Michael Medved did not intend to be a film critic. After graduating from Yale University and attending Yale Law School for one year, Medved went to work in politics. He soon left that arena disillusioned. In 1978, one of his seven books was turned into a television series on NBC. Medved has stayed close to Hollywood since then, and now cohosts PBS’s weekly program “Sneak Previews.” Medved, an observant Jew, has recently written Hollywood vs. America: Popular Culture and the War Against Traditional Values, which will be published in October by Zondervan.

What is the significance of Silence of the Lambs claiming all the top Oscars and Beauty and the Beast basically taking a back seat?

We are now seeing the popular culture taken over by the same nihilistic mentality that has already wrecked classical music, the visual arts, and the world of poetry. Once upon a time, people had the vision—in the most general sense—that what made art worthwhile, lasting, and praiseworthy was that it was created for the greater glory of God, in one sense or another. That is what inspired Shakespeare and Tolstoy and Beethoven and Mozart and Dickens, even though there is obviously social protest in a lot of his work. But there was some sense of the larger purposes of art. And that was also true to a great extent in the so-called Golden Age of American movies.

In the latter part of the twentieth century, we have accepted increasingly this idea that any kind of art that emphasizes human happiness or human possibilities—that has an optimistic tenor to it—can’t be taken seriously.

Christian movie critic Ted Baehr says, “Hollywood didn’t abandon the church, the church abandoned Hollywood.” Where do you locate the problem?

I deeply respect Ted and his work. ...

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