bush himself for terrorism, gasoline prices, spoiled milk, the economy, the energy crisis, ice cream headaches, global warming, and the fact the peanut butter continually sticks to the roof of one's mouth. Why not blame him for the box-office failure of a movie as well?

Politics aside, Hollywood fails to see that its idea of what people want to see and what people want to see in reality are two different things. One reason Basic Instinct 2 and other movies have failed lately is because there are few original ideas. Many movies within the past year have been remakes or sequels. Rarely does a fresh plot make it to the big screen, and even that does not determine its quality.

Another reason is that many Americans do not want to pay to see trash at a movie theater. Simply put, Basic Instinct 2 is just lousy movie. People would rather spend their money on a well-made movie rather than two hours of needless sex and violence.

Hollywood needs to focus on doing what it did so well not long ago: good story-telling. In the meantime, celebrities should focus more on acting and producing quality movies, instead of shirking responsibility and blaming others for their disastrous ones.
Shawn Conley ( is a reporter for The Woodside News, a monthly publication of Woodside Bible Church in Troy, Michigan. This commentary, printed with permission, appeared in the May 2006 issue.

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