BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For a man who has so much to say about media, movies, television, sexuality, and homosexuality, why does Ted Baehr stand silent about America’s obsession with guns and gun violence? Baehr is a conservative Christian movie critic and media pundit who will never be mistaken for Roger Ebert, the Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers, or The New York Times’ A.O. Scott. Nevertheless, he has found his niche by cranking out movie reviews and media/cultural commentary for the faithful -- conservative evangelical Christians.
Baehr has lots to say about violence in the movies, violent video games, and the secularization of our culture, but he is virtually silent on America’s obsession with guns and gun control.
Baehr is the chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission, which according to its web site is “a non-profit organization dedicated to redeeming the values of the mass media of entertainment according to biblical principles by influencing entertainment industry leaders and by informing and equipping the general public about the media’s impact on audiences, especially children and teenagers.” He is also the founder and publisher of Movieguide – “the family guide to movies and entertainment.”
In late-July, Baehr wrote a column responding to the shootings at the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater, which killed 12 people and injured 58 others. Most observers of these events understand that there are multiple causes for shootings like Virginia Tech, Aurora, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple killings which left six dead and four wounded, and, more recently, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, where 20 children and six adults were murdered.
Access to treatment for people with mental health problems needs to be expanded. Some look at our violence obsessed culture. However, it is the easy availability and access to guns that remains an overriding issue. .
In a column titled “Who's to Blame for Colorado Theater Shooting?” Baehr addressed the shootings by thoughtlessly comparing gun violence to the use of knives and headbutting:
“Some people will blame it on guns, although countries that have tried hard to crack down on guns, like England, are now finding that knives and headbutting are out of control. Thus, it isn’t the headbutting or the knives, but the fact that people are stewing in the juice of their own wickedness, because, as the Bible says, they don’t know the loving God who gave us a way of salvation through Jesus Christ from the wickedness of the human heart.”
More recently, commenting about the Newtown Massacre, Baehr, along with Movieguide’s Tom Snyder, compare the carnage of the Newtown massacre with a “same day” stabbing incident in China and they insist, “gun control is not the answer. And, judging by the failure of our schools and our government, neither are they.”
Baehr and Snyder take the Mike Huckabee, Franklin Graham, James Dobson approach:
“By removing God, the Bible, God's Law, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit from society, including the mass media and the schools, we are raising generations of people with no faith in God or Jesus and, hence, no moral conscience, and no self-control. If so many people have no faith, no moral conscience and no self-control, then it’s no wonder our society is suffering from all these mass murders by evil lone gunmen."
Agitating in favor of fracking
These days, Baehr dons his pro-industry hat to take on the new film, Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Zant, and co-written and co-starring Matt Damon and John Krasinski. He’s irked that the movie dares to raise questions about fracking, and that it is partially financed by foreign oil interests aimed at sinking America’s natural gas industry.
Matt Damon plays a salesman for a fracking company who is trying to get rural Pennsylvanians to sign agreements leasing their land for natural-gas drilling.
In a recent column, posted at wnd.com, Baehr wrote that the United Arab Emirates, which “contains the world’s fifth-largest natural gas reserves and ranks ninth in liquefied natural gas exports,” is “partially funding” Promised Land. “UAE’s decision to fund a movie with an agenda against U.S. domestic natural gas exploration and production is wise considering the recent push by U.S.-based producers to begin exporting more natural gas to countries like Japan, where 90 percent of the UAE’s liquefied natural gas is exported,” Baehr wrote.
The Christian movie critic argued that “U.S citizens benefit from low energy prices thanks to the very hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling technologies the makers of Promised Land wish to ban.”
While Baehr does not mention one word about some of the environmental hazards caused by fracking, he is more than willing to declare that “Promised Land is nothing more than a propaganda piece funded by Middle East oil interests to destroy America’s energy independence.”
Baehr’s organization is also petitioning the Motion Picture Association of America to change the rating of Django Unchained, from R to NC-17, so that no one under 17 would be allowed in theaters to see the movie. (An R rated film allows for children under seventeen to see the movie only if accompanied by a parent or adult guardian.)
"This movie ends with two of the most violent scenes we've ever seen in more than 27 years of reviewing movies," said Baehr. "As countless research studies and recent events in Connecticut have shown, some young boys and men like to imitate the violence they see in movies, TV, and video games."
Baehr’s Christian Film & Television Commission lists four “Campaigns” on its web site: “Tell The MPAA To Give ‘Django Unchained’ NC-17 Rating”; “Tell ‘Hollywood’ Jesus Is Not A Swear Word”; “Stop The Blasphemous Movie ‘Jesus of Nazareth’”; and, “Tell Disney To Pull Homosexual Comics.”
The organization also claims that over the past four years it has won five “Victories,” including the cancellation by ABC/Disney’s “of its ‘bigoted’ show ‘GCB,’ [“Good Christian Bitches”] which mocked and ridiculed Christians…,” and the cancellation of the NBC’s series, “The Playboy Club,” which was “a victory of righteousness over indecency,” said Baehr.
In February, Joe Mantegna, star of TV’s “Criminal Minds” and “Cars 2,” and his daughter Gia, will be hosting Baehr’s Christian Film and Television Commission will be holding its 21st Annual Faith & Values Awards Gala and Report to the Entertainment Industry.