— Sidney Poitier as Virgil Tibbs from In the Heat of the Night, 1967
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June 7, 2012
Is the ‘Battle for Religious’ Freedom relevant today?
— Posted by Kenny Miles
The hypertension of political anxiety doesn’t showcase the brightest minds in political discourse. Outrageous comments rule in the era of emotional driven partisanship. That’s how Michael Moore succeeds at effectively selling his documentary brand to his liberal audience. This is why CNN, trying to be an objective cable news channel compared to MSNBC and Fox News, struggles for viewership. Dry objectivity isn’t a sexy sell. But that’s another subject matter probably not appropriate for themovieblog.com.
Last week, “For Greater Glory” lead actor Eduardo Verástegui made a boneheaded comment to fire up a select conservative audience which upset me. According to NPR, while speaking to the Catholic News Service about the film he said, “You know, I don’t see any difference between Plutarco Elías Calles and President Obama.”
Well, Eduardo, I do. Under Plutarco’s rule in Mexico, the communist dictator passed a law restricting the civil liberties of Catholic churches, which denied them various rights including outlawing religious orders and denying property rights to churches. At times, the government sent soldiers to murder those Catholics who were devout including clergymen and burned iconic Catholic imagery such as crucifix’s and statues. In drastic contrast, President Obama upset many social conservatives when his administration enforced organizations and companies to provide birth control coverage in their health insurance policies including faith based charities. Never mind churches are completely exempt from this policy and many women use birth control.
Only in 21st century political America, would someone draw over-dramatic and inaccurate historical comparisons.We live in an era where talking heads, pundits, and politicians compare minor and insignificant events and laws to fascism or socialism. Its as if the critic seems to not grab the basic concept of true radicalism. This attitude can divide and alienate an audience.
Co-financed by the Catholic organization Knights of Columbus, “For Greater Glory” had so much potential to target a large group of audiences especially numerous Catholic Churches across the country. Most of the time, religious organizations are devout in showing up to faith based films. Audiences that regularly attend movies could have made ‘Glory’ a big sleeper hit as the film caters to an undeserved audience and this movie and had potential to be a “Think like a Man” surprise box office draw on a smaller scale. In my opinion, ‘Glory’ was a captivating faith based film had mainstream appeal featuring an impressive production design and stellar all star cast interlaced with thrilling and gripping war drama. Any viewer who has fought for something they believed in would be profoundly moved. But the audience didn’t show up due to poor marketing and low awareness.
Eduardo Verástegui’s reckless comments were a desperate attempt to pander to the fear driven audience. He was being as melodramatic as the tone of ‘Glory,’ the films sharp weakness. And comments like this along with a marketing strategy drawing comparisons to American cultural alienated a divided faith community. Statically, Hispanic Catholics are more liberal then evangelical Hispanics. Not to mention, there are many Catholics located in New England and the Midwest who have a progressive mindset. Half of all Catholics were potentially alienated from a comment such as Mr. Verastegui’s. This could’ve hindered “For Greater Glory” for being a minor box office hit.
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Whether something is overlooked by Hollywood or whatever business trend has captured the Entertainment Industry’s attention, Kenny Miles loves to talk about movies (especially the cultural impact of a film). He covers various aspects of movies including specialty genre films, limited release, independent, foreign language, documentary features, and THE much infamous "awards season." Also, he likes to offer his opinion on the business of film, marketing strategy, and branding. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado and is a member of the Denver Film Critics Society critics group. When he isn’t writing, Kenny channels his passion for interacting with moviegoers (something most movie pundits lack) as a pollster for the market research company CinemaScore and working as floor staff/special events coordinator in the film community. You can follow him on Twitter @kmiles723.
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