I love movies.
As a lover of movies, I have come to appreciate a website called “rottentomatoes.com.” This is a site that basically collects movie reviews from critics all over the country, determines whether each review is “positive” or “negative,” and then assigns each movie a certain percentage of “freshness” or “rottenness.”
These ratings are typically posted at least a week before the movie comes out, which is helpful if you are “on the fence” about going to a certain movie.
For example, the new “Thor: Ragnarok” movie currently has a 96% rating, which means that it is getting overwhelmingly positive reviews all over the country. According to the terminology of the website, this is a very “fresh” movie. This doesn’t necessarily mean that YOU will like this movie (although I’m pretty sure that I will), but it is a helpful indicator of how it is being received by others.
Other movies receive much lower ratings.
For example, the movie “Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween” currently has a 7% rating, making it a very “rotten” movie, according to critics. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean that YOU won’t like this movie, but critics certainly haven’t.
This website has been criticized recently by certain Hollywood insiders, who are claiming that the low ratings for certain movies are hurting the performance of those movies at the box office. For example, after receiving a low rating of 29% on rottentomatoes.com, the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, “Dead Men Tell No Tales,” went on to be the lowest earning of all the previous Pirates movies, bringing in “only” $46 million in its opening weekend. I realize that $46 million sounds like a lot of money (and it is), but the second “Pirates” movie (“Dead Man’s Chest”) made a whopping $135 million during its opening weekend in 2006.
In my humble opinion, the truth is that the second “Pirates” movie was simply much BETTER than this last one, and rottentomatoes.com was only the “messenger” of this news.
In other words, these Hollywood people seem to be saying, “Stop telling people that these bad movies are bad. We’re trying to make money.”
The real issue seems to be that this website has come up with a reasonably fair way of communicating whether these movies are actually worth watching, and it is making it difficult for “bad” movies to make money. It has been described as the “truth serum” for movies, helping to provide some “checks and balances” for the general public.
I, for one, am thankful for it.
But doesn’t it seem strange that “critics” should have so much power? After all, hundreds of people have spent tens of millions of dollars making these movies; so why should a person with nothing more than 2 hours of free time, $15, and an opinion be able to have such an impact?
The answer is simple: when you are in the business of entertaining people for a profit, it matters what those people think.
What about the Lord’s Church? Should we care what people think of us? How should we view our “critics?” This is an interesting question with at least TWO biblical answers:
1.We shouldn’t be surprised if/when the world HATES us – Jesus told His disciples in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” I John 3:13 adds, “Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you.” Obviously, like Peter points out in I Pet. 3:17, we shouldn’t suffer for “doing evil,” but if we suffer for “doing good,” we are following in the footsteps of our Lord. The question that we need to ask ourselves is this: “IF I’m hated, as a Christian, WHY am I hated? Is it because I’m trying to live my life by the Word of God, or is it because I’m mean, judgmental, unloving, and/or a hypocrite?” The answer to this question is important. If my “rating” is “rotten,” I should at least “read the reviews” and find out why!
2.We should, on some level, have FAVOR with people – The early Church lived in such a way that they were “having favor with all the people” (Acts 2:47). Why did this happen? Because they were loving, generous, unselfish, and sought to live out their faith every day in observable and meaningful ways. Are we living these kinds of lives, as God’s people? Can they see our love for one another, our devotion to God, and our selfless concern for our fellow man? Interestingly, the early Church had favor with others because their number ONE priority was to have favor with GOD. In other words, the favor/good will of those around us – if we have it – should be a by-product of our devotion to God! If we have a “fresh” rating among others, we should hope that we are reflecting HIS glory and not our OWN!
These seemingly contradictory teachings teach us, as Christians, that we need to try to live in such a way that people see God in us, and that our good works will cause them to glorify Him. We need to try to live out our faith in a way that benefits those around us and generates “good will” in our schools, jobs, and communities.
However, Jesus is an example of someone who did this PERFECTLY, and He was STILL hated…and crucified. We should expect nothing less, even when we have done nothing to deserve a “rotten rating” from those around us.
In short, pay attention to your critics, but pay more attention to Christ.
And go see “Thor: Ragnarok.”