Evangelicals: Alone and Exiled in Hollywood
Her story is the stuff Hollywood films are made of.
She is a severely disabled woman with an inspiring story and the singer of a sweet song entitled "Alone and Yet Not Alone," a piece about the person who stood by her side and helped with her struggles. The song was recently nominated for an Academy Award.
The singer is Joni Earekson Tada, who was left a quadriplegic at age 17 after a diving accident crippled her for life. She can't even use her hands. But despite her disability, she became an artist, an author, and a speaker. A strong and powerful advocate for the disabled, she has inspired millions.
But for the Hollywood elite, there is a big catch to Joni's story.
She is a devout evangelical Christian, and the person she is singing about is God. Those two facts evidently have been enough to put her and her song on the Academy's Black List.
Of course, that's not how the Academy puts it. It's all a matter of scrupulously following ethics, you see.
According to The Huffington Post, "[t]he song had come under fire after it was revealed that Bruce Broughton, the composer, was a former Governor himself and former head of the Academy's music branch. According to a report posted by Deadline.com's awards columnist Pete Hammond after the Oscar nominations were announced in January, Broughton 'started making phone calls to colleagues urging them to consider the song' when filling out their Oscar ballots.
"'No matter how well-intentioned the communication, using one's position as a former governor and current executive committee member to personally promote one's own Oscar submission creates the appearance of an unfair advantage,' Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs said in the statement announcing the ouster of 'Alone Yet Not Alone.'"
Broughton and Tada both deny influence-peddling.
It's almost funny to see how incensed the Academy can be and how finely wrought the ethical code of the left-leaning organization can be when it comes to evangelicals, a group they routine despise, ridicule, or reject outright. All it takes is a mere whisper of sin exposed by some columnist, and a song about God is suddenly toxic, yanked from consideration for an award.
Considering that Hollywood elite leftists don't like much of anything about evangelicals, it is difficult to see the rescinding of the nomination of "Alone yet Not Alone" as anything but prejudicial and selective application of the Academy's code.
The lesson to be learned: unless you endorse the Academy's ideological line in thought, word, deed, and song, you will get no acknowledgement from Hollywood.
How ironic that Hollywood, which in the past battled against strictures of the Hays Code, should now have an unwritten yet not too subtly enforced code as restrictive and, in its own way, as prudishly preachy as the 1930-34 code.
The original code, found here in its entirety, seems hopelessly quaint in the light of present-day films. One excerpt alone shows just how matters have been turned topsy-turvy:
"But in the case of impure love, the love which society has always regarded as wrong and which has been banned by divine law, the following are important:
(1) It must not be the subject of comedy or farce or treated as the material for laughter;
(2) It must not be presented as attractive and beautiful;
(3) It must not be presented in such a way as to arouse passion or morbid curiosity on the part of the audience;
(4) It must not be made to seem right and permissible;
(5) In general, it must not be detailed in method or manner."
The divine, once evoked as a guideline for films, is now considered so toxic that references to it even in song must be banned. In fact, it is absolutely necessary to ridicule anything that refers to the divine, including love, impure or otherwise. Christian standards are constantly the subject of comedy or farce and material for laughter. Actions against Christian standards are presented as attractive and beautiful, presented in such a way as to arouse passion and morbid curiosity and made to be seen as right and permissible. As for details, are there any that haven't been fully and explicitly revealed?
Yes, the film industry has come a long way from the three-second kisses of yesteryear.
But the story of Joni's song reveals that the new, supposedly liberated Hollywood is not so far away from the old codes as it might pretend.
The establishment of a new code that is essentially anti-religion, especially regarding the Christian religion, should come as no surprise for several reasons.
For one thing, the evangelical community needs to share some blame. It long ago repudiated film as a legitimate art, considering Hollywood and the new medium of film as the Devil's playground. Many fundamentalist and evangelical churches put making and watching films on their sin lists, along with attending theater, going to dances, and smoking cigarettes.
Many Christians resorted to self-exile, consigning themselves and their worldview to cultural backwaters. The tendency to do so was accentuated by Hollywood's consignment of Christians to the world the devout had made for themselves. Christian advocates of film as a legitimate and powerful art form were few and far between. When Christian films finally did appear, most were cringe-worthy. Filled with simplistic and overt preachiness, God-awful plastic personae, and trite story lines, they failed to captivate even the Christian audiences they were supposed to attract.
But from its inception, Hollywood seemed completely bent on keeping Christianity in a sort of Babylonian exile. With rare exceptions, Hollywood appeared unable or unwilling to absorb and understand the great Christian themes that invigorated the pictorial and musical arts for centuries.
Turning instead to politics as the definer of ideals, Hollywood gradually became the promoter of leftist political causes, espousing a worldview that excluded faith traditions, particularly those of Christianity.
In a very real sense, Hollywood became an enemy of Christians, most of the time seeing and portraying them as Elmer Gantry types who were at heart smarmy fakes, hypocritical to the core. When they did films with Jewish or Christian themes, most were bastardized version of Old Testament stories or portrayals of a sickly, weak Christ.
Now the Academy is so prejudiced that Tada and her song are targeted.
In the opening scenes of The Mission, one of the few profoundly Christian films Hollywood has produced, a native South American Indian boy sings a divinely sweet song to the local authority, Don Cabeza. Cabeza hears but does not hear, saying, "A parrot can be taught to sing, your Excellency. Your Excellency, this is a child of the jungle, an animal with the human voice. If it were human, it would cringe at its vices. These creatures are lethal, and lecherous."
Cabeza could not hear past his stereotyped view of Indians.
In like manner, the left-leaning Hollywood elite are deaf, blind, and dumb -- trapped by their own stereotypical templates, and like pigs before which pearls are thrown, they trample anything beyond their ken into the mud.
So it is no surprise that when the real deal comes along in the form of Joni Earekson Tada, the Academy is incapable of actually hearing her song.
There is no use singing to the deaf.
Especially when they are programmed not to hear anything but their own voices.
Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to online publications. Her articles have appeared in National Review and American Thinker.