Dr. Ted Baehr Interview – His MovieGuide Has Broken the Stranglehold of Hollywood Perversity
In the early 1970s there were some things that seemed like immoveable fixtures on the international landscape. We had death and taxes. We had the Berlin Wall. We had a “Fairness Doctrine” that stifled anything controversial on the radio airwaves. And we had monolithic Hollywood perversity.
Unfortunately, we still have death and taxes, but God used one man to deliver us from monolithic Hollywood perversity. That man is Dr. Ted Baehr.
His MovieGuide is a ministry dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media according to biblical principles, by influencing entertainment industry executives and helping families make wise media choices.
1. Tell us about your work with MovieGuide, Dr. Baehr. How did you first get involved in evaluating the movie industry?
I grew up in a Hollywood family. My father was actor, Tex Allen, and my mom was an actress. Not a Christian family, but a wonderful family life during the Great Depression. Upon graduation from high school, I studied Comparative Literature at Dartmouth College as a way to succeed in difficult times.
When I came to Christ,that set the stage for my desire to get back to the wholesome days when my father was a cowboy star. I met George Heimrich, former Director of the Hollywood Film Office, that had help keep Hollywood clean. He inspired me to resurrect the activities of that group. MovieGuide was born.
2. Prior to the days of MovieGuide, how did Christians lose their early influence over Hollywood?
From the 1890s to about 1914 Hollywood produced primarily biblical epics and the films were shown mostly in churches. Small theaters complained to get the movies onto more neutral ground]. As a result movies were increasingly debauched during the 1920s [Roaring Twenties], climaxing in 1929.
At that point Jack Warner invited three churchmen in to help clean things up. They developed the Movie Code, whose moral influence prevailed for 33 years until 1966. In that year a lack of funds shut down the Protestant Film Office.
In just three years the industry went from movies with 100% broad audience acceptance to 82% R-rated movies.
3. Is MovieGuide picking up a Christian resurgence in Hollywood in recent years? What are some examples of recent inroads by Christians?
In 1985 I launched the MovieGuide and 1) started replicating the old Film Review, and 2) did economic analysis to show that movies with moral content do better. Anti-Christian movies do not do well at the box office. As a result we have seen Hollywood move dramatically.
For example, Disney has an annual prayer meeting. There are a lot of Christians at the top in Warner. They are portraying romance with no sex, dialog with no foul language, action with no violence.
4. Is Hollywood changing for the better, worse, about the same?
There are two sides to Hollywood. Sixty percent of the films are independent, but they produce only 10% of the box office. Usually — but not always — they are the one’s producing the “ugly” movies.
The major studios produce 40% of the movies, but they get 90% of the box office. The majors have moved significantly away from foul language, etc. in recent years.
5. How would MovieGuide define or identify a “Christian” movie?
We consider elements such as plot, character and spectacle, among other things. Note that “spectacle” comes last. What is the ontology? Does it portray a real world, with real suffering, in need of a real Savior? Harry Potter can change reality simply by speaking a secret word. This makes Jesus irrelevant. Is it overt about the redemptive aspect.
6. What suggestions do you have for Christian youth seeking a career in the entertainment industry?
Pick up my book “So You Want To Be In Pictures.” You’ll be inspired as the chairmen of Disney and Warner Brothers tell their faith story. You’ll learn that there are about 120 jobs associated.
For more information about the anti-Christian features of the U.S. Constitution visit http://www.america-betrayed-1787.com/us-constitution.html Dennis Woods is webmaster and also a political pollster and fundraiser in Oregon, using the Dog Catcher Campaign Strategy: http://www.america-betrayed-1787.com/gary-north.html