This Week In Jesus is our weekly look at where Jesus popped up in pop media over the past seven or so days.
Everybody knows Jesus loves Him some music. This week, the Dove Awards returned for the first time in several years to a live broadcast (this time on the new Gospel Music Channel) and Jesus was all OVER it, dude! I wonder what He thinks about the second-rate wannabe-Grammies telecast. If you ask me, I think that He’d be disappointed that it wasn’t a little more fun and a little less intentionally-fractured-to-appeal-to-too-broad-of-an-audience (this week’s TWIJ sponsored by Hy-phen.com).
One of the problems with Christian music proper is that it’s dominated by a very small and uber-mediocre group of poorly funded money grubbers (mostly Salem), who like what they do but aren’t always very good at it. The Dove Awards are a perfect microcosmic example. I happen to know that the folks over at the Gospel Music Association (GMA) are decent people, and they REALLY want the Dovies to be a big night for Christian music, but they just don’t have the resources or apparently the creativity to make it something special. For example, despite continued poor T.V. ratings and mediocre production value, the same guy that has produced the show for the last seven years (admittedly a pretty nice guy who has hired me in the past and gives a good friend of mine a fair amount of work) continues to get the gig. I don’t think anybody is deluded enough to think that he’s doing a killer job, but apparently he’s the only one that is willing to do the job he’s doing for what they can afford to pay. And it’s not that the show is terrible, but it’s kind of like a lot of stuff in Christian media (read: Relevant magazine)—you want to get excited about it, but in order to do so, you have to accept mediocrity. And I only accept mediocrity in my American Idol contestants and my Star Trek movies.
The other plague on the Dovies (and, to a certain extent, Christian media in general) is the aforementioned fractured nature of its audience. In popdom, you’ve got the GRAMMYs, you’ve got the AMA’s, the CMA’s, the various MTV/BET awards, and a multitude of smaller niche shows, all with their own focus. While the GRAMMYs touch on a similarly smorgasbordic (not a word, but should be) plate of genres, they’ve got the resources to pull it off in a way that is, if not successful, then usually at least interesting. You could make a case that the GRAMMYs have lost touch with the average music fan, and I would agree with you. But I would also suggest it’s because they have suffered from the same scope creep phenomenon as the Doves. At the end of the day, the GMA is charged with the impossible task of taking basically every category of music (and music fan) and giving it its mandatory face time, all on a shoestring budget and a prayer (literally). And it just doesn’t work for them.
Christian music needs something different. Luckily, there might be help on the horizon. The three year old Gospel Music Channel (do NOT put a “the” in front of it—they HATE that) needs something different too, and they are new enough to the Christian music world that their aversion to CCM (Craptastic Christian Media) should still be firmly intact. While they have adopted a familiar shotgun-blast approach to their programming— their website names the following artists as GMC fodder: CeCe Winans, Johnny Cash, Randy Travis, Kirk Franklin and Jars of Clay— they appear to have the financial clout that GMA covets (not in a “thou shalt not” way, but in a!well, yea, mostly in that way) and as “the fastest-growing cable network in the country” they definitely have the national exposure that artists and their labels are after. They’re not going to put up with crappy ratings for long before they start demanding changes.
Will the Dove Awards still suck next year? Yeah, probably. But here’s hoping that sometime in the near future we graduate from the GMA’s monopoly on significant Christian awards shows and that somebody will step up to the plate and give us something different.
Bonus TWIJ notes:
- Jesus made another appearance on His favorite reality singing competition, as Carly Smithson of American Idol gave us her rendition of the moderately-controversial “Jesus Christ Superstar.” Apparently it wasn’t enough to appease either the Big Guy or the voting public, as she got the proverbial boot.
- I tried really hard to think of a way to relate the fact that Megan Fox (Transformers) was voted FHM‘s Sexiest Woman to TWIJ, but I just couldn’t come up with anything.
- In an emailed statement late Friday, blowhard televangelist John Hagee— whose endorsement of John McCain was both a blessing and a curse— admitted, regarding his controversial assertion that Hurricane Katrina was God punishing New Orleans for the fact that they were planning a gay pride parade, “As a believing Christian, I see the hand of God in everything that happens here on earth, both the blessings and the curses. But ultimately neither I nor any other person can know the mind of God concerning Hurricane Katrina. I should not have suggested otherwise.” Unfortunately, Jesus still thinks he’s an idiot (He told me so.)
That’s all you’re getting out of me this week. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a Tivo’d some Colbert Report that’s not going to watch itself. Holla!
Related on Patrol: Our acidic coverage of last year’s Dove Awards. More about what’s wrong with Salem Communications. Also, previous editions of This Week in Jesus.
Marc Acton is the editor of The Sub.Standard, a daily pop culture news and commentary blog.
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