The other day I found myself in conversation with some Christians about Netflix. One lady stated that she had decided not to get Netflix because she found some of the content offensive — pornographic, she called it. I was puzzled by this reaction. “No doubt the city library also has content one might find offensive,” I observed, “but that isn’t a reason to turn in one’s library card.”
It didn’t matter. She then stated that she was instead considering a subscription to the “Christian” version of Netflix, with the appropriately sanctimonious name “Pureflix.” I’d heard of Pureflix before but I had never visited their website. So after our conversation I visited the website and saw a list of evangelistic titles that I had never heard of. While I hadn’t seen any of those titles, I have reviewed several “Christian” films in recent years — God’s not Dead, God’s not Dead 2, Hell and Mr. Fudge, All Saints, and Heaven is for Real, — and they have ranged from abominable (the first two) to watchable (the last three).
But even the best of these films is mediocre. Like a pretty Thomas Kinkade painting in a dentist’s office, it may serve to fill up some blank wall space, but it will never be a work of art.
Consider the contrast between these middling pieces of cinema and true works of redemptive art like Gran Torino or Short Term 12, the latter which I reviewed in my article “Finding Jesus at the movies, but not in the Jesus movies.” Of course, Gran Torino and Short Term 12 have content that may offend the sensibilities of the Pureflix audience. But then Pureflix has a wealth of mediocrity that offends my sensibilities. I’ll take a gritty but real story of redemption any day.