It seems like everybody knows what is going on with entertainment except fundamentalists and American evangelicals. Only evangelicals insist that the beloved “pop-culture” is somehow a pure and distilled “folk culture.” While we keep trying to baptize these two cousins (entertainment and pop culture) by giving them holy themes, be they movies about martyred missionaries or your latest Caedmon’s Call CD–, the world knows what’s up. Listen to how they talk about them.

For instance, here is a Fresh Air commentary that reveals quite a bit. John Power’s whole five-and-a-half minute “eulogy” for T.V. producer Aaron Spelling is worth listening to. He begins,

Although our politicians may find it hard to believe, what the world loves most about the U.S. is not our vaulting ideas of freedom. It’s the freedom this spirit imparts to our popular culture: humor, frivolity, the bearable lightness of being. “Unseriousness” is the American way.

By such a standard, one of our great patriots died last week at age 83. I refer to Aaron Spelling, the prospero of prime-time T.V., whose life was a quintessential American story. The Dallas-born son of an immigrant tailor, Spelling made himself into the most successful T.V. producer of all time by giving people what they wanted, whether they wanted it or not.

Of course they wanted it. That’s the big problem these days. The pop-culture marriage to the Christian religion appears to work. Offer a church with a lot of programs, showmanship, etc, etc, and you’ll get more people. The funner the Vacation Bible School, the more potential converts. Fundamentalists pride themselves that they are not like the evangelicals on this point. Unfortunately, the difference is only in degree.

Later in the piece Power admits, “Good taste has never been essential to pop-culture brilliance, and it often proves a liability. There’s a reason why Charlie’s Angels got vastly higher ratings than Masterpiece Theater.”

Indeed.

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