“The Chosen is Not Good” is Very Good
Typically, whenever I am invited to a viewing of nearly anything produced by the contemporary Christian media, I quickly schedule a dentist appointment for the same time slot so as to have a valid excuse to decline. The dental chair often ends up being the less painful choice.
The Chosen changed that. Unlike other audio-visual renderings of the Gospel, it doesn’t mash the already compelling narrative of Scripture into a misshapen lump of excessive theatrics to appeal to secular viewers. Similarly, unlike much of the content floating around the Evangelical subculture, it doesn’t set up some arrogant straw-man atheist to be pummeled and converted by half-baked intellectual arguments for God. Instead, it enters into the actual story of Jesus and his disciples, humanizing them for an audience that might not fully relate to ancient Near Eastern culture and writing.
If this was all that director Dallas Jenkins and his team had done, I would have been impressed. But then they came out with this.
Angel Studios, the same media company that is producing this epic on the life of Christ, put out a funnier sketch than anything Saturday Night Live has come up with since the Bush Administration (I’m talking H.W.), even as it served as a fully-functioning advertisement.
Curiosity began swirling when a series of billboards advertising The Chosen across the United States during Holy Week were “vandalized,” directing passersby to a website called ChosenSux.com (it redirects to a site called TheChosenIsNotGood.com). When the actual advertisement was released on the site and various social media platforms, viewers were introduced to the culprit: an Uncle Screwtape-like devil with a deadpan sense of humor and a classroom of budding demons. What followed was an impressive combination of witty, fast-paced humor and high-quality marketing. I won’t dissect the specific jokes, as the quickest way to turn a good joke stale is to spend too much time reflecting on it. I do, however, want to point out the quality that makes the advertisement enjoyable, edifying, and effective as a comprehensive whole.
The video is characterized by a rare element – a self-aware humor that doesn’t resort to cynicism. The writers of this sketch knew that Christian cinema has historically done a terrible, almost comedic injustice to the life of Christ by turning him into something unrealistic (the video’s list of classically “unrelatable Jesuses” is painfully accurate and absolutely hysterical). By making light of the past mistakes of their genre, they align themselves with a demographic – primarily younger Millennials and most of Gen Z – that has witnessed the public apostasy of several well-known Evangelicals (e.g., Josh Harris, Marty Sampson), suffered through four separate variations of God’s Not Dead, and may not trust any form of media recommended by their parents.
It would be easy to lean into this snickering outlook on Christian cinema and merely add to the pile of unredeeming mockery that already exists. But the writers also knew that these past shortcomings don’t necessarily mean a cinematic portrayal of the Gospel is doomed to failure – if anything, Christian film companies have a responsibility to share the Truth through this medium. “The Chosen is Not Good” campaign picks up the baby before discarding the bathwater. It represents a well-reviewed series they believe can unify both those who readily accept and enjoy popular Christian media content and those, like myself, who tend towards skepticism. I agree with them – they’ve earned this position of confidence by making something with few equals in their field.
I’m sure this campaign will draw critiques. Using the Devil as a marketing tool for the Gospel story was definitely a risky move. That said, they actually pulled it off – 100% blasphemy-free. Whether or not this actually draws in its target demographic, I applaud the effort and the thought that went into it, and I hope other Christian media outlets take note.
“The Chosen is Not Good” is very good.
 N.B. When I say, “Christian cinema,” I am primarily referring to movies and television programs produced by explicitly Christian media companies. Hollywood has actually produced some stunning films that convey the Truth of Christ to secular audiences in incredible ways. Two in particular immediately come to mind. Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life is downright Dostoevskian in its philosophical questioning and Mel Gibson’s The Passion of The Christ portrays Jesus’s suffering with brutal, visceral imagery – it was such a powerful film that multiple members of the cast converted to Christianity during and after the production of the movie.
was raised in northern Wisconsin and graduated from Wheaton College. He works as a writer and runs the humor newsletter The Sometimes Gazette. Ben lives in Indiana with his wife, Tess.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/the-chosen-worse-than-hell