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    America’s Got “Christian” Talent

    America’s Got “Christian” Talent

    OK... one of my pet peeves.  Why do we have to have Christian versions of everything?  You knew it had to come sooner or later... unfortunately, it was sooner.  There is now a "America's CHRISTIAN talent" show coming to television.  There are now open auditions at their website.

    And some of their entries so far are... well... Christian.

    When will we stop embarrassing ourselves by doing cut-rate rip offs of successful things?

    When will we come up with ideas of our own that other groups copy.  (OK... I think the church is actually starting to do that in some areas, which is GREAT).

    I guess the biggest part of my pet peeve here is the feeling that many people think it's better if it's 'Christian'.  Hold on.  Not so.  In my experience, many times it's not.  And singing and entertainment is a great example.

    God has gifted many people musically... both Christians and non-christians.

    Many people think they can sing and that they're musically talented.  Both Christians and non-christians.

    If you've watched the first three weeks of any season of American Idol, you know that's the case.

    So... why the need to have a purely "Christian" version of a talent show?  Is there a purpose?

    If you're a Christian musician, would you enter "America's Got Talent" or "America's Christian Talent"?

    Just a hunch on my part... I'm thinking most of the really good Christian talent is going to enter the "America's Got Talent" or "American Idol" competition rather than the Christian counterpart.

    OK... enough of the rant.

    Question:  Do you get into the Christian versions of regular stuff?  If so, give me an example, and why...



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    1. Jason on Wed, September 15, 2010

      I almost always avoid the Christian versions of “regular” stuff.  At the same time, I can see where some folks would want a Christian version of this contest.  If someone is openly evangelical in their mission they’re not going to be able to be themselves on American Idol because they will have to play secular music, etc.  If someone feels called to only Christian and/or praise music, they won’t get a real chance to share their gifts on secular-oriented programs.  (Unless they’re just so dynamic you can’t deny them but in that case they’d likely be successful already.)

    2. Alan Danielson on Wed, September 15, 2010

      I’m right there with you Todd!  For centuries the church led the culture in terms of creativity.  Now we offer cheap knock-offs.  We need to stop being so enamored with lame gimmicks and focus on creatively achieving our mission.

    3. Leonard on Wed, September 15, 2010

      There is a part of me that says… “this is more about money than Christianity or talent.”

    4. CS on Wed, September 15, 2010

      “So… why the need to have a purely “Christian” version of a talent show?  Is there a purpose?”

      Did any of you guys watch this season of, “America’s Got Talent”?  My family and I gathered around the TV in the evening to watch people try out, and saw the following:

      -Multiple stripper and burlesque routines.

      -A woman wearing bondage gear who would make paintings.

      -People who would drill screws into their heads in very freaky ways.

      As you can see, the word, “talent,” takes on a certain level of ambiguity here.  And, if it wasn’t for the pause and rewind button on my DVR, my kids would have been exposed to a whole lot of awfulness.

      As opposed to a Christian talent show, where the focus is on glorifying God, and the talent would be wholesome and respectable.  I definitely see a need here.


    5. G. Emerson Brant on Wed, September 15, 2010

      Hello everybody, I’m the founder of America’s Christian Talent, and I wanted to address a few points. I believe it’s important to have a venue for those inspired through their faith to show their God-given talents to our national audience. That’s our primary goal in this event, to give those folks who have a strong connection with Divinity the opportunity to show America how their faith has positively changed their lives. A second tier is to allow America to have the first, and last word in voting for their favorite contestants, without weekly “results” and the influence of judges. In other words, in “America’s Christian Talent” we seek to go back to basics, give a national stage to inspired entertainers, and put on a contest that is suitable for audiences of all ages. We hope to have your support as we go forward, and thank you in advance for your kindness.

    6. Ben Reed on Wed, September 15, 2010

      I’m right there with you! 

      I’m all for creative content.  And while Christians shoudl be the most creative people on earth (we do serve the God who created everything), often creativity is downgraded in the church.

      To our shame.

    7. G. Emerson Brant on Wed, September 15, 2010

      Dear Ben,

      Many thanks for your support!

      This contest is the extension of our CTAacademy, which is our faith-based national online art & music school, so you might say we like to nurture talent!

    8. Ray on Wed, September 15, 2010

      I would have to agree with CS about the need for clean content for that show… But I’ve also spent at least the last decade avoiding “Christian media” because of the pathetic quality. I truly believe that most of the stuff sold as such couldn’t be sold in the secular market not because of the spiritual content, but because of the garbage production quality. Good clean, well-produced content always finds a market. When it’s advertised as “Christian” I just assume it’s trash.

    9. Jan on Wed, September 15, 2010

      You asked “If you are a Christian musician would you participate?”

      No.  Personally one of my pet peeves is how we as Christians go from Christian entertainment to entertainment.

      I don’t see myself as a Christian entertainer and yea I got talent, and don’t need to showcase that or validate it in the Christian world.

      I have the secular world to do that in. And I do a lot of entertaining there for money.  And because we need talented Christians in the secular music industry.

      And when I am doing Christian music, my purpose is totally different.  It’s worship leading primarily.

      I’m not knocking it.  Make your boat float.  But I do wish we would take that money and the passion we put into Christian entertainment and use it to advance the kingdom.  We’re losing not just the war but the battle in a lot of places, for the gospel.
      And Christian entertainment is primarily by Christians and for Christians.

      I’m more interested in reaching the lost.
      That’s probably why I’ve done the majority of my music in the secular arts world.

      There are VERY FEW Christians there.  And I’m pretty much 99.9% the only believer when I’m in a production.

    10. Peter Hamm on Thu, September 16, 2010

      I have an idea.

      If you’re really talented… in ANY area… get involved in your local church.

      Revolutionary… I know…

      I won’t watch the show because I and my family don’t do reality television… at all… (We don’t do much TV period…)

    11. Q. on Thu, September 16, 2010

      Yeah, I’m not much for it…  Especially the message that it tends to send to the people who worked so hard on that ‘brand’.  It may be cute to some but I just can’t get out of my head how much it really just doesn’t comment well on Christianity-and even though it’s a small part of a subculture in Christianity-it still just doesn’t reflect well to me.

      Organizations/groups/people spent a TON of money and have invested a LOT of time and have tried to find the cream of the crop to make the foundation of their enterprise only to have it ripped off…and supposedly in Christ’s name.

      Think about how long it took to come up with the American Idol elements, America’s Got Talent’s formula, Pepsi’s logo, So You Think You Can Dance’s SOP’s, certain social networking sites layouts, etc…  They invested in the best PR people and other business minds to handle marketing, getting the best graphic designers to come up with a look and then test that look (over and over again), lawyers to do their thing, etc… whether they just did this in their spare time in college or whether it costed them a considerable amount of money and a certain amount of risk from investors-to steal their ‘brand’ in the name of Christianity only to put out what turns into a subpar parody of the product they worked VERY hard for just doesn’t sit well with me.

      I know that’s not always the intention but many times it is (“why do our own market research-they’ve already done it-we’ll just put our name on that product and spin it our way a little bit and call it a day”).  Not that we can’t learn from each other but let’s not outright ‘take’ from others…

      I LOVE that I work with a church that doesn’t piggy back on things like we’ve mentioned because it does tend to send a bad message that someone would just take the idea that someone worked SO HARD on and just spin it how they want it…I know sometimes it’s done under the guise of “good clean fun” but I can’t help but find it disrespectful.

      I’m all for good clean fun options but do it on your own so it can stand on it’s own.  I would LOVE to know that painstaking measures were taken to have a name that is so far from any of the other ‘competitors’, graphics are different, the formlua is different and unique, etc… so that we stay above reproach.

      I am with you guys in that I personally see value in being creative and doing something original or at least something good and solid-not just a sub-par counterfiet 5 years too late type of thing (whether it’s something like Faithbook, or GodTube, or the cheesy shirts using the graphics other companies worked hard to establish).  I just feel like it’s just a bad commentary…

      It’s not a salvation issue but for me-it not something I’m comfortable with…

    12. toddh on Thu, September 16, 2010

      I say get out of the Christian ghetto.  If you have talent, go join the AGT competition with others that have talent.  No need for a separate “Christian” entity.  Get out there with everyone else and be who you are with integrity.

    13. Mike Mahoney on Mon, September 20, 2010

      I can see both sides of this.  On the one hand, sometimes I have to cringe when watching Idol or AGT because of the acts or the song selection.  I’d actually like to hear some of the music I listen to on these shows.  I remember a few years back on Idol when the contestants were asked to perform a song that “they would put on their album.”  Mandisa did “Shackles” by Mary Mary.  Simon lambasted her and called her selection “indugent.” 

      Many Christian artists feel it would be a sellout to go on a show like these and have to perfom music that they wouldn’t listen to, or want their kids to listen to, and I agree. 

      On the other hand, I’m worried something like this would be a cheezy ripoff.  But that in itself is a double-edged sword.  Christians who say things like “I avoid Christian entertainment because it’s never good”  are actually part of the problem.  The reason it’s not as good as mainstream is because it doesn’t generate as much revenue.  And it doesn’t generate revenue *because you don’t go!*

      If we want good quality Christian media, then we need to do all we can to support those who are actually trying, instead of being snobbish about what movies we see.

    14. Q. on Tue, September 21, 2010

      Hey Mike, thanks for your thoughts and candor�  I don�t want American Idol much so I didn�t see the Mandisa performance so I can�t comment on why Simon may have said it was indulgent.  Often when people say an execution of a song is indulgent it refers to the vocal execution-not the lyrical content.  Again, this may have been an exception but I just wanted to throw that out there�

      I disagree that �Christian� entertainment isn�t as good because of revenue.  There are great artists that are Christians that do BRILLIANT work regardless of budget.  Bands like Living Sacrifice, Zao, Mute Math, Project 86 do a great job of writing music and lyrics that reflect excellence-but we also see things that have a decent budget but still don�t do well.  I have actually heard some in the Christian industry say, �quality doesn�t matter-they�ll buy anything as long as you tell them it’s Christian� and I have to say by and large-to some degree they are right.  Fireproof was a great example of a movie that left me flabbergasted.  We showed it at church and I kept hearing, �that was a great message-the acting was not really all that good at all but let�s try to look past that��.  I was left confused.  To me that says that we are supposed to just ignore the poor quality and fund it and ignore the fact that it�s really not done with excellence.  That doesn�t exactly encourage them to try harder and grow-and I feel like it communicates to the world that we don�t care that we�re producing inferior music and film-but we still want to call it �art�.

      In contrast to Fireproof we had The Passion.  The Passion was brilliantly acted, had great make-up, had a great score, had great cinematography and great lighting, etc�  It was hard for mainstream America to ignore it-some of the power players still tried to downplay it but it was obviously a great film in every way.  You couldn�t deny the art of it and how well it was done.  I took an agnostic friend of mine who is a professor to see it when it first came out and he was riveted.  He said, �that�s not a movie, that�s a film-that�s a piece of art��.  He said, �no matter your religious preference-you can�t deny the excellence of this film and be taken seriously��.  At the awards shows they tried to downplay it but the response was obvious.  It reminded me of hearing of ‘African American’ boxers in the segregation days fighting ‘Caucasian’ boxers-the ‘African American’ boxer would knock the guy out in the first round, then they�d revive the guy, then he�d get knocked out in the second round, they�d revive him again, and this would go on and in the end they would say, the ‘African American’ boxer won in the 6th round.  Everyone knew that wasn�t true and they knew the published result was skewed.  I think that�s how most of America responded to the Passion film when they saw the awards shows.

      I feel like-if something is produced that isn�t as good as something else-I don�t think we�re doing any favors by acting like it�s brilliant.  I think we have to stand by the truth as we see it and I think in doing that we will help the industry get better while being taken seriously-because the stuff that is not good enough won�t make it and the stuff that is great will rise to the top (at least that�s the idea).  I think that’s the best way to support the industry-by being honest and encouraging them to do their art with excellence.

    15. Jan on Wed, September 22, 2010

      I agree with that.  I thought Fireproof was not written or acted well.
      And there are Christians in the main stream doing positive productions that I would like to see more of.

      It’s interesting to be a believer in the theatre world, directing and acting in non Christian productions, and at time producing them.  They are baffled by me.  I think that is very sad.  They should KNOW what a believer looks like… trustworthy, excellent at what they do, creative and yes competitive in their field.

      I’ve actually been accused of “selling out” by Christians because I haven’t gone the Christian entertainment route.  It’s not more spiritual to sing for Christians.  I really wonder if believers understand living a life with a call to reach the lost.  I don’t think they do or if they do they don’t own it.

      I think, though I appreciate the giftedness of some Christian artists, we like Peter said, should be uplifting each other and serving the Body with the arts, and then SENDING those same believers out into the world to be light and salt.

      And I’ve been very sad to see Christian young people become Christian entertainment groupies, going from even to event and concert to concert, then coming back to the church dissatisfied that the church isn’t like “that band I saw just the other night…”

      I think that says a lot.

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