May 2004

Volume 24

 

May 1, 2004

Pat Tillman's Sacrifice

I read about soldier Pat Tillman's selfless actions in turning down a 3 million dollar football contract to serve in the army after September 11th. Not a lot of people would do that. A man was willing to turn down a lucrative contract and the celebrity that would accompany it, to fight for and die for his country. He is the definition of patriotism. My condolences to his family and friends.  

David Beckham Press Stories

And the media storm surrounding David Beckham continues. The woman who alleges he committed adultery with her, Rebecca Loos, says she has knowledge of an intimate part of his body that proves she is telling the truth. Let me get this straight, and apparently she' isn't, as she said she's bisexual (bisexual = gay, you can't be playing for both teams) she is going to tell us that a man with a Jewish mother is circumcised. Oh, what will her next exclusive be - that Jewish people wear Yarmulkes.

It's really ironic when people do these tell alls and expect to be lauded as heroes, when the public usually views them as villains. Who is going to applaud someone for trying to break up a family and that's exactly what she is trying to do. She keeps saying things like their marriage won't survive her allegations. They have two small children and she's making statements like that, wishing for the demise of their marriage.

As I stated in the last Sound Off article about this topic, deliberately trying to break up a family is a grievous sin, that you do pay a price for in this life. It's a sin that goes beyond adultery. Not only is she trying to break up a family, she is doing so publicly, setting a horrible example.

I know people make bad choices and commit adultery, but they are usually sorry for it. They are contrite, regret their actions and seek God's forgiveness, which He does grant. God often restores marriages as well. There can be healing and forgiveness through God.

However, those genuinely contrite people don't go on national TV, brazen faced and deluded as to the general public sentiment about their deeds in trying to break up a family. That's just one of the worst sides of human behavior a person can show. It is completely contemptible. 

Making odd statements like "In my mind I know what happened," doesn't sound right either. In your mind? When something happens, it's not supposed to be in your mind.

A lot of this stems from bad PR advice and bad legal council. Don't expect good advice from the tabloids, because they know those stories will sell their papers (people trying to find out if a story is true) therefore they are not unbiased. Don't expect good advice from a PV company either when doing a tell all. They're thinking about how much money they can make and getting their firm's name out there even more. They hype suckers up into becoming public objects of scorn and contempt...but they don't tell them that. They tell them this is their chance to make some money and become famous. Some don't understand that when you things like that, you make a name for yourself, but not the kind you want.

When you do those things, you aren't considered a victim or a hero. You are considered a villain, mostly because a family is involved and one loved by many people. Not to mention the money you make gets hit by taxes, lawyers, agents and other miscellaneous fees. By the time you're done, you've sold what little dignity you had for a lifetime of scorn, disrespect and not much money.

She's pocketed 300,000 pounds for a tell all newspaper interview and 500,000 pounds for the television tell all interview, but once taxes and the other fees I've mentioned are applied, it's going to be drastically reduced.

Why don't you give the money to a children's charity...children, you know, like the two innocent one's whose family you are doing your best to destroy. I read an article where the children's aunt said it is affecting the children.

In writing this, I was not thinking about anyone's fame nor do I idolize anyone. I'm not impressed with that stuff. What I'm thinking about is the fact that underneath it all is a family and God loves the family. It's so difficult to keep a family together now and here's someone on TV setting a dreadful example in deliberately trying to destroy one.

That's another thing, why is it some lesbians hate the family so much. Their speech wreaks of hatred for men and the family. They hate men, but ironically one sired them (how do you think you got here). Some butch lesbians hate men, yet they try to be like them in appearance, behavior and speech. Why try to be like something you hate.

The whole thing is out of control. One of the women accusing him of adultery had her poor dad so indignant, that he proceeded to publicly give Beckham a morality lecture that was picked up by many major news outlets...only for it to be revealed the next day that his daughter is allegedly a prostitute, who was dropped from a modeling agency a few months ago before this scandal broke (but her family was unaware of it and did not approve of the type of modeling she did. They wanted her to be more upstanding). Well, he was defending his daughter, so it's kind of understandable, but it's still awkward now in light of what was printed the next day.

I read an Associated Press article about a poll that was done in Britain, which clearly showed people didn’t approve of the way the tabloids handled the story. They sunk to a new low. I’m pretty media savvy, yet I’ve never witnessed such a shameful display members of the press. They outdid themselves… in a bad way:

"Sixty-nine percent of respondents to a survey by pollster ICM said Britain should introduce a privacy law to protect public figures such as celebrities, including Beckham and his wife, former Spice Girl Victoria. Just 11 percent felt there was a "legitimate public interest" in publishing claims about Beckham's private life."

As she was on TV smiling away telling those reprehensible stories, with that air of celebrity wannabe delusion, you could later sense the general public sentiment was not one of glee at her stories, but of repulsion. Many have families of their own and many want families of their own, so they will sympathize with the one that she is trying to destroy, not applaud her for her devious efforts. Many people felt sympathy for them, as they realized that could have been their family that someone tried to destroy. Only difference is with the Beckham's it becomes a media circus because they are famous.

Tennis: Fire in Hotel

Today, I read about a fire in a hotel in Rome, where many tennis players were staying and I thank God they are okay. From what was written, it sounds like a harrowing, traumatic experience. However, sadly, three tourists died in the blaze.

They wrote that Andy Roddick helped people to the roof during the blaze. They also reported that due to the smoke, one of his fellow players, Sjeng Schalken and his friends, had to jump one by one from their balcony one floor up and Andy caught them on his balcony and helped them in. He catches tennis balls and people...you go boy!

It's probably the one time Schalken was really glad to see Andy, as opposed to on the other side of the net (kidding). There are certain players one would think you really aren't happy to see on the other side of the net and he has to be one of them. A similar, funny musical equivalent would be a singer walking out on stage and seeing Aretha Franklin at the mic. I'd be like, forget this, I'm going back inside!

Over-Credited Singers

I read an article in a newspaper last month about singers being credited as songwriters when it really is not deserving. It's something I've written about on here for a while because I didn't think it was right. Songwriting is more than writing a few words on a piece of paper and relying on a producer to do the majority of the work, also known as the rest of the work, which truly is the bulk of it. I'm not trying to insult anyone, but when you truly know the amount of work that goes into writing a song, you'd see how wrong it is for a few singers, mostly female, to get, well, take credit for work they are not fully doing.  

I think the industry needs to start making distinctions between lyricists and songwriters. Because you do realize at this point everyone is allegedly a songwriter. Everyone cannot do it, yet that's what they are saying, that everyone is. Just about every artist is now credited as a songwriter, for writing words/lyrics while the producer does the majority of the work (writing the music and producing it as well). 

Many artists who have now been credited as songwriters are really lyricists. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a lyricist, but there is a difference between a lyricist and a songwriter. It’s not the same thing and the latter is much more difficult. Being a lyricist doesn't require training, but being a songwriter requires work and years of study in music theory. A songwriter knows how to write lyrics and music, which includes the accompanying sounds and orchestrations you hear on a song, such as the piano and drums. It takes work to write the music for those parts, as you have to know theory and how to write music for each instrument represented in the song. Many singers who are being credited as songwriters, but do not write music, are vying for jobs, credit and awards with musicians who write lyrics and music and that is not right.

Another example of industry over-crediting is singers being over-credited as producers, when it’s the co-producer in the studio with them, who is listed in the credits, that is doing the majority of the work. Once again, this is mostly happening with female artists.

Sitting in a chair next to a producer and saying what you like and what you don't like and barking at the musicians is not producing. However, labels pacify some of their female artists who want the credibility other artists who really do the work have, and are overly generous with undeserved production credits, when as one of my favorite preachers John Hagee likes to joke about people who want to be soloists in the choir, but lack the skills, “Couldn't find middle C with a bloodhound.” 

The sports industry has drug testing, the industry should have music testing before you can get the production credit. The litmus test, let them write and produce a song before you on their own. No camera editing, no other writers or producers in the studio (make it really terrifying, no engineer either). Have them sit in a studio with you and write and produce songs on their own about something unspecific that you name, then you'll see who's really doing the work. If the industry started doing that, the over-crediting would stop instantly. 

Sounds harsh, but how much more unfair is it that you have musicians going to school and or studying music/instrumentation for years to truly write and produce music in all its parts and they are being awarded and credited on the same level with singer/lyricists who didn't go through all those years of study and aren't really writing music as it appears, but are being credit as such. It's even worse when those talented musicians are losing jobs and awards to singers who aren't really doing the work as they claim.

Even in the Bible there is order regarding people's jobs. God gave a person certain talents and gifts and that was their job. There was no fabricating talent or pretending to do a job you were not truly doing, because you were not given the ability to do it. Lightning bolts would start flying and things would get sorted out very quickly.  

If God gave you a talent to become a musician in the choir/congregation, that’s what you became. You didn’t become the singer, as that was not your talent. Some could sing and play instruments, for example David, and in those cases that is what they did. However, if it was not what you were equipped to do, you did not do it.    

Only in the entertainment industry do you witness people doing jobs they don’t have the talent for. What really happens is some other person who actually has the talent for the job ends up doing most of the work and getting the least of the credit to make the star look good. For singers, it's the backup singers, for lyricists, it's the co-writer and or producer and for producers it's the co-producer.      

A lot of the over-crediting stems from artists coveting other artists’ talents and acclaim. They read glowing reviews other artists with talent receive, covet that and fabricate production credits in an attempt to gain that same recognition and credibility. They want to be thought of in the same bracket when they do not have the talent.

This practice happens often in the mainstream and that is what I'm making reference to, not any other format or genre. Don't get me wrong, there are some singers in the mainstream who I believe when they say they are writers and producers, as their talent for it clearly shows. Female singers like Alicia Keys and Sheryl Crow and male singers Mario Winans and Brian McKnight to name a few. You can see their talent, but there are some other artists in the mainstream who I just don't believe when they claim these production credits. It shows in their speech and their performances that they aren't writers/producers. 

 …Another thing, I’m a firm believer that a person should be able to do what is in the title of their job. If you're a teacher, you should be able to teach. If you're an actor, you should be able to act. If you're a dancer, you should be able to dance. If you're a singer, you should be able to sing.   

As much as I love tennis, I'm not gonna go to Wimbledon, push Lindsay Davenport out of the way and tell her “I'm playing today!” It wouldn't be “I'm playing today” it would be, “I'm losing today.” Still, I don’t know, Lindsay looks like she could throw a punch and I really wouldn’t want the headline, “Davenport Decks Singer.” That wouldn't look too cute. If I ever pick a fight, I’m going to pick one with someone short like Kylie Minogue. She’s about my mom's height. What would be really sad is if Kylie won the fight. Another headline I wouldn’t want. I’m completely kidding.

Anyway, why would I not try to take Lindsay’s spot at Wimbledon? Yea, ok, they’d call security, first of all, and secondly, because, I'm not a professional tennis player. I didn't train for years to become one nor do I put in the constant work it takes to maintain that skill. That and my fastest serve is about 17 mph (I'm kidding - it's really about 15 mph. Ok, I'm joking again). Therefore, I belong in the bleachers with everybody else. But it's amazing that in the entertainment industry people don't grasp that concept. They have no talent and no training, but are pushing skilled singers out the way and saying “I'm playing today.” 

To become a lawyer you have to pass the Bar Exam. To become a doctor, you have to pass the National Board Exam. To become a singer you have to…   

The worst part is artists who cannot sing constantly try to compensate for that lack of talent by going on stage with very little clothes on and putting on a very provocative show, which ends up setting a bad example and lowering the bar for talent. That is not a career. That is not an achievement.

People become singers because God gave them a talent for it. They realize one day that they have a nice voice (they don't go "Oh, I'm cute, I should become a singer!"). A nice voice is not necessarily defined as being able to hit every note, having six octaves or the greatest range, though it doesn't hurt, it is simply having a pleasing voice that can carry a tune properly, whatever your range maybe. You don't have to be able to belt like Whitney Houston or Celine Dion, though it doesn't hurt, just have a pleasing voice with discernable vocal ability.  

There are people in the mainstream like Aretha Franklin, Oleta Adams, Annie Lennox, Rachelle Ferrell, Vonda Shepherd, Diana Krall, Alicia Keys and Norah Jones who have studied music for years (and you can tell by their talent level) and have the ability to sing and play their instruments well. They’ve earned those glowing reviews and the acclaim. When someone like Whitney Houston gets rave reviews for an outstanding vocal performance, you need to accept the fact that God gave her a great voice.

People can clearly see these women’s talents and the truly talented ones don’t get mixed up in all that hype. Their talent carries them. When you cannot sing, rather than music being your outlet, a raunchy stage show and a publicist with a flair for making up stories and creating controversy to keep you in the press becomes your outlet. That is not what being a singer is supposed to be about. It is supposed to be about singing. You know, that thing where you open your mouth and notes come out.   

The entertainment industry is a very competitive business, but not in a good way. Not in the kind of way that increases industry creativity and sales averages. Rather, in the kind of way that fabricates talent out of sheer covetousness, where there is very little or none.  

It’s evident when one singer sells 5 to 10 million copies of their new record, then another singer automatically adds on another 5 to 10 million copies in career sales to their totals. Never mind they don’t have a record out and their catalog isn’t even selling 20,000 per month, but their sales just jumped by 10 million copies. Creative accounting? Where did all these extra millions in sales suddenly come from... or was it because their rival put out a new hit record that sold millions and increased their sales, further distancing them from them and that’s their unethical way of catching up. There are some artists claiming sales that are greater than the sum total of all the other records ever sold on the well-established labels they record for.  

There really are a few artists who do that. Every time one of their rivals sells more records, they mysteriously add another 5, 10, sometimes 20 million to their career record sales in the space of a few short months (note to singers: no one has yet sold 20 million copies in 2 to 3 months). Not to mention, just because a person has high sales, doesn’t mean they are the most talented or talented at all for that matter. There are artists who can't sing, who’ve sold millions of records by shedding their clothes, so what does that tell you. High sales are not always an indicator of talent. 

The truly talented ones don’t do that. It’s usually the lesser talented singers or the ones without talent who inflate their sales. I know how many records the average label can press up in a given amount of time, even if they stretched all their resources, the highest amount ever sold in a week, what Soundscan reports, foreign averages and past sales and when you look at these factors you realize the disparities in some of the numbers some people are claiming. 

There are some artists who I genuinely believe have sold a lot of records and have landmark hits that people went out and bought in droves, as they really liked them. Then there are some artists whose sales I don’t believe because they didn’t create that kind of excitement about their projects or have a those types of hits to justify the numbers they are claiming. Some need to learn to accept that everyone can’t be number one/have the highest sales. So give it a rest, already (by the time I finish writing this sentence, certain singers will have added another 20 million to their album sales with the stroke of a publicist’s pen). 

I think it becomes most insulting when the ones who clearly do not have talent demand that you take them seriously and respect their talent. How can one respect something that is not there.

My opinion on that is, be glad you made any money at all, which was obviously your main goal, going up there without any talent and quit insulting our intelligence with that respect-your-(non-existent)- talent-whining.   

To sum it up, some of you need to respect the fact that people put years of training into their job that you didn't and it is wrong for you to be falsely credited in the same bracket with them because you lack the talent, ability and training. 

Stay tuned for part two of this sound off. 

 

May 6, 2004

Clement "Coxsone" Dodd

 My condolences to my godmother Norma and family on the death of her husband Clement "Coxsone" Dodd. He died on Tuesday, May 4th, 2004. He was a music pioneer. He is referred to as, "the root of reggae." He produced and recorded Bob Marley and The Wailers first records on his indie label and went on to produce several other landmark records. Today, a lot of people like to claim the title producer and many in the industry use the word loosely, not really knowing what it means and not really doing the job. He was a producer. He bought his equipment, he learned it, put together his studios and recorded the music. He was a great friend of our family and one of my dad's dearest friends. He will be greatly missed.

Over-Credited Singers PT 2

- A continuation of the last Sound Off article (May 1st, 2004)...

Singers becoming actors. There are some musicians that are good actors...some, not many. Will Smith for example is a rapper who is a good actor. Ok and he's about it. I'm kidding. However, he is one of the few people from the music industry who really deserves to be referred to as an actor. I think Bow Wow has potential as well. I saw him in the film Like Mike and he was good. I saw a trailer for a film Harry Connick Jr. did and though I didn't see the movie, he was pretty convincing in the trailer (yes, a very odd method of gauging talent, I know). He played a psycho, but then again, he is a musician, so he was probably in character and didn’t need much practice for the part – musician/psycho, same thing (I’m kidding). There are probably more singers who can act, but I don't know their work. Having written that, there are some other singers who need to leave the acting profession alone.

I've seen a few movies that featured singers and thought their roles should have been given to actors who know how to act, as the movie would have been much better. I don't write that being mean, it's something I truly noticed watching a film recently featuring a singer. I know critics will sometimes write cruel and sardonic reviews, but sometimes they really aren’t lying when they write certain things. However, I must state, a critic's review never made me go to a film, nor did it stop me from buying a ticket to one (yes, I'm quite the film buff, hold your applause, please).

There’s a singer I’m thinking of that I won’t mention, but I don’t think the acting profession is for her. Directors need to just move locations, finish up the film and not tell her. She only gets the roles because she is famous, but does no justice to the characters. As a director, when you cast unqualified, unsuitable people in your film, you are begging for trouble.

It's one thing to make a cameo in a film, but continually taking roles that you aren't qualified for is another. It doesn't build a career. It builds cynicism.

Carrying a film is not easy. A lot of singers don't get that (some do get that and co-star in films that would be a hit for anyone and take too much credit for the lead actor's work - not good either. Give credit where credit is due).

Some singers become actors for the wrong reasons and it’s often very evident. Some just want to be able to say they are actors, but truly, only in name, as they do not know how to act. They're about as animated as a statue in their roles. They slow down the pace, flow, intensity and impact of the film when their performance is not up to scratch and is befuddled. Roles that should go to more qualified people do not. Films that could have been better are not.

Parts should go to someone capable of translating the role, not a famous singer whose credentials and talent in the art are questionable and shoddy. The worst part is at the end of the day people don't think of or remember them as actors, but as singers.

Once again, to compensate for lack of talent, roles disintegrate into singers selling sex, rather than a good film. 

I'm not trying to discourage anyone from becoming an actor, but if you are a singer and decide to become one, make sure you can actually act and aren't taking away from the film, because then everybody loses.   

- DVD deleted scenes - why are they sometimes better than the ones left in the movie? I’ve seen several DVDs with deleted scenes that made me think, why did they edit that out? It was pretty good…

- Have you ever seen a trailer on TV and thought, "Hey, that movie looks good." Then you go to the movie and realize the only five good scenes in the movie, um, were the three scenes in the trailer and you want to yell "I've been punked, give me my $10 back!"

Conversely, I’ve seen trailers on TV that were bad, so bad that I didn’t go to the film. Then, months –cough- ok, sometimes years later, I buy the DVD and it turned out the film was quite good. Then I think to myself, the dude that did the trailer should be whipped for setting the wrong tone for the film. Do you know how many people don’t go to a film if the trailer stinks.

Then again, if you don’t have a talent for making films, you won't know a good trailer from a bad one...because everyone from the director to the editor to the dude in the mailroom approved the trailer and a lot of times none of them realize it stunk (kidding about the mailroom guy – what am I saying, sometimes it’s his script that someone ripped off).

- What's up with all these singers who don't know the first thing about films allegedly producing them. If you do the work that's another thing...cause, uh, that's actually doing the work. However, hiring people to produce films for your company while you take the credit, does not a producer make. Try to get an in-depth, unrehearsed interview out of some of them about the film and their response would be, "It's like, totally, a movie!" 

A lot of people who don't understand films or the film industry and unadvisedly get into it thinking it's a cakewalk when it's not. Many think they'll gain credibility when that's not usually the case. You can tell the real directors from the ones who aren't. That also applies to producers and writers as well. They walk, talk and act differently and reek of their work. Yes, they actually know what they are doing. Their passion for films and or filmmaking usually started in their teens. 

It's very easy to make a bad film. A bad film doesn't mean low box office receipts. After all, there are many art house and foreign films that I love that didn't gross very much because of the type of films they are (um, they're art house and some are, um, foreign). A bad film is one you can barely sit through because it is difficult to follow, doesn't make sense and stinks...with a script that is poorly written (yes, writing a good script is not easy).

In closing, there are actors, writers, producers and director's that make filmmaking look easy. There's a reason for that. They actually have a talent for it.

 

May 14, 2004

Clement "Coxsone" Dodd

I read most of the articles about the passing of Clement Dodd. There was this big outpouring of grief and respect. While he had consented to interviews while he was alive, the amount of articles on his death far outnumbered them. In ways, it made me angry. Why didn't they tell him this stuff while he was alive. He wasn't a man that pursued praise, but he would have appreciated.

His contribution to music did a lot for Jamaica. Not many countries can truly claim their own form of music. Prior to that, some from different parts of the world thought Jamaicans were stupid island people who lived in huts with no plumbing, no electricity, no education and no purpose, who were to be used and taken advantage of while they were on vacation. Well, some people still think that.

I remember when I was a teenager, after hearing me speak, a surprised, bigoted older woman looked at me and said, "you talk good English" and I jokingly thought to myself, you obviously don't. However, I didn't want to be rude and say that (besides, my mom was there and would have given me that "Aisha, behave!" look. I know that look all too well). However, you could see the surprise all over this woman's face, which in addition to her speech betrayed exactly what she thought.    
 
Months ago, I wrote on this page that award shows should honor more people that have been in the industry a long time (February 9th, 2004 Sound Off:
"Why does the music industry often fail to honor people until they die. It would be nice to see more of my older favorites honored for their work while they are alive"). When it happens to someone you know, it's particularly sad.

To do so would only mean pressing up more awards to hand out and sending out a few more letters each year, but it would mean so much to the musicians. More musicians would be honored each year. After all, some awards shows hand out awards simultaneously by having the winners stand up at the show to acknowledge their contributions (in addition to receiving the actual award). Like I said, it would only mean a few more awards being pressed up and a few more people standing up each year, but it would mean a lot to them.  

Many musicians love their music. They don't do it for publicity or to appear interesting in the press (well, the real musicians don't). They love their job and would do it for free. It means that much to them. So would winning an award recognizing all the work they've done throughout their career.

Artists have won many awards for the style Dodd pioneered, while he himself won a fraction of those honors. Often in music, the pioneer doesn't get as much credit as the protégé.

 

May 22, 2004

Inappropriate Teen Film "Saved"

Yesterday, I saw an MTV News short featuring the new irreverent teen flick "Saved," where VJ John Norris sarcastically introduced the subject of the film, which "pokes fun at" Christian teenagers who are "you know the type (wink wink)." No, John, what type would that be?

Speaking of John, why is it MTV has constantly switched out the younger VJs, but John has been there since the Louisiana Purchase (no, not MTV's acquisition of Britney Spears - hey, they own her, hook, line and lip syncer) just holding on like an old pair of underwear. Does he have shares in the company or dirt on one of the execs. 

And what's with these corny teen movies. Is there a shortage of teen actors in Hollywood or were the ones who actually read the script sober and passed on the film.

Now, I know there is such a thing as typecasting, but former child star Macaulay Culkin and former teen pop singer Mandy Moore are too old to be playing in these youth films all the time. The last time each of them hit puberty, Britney Spears was still a virgin and the internet was a great new item the government was thinking about making available to the public. 

I really expected to see some intelligent, mature acting from those two, but they continually retreat to the safety of playing characters a generation younger than they are, which is, well, safe, predictable and stale.

Continue down that path and you'll be covering your grays in your bathroom, while reading scripts about going to the prom. 60 years old, taking Geritol between takes and spewing out lines like, "Dude, are you ready to go to the prom?" Never mind your collecting social security…

The way they were arrogantly posturing and pretending to be so intellectual and above it all during the interview, one would think they'd have figured out that career pigeonhole.

Synopsis

Courtesy of Mercury News:

When her boyfriend tells her he's gay, Mary has a vision from God that tells her to "save" her boyfriend from his sinfulness by offering up her virginity to him. So she does, but she gets pregnant and is soon ostracized by her friends and nearly the whole school. She finds herself out in the cold, with the other outcasts: the school's only Jewish student Cassandra (Eva Amurri) and Hillary's sarcastic brother Roland (Macauley Culkin).

Oh, yes, a very realistic, common Christian occurrence. The film is totally realistic as the producers and cast claim.

I mean, just yesterday, I had this prophetic vision that Madonna made a movie called Swept Away and for the first time in the history of the film industry critics unanimously agreed that it was the worst film ever! Oh wait, that actually happened. Never mind.

Off topic for a bit...how does she do that to films. It must be a gift (from hell). Satan overextended himself. He figured he made her a famous pop star even though she can’t sing and has no musical ability. Impressed with himself and the results of his puppet’s campaign of debauchery, self centeredness and perversion, Satan tried to make her a famous film star as well in the land of filmmaking where talent actually matters and lack thereof will show much more quickly than in music. Note to Satan: you’re not God, you can’t do miracles, so let it go, already.

back to the film...

This is NOT a Christian movie

I've read articles where the promoters of “Saved” tried to pass it off as a Christian film in an effort to capitalize on the success of The Passion Of The Christ. However, after the self-defeating display of its lead actors in that MTV interview, coupled with the irreverent scenes shown to promote the film, it is very easy to see it is NOT a Christian film. It is not a Christian comedy, it is not a Christian anything. 

I will "save" my time and money by NOT going to the film. You spit in someone's face, then ask for their money. I think not.

The excerpts I've seen are unscriptural, inaccurate and another quality I really can't stand in a film...corny. And it's not even the good kind of corny where it's funny...it's just corny.

Not to mention, I was once a Christian teen and was never like the characters in the film, neither were my friends. I will not enrich anyone that portrays us as such. As a Christian teen, I spent my time praying for people, handing out food and money to the homeless, giving to charity and going to church. Oh yea, that’s something to make fun of. Just stand up comic material. 

I was raised in the South, where faith is a big part of our lives, regardless of what color you are. It’s one of the things I love most about the South. So, pardon me if I don’t take to a film like this, especially one aimed at Christian youth.

Certainly the filmmakers are entitled to write whatever they choose, just like I'm entitled to write whatever I choose (and pretty much do) and so I have the right not to go to the theatre and not to spend money on that film. Money well "saved" indeed.

The Press Interviews

I can only figure that they assume Christians don't watch MTV, but we do occasionally, especially when we want to find out what not so smart actors like the cast of "Saved" are up to.

As a general rule, if you want to con Christians into thinking a film is Christian, don’t send out its cast to do arrogant, self-defeating, sarcastic interviews disparaging Christian teens. To hear them talk about the film in the interview as though they are so witty and enlightened, especially given their own conduct, was laughable.

Note to producers: in order to credibly make fun of millions of Christian teenagers, choose cast with unimpeachable conduct, not ensemble who’s lives could qualify for their own mockumentary due to their own questionable conduct.

It’s not just a matter of them playing these slanderous, far-fetched characters, they haughtily took it a step further by insulting Christian teens in the interview to promote the film.

There's a serious credibility gap/hypocrisy underlying the film as well, due largely in part to its cast.

The Cast

All too old to be playing teenagers in a film. Not only are they in their twenties, that combined with the Hollywood hard partying and hard living they do make them look older than their actual ages. Yes, very realistic casting, indeed. 

Ironically, one of the producers, Michael Stipe said he didn't want a teen film where the actors were 24 year olds. However, according to his filmography, one of the stars, Macaulay Culkin turns 24 in 3 months. I guess those few extra months make a difference. It’s 23 and 3/4ths not quite 24. There is a difference.

Macaulay Culkin, 23 - A child star by age seven, his life spiraled out of control very early. According to a television program I watched, he was an alcoholic by age 15, divorced his parents by age 15 and was living and partying in his own New York apartment by age 15. 15 was a big year for Mac. It was in that same New York apartment that a fire broke out which killed four of his neighbors.

I’ve never taken to the issue of kids divorcing their parents. I think it’s wrong. Then again, there are some parents who would be difficult to divorce. My godbrother’s mom should have been his mom. That divorce would not have happened. One of my godbrother’s friends suggested he do something that was ill-advised and reeked of getting grounded. My godbrother told him no and jokingly said, “You know my mom is crazy!” Well, she isn’t clinically crazy, but she’s one of those parents that doesn’t tolerate much and isn’t afraid to publicly show that.

Had she been his mom and he threatened to divorce her she’d have had him sleeping with one eye open and with Child Services (HRS) on speed dial. She would have beaten his bratty little butt for trying to divorce her. That’s when he’d have really been scared to be “Home Alone.”

Seriously, it must have broken his parents hearts when he divorced them, not to mention humiliating them like that. There’s a passage  in the Bible which states, “Honor your mother and father, which is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth" (Ephesians 6:2). Doing otherwise is to your own detriment. They may do questionable, unethical things, but divorcing them is not the answer. 

He is the definition of a trouble child star, yet is now poking fun at teenagers, Christian teenagers. Yes, one for Freud, indeed.

To pretend to be so above it all and speak so disdainfully of Christian teenagers in that interview when his teen years were a mess, even by Hollywood standards, is hypocritical. To pretend to be so enlightened, when the light he is most familiar with is the one at the end of a liquor bottle disqualifies him from throwing stones at anyone.

I know people make bad choices like taking drugs and excessively drinking, but they usually have the self-awareness and humility not to throw stones at people with fewer vices than themselves. Therefore, for Culkin, whose life had become a punch line in the press, due to his own conduct regarding divorcing his parents and substance abuse, to speak disdainfully of Christian teens is very self-deluding. Or do you feel if you make fun of them it draws attention from you.

For the record, I never thought badly of him for falling into drug and alcohol abuse, but I thought less of him for punking himself on national TV making fun of Christian teenagers, when his own teen years were riddled with dysfunction and substance abuse. 

And look who they're poking fun at, Christian teenagers trying to clean up their lives and help the people around them. The cast could use a bit of that. He needs to take a good look in the mirror, because given his track record as a teen, the producers would have made more money on a made for TV movie on the train wreck that was his teen years (it would not make the big screen, though).

It would probably be on E, no, not slang for the drug ecstasy, I mean the television channel, which is where I saw the True Hollywood Story on his troubled teen years. A film mocking any teenager is really rich coming from him. He is in no position to cast dispersions on anyone. Teapot calling the kettle black, indeed.

Jena Malone, 19 – Another child star who divorced her parent. I’m noticing a trend here. Must be a Hollywood thing. Parents just aren’t fashionable anymore.  

Malone scornfully talked about the research they did for the film by going to two Christian youth rallies. She sarcastically said in her valley girl voice, in a failed attempt at humor, "I got saved three times“ (insert requisite valley girl head tilt and hand wave here). It’s not their fault you’re a slow learner, Jena.

Like, pity it didn't do much for your, like, acting skills, cause it's like so totally infomercial. Like, leave those out of your CV, cause they’re like, so totally bogus. You're, like in the dangerous Madonna acting zone. "Method Acting For Dummies" anyone?

At age 12, Malone starred in the R rated film “Bastard Out Of Carolina,” which the MPAA description for was:  

"Rated R for strong depiction of sexual and violent abuse, including a rape scene involving a young girl."

The rape scene involving a young girl was Malone’s character based on what was written in her filmography. At 12 she was doing twisted roles like that and has the gall to mock Christian teens. Her teen years don’t sound very normal or very sane.

Let’s see, healthy, normal pre-teen and teen years…go to church or pretend to get raped for the cameras and divorce parent. Hmm which one sounds more normal?

Show of hands, how many of you parents would let your 12 year old star in a film where it calls for the “strong depiction of sexual and violent abuse, including a rape scene involving a young girl.” 

Not to mention, how many 12 year olds would want such a role.  

Mandy Moore, 20 – Former teen pop singer. At age 15 sang the lyrics:

I'm so addicted
To the lovin that you're feeding to me
Can't do without it
This feeling's got me weak in the knees
Body's in withdrawal
Everytime you take it away

You know, that's the first time I actually looked up the lyrics to that song, which was her debut single she released at age 15. The song must have been popular among pedophiles. 

That scene in the film where Moore's character violently throws her Bible at her pregnant teenage classmate played by Malone was something else. Mandy, when you threw that Bible at her like you were pitching at Yankee Stadium, much like your dancing on stage, you were too stiff. I thought in your genre you were supposed to get jiggy like J-Lo.

Seriously, in all the years I've been a Christian and with the hundreds of Christians I've been around, I don't know any Christians who've thrown a Bible at anyone, let alone a pregnant teen.  

To summarize it, with a film with an ensemble like that how can you respect their integrity. If they had any, they wouldn't have done the film or most of their other questionable career choices.

Regardless of all the disparaging comments that have been made in promoting the film by its supposedly upstanding cast and all the potshots taken at Christian teens in the film, which paints them as evil vision seeing, Bible throwing, physically abusive, racist, bigoted, hateful, dimwitted people, the producer wants you to bare in mind that, "The humor in the story is not meant to mock Christianity. We are not making fun of Christian people in this movie." Who are you kidding. 

They say the film is about tolerance, yet they sarcastically mocked and insulted Christian teens in the film and its accompanying press interviews, showing utter contempt and derision for Christianity. Yes, very tolerant, indeed.

A Mockumentary

I thought to myself, self, what if I made an irreverent film about the cast. Certainly they wouldn’t like it. What if I made a film about Culkin’s teen years? I couldn't imagine he'd be pleased. He'd sue to have the film blocked. Ironically, there's enough real material there for a script that would make him an utter byword without embellishing a thing. If someone made a film poking fun at the cast's lives there would be so many humiliating and traumatizing moments for them due to the behavior in their own personal lives that it would send them screaming and crying to their shrinks.  

They spend a little time with these kids at two Christian youth rallies and now claim to know them like a book. It's the same celebrity arrogance that thinks every fan is a stalker, every acquaintance is an admirer, when they may very well feel sorry for you due to the tormented, jaded, confused lives you lead. Some celebrities read between lines to deduce and infer things that aren't there, when a person may just feel compassion for them due to the great need they notice in their life betrayed by their troubled behavior.

Financially rich, but spiritually poor = miserably unhappy. You'd have to be to become an alcoholic and divorce your parents at age 15 then marry and divorce before 19. But you're speaking disparagingly of those teenagers...

If I were to do research for a film about Culkin's life, as they claim they did for making a film about Christian teens, I could presumptuously assume it would be spent in bars and for Moore in Britney Spears' shadow and the tennis hotels of the world.  

I would try to really capture their lives accurately, as they claim they did Christian teens. I’d make a film showing Culkin at age 15 divorcing his parents, holding wild parties in his Manhattan apartment, getting drunk, then hurling into the toilet.  

Moore’s film would have more dimension, as I would capture the strength, conviction, integrity and edginess of her putting out sugary pop songs, shopping, putting out a teen film with carbon copy script, putting out sugary pop songs, shopping, putting out a teen film with carbon copy script, putting out sugary pop songs, shopping, putting out a teen film with carbon copy script.

Malone’s film…hers is so questionable I can’t even joke about that. A 12 year old in an R rated film pretending to be raped for the cameras. What kind of role is that for a 12 year old and why write something like that into a script, anyway. What does playing a role like that do to a kid?

I have to wonder sometimes what these actors are thinking when they do certain things. It maybe alright to some, and if you carry yourself well enough, kiss what you assume to be the right butts, don’t offend what you assume to be the wrong ones, and are polite enough to who you assume are the right people, you can pull it off, but at the end of the day what they do is meaningless and of no contribution to society.

The film isn't about nothing as those stereotypical teen films usually are. They decided to do a film slandering a real group of people, who actually have integrity. Christian teens do a lot of charity work and enroll in programs that help many in the community. Yet these are the people you pillars of the filmmaking world and society are making fun of. Running out of ideas are you.

They are religiously persecuting and mocking Christian teens who do the following:

- Feed the homeless

- Collect and drop off food for lower income families

- Volunteer at hospitals

- Clean graffiti off walls

- Clean up neighborhoods (picking up trash)

- Painting buildings in area revitalization projects

- Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for lower income families

- Missionary trips to feed and help people in underprivileged countries

I can’t begin to tell the cast of “Saved” how self-centered, self-absorbed, selfish, egotistical, spoiled, over-privileged, over-indulgent, clueless, lazy and vain they look in comparison to them. But you all are making fun of Christian teens, many of them doing more work for others than you’ll ever do in your jaded, pampered, over-privileged lifetimes.

What's your lot's contribution to making the world a better place? Certainly not these self-aggrandizing, corny teen films.

Another thing about the film that is offensive is the Mercury News wrote that the Jewish character was one of three outcasts from Christian youth group circles. I take offense at that characterization. Christians have tried to establish relationships with the Jewish community for a very long time. So many churches constantly go to Israel bringing goodwill and valuable tourist dollars. John Hagee organized a program called Operation Exodus, which raised over one million dollars to bring Jewish people from other parts of the world like Russia, back to Israel. Pat Robertson has done work in aid of Israel, so much so that he was publicly criticized by a few Muslims, when an Israeli cabinet member gave him an award in honor of his work for Israel. However, according to what has been written regarding the film, Christians are Nazis who’ve cast Jewish people out of their circles. We are not the enemy of the Jewish community. Their name is Al Quaeda.

The Producer

The interview mentioned REM singer and sourpuss Michael Stipe, most known for his song “Losing My Religion”, released the film. He should have named that song losing my smile, as he's got to be the unhappiest singer ever. With my almost encyclopedic knowledge of singers –royal wave “thank you, thank you, very much!”- I'm hard pressed to find a singer with a more miserable mug than Stipe. Smile already, Michael. Even satanic rocker Marilyn Manson cracks a smile every now and again, with crack being the operative word (I'm just kidding). Stipe has this someone just killed his trusted childhood pet look on his face all the time, yet ironically sang a song called, "Shiny Happy People." Talk about irony.

However, considering he recorded a song like "Losing My Religion," it's not surprising he tried to have this film made. He's got issues with God ... but is persecuting teenagers the way to make you feel like a man? It looks very cowardly. Why don't you religiously persecute someone in your own age group and leave the kids alone.

Why don't you pick on some tough like Suge Knight? Certainly, you aren't scared of a thorough butt kicking. Or better yet, Osama Bin Laden. Why don't you make a film that picks on him? One would think an allegedly socially conscious man such as yourself would pick on someone like him rather than defenseless 13, 14, 15 and 16 year olds that you know won't fight back or try to blow you to smithereens. Quite cowardly of you, indeed. Much like that scowl you always wear, it doesn't look good on you (there are hospice patients with more cheerful expressions than you).

They'll read this, be insulted, hurt and say how dare I write that. Doesn't feel too good now does it? But it’s okay for you to do that to Christian teens? Not even adults, but to teens. It's cool for you to make cowardly films that mock and  religiously persecute them? Films might I add that will only further typecast and pigeonhole the actors' careers. Guess you showed those little zealots!

This stuff has grown so trite. What's next? The made for TV movies, "Home Alone 9: Kevin Saves The Retirement Home," "The Really, Really Long Walk Home Again Part 6: Menopause" and "How To Deal: Hot Flashes And Me."

Grow up already and start acting your age (Get the joke? They are actors, but constantly playing roles too young for them).

Christian Consumers

-Aisha says in a kind motherly voice- :

To the Christian teenagers reading this, are you really gonna be sad at a movie made by that lot? While I have no explanation for you as to why a 44-year-old man put out a film taking potshots at you, nor why he assembled such an incredulous cast to make the mockumentary, don’t let that cowardly bully bother you. Pay him and his adultchildren cast no mind. Now, run along children and stay away from those heathens! (I’m kidding).

Seriously, since they view you as teenage religious zealots, why should they get your so called teenage religious zealot dollars (And based on Census reports, there are millions of you). Why go to their movies, their concerts, buy their music, their DVDs, merchandising or endorsed products when they insult you and your intelligence with trash like that.

Since they think so little of you, they should think that little of your money as well. And for them, that’s what it is about, the bottom-line. What they think is edgy enough to, like, totally make them more famous and, like, give them credibility.

Don’t let them tell you otherwise, because if they truly cared about artistic value they wouldn’t continually do such vapid, forgettable work. They’d spend more time developing their craft, rather than developing their extra curricular activities.

Besides, the funds from it will only end up being spent on a $1,000 pocket book or up someone’s nasal passages or pickling someone’s liver via alcohol, cause you know, they’re like, so totally keeping it real. You want to keep it real, keep it sober. You’d be better off giving your money to charity.

And make no mistake, it is about the money as one of the producers said  “Something is going on in the world right now that we haven’t quite seen. Christianity has become a multi-billion dollar industry.”

Christianity was always a multi-billion dollar industry from books to CDs to movies. We’re quite normal. We buy music, movies, books, clothes, vehicles, ect... (yes, really!). There are many Christians in this world and we do buy Christian products.  

However, some in Hollywood just didn’t notice, as the average Christian company doesn’t employ the tactics certain questionable Hollywood companies do in getting their projects out there, nor do they compromise with certain types of advertising and publicity stunts that go contrary to the message of Christianity or rig awards to receive honors they don’t deserve or move in certain Hollywood circles. Can’t really call yourself a Christian and go to Hollywood parties with playboy models, people getting drunk and snorting drugs off the table.

And Christian or not, that is not a healthy lifestyle. I know the history of the entertainment industry and the people who lived like that ended up in rehab or dead. Rehab being the better choice. God didn’t make the human body to endure that kind of physical and emotional abuse. However, God can forgive.

There's a part two to this Sound Off, that God willing, I'll put on line in a few days, but for now I'd like to recommend Cloud Ten Pictures, who have suitable Christian films that are available in stores like Wal-Mart and through online merchants using the following links:

http://www.cloudtenpictures.com/  

http://www.jhm.org/catalog/featured.asp 

http://www.jvim.com/prophmov.html

   

 

 


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