Are all Christians Crazy? A look at Heavy Rain on the PS3
September 16, 2013
It's Not Just a Game: Assassin's Creed
May 1, 2013
Apologaming with Drew Thorwall: Metro: Last Light
September 30, 2013
Let it Shine - the "Truth" behind Disney's new hit
June 16, 2013
By Tish Kerby
One of the things I am most proud of is how my husband Carl Jr is teaching others and me by pointing out the media influence in our everyday world. Being aware of these daily influences will help us stand ready and dressed in the armor of the Lord to defend our souls and protect our kids. (See Ephesians 6:20- 28 and 1 Peter 5:8).
So is it any surprise that I was curious to see what Disney’s premier unveiling of their new original movie “Let it shine” was all about? The movie has been hyped up for weeks on Disney channel and according o one headline It “divined up” a lot of attention; “5.7 million Total Viewers gave 'cred' to Friday's premiere of the kid-driven, family inclusive "Let It Shine" which also now ranks as the year's #1 TV movie across all core kid demographics with its strong delivery of 3.0 million Kids 2-11, 2.6 million Kids 6-11, 2.3 million Tweens, plus 1.2 million Adults 18-49.” I wonder how many of your children or their friends tuned in too[i]?
The basic storyline (for those who don’t want to watch a 2 hour Disney movie) is about a teenager named Cyrus who is a talented musician. He uses this talent to lead the church choir at his dad’s church, Mt. Bethel Baptist Church and then at night he sneaks out to be a busboy at the “Off the Street” teen age rap club.
So what does Cyrus’s dad Pastor Jacob Debarge have to say about this? Well within the first few minutes the stage is “set” as Cyrus leads the church choir in an “upbeat” song and his dad reprimands him for being involved in the genre of rap music – calling it the “devil’s music.”
Little does he know that this is just the beginning as Cyrus and his best friend Chris decide to enter into the Grand Slam Rap contest and are hoping to reunite with their shared love interest and former grade school friend, Roxie. A now popular singer who used to be “the girl in church with the loud voice.” Cyrus enters the contest and wins under the artist name of “Truth” and the record “don’t run away” is of course an immediate hit – however a submission mix up causes everyone to believe that “Truth” the artist is Chris, not Cyrus.
And so the lies continue as Chris and Cyrus decide to deceive everyone by portraying Chris as “Truth” and Cyrus continues to work part time at the club and raps on the side.
But Disney pushes the envelope once more by showing Chris as being late to church but in time to hear his dad preach “our Word.” A harsh rant against the language coming out of the teens stereo’s, their immorality in dressing and of course rap music. In true gospel style Pastor Debarge urges the congregation to come together against hip-hop and make the video vixons be valiant. Because he is tired of what he sees in the next generation.
As a teenager watching the movie it should be no surprise that so many of today’s children will relate to Cyrus’ resentment towards his Dad and the Church.
Cyrus does however have respect for the oh-so wise rap club owner, Levi who truly understands him and encourages him to “Speak up for yourself and be who you truly are.” And so we see Cyrus struggling to decide if he should tell the “Truth” about who he is or not. And if you listen closely his lyrics show the real influences in his decision as he is “pacing back and forth contemplating, meditating; how to use what I’ve been taught as a positive force.” He also calls on his guardian angel to set him free and lyrics about how his dad and him both have messages “we just preach to different crowds.”
But Disney would not be true to themselves without driving the point home. And so we see Roxie arrive at church to “get her praise on.” Where Cyrus lets her lead the choir in a self exalting song about “how good it is to be home” in “a place full of mercy, love and grace.” Where she has come to “worship and pour out my offering” “in the presence of this love.” And in the background we see not a cross but two bright green banners – One mis-quoting Psalm 33:3 “I will sing a new song[ii]” and the other mis-quoting Proverbs 3:13 “Rejoice and be Glad”.[iii]
And as the music fades Pastor Debarge stands to thank the “mighty uplifting youth choir” before turning to the congregation and calling people out for living in “hip-ocrisy”. Once again painting the picture of how we as the church cannot preach the “Truth” in love but are only here to condemn. And so after the scolding and demands of his wife Pastor Debarge is sent to apologize to Roxie as he says “my righteousness is sinful.”
This apology is in the club leads to dad’s public disrespect by Cyrus. And later Dad apologizes as he realizes Cyrus lyrics have “good Christian values” just in a different genre. There is no apology from Cyrus as he tells his dad “I got to do what I got to do.” But his dad does a 180 in his thinking and joins Cyrus at the Gram Slam Rap contest where “the Truth will set you free –right?” And so upon dad and mom’s urging to “get him son” Cyrus tells Roxie who he is, straightens thinks out with his best friend Chris, upstages his rap rival “Lord of da Bling” after defeating the artist “Revelation.”
And in true Disney tradition this feel good story ends with Roxie and Cyrus leading the church in a remix of “This little light of mine” but talking about how they have been on a “journey of truth where you just believe” and it is “your light, your love” which the congregation too must find.
How sharply that contrasts with God’s Word which says “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
Going back to the Bible and starting with God’s Word as the authority shows us how to truly live and have the reason for hope in our lives. See the battle line is not drawn between the church and rap music but rather between choosing thus day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15; Deut. 11:19). As Disney continues to aggressively target our children and tweens by portraying anti-family, and anti-God entertainment I encourage you as parents to sit down and watch the show with them – and then taking the time afterwards to show them how the “Truth” can only be found in Jesus Christ, His Word and its application to our lives (John 14:6).
[ii] Psalm 33:3 says “Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.”
[iii] While Proverbs 3:13 says “How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding” perhaps they meant Psalm 32:11 “Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous ones; And shout for joy, all you who are upright in heart.”