Craig Detweiler: Image Journal Artist of the Month

As we prepare for the 2012 relaunch of the Two Handed Warriors community under our new domain name we’re sending up trial balloons to gather feedback on various features. One issue is how to help members of the community get to know each other and the leaders of the movement. In the www.garydavidstratton.com era of Two Handed Warriors we attempted to do this through interviews and features on two handed warrior leaders from the world of filmmaking, education, business, spiritual formation, etc. such as Jessica Reider, Jay Barnes, Margaret FeinbergBrian Bird, Scot McKnight, Monica MacerKevin Chesley, Dean Batali, etc.

A new feature we are considering is a weekly “column” highlighting a rotation of “Filmmaker of the Month,” “Educator of the Month,” “Faith Leader of the Month,” “Philanthropist of the Month,” etc. Image Journal does a great job on this kind of piece, and since Image Journal’s November artist of the month happens to be a member of the Two Handed Warrior Hollywood Community–Craig Detweiler–I thought I would run their piece on Craig for your consideration and feedback.

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of being part of  two presentations on Faith and Filmmaking Craig did in San Francisco as part of the Evangelical Theological Association’s Theology and Culture dialogue.  As in every time I have ever heard Craig speak–Act One, CCCU, etc.–I was struck again by his remarkable ability to “reverse the hermeneutical flow” and allow film to help us better apprehend and interpret our faith.

Image, a literary and arts quarterly founded in 1989, is a unique forum for the best writing and artwork informed by—or grappling with—faith. Their focus has been on writing and visual artwork that embody a spiritual struggle, that seeks to strike a balance between tradition and a profound openness to the world. Each issue explores this relationship through outstanding fiction, poetry, painting, sculpture, architecture, film, music, interviews, and dance. Image also features four-color reproductions of visual art. To read more about Image and its suite of programs, check out ImageJournal.org.

 

IMAGE JOURNAL ARTIST OF THE MONTH:

NOVEMBER 2011

Craig Detweiler

Commentator Andy Crouch calls Christians to what he terms “culture making.” He wants us to move away from being consumers and critics of culture toward being active creators of cultural goods, makers of everything from novels and laws to iPads and pea patches.

Filmmaker Craig Detweiler embodies this kind of life. While he is a commentator (he has written on the theology of film and video games), an academic (he directs the Center for Entertainment, Media, and Culture at Pepperdine, where he is a professor), and a longtime writer of popular films, he is also emerging as a skillful and sensitive maker of documentaries.

His award-winning doc Purple State of Mind draws us into the particulars of the American social landscape through the idiosyncrasies of politics, friendship, and the dance of argument, by bringing together two college roommates whose lives and politics took very different paths. By focusing on this single relationship, the film pursues true dialogue and reconciliation between red and blue Americas who seldom attempt to talk to each other, preferring to satirize and condemn from a safe distance. The filmic voice is playful, honest, inquisitive, and gently persistent—with a dash of good-humored humility.

In his newest project, Detweiler turns his sights internationally, to parts of the world where people of different religions maintain a fragile community life together. In a mistrustful and suspicious age, his documentary work is a healthy reminder that believers don’t need to fear the engine of American culture that is Hollywood—that we can not only engage with it, but can contribute to it, and by our participation, shape it.

Current Projects

Growing up in the South made me curious about the things that divide us. In my hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina, it was the freeway. At Davidson College, it was railroad tracks. In both places, white folks didn’t live near black folks. Working with Urban Young Life, I walked into housing projects that many avoided. Not because the residents needed my help, but because I desperately needed their perspective on how things worked (or didn’t work!)…

Read Craig’s complete comments and biography on the Image Journal website.

Tomorrow: Craig’s Image piece, “The Myth of the Independent Film.”

 

Where are the Christians in Academia? by Gabe Lyons

“The LORD has chosen Bezalel and filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of arts, as well as the ability to teach others.”   –Exodus 35:30-33

We’re still field testing the new Two Handed Warriors web format for our January 2012 relaunch. This article from Q Ideas seems like a great test case. The Mustard Seed Foundation’s Harvey Fellows Program is in many ways a template for what Two Handed Warriors is attempting in the Bezalel Hollywood Training Initiative–Identifying, Training, Mentoring, and Funding the world’s best young filmmakers of faith. However, The Harvey Fellows program is much more focused on formal education, as is appropriate for training educational leaders.

The success of the Harvey Fellows gives us great hope for more long-term approaches to nurturing culture makers of faith–what we call Two Handed Warriors–instead of continually relying upon more stop-gap and quick-fix strategies.

Let us know what you think of the article, the long-term strategy, and the new website (still under construction).

Enjoy!

WHERE ARE THE CHRISTIANS IN ACADEMIA?

Gabe Lyons: The Academy is unique in a lot of ways, both as a place of opportunity and also complexity and challenge for people of faith. I’m here with Duane Grobman, Executive Director of the Mustard Seed Foundation and Director of the Harvey Fellows Program. When you talk to Duane, you realize just how strategically he and some others have been thinking about the role of believers in the academy and the importance of developing great scholars, the importance of thinking long-term, not just short-term, and thinking about, “What does the next 20 to 30 years of philosophy look like in major campuses around the U.S. and the world?”

Duane, tell us about the Harvey Fellows Program.

Duane Grobman: Sure. The Harvey Fellows Program began in 1992 and it was started, and it’s continued to be funded by, the Mustard Seed Foundation. They founded the Fellows Program because they wanted to encourage Christians to innovate their faith with their vocation and also to encourage them to pursue leadership positions in what we call strategic fields where Christians appear to be underrepresented.

And so, their hope was that through the program they would encourage students to pursue culturally influential vocations, that they would actually help equip students with tools necessary to lead integrated lives and that they actually help validate exceptional abilities and academic leadership and gifts as gifts from God worthy of cultivation development. Because, often times the church hasn’t been terrific at validating individual’s abilities in the areas of leadership and academics.

Gabe: I loved the long-term thinking that obviously has gone into this entire program. Really, this is a pretty strategic attempt to connect with some of the most astute leaders in society for the long-term. Right?

Duane: That is correct. To our knowledge, we’re the only program of this kind. (THW Editor’s note: Lord willing not for long.) You hit the nail on the head there, in that, I think one of the reasons is because it is so long-term. We’ve often said that it’s sort of a 20-year experiment, that we won’t fully know the effects of the program culturally and its impact for 20 years.

There’s not a lot of foundations that are willing to invest in that long-term vision. But given, now, that we’re in our 16th year, from the fruit that we see and the impact, we find this incredibly encouraging. So we’re feeling really confident that it’s a worthwhile investment.

Read Gabe and Duane’s entire interview

2011 USC Annenberg Study: Hollywood Hooked on Sexualizing Women and Teen Girls

From USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism News

A new study by USC Annenberg researchers Stacy Smith (pictured) Marc Choueiti  and Stephanie Gall surveys the top 100 grossing movies of 2009 and shows Hollywood’s addiction to films that marginalize and sexualize women is as strong as ever.

The study, “Gender Inequality in Popular Films,” can be found here (PDF).

Perhaps most troubling were the findings about young teen characters. Professor Smith and her research team of undergraduate students found the same prevalence of sexually revealing clothing and partial nudity in female characters in all age groups from 13 to 39. In fact, 13- to 20-year-olds were just as likely as 21- to 29-year-olds to be depicted that way.

The survey found 33.8 percent of female teen characters were seen in sexy clothing, and 28.2 percent were shown with exposed skin in the cleavage, midriff or upper thigh regions. For male teen characters, the numbers were drastically lower – 5.3 percent shown in sexy clothing and 11.2 percent showing skin.

Sexualizing a significant portion of women this age may contribute to males viewing girls and women as “eye candy” at younger and younger ages, Smith said.

“Viewing sexualized images of females in film may contribute to self-objectification in some girls or women, which – in turn – may increase body shame, appearance anxiety and have other negative effects,” she said.

Elsewhere, Smith’s team found numbers that echo a discouraging trend revealed in her studies of movies from 2007 and 2008.

They examined 4,342 speaking characters in 2009 movies, includingTransformers 2Harry Potter and the Half-Blood PrinceThe Twilight Saga New MoonUp and The Hangover.

Of the speaking characters, 32.8 percent were women and 67.2 percent were men. That equals 2.05 males for every female. The percentage was identical to movies of 2008.

Less than 17 percent of films were gender-balanced, meaning they featured girls or women in 45 to 54.9 percent of speaking roles. Those findings were similar to the previous two years; only 15 percent were gender-balanced in 2008 and 12 percent in 2007.

“The infrequency of females in film is symptomatic of a greater industry issue,” Choueiti said. “Our data show that females are simply not equal in film, in front of or behind the camera.Yet, females control a vast majority of the purchasing decisions in the home and buy roughly half of the tickets at the box office. Hollywood is failing to court one of its most financially lucrative audiences.”

And unfortunately, the unchanged numbers – a lack of gender-balanced movies and women behind the camera – year after year reveal a “norm” in Hollywood that is damaging to women. It’s almost as if the stats reveal a industry formula regarding gender, Smith said.

“It’s completely consistent: there are about 4,300 characters across 100 films per year, and under a third are female. There’s a remarkable stability. It becomes normative without some content creators even thinking about it. It’s a status quo.”

The report is part of a survey conducted yearly by Stacy Smith and Marc Choueiti on the top 100 domestic films.

Read Screenwriter Cheryl McKay’s response to the 2010 report