|Why New Ethos?|
The Challenges to “Embracing” a New Ethos in Entertainment
A “new ethos” movement in the entertainment culture will benefit the audience, the Entertainment Industry, and the Church, among other sectors of society. New Ethos believes that for this needed movement to come about, the following four challenges will need to be met: For the audience to realize their power; for "Catholic Hollywood" to work in collaboration and for unity for the sake of the big picture versus personal agendas; for the Catholic community at large to view that "Hollywood is not Evil"; and for the secular entertainment community to trust working with the Church.
Challenge #1: Catholic (and all) Consumers: Realize Your Power
First, the consumer will need to realize that entertainment within itself can be a good and holy gift from God. Excellence in entertainment can operate much like, if not better, than an excellent homily or sermon. The Catholic-Christian consumer must open themselves up to the great opportunities for personal and spiritual growth that true, beautiful, and good entertainment offers. The consumer must be ready to embrace a broader scope and a "new ethos" in evaluating entertainment, while not compromising their values, or violating their human dignity.
Secondly, the consumer will need to realize that they can exercise a powerful influence through supporting favorable entertainment as a consumer. The consumer, especially the Catholic community at approximately 80 million strong, can have a significant influence on the current "ethos" in entertainment. Hollywood executives usually look to box office numbers on the Monday following a films' opening theatrical release. The success or failure of a certain type of film helps inform their decisions for future film projects.
In the realm of film people for years, especially people of faith, have expressed displeasure and frustration in the quality of films released from major motion picture studios. Sometimes, the consumer contributes to such an ethos in entertainment. Every time a ticket is purchased at the box office, a vote is placed for the types of films Hollywood will next consider producing. Unfortunately, many Catholic-Christians have taken such a negative attitude toward entertainment ("Hollywood is Evil") that the vote is never cast because they are busy either censoring or boycotting films, or just too busy to go to the box office and cast the vote. Its time for Catholic-Christians to engage the culture and vote at the box office, DVD sales, concerts or the music they buy. The better a film does on opening weekend at the theater, or in DVD sales, the more likely these types of films (or other media) will be "green lit" for production and distribution.
Challenge #2: "Catholic Hollywood" - Work in Collaboration and for Unity
“The power of evangelization will find itself considerably
diminished if those who proclaim the Gospel are divided
among themselves in all sort of ways.”
– Evangelii Nuntiandi
Separately, there have been some noble Catholic-Christian efforts in entertainment (The Humnaitas Prize [Erik, here is link to provide on “Humanitas Prize - http://www.humanitasprize.org/] and The Angelus Student Film Festival [Erik, here is link to provide on “Angelus Student Film Festival” - http://angelus.org/] are examples). Unfortunately, “Catholic Hollywood” has been able to have only a limited influence on the current entertainment “ethos” because its efforts to award, promote, market and distribute entertainment excellence to its market base have been fragmented, narrow, and biased.
In order for the Catholic community to actualize their market influence for a "new ethos" in entertainment, they need to be well informed of what entertainment to support. The Catholic community needs an efficient mechanism that serves as a point of unity to help inform and give them a sense of quality confidence in entertainment to support - namely, a New Ethos logo that brands the media for exhibiting an overarching spirit of truth, beauty, and goodness. The logo must be awarded through a trusted, unbiased and well-informed resource, represented by entertainment mavens and experts without personal agendas so the best interests of the audience and true quality entertainment is promoted. Catholic Hollywood will need to play an integral part in the selection process and work with other entertainment experts beyond their sphere. This will be a great challenge to Catholic Hollywood [Catholic entertainment professionals who are established and accomplished as artists and executives ("Hollywood Insiders")] so that the Catholic community can realize their potential.
Catholic Hollywood will need to temporarily let go of promoting their own noble missions and embrace a more universal mission that collaborates at a certain point in time to determine which entertainment media deserves the unified attention of the Catholic community. For the logo to carry the power of persuasion, it must reflect a unified, collaborative, and representative selection process that creates widespread ownership among the Catholic community. A continued absence of a quality standard, universally recognized within “Catholic Hollywood” and within the Catholic market, will quickly turn any potential Catholic market influence cynical, confused, and cold.
Catholic Hollywood will need to let go of the idea of “creating a separate Catholic Hollywood” and the expectation that the Catholic community should support their product just because it is produced by Catholics. This approach will not necessarily be the answer to creating a new and sustained ethos in entertainment. The Catholic community is made up of people who are hungry for quality entertainment and are confused where to find it. Many are becoming increasing frustrated with wasting their time and money on, not only debase entertainment, but also "clean entertainment" that are poor in quality. The Catholic community, including its entertainment professionals, must consider the idea that secular Hollywood, which includes Catholic Hollywood, is a gift that must be embraced rather than fought against. Secular Hollywood is a master at what it does and "Hollywood" would not have its global significance today if not for what it has accomplished. The key to creating a new ethos in entertainment will be how Catholic Hollywood and the Catholic community at large inter-relates with secular Hollywood.
Challenge #3: Catholic Community at Large - "Hollywood is not Evil"
If the Catholic Community at large (hierarchy, priests, lay) is to have a hand in helping to create a new ethos in entertainment, it must contribute to a non-judgmental, transformative and healing environment as it relates with the entertainment industry. "Hollywood is doomed" or "Hollywood is evil" or "artists are freaks" attitudes have no place in a true spirit of Christ. These attitudes fight against the gift of creativity and send a message that Christ's redemptive power of healing and forgiveness is impotent, and only serves to tear down and divide. The entertainment industry is made up of people, many who are Catholic, some practicing and some not. Many of these professionals are artist, who sacrifice the comforts of a stable and predictable life, to make use of their God given talent for the service of humanity. Many artists, of which a good number arise from the Catholic community, are repelled from the Church because of judgmental attitudes they experience. Consequently and ironically, these artist leave the Church so they can create.
The great challenge to the Catholic Community at large is to support, guide, pray for, honor, and especially respect the fact that artists, by their very nature, must be trusted and given allowance to operate "outside the box." The creative environment is not conducive to boundaries drawn around it by those outside the creative process.
Challenge #4: Secular Entertainment Community Needs to Trust Working with the Church
In general, the entertainment industry provides what the audience desires based on revenues for the sake of its survival. Unfortunately, consumers, particularly in Western culture, are attracted (even addicted) to a toxic entertainment environment (e.g., gratuitous violence, promiscuity, egoism, blind prejudice, and greed). But like all addictions, toxic media has no sustainable connection with the dignity of the human person. The entertainment industry is finding it increasingly difficult to sustain a loyal market because consumers are always looking to competing media outlets for instant gratification. Innate in every human person is the desire for that which is true, good, and beautiful. Even if they desire and choose what is bad for them, it is because something in that bad choice is a good they desire, though not ordered to the ultimate good of their human development.
The great challenge to secular "Hollywood" is to embrace a trusting approach with what the Catholic Church has to offer with regard to your work. Naturally the Catholic Church would love for all people to become Christian, but she (Catholic Church) reaches out to you with the intention not to bring judgment, rather to dialogue and help serve the entertainment community in fostering something most people want - namely, quality entertainment rooted in truth, beauty, and goodness. This type of entertainment New Ethos believes will be good business for Hollywood. The Catholic Church has a rich tradition to offer in working with the entertainment community for a "new ethos" in entertainment, rooted in a free culture where people are awakened to their true human dignity and the unlimited horizons it brings.