Frederick Buechner tells the story of how his aunt responded to the report that he was going into the ministry by asking whether he had come to the decision on his own or was following someone else’s bad advice. I would say the same about someone hoping to become involved in the Hollywood film industry. Since I’ve done both, I’m not sure what that says about me.
Andy Warhol observed, “It’s the movies that have really been running things in America, ever since they were invented. They show you what to do; how to do it; when to do it; how to feel about it; and how to look when you feel about it.” He said this in 1966, and if anything, Hollywood’s influence is greater today than it was in Warhol’s time.
So it would seem to make sense that Christians should be attempting to invade Hollywood to influence culture for Christ. I certainly felt that way when I had the opportunity to become involved. But making a difference in Hollywood is a lot more difficult than it would seem.
Hollywood is tough. S.J. Perelman made the following observation in the early days of the industry:
Hollywood was a dreary industrial town controlled by hoodlums of enormous wealth, the ethical sense of a pack of jackals, and taste so degraded that it befouled everything it touched.
And that was from a Hollywood insider! Don’t get me wrong, there are some great people in the industry that really want to make a difference. The people behind Walden Media, and the work of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey are two examples. But the overwhelming majority of those in power in the industry are not good people. Good people rarely get very far in Hollywood.
After 16 years, I’ve come to the following conclusion: The only real hope of the world is the Church. Even in the most difficult of situations, the impact a person can have in the ministry of the local church, or as missional church planter or evangelist, will eclipse the futile efforts many invest in pursuing a Hollywood career.
This article originally appeared in Evangelicals magazine.