Because understanding the Christian community is more complicated than many in Hollywood realize, Larry Poland of Mastermedia Intl. works closely with bizzers to break down prejudices and craft their products for America’s large evangelical audience. Here are five things Poland says the industry needs to know about Christian consumers:
- There are more of them than you think
“Hollywood tends to underestimate the magnitude of the community and its spending power,” says Poland, explaining that nearly 280 million Americans cite Christianity as their religion, spending an estimated $2.1 trillion a year. Poland points to the recent failure of ABC’s “GCB” and its derogatory image of evangelicals as evidence of the community’s effect. Biblically inaccurate miniseries “Noah’s Ark” and NBC’s sacrilegious “Book of Daniel” suffered similar fates.
- They have a long memory
Universal Studios released “The Last Temptation of Christ” is 1988, and the movie is infamous for depicting a sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary Magdalene. There were protests outside the studio gates at the time, and Poland says he still knows many individuals who won’t go to see a Universal film.
- They are rich and educated
Poland says there is a perception that Christians are poor and uneducated, but market research suggests the opposite. Poland looks to the audience for “Touched by an Angel” as evidence: “CBS research found in a survey that the audience for that show was the richest in primetime. They had more Lexuses, personal computers and were more educated than other shows.”
- They watch everything
Christians are not obsessed with just evangelical-based programming. They watch the news, sports and a broad range of entertainment. With the exception of porn and “lewd” programming, their taste in media is virtually identical to the general populace.
- They aren’t all angry zealots
Hollywood often depicts the Christian community as lunatics, a stereotype Poland believes to be based on a small sampling of extremists, rather than an accurate representation of the population at large.
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