The New York Times called him “shrill and sanctimonious.” The New Yorker questioned whether he knew how to spell potato. Time saw him as a Martin Luther wannabe who was “determined to nail his 95 theses … on a movie marquee. Problem is, he keeps hitting his thumb.” Suffice it to say, Michael Medved has struck a nerve—a raw one, from the sound of liberal howling. A practicing Jew, Medved has been accused of being a “secret Christian,” a tool of Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and the Religious Right. He has even received anonymous threatening phone calls. All this for saying that movies today are bad, immoral, perhaps dangerous, and certainly not friendly to religion or traditional values.

Medved began his career as a cinematic gadfly when in 1985 he became cohost of PBS’s “Sneak Previews.” One of the first movies he reviewed was Agnes of God, which he said presented a “one-sided, unfair, negative view of the church.” Christians, surprised that someone outside their ranks noticed how they were treated by the media, wrote him passionate thank-you letters. Medved followed up by doing a theme show on “Hollywood vs. Religion,” which also received a positive response. This led to speaking engagements, articles in Reader’s Digest and USA Today magazine, and finally, last year, a best-selling book, Hollywood vs. America (HarperCollins)—which led to the savage critiques quoted above.

In the interview below the reader can judge whether Medved’s attacks on Hollywood are sanctimonious and shrill or surprisingly common sensical. Not all Christians will agree with his judgments, but all Christians should be encouraged by his public use of a moral yardstick to measure movies. Also, in the accompanying excerpt from Medved’s book, beginning ...

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