Hollywood and Christianity

03-17-2024Weekly ReflectionFr. Leonard F. Villa

Any observer of films/TV programs coming from Hollywood today can see that Christianity and particularly Catholicism is often presented in a negative light. Why is that? Don Feder sought to answer that question in an essay years ago for Front Page Magazine. He asserted that Hollywood hates authentic Christians because the Faith is diametrically opposed to the worldview of a good many of the producers, actors, and directors who control Hollywood. What is that Hollywood worldview?

  1. Sexual Liberation-Hollywood glorifies pre-marital sex (fornication), adultery, homosexuality, abortion and antichild attitudes. Sex means simply self-gratification. The notion of restraint, self-sacrifice, fidelity, and family are alien concepts to Hollywood. There was a series produced called Californication.
  2. This Life Is All There Is-According to Hollywood’s current values the here-and-now is all there is. It’s referenced by St. Paul who styles the attitude: Eat, drink, for tomorrow we die. 1 Cor 15:32 The drug/alcohol/decadent lifestyles of many of Hollywood’s “beautiful people” portray this. Christianity says that we are called to know, love, and serve God and be happy with Him in heaven. We are only pilgrims on this earth.
  3. The Worship of Self-Many of the executives and decision-makers in Hollywood are “baby boomers” who grew up in the turbulent 60’s. Sound morality and values were rejected in favor of continuous selfindulgence. Hence, there’s popularity of all kinds of self-actualizations, the notion that the self is more important than anybody or anything: narcissism on steroids. Contrast this with the notion of losing one’s self in order to find it for the sake of Christ. To the selfworshipper this is madness. The individual is his/her own salvation.
  4. Gender Identity–This is the Hollywood drumbeat that men and women are identical, sexual roles are interchangeable, and that marriage and family life is simply what people decide it should be. This is a radical agenda to redefine family life in the Hollywood image. Gender ideology is the latest expression of this. The Judaeo-Christian notion that family means one man and one woman united for life for the procreation and rearing of children and for mutual support and companionship for life is revolutionary in Hollywood’s eyes and is rejected.
  5. Militant Secularism–This is the belief that religious expression should be confined to the inside of church buildings and should have no effect or role in shaping laws and institutions. This certainly was not the attitude of the Founding Fathers of our country. The notion that the First Amendment means stripping the country of the religious influence of believers especially Christians is an unhistorical and bigoted view promoted by Hollywood.

These factors make it important for Christians to unite and stand fast and reject the trash and nihilism emanating from Hollywood. Nihilism (nothing-ism) is the rejection of all religious and moral principles in the belief that life is meaningless. Check out this analysis from Thomas Hibbs, who wrote a book called Shows About Nothing: Nihilism in Popular Culture. The book is still available and here is an audio interview with the author on the subject: https://youtube/Kt5BZ7PmODM The Mel Gibson triumph of his film The Passion of the Christ shows that this attitude can be confronted and beaten, but only if we remain faithful to our values and not support movies and shows which trash our Faith, sound morality, and the natural order of creation. Here is an excerpt from the Catechism of the Catholic Church regarding the 8th Commandment which governs the use of media:

2496 The means of social communication (especially the mass media) can give rise to a certain passivity among users, making them less than vigilant consumers of what is said or shown. Users should practice moderation and discipline in their approach to the mass media. They will want to form enlightened and correct consciences the more easily to resist unwholesome influences.

2501 Created "in the image of God," man also expresses the truth of his relationship with God the Creator by the beauty of his artistic works. Indeed, art is a distinctively human form of expression; beyond the search for the necessities of life which is common to all living creatures, art is a freely given superabundance of the human being's inner riches. Arising from talent given by the Creator and from man's own effort, art is a form of practical wisdom, uniting knowledge and skill, to give form to the truth of reality in a language accessible to sight or hearing. To the extent that it is inspired by truth and love of beings, art bears a certain likeness to God's activity in what he has created. Like any other human activity, art is not an absolute end in itself, but is ordered to and ennobled by the ultimate end of man.

2502 Sacred art is true and beautiful when its form corresponds to its particular vocation: evoking and glorifying, in faith and adoration, the transcendent mystery of God - the surpassing invisible beauty of truth and love visible in Christ, who "reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature," in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."This spiritual beauty of God is reflected in the most holy Virgin Mother of God, the angels, and saints. Genuine sacred art draws man to adoration, to prayer, and to the love of God, Creator and Savior, the Holy One and Sanctifier.

2503 For this reason bishops, personally or through delegates, should see to the promotion of sacred art, old and new, in all its forms and, with the same religious care, remove from the liturgy and from places of worship everything which is not in conformity with the truth of faith and the authentic beauty of sacred art. Also to be recommended is Venerable Pius XII’s essay called The Ideal Film. It can be read here: