|Synopsis: The state of the art in Christian music videos leaves much to be desired. Here is one suggestion of how to make them better.|
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State of the Art
A Call for a New Paradigm
in the Christian Music Video
I had barely drifted off to sleep when the dream began. It was as vivid as any I can remember.
I stood between the giant columns of a magnificent marble structure. Behind me were steps that led back to wherever I had come from. In front of me was a giant set of double doors, meticulously chiseled out of oak and covered with three-dimensional designs. The doors groaned reluctantly and opened, beckoning me inside.
I found myself in a great art museum which contained all of the great paintings in the world. An endless set of exhibits lay before me, and I wandered through each and every one. I was enthralled by the beauty and grandeur of each piece, magnificently framed and painstakingly lit from all four sides. With each painting I would stand far off, gazing at the "big picture." Then, I would slowly move closer to observe the individual colors, styles, and textures used by the artist. Each had its own unique, beauty.
After what seemed like an eternity, I began to notice only one similarity in all of the pieces I had observed. If you stood close enough and strained your eyes hard enough, you could eventually find the obscure spot on the painting where the artist had included his name, initials, or insignia. Sometimes it was easy to spot, but more often you had to really look.
This trend continued until I stepped into the last exhibit hall.
My mouth dropped open in disbelief as I stared at an endless display of once-beautiful works. Each piece had obviously, at one time, been rich in color and meaning. However, this fact was permanently marred by one repeated factor in every painting in the room. The artist had taken a thick black brush and scribbled his name across the entire piece. Thousands upon thousands of paintings, once beautiful and full of splendor, were systematically destroyed by the artist himself. I had such a longing to see the original work, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not. I sat down in disbelief, shaking my head at this atrocity. Suddenly, the museum curator walked into the room with yet another work by this artist, ready for hanging. "Sir, what room is this?" I had to know what artist and what genre of art was responsible for this sick feeling in my stomach.
"My most distinguished guest," the curator responded, hanging up the new picture in it's place, "this room is reserved for the latest releases in Christian music videos."
I awoke suddenly to the sound of my alarm clock, awaking me from my slumber (and my stupor).
No, I didn't really have this dream, but it illustrates the point. I am deeply concerned about the state of the art in Christian music videos.
Keep in mind that I love Christian music -- all types, both old and new. I love to rock with Petra, jam to Audio Adrenaline, ska with FIF, bounce my head to Seven Day Jesus, close my eyes with Delirious, and fall on my knees to Jennifer Knapp. I'm extremely grateful to these and many other artists for supplying me with music that brings me and others closer to Jesus.
However, I am grieved by a common occurrence, which no doubt you have experienced as well. A new song comes out that really touches your heart. The message is admirable. The focus is Jesus. The lyrics are transforming. The music takes you right out of this world and into the presence of God. Then, the video comes out. You pop in the tape, sit back expectantly, and all you see is the artist drowning out the message with his face.
The once heavenly message now seems to be replaced with, "Here I am standing in a trash dump wearing leather. Now look at me on a mountaintop wearing a pink bathrobe. Zoom in on me and look at me from this angle. See how well I lip-sync my own song? Now, look at me from that angle while I close my eyes and spin around. Wait, watch me jump. See me in slo-mo. Now I'm upside down." And so on.
This is nothing more than a once-beautiful painting with the artist's signature scribbled all over the canvas.
I'm calling for a new paradigm in Christian music videos: If we're going to have them, let's stop parading the artist and start emphasizing the original meaning of the song.
It's been done before, you know -- just not nearly often enough. How many times have you, like me, longed for something that even approaches what Smitty did with Secret Ambition? Five Iron Frenzy did a fantastic job with A Flowery Song. Yes, you see plenty of the artists in that song, but that's because they are part of the story that's being told -- and it's all in keeping with the original message of living the joyful Christian life. Audio Adrenaline approached this concept with Like A Zombie with a ballet-like struggle between good and evil.
As a Christian, I just want more videos in keeping with the message of the song. As a youth pastor, I just want more resources that I can use to help disciple my Christian kids and reach out to lost kids. As it now stands, I feel like I'm living in a famine, because I have relatively nothing to choose from for either group.
Does anybody else out there feel this way?
So, to the Christian artists of the world -- I want to first say a big THANK-YOU for enriching so many lives with your music. Second, I want to ask you if you can please continue enriching us and the rest of the world with music videos that show a lot more of Jesus and a lot less of you.
Jesus must increase.
I must decrease.
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