To: Jedidiah E.R. Kitsch, Big G Talent Agency
Re: My appearances in films in 2014
I remember our meeting in 2013 during which you were ecstatic about how many movie appearances you’d arranged for me this year. While I didn’t share your sentiment that “if you’re not appearing in films, your career will evaporate” (remember I had plenty of followers before Facebook and Twitter), I did appreciate your enthusiasm for the slate of films. However, now that the year has passed and I’ve seen the films, I have to say I’m very unhappy about my appearance in these movies.
You were quite proud that you’d set up two big-budget films based on the stories of Noah and Moses. You said, “Darren Aronofsky’s last movie got a boat-load of Oscar nominations, and, heh, you can’t do better than Ridley Scott.” I wondered about Mr. Aronofsky adapting the Bible, since Black Swan was a bit curious; Sigmund and Carl are still arguing about it up here. On top of that, Noah’s story has given me a ton of bad press over the eons. Everyone focuses on how I was supposedly angry and flooded the place out, but they miss the mercy I showed to Noah, his family, and the animals. But I trusted that you had my back on this.
Then I watched the movie. Moving rocks as fallen angels? A stowaway on the Ark? Russell Crowe going psycho? And then there were the other details. Methuselah was really not happy with how his part was written, even though it was Anthony Hopkins playing him. “I’m around for over 900 years, and this Aronofsky guy has me having one son, who then had one son himself – Noah? I may not have been a ladies man but I did my part to populate the earth. This guy, though, portrays me as a monk!”
At least in Exodus: Gods and Kings, Ridley understood that I worked within the world I created with the plagues, rather than making willy-nilly supernatural changes. If anybody learned anything from Bruce Almighty, I hope it was that I’m mindful of consequences when I interact with the world and that I created a beautifully balanced ecosystem. Pull the moon close so it’s romantic, and you get bizarre tides and floods as a result of your Hallmark moment. And if I couldn’t be played by Morgan Freeman, Ridley’s choice for a personification of me was acceptable. But still I come across as bloodthirsty. Pharaoh was stubborn; I tried asking nicely and he blew me off. Also, the casting has caused a problem. Moses keeps running around and whispering in a gravelly voice, “I’m Batman!”
Now, about my son’s flick, Son of God? I have to admire Roma Downey and Mark Burnett’s hutzpah. They got people to pay for movie tickets to watch a re-cut version of a television show they already saw for free. But casting a hunky Spaniard as my son? That’s almost as bad as having blond Scandinavian Max Von Sydow play him in The Greatest Story Ever Told. (Actually, I prefer calling that movie “The Longest Story Ever Told”; I almost fell asleep watching it!).
Speaking of Jesus, I did like the use of Akiane’s painting of him in Heaven Is For Real. If I carried a wallet, I’d have that picture in it. That was a movie I liked. It dealt with real people who had challenges in their lives, but who still believe in me. Belief isn’t a “Get out of Trouble Free” card. You have to go through the hard parts, because that experience helps shape you. It also makes the next hard parts that come along easier to handle. Look at baseball. (With team names like the Padres, the Angels, and the Cardinals, you can see why I’m partial to the sport.) Sure, I gave players like Ted Williams and Stan Musial some innate talent, but no one would have heard of them if they hadn’t struggled to develop that ability. In any endeavor – business, medicine, technology, whatever you can think of – it’s the overcoming of challenges that build a person’s character. You don’t learn to stand without falling down a bunch. Why do you think I gave you extra padding on your derriere?
Heaven Is For Real, in spite of the title, dealt with faith. Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly had to believe that their son had made a trip to heaven while he was sick. It wasn’t an intellectual exercise for them; it was simple, beautiful, hard-won faith, and one of the better depictions of faith that I’ve seen in a movie.
In contrast, there’s God’s Not Dead (to which my response is, “Well, duh.”). Of course the phrase that’s the basis for the title has been around for over half a century, ever since TIME magazine took a school of theological thought and misinterpreted it for the masses. I found the arguments in the classroom sort of interesting, but the writers of the movie tossed everything into the script that they could think of that might get an emotional response. They also had a slew of appearances by “Christian Celebrities,” which to me is an oxymoron. One aspect of me that was almost nonexistent in that film was humility. Also, a pet peeve: if you’re going to portray a Muslim woman, at least you should learn how they wear a hajib. The way the actress put it on in the film, it looked like she was going out to throw stones in the West Bank. They may know me by a different name, but they’re still my children; treat them with respect, please.
That movie also showed a trend I find troubling – the idea that Christians are persecuted in the United States. Just because you don’t get your way in everything doesn’t mean you’re persecuted. Believe me, I know about persecution, both from watching my children being tortured and killed, and sadly from seeing my children indulge in such behavior themselves when they’re in charge. Along with God’s Not Dead, you had the aptly-named Persecuted, which thankfully disappeared from multiplexes before most people noticed it, and Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas, which was a film of Mr. Cameron lecturing for 80 minutes about how bad it is to say Happy Holidays in place of a belligerent “Merry Christmas.” Kirk’s movie got historically low ratings on IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes – 1.5 out of 10 and 0 out of 100 respectively – and then he compounded the problem by trying to have his followers manipulate the internet to raise the ratings. That was embarrassing, but it wasn’t persecution.
But I’ve saved the worse until last: Left Behind. Who thought that remaking a direct-to-video film from a decade ago (that starred the estimable Mr. Cameron) would be a good idea? If I really hated the world, I’d let them film the rest of that series of books. But thankfully I’m merciful.
That leads me to the reason for this letter, Jedidiah. You may think that this was a banner year for me in movies, but from my perspective it was painful. Now, I’m a big picture kind of guy, and normally I have a lot of patience. (For an example of my patience, take a peek at the Grand Canyon.) However, for me any more “banner” years like this would make the Inquisition look like a stay at Sandals. I’m afraid I need an agent who can represent my interests in a way that reflects who I am. That whole “God is Love” thing?; yeah, I meant that.
Therefore I’m cancelling our contract and will be looking for new representation in Hollywood. I’m sorry it didn’t work out between us, Jedidiah, but this is for the best.
P.S.: Since I am no longer a client, you will need to change the name of your agency. Please don’t make me send you a cease and desist order. When I do those, they tend to be permanent in nature.