Conservative Christians are effectively remaking the movies liberal Jews made 15 years ago, though this time with more references to Jesus.
For decades, well-intentioned Christians have been striving to create an “alternative” to the Hollywood system. This “Christian Hollywood” has produced its share of embarrassing spectacles (such as the Kirk Cameron and Nicholas Cage versions of the apocalyptic, rapture drama Left Behind), as well as its share of innocuous heart-warmers (which, it should be pointed out, godless Hollywood produces in abundance). But films like Woodlawn reveal the degree to which Christian Hollywood, despite its “independence,” resides in the same ideological prison as godless Hollywood. Christian Hollywood might even reside in a prison within a prison. When godless Hollywood makes an “overcoming racism” sports drama, like Remember the Titans (2000), it relies on emotions like sentimentality and the thrill of victory to drive its point home. Christian Hollywood makes racial mixing a commandment of the Almighty himself.
From a traditionalist (and Schmittian) perspective, religion is serving its eternal purpose—the legitimization and sanctification of the current dispensation. Despite Americans’ professed dedication to the “separation of church and state,” the American government, even that of Barack Obama, has never failed to seek legitimacy through Christianity. Moreover, the reason Christian Hollywood makes movies like Woodlawn is precisely because its mostly White audience has a creeping feelings of racial dispossession. Woodlawn’s message is “Stay calm. Trust in God. It’s all going to be alright.”
On a more mundane level, Christian Hollywood reveals its own inferiority complex. Lacking the confidence to strike off on its own, in radically new aesthetic, philosophical, and emotional directions, it simply remakes godless Hollywood’s movies, as if no other “legit” form of filmmaking were possible. It was old Hollywood that “gave the world new ways to dream.” Christian Hollywood is still enraptured.