To Commend or To Critique? The Question of Religion and Film Studies

  • Author(s): John Lyden
  • When: 1997-10
  • Where: Journal of Religion and Film
  • This paper examines two approaches to popular film to come out of religious studies. The first assumes popular culture is as valid as any culture, in which case "religious" analysis of films seeks to identify the iconography and mythology of film as expressive of a viable popular religion. The second method critiques popular film as a form of hegemonic discourse to be unmasked as supportive of classist, racist, and sexist ideologies. This paper accepts the validity of both methods and seeks to balance them by asserting that all films should be seen both as viable expressions of culture and also as ideology. Films are both to the extent that all contain multiple "texts" and multiple meanings, held together in an aporial and not entirely rational fusion. We do not need to decide which meaning is fundamental, as all are present in the film.

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