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Blog // Thoughts
December 1, 2006

St. Rocky?

There’s a new Rocky movie due for release and this time it looks like the pitch is aimed square at the faith and values (i.e., conservative Christian) crowd. In some ways this is not surprising, since Stallone has in recent years seemed to be re-evaluating his Catholic roots and the Rocky films have for a […]

There’s a new Rocky movie due for release and this time it looks like the pitch is aimed square at the faith and values (i.e., conservative Christian) crowd. In some ways this is not surprising, since Stallone has in recent years seemed to be re-evaluating his Catholic roots and the Rocky films have for a long time been on people’s lists as inspiring and redemptive films, well OK, the first one at least.

This time round Stallone has opened the door for ministers and Christian opinion-leaders to join a teleconference to hear him speak about the film and also about his own journey of faith.

You can find some very “on-message” comments from Citizenlink.com and ThoughtQuotient and ChristianActivities.

I’m not questioning Stallone’s commitment, but my intial reaction was to be a little skeptical. The Culture Beat summed up part of my views,

“Face it, many Christians long for the affirmation and validation that comes from being sought after by cultural (or political) elites. But if this helps evangelicals find films that indeed uphold generally positive values, why carp? And perhaps, if Christians show some discernment and turn out for quality films, we‚Äôll see better films.”

It’s not the film that worries me, but rather the desire for cultural validation amongst Christians and to a lesser extent the readiness to buy any artistic message as long as it is wrapped in the right language and presentation. Catherina L. Hurlburt, writing at The Point, comments on this,

Folks, remember, while there are artists in the studio looking for nothing more than to create a good story, there are also marketers with dollar-signs in their eyes. It’s the nature of the business. And I suppose I naturally flinch when I find myself in a market-segmentation box (I eschew all labels and prefer to defy expectations). I mean, come on, just because I’m a Christian does not mean I’m going to see only faith-explicit movies and not going to go see those that are not — like Flushed Away, which I saw with my daughter. (Oh please, raise your hand if you saw it too. You know you want to see it if you haven’t yet.)

But don’t look at movies as if your dollars were votes in a ballot box — though they can inadvertently act that way — use discernment and give the story a chance, regardless of the marketing angle. You may be surprised how much truth can be found in a movie that isn’t explicitly Christian nor marketed to Christians. The story is the thing. And, well, maybe Rocky Balboa really has a good story to tell.

The quality of the story, the quality of the filmaking, the connection it makes with theological themes, that’s what counts. Let’s not get sucked in just by the marketing the hype, or worse, a misplaced need for validation.

[tags] Rocky, Cinema [/tags]

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2
Responses
Eddy E 16 years ago

I loved the first 3 Rocky’s… to be strong = rocky (at least when i was a child). #4 was alright, #5 took me a few times cause I kept getting bored. I’m hoping #6 is good, but not placing too many bets on this one!

As for the theological stuff, kinda cool of what he’s trying to do, though probably trying to ride the wave of the Passion audience. For some of us, we may see the larger (religious) themes, for the average person and for most pastors, I doubt they are going to announce in church, “please join us for the Rocky #6 outreach, invite a friend!”

Fernando Gros 16 years ago

Eddy, thanks for the comment. There’s no doubt Rocky 1 was important to me as a young guy trying to intergrate ideas of sports, sacrifice and masculinity.

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