Catholic blogophiles may have seen this link over at National Catholic Register billing two Catholic film critics, David DiCerto and Steven Greydanus, as the Catholic version of Siskel and Ebert Lean Hisskill and Codger Eggbert. I’m reluctantly optimistic, and here’s why. We need Catholic film critics. But at this stage of gross malformation of the American faithful, we need fewer pundits that help moviegoers “make informed judgments about what films are appropriate for them and their families,” and more saints who declare “If you withdraw from theaters and go to church, you have cured the lame foot.” I am aware that Mr. Greydanus does not like this message. I do not like it much myself either, because I like movies. But my likes and dislikes cannot overcome the fact that most of the stuff on the screen these days is not worth risking your soul to see.
Granted, this is a hard message for a film critic to deliver, not in the least because he’s got bills to pay and children who need clothes. Actively campaigning against watching most (not all) movies at the local cineplex is a Catch-22 for any movie lover, much less a professional critic. If he’s a failure at such a campaign, he loses credibility as a critic. If he’s successful, he eventually eliminates the demand for film critics like himself. The Catholic film critic’s situation is not dissimilar to the dilemma facing the politically conservative bureaucrat in our rapidly expanding Federal government. Sure, the Constitution only allows the Federal government to own land for the purpose of erecting forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, and other needful buildings — but is a man working for the National Park Service going to point this out at the expense of losing his job, or at least calling its very legitimacy into question?
The godly film critic and the honest bureaucrat are caught between Scylla and Charybdis. I propose to give them a little breathing room by explaining why and how Catholics should avoid going to the movie theatre in most cases, while cultivating a genuine film counterculture at home and in society. Stay tuned.
UPDATE: Coincidentally, Joe at Defend Us In Battle has just blogged about the vices of TV and the virtues associated with box set DVDs. Good show, old boy.