This author doesn’t normally waste too much time thinking about or paying much attention to what goes on in Hollywood, except during the once-a-year trip there for a conference when attempting to ignore the place is nearly impossible due to having to drive in it. But once in a while our attention is drawn to someone or something that happens there that might actually have a positive impact on the way Christians think (or whether or not they do think) about culture.
I was confronted in one of these rare cases today. In an article in Andrew Breitbart’s Big Hollywood Blog by Cheryl Felicia Rhodes , The Actress In The Glass Booth, she demonstrates the impact that a single individual, especially one that has earned the respect of those being addressed, can have on a seemingly entrenched culture. Like most confronted with similar situations, Ms. Rhodes was at first reluctant to speak out. She feared for her professional status and chose to keep quiet about a virtually constant barrage of rude, insulting behavior and blasphemous speech being perpetrated in her agent’s office while she was there for professional purposes. The agent was unaware of Ms. Rhodes political sympathies and apparently assumed that everyone that would come in contact with his agency would be in ideological lockstep with his views.
Like the biblical Queen Esther, Rhodes spoke out at just the right time in just the right way. She risked being blacklisted (don’t kid yourselves; the Hollywood blacklist has existed for decades- its target? “Conservatives”. Hollywood “conservatives” except for a very few very big stars are forced to keep their politics to themselves if they want to work. Hollywood insiders deny this. They are liars. Hence the Breitbart blog.) from her chosen profession. She kept her cool and didn’t break into a shrill rant, decrying the obvious bigotry of her agent and his employees. She went to the agent privately, explained in a reasonable manner what her objections were and especially that she had been personally insulted by things the agent had said and let it go at that. While the agent claimed that he was shocked- SHOCKED!- to find that there were any political posters in his office and indicated that he had never thought that someone might not agree with his personal opinions it obviously made him think about his actions and those of his employees.
Ms. Rhodes made a decision to speak out in a manner that comports with the Matthew 18 methodology for bringing someone who has stepped out of line back into line. She didn’t necessarily say so but that’s what she did. And the fact that she had a 19 year long professional working relationship with this man who obviously respected her professional abilities to the point that he was willing to accept the possibility that the manner in which he expounded his opinions might be insulting or otherwise offputting to people he knows well and respects (not to mention makes his living with).
This is a lesson that many in conservative circles need to be cognizant of. In order to re-claim culture you must first have influence in some specific area of culture. Influence comes with respect which comes from ability and a willingness to work and sacrifice for the cause of Christ. Influence does not come from showing up unannounced at places of business, demanding that things be done your way “or else!” then making highly visible and embarrassing demonstrations to “bring attention to the problem (not that demonstrations don’t need to be made sometimes- after the more subtle approach has failed).” Every conservative and Christian, no matter what his vocation and avocation, should be working to build up the kind of capital that Cheryl Rhodes has built and each should be willing to spend it when directed by God to do so in the manner demonstrated by her example.