Bob the Tomato Quotes PlatoPHIL VISCHER
Phil Vischer is a man who usually lets his vegetables do the talking for him. But recently Vischer talked about his new movie, "Jonah," why Christians aren't funny and why PG movies might be better for your kids.
Was it a big decision which Bible story you'd use in your first movie?
Our fans always tell us they love our slightly "off-kilter" retellings of Bible stories, often described as "Monty Python meets Sunday School." And few stories in the Bible make kids' eyes light up like Jonah and the whale. We also felt the message of Jonah about mercy and compassion, about second chances was a message our world was in desperate need of hearing.
Some fans assumed our first movie would have its faith elements watered down to make it more broadly appealing, but we believe many Americans are ready to see faith expressed more openly in feature films. Plus, we want our fans to see we aren't afraid to stick to our convictions, even with much more money at risk.
movie is coming out around the one-year anniversary of 9/11. How should viewers
apply the message about mercy, compassion and second chances to the current world
But of course, the whole message of the Bible is that, even though we all ultimately have to admit we're "bad guys," God wants to pay our debt for us. He wants to wipe the slate clean. That's huge! The story of Jonah illustrates that principal powerfully. Jonah wants to see Ninevah pay for their sins. They're the bad guys, after all! But God wants to give them a second chance.
new worm character Muslim?
the way, are you a Monty Python fan?
Even the crucifixion scene in "Life of Brian," in which
they all sing, "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!" as they're hanging from
Okay, so what do you have against Disney?
How will someone who
is not a "Judeo-Christian" like this movie? Or the VeggieTales videos for that
Many conscientious parents
feel that if they stick to G-rated movies, their kids will be fine. What's wrong
with that approach?
At the end of the day, a G-rated film can still undermine values that are very important to you. And a PG film might support them wonderfully. Parents need to get to know the styles of different studios and different filmmakers, so they can start to predict the values and ideas that are likely to come from their stories. Or, when in doubt, see the film first and ask, "What will my kids learn from this?"
What's an example of a G-rated film
that undermined important values?
You've said that "the media channels are
controlled by people who have no clue about the religious core of America." What
do you mean?
What has helped me speak about spiritual matters to a very large audience was growing up in one microculture, the conservative Christian community in the Midwest, and then working for seven years in video production and advertising in downtown Chicago, a very different microculture. I went from knowing no one who didn't go to church, to knowing no one who did. The experience of learning to communicate with both cultures was instrumental in crafting the voice and style of VeggieTales.
brings up another question: how'd you get to be so funny? Why do you think Christian
entertainment has had trouble developing a sense of humor?
Perhaps since [co-director] Mike [Nawrocki] and I went to Bible college in Minnesota, which is so close to Canada... nah. That couldn't be it. It's a fluke of nature, I guess. Like platypuses.
you continue to grow, you'll be faced with temptations to get broader acceptance.
Did I read somewhere that a network offered you a regular slot if you made VeggieTales
Say Beliefnet runs
a big article about Veggie Tales, with the headline, "Can VeggieTales Save America?"
Or is it "Phil Vischer Beats Michael Eisner"?
One last question: Why vegetables?
My first attempt was a candy bar. Then my wife walked by and said, "You know, moms are going to be mad at you if you make their kids fall in love with candy bars." The next thing that popped into my head was a cucumber. The rest, as they say, is history!
Steven Waldman. "Bob the Tomato Quotes Plato." Beliefnet.com (October, 2002).
This article reprinted with permission from Beliefnet.com.
Steven Waldman is Editor-in-Chief of Beliefnet.com.
Copyright © 2002 Beliefnet.com
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