When Christy Lemire reviewed Lars Von Trier’s “Nymphomanic Vol. 1” she described it as “unexpected and so refreshing, especially given its subject matter.” Her review of “Moms’ Night Out” begins with “Depressingly regressive and borderline dangerous, “Moms’ Night Out” peddles archaic notions of gender roles in the name of wacky laughs.”
A comedy about mothers going out together “peddles archaic notions of gender roles.” I have no idea who Christy Lemire is, but her review really highlights the cultural divide in the United States these days. Out of the more than 6,000 audience reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, 86% of fans have liked the movie. Of the 31 professional critics, only 16% have liked it. Among the top professional critics at Rotten Tomatoes, only 7% have liked it.
I have not yet seen the movie. But I have a lot of friends who have seen it and they’ve all really liked it. To a person, the friends I’ve seen discussing the movie on Twitter, Facebook, email, and in person all found it funny and a good escape. Unsurprisingly, the friends who liked it the most were moms.
But to professional critics, the movie offends their sensibilities for, among other things, “peddl[ing] archaic notions of gender roles.” That makes this movie “dangerously regressive.” Unfortunately for people who like this movie, the other side is winning.
The side that likes Tim Tebow sees him ridiculed by NFL players and professional commentators for his faith. They see the same professional commentators praising Michael Sams for being gay and grossing out half of America by kissing another guy on television. They see NFL players get punished for saying that’s gross when NFL players get celebrated for criticizing Tim Tebow’s faith.
Likewise, evangelical Christians cannot have an HGTV show and Duck Dynasty cast members can’t talk openly about their faith without controversy. The cultural elite are openly hostile to their viewers, ticket buyers, and the people over whose land they fly between Los Angeles and New York.
But here’s the other problem — when it comes to cultural push back, people of faith kinda suck. Their explicitly religious movies and television shows may preach to the flock, but do little to draw others in. They pat themselves on the back affirming themselves while ignoring a larger audience of people that might be drawn to the show.
Moms’ Night Out, by all the reviews I’ve heard from friends, does not fall into this problem. It shows that even quality counter-cultural work by those of faith is going to get attacked. But it also shows that we need more, not less of it. People of faith don’t need to withdraw from culture, but they need to make a better effort at being a part of culture. And they should also not be afraid to say two people kissing on TV like Michael Sams and his boyfriend is inappropriate, even if his boyfriend were a girlfriend.