Arts & Entertainment

Reclaiming Arts and Entertainment

By Os Hillman
Culture can have tipping points as a result of what is portrayed in movies. In 1934, in the movie "It Happened One Night," popular star Clark Gable performed without an undershirt to better display his physique and, thereafter, undershirt sales dropped dramatically. In 1942, when "Bambi" premiered, deer hunting in America dropped from a $5.7 million business to barely $1 million. How has arts and entertainment changed in the last twenty years and what is its impact on society?

Malcolm Gladwell, author of the best selling sales and marketing book, The Tipping Point, explains that a tipping point is "the biography of an idea and the idea is very simple. It is that the best way to understand the emergence of fashion trends, the ebb and flow of a crime wave, or, for that matter, the transformation of unknown books into bestsellers, or the rise of teenage smoking, or the phenomena of word of mouth, or any number of the other mysterious changes that mark everyday life is to think of them as epidemics. Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread just like viruses do."

In essence, a tipping point is when something that is not so unusual becomes an unusual catalyst to cause a major shift or change as a result of that tipping point.

There have been many events in our culture that have become catalysts for tipping points in society.
  • Abolishment of Slavery - Martin Luther King became the catalyst that would lead to the The Civil Rights Act of 1964, a landmark tipping point legislation in the United Statesthat outlawed segregation in the US schools and public places.

  • Roe vs Wade - In 1973 a United States Supreme Court case resulted in a landmark decision making abortion legal.Legalized abortion became law and has resulted in millions of unborn babies to be killed in the womb.

  • American Revolution - The American Revolution took place during the last half of the 18th century in which the thirteen colonies that became the United States of America gained independence from the British Empire. In this period, the colonies united against the British Empire and entered a period of armed conflict known as the American War of Independence, between 1775 and 1783. This culminated in an American Declaration of Independence in 1776, and victory on the battlefield in October 1781.

  • Removal of Prayer in Public Schools - In 1963 prayer in public schools was removed and has become a benchmark where many societal ills can be traced back to this tipping point date in American culture.

These were major tipping points in American culture.

Culture can have tipping points as a result of what is portrayed in movies. In 1934, in the movie "It Happened One Night," popular star Clark Gable performed without an undershirt to better display his physique and, thereafter, undershirt sales dropped dramatically. In 1942, when "Bambi" premiered, deer hunting in America dropped from a $5.7 million business to barely $1 million.

More recently, the international news services reported that after Afghanistan was invaded by Coalition forces in the search for Osama Bin Laden, the first public buildings in that country to re-open weren't hospitals, schools or government agencies, but movie theaters, showing American movies.

Changing Culture

Randall Collins, a sociologist and author of Discovery of Society, explains that the US culture has been defined by less than 500 intellectual cultural philosophers who influence 7 gates and supporting networks since our birth as a nation. Imagine that, less than 500 individuals over the last 200 years! These leaders worked an average of 35 years. His research revealed other startling facts: Books and speeches don't change culture; adopting ideas by a network of influencers is how culture is actually changed and that ideas must be institutionalized. This was the case for William Wilberforce who was part of a group called The Clapham Group. It was through the efforts of him and his group that they were ultimately successful in the abolishment of slavery in England after 50 years of work.

Additionally, he states that money must support ideas, which makes the difference in whether the culture is actually changed.

Collins explains that culture is defined by the adoption of values and beliefs in four main competing networks:





It is the cultural network that is the most important of the four. It is made up of Education, Arts & Entertainment and Media. It is deemed the most important because this is where society defines values and beliefs. As values are expressed through movies, media, education and the arts, it is adopted, often subconsciously, by those who view these messages on an ongoing basis. If the messages that are being communicated are anti-biblical in nature, it is only time before the "frog in the kettle" realizes the temperature is too hot and dies. He does not recognize the subtle change in temperature until one day it is too late. Unless those in the culture understand the messages that are being communicated and seek to alter those messages, then culture will be changed by whoever chooses to influence using the media avenues available to them.

Using Entertainment to Influence Culture

Kong Hee and his wife, Sun Ho, are founding leaders of City Harvest Church, the largest church in Singapore. Sun Ho, a musician and the worship leader in her church, was led by the Lord to make a major shift in her ministry. She moved into the marketplace by entering the pop-music field. Those in her church leadership thought she had lost her way. However, today she is the most popular singer in China.

She topped the charts twice in the United States and twice in the United Kingdom, the first Asian to do either. Using her wealth and influence, she built a modern school building in each of China's 13 largest cities; two are already completed. The Chinese government admires Sun Ho so much that it has issued a commemorative postage stamp honoring her. Sun Ho is an example of a Christian who has achieved great success at the top of the entertainment mountain and impacted the culture at the same time.

From the Flower Shop to the Top of the Entertainment Mountain

God is placing his people in spheres of influence. However, the people God is placing in these positions do not always get there through the glamorous steps of the entertainment mountain like Granat and Flaherty did.Like Joseph, some of these influencers get placed in their positions through the crucible of adversity.

May-Lynn Chang is the marketing director for Walden Media with the specific assignment to promote the 2007 movie release, Amazing Grace, a movie about the life of William Wilberforce.

Walden Media was birthed in 2001 when three individuals came together-Philip Anschutz, Cary Garnat and Michael Flaherty--to form Walden Media. The company is owned by Philip Anschutz, an oil magnate, media mogul, the owner of the Regal Entertainment Group -- the largest motion picture exhibitor in the world (it operates nearly 20 percent of all indoor screens in the US) -- and a growing force in Hollywood.

Anschutz is a professing Christian and was seeking to change Hollywood by putting more wholesome movies in his theatres. However, he quickly realized he could not change content that way and decided he needed to be in the production business. Thus, Walden Media was birthed.

She spoke at our 2008 international conference on the theme, Reclaiming the 7 Mountains of Culture. May-Lynn desperately wanted to be lawyer when she graduated from college. Upon graduation May-Lynn prepared to take the bar exam. She studied hard, but failed her first time, which she says is not unusual (70% usually fail their first time). The second time she worked with a tutor, while working during the day at Wells Fargo and studied at night and weekends.However, she failed a second time. Devastated by this, she began to question whether she was called to be a lawyer. She studied a third time, and even went to china, thinking May he she was called to be a missionary to serve the poor. (In the back of her mind she was thinking God would find these things pleasing and might let her pass the exam). Others did not feel she was called to missions. She tried yet a third time to pass the exam. Again, she failed a third time. Then things get progressively worse in her life. She got laid off by Wells Fargo and had to move back to her parent's home in Sacramento. She decided to devote even time to studying for the bar exam. She studied 60 hours a week for one year. Amazingly, she failed a fourth time.

She wept for three days. This failure caused her to waver with God and she felt abandoned by Him. Other situations in her life were falling apart from her parent's marital challenges to her sister having medical problems. She ended up working at a floral shop after getting rejected by Starbucks three times, which she saw as the ultimate rejection. She was now at the bottom financially. She could not understand what God was doing in her life. She cried out daily to God as she despaired about her life.

As time passed, an opportunity opened up for May-Lynn that led her to her role at Walden Media. Today May-Lynn marvels how God has uniquely prepared her to use her gifts and talents in her role as Marketing Director at Walden Media. She is amazed at how God is using film to bring heads of state and government leaders together who would ordinarily not meet together. However, the message of a film like Amazing Grace crosses political boundaries and speaks to the human condition and a history that cannot be ignored.

Now, years later, she recalls her days cutting flowers in Sacramento. She would never have believed that in a few short years from that time she would be standing before heads of state and impacting nations through film as an ambassador for Christ. However, over the years May-Lynn has learned that God can use nothing and nobody's to tell everybody's about somebody's that can save anybody's."If God can use the weak to shame the strong and the weak to fool the wise, He can use us. He already has the story. He wants to use us."


Visitor Comments (1)


I am a children's pastor in a church in Cleveland, Tn. I was introduced to the ideas of the 7 mountains a couple years ago. I have felt myself drawn to the mountain of arts and entertainment. I have done background acting work in a few films, one tv show and a national commercial. While on set I try to represent Christ and pray for the huge mountain of the entertainment industry. I keep getting ideas for movies and/ or tv shows. Not quite sure who to trust or talk to about them. I want to be a part of telling stories that matter. They don't have to be in your face Christian, but they do have to have redeeming value and support and not contradict a Christian belief system. This article was encouraging. Like May-Lynn, my journey has not been one of glitz and glamor. I grew up as a pastor's kid, dropped out of college, worked in manufacturing for several years while getting my minister's license, had a good share of failure in ministry and moderate success. In all things, God has been faithful! And I know I can count on Him to always be...

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