SPEAKING UP FOR HIS FAITH: Christian actor Angus T. Jones caused a stir when he denounced the tawdry content of his CBS sitcom, ‘Two and a Half Men.’ Critics suggested he give up his $350,000 per episode salary and quit the show.
(The following is an open letter to Two and a Half Men costar Angus T. Jones, who lit up the blogosphere when a video testimonial of his went viral, mostly due to his denouncing of the show, which he referred to as filth and implored viewers not to watch.)
Dear Angus … can I call you Angus? Do you go by Gus?
I apologize if that seems too forward, but as I watched your video testimonial, it felt like you were one of my friends. Not because I’ve watched the show — I’ve only seen a few moments in passing before I tune into Person of Interest. But because you remind me of so many of my friends when we were just entering adulthood. I really felt like I knew where you were coming from, not so much of the making-six-figures-on-a-hit-TV-show thing, but more of the realizing-the-truth-and-needing-to-speak-out thing.
Which is why I was tremendously impressed with the substance of your testimonialinterview. I found it to be a refreshing example of candor and courage. That you were doing this of your own initiative and volition — as opposed to having been brainwashed, as some are asserting — should be evident to anyone who watched both videos in their entirety. Also, as a Black man, I couldn’t help but smile at your desire to be sensitive and not offend while you claim your affinity for Black people. On that issue, your friend Chris was right; you get a pass.
Nevertheless, your subsequent apology is an indication that you’ve realized the gravity of the situation — that words like that have wide-ranging consequences. As Jesus told his disciples, the cost of being a disciple is immense. However, I fear that the smoldering flame of your Christian convictions might be snuffed out by the pressure of external forces pulling you to and fro. And yes, I realize that by writing this letter, I’m one of those voices. Though I may not know exactly what you’re going through, I truly desire God’s best for you.
Consider these the suggestions of a new fan who’s been around the block a few times.
Suggestion #1: Pray about whether or how your faith can mesh with your current profession.
Christians around the world struggle with the question of how they can honor God in their current situation, and you’re not the only one in Hollywood trying to live out that challenge. You might want to have your people reach out to Yvette Nicole Brown of the NBC sitcom “Community.” She’s no stranger to being a Christian in the context of a contentious sitcom workplace. (You had Charlie Sheen and Chuck Lorre, she had Chevy Chase and Dan Harmon.)
I don’t know how God will lead you. It may be that God doesn’t want you to do the show. Or maybe he wants you to stay and be a light to your costars and/or the writing staff. Maybe God wants you on another show. Maybe He wants you to step away from the limelight for awhile, and He’ll bring you back later. I can’t pretend to know what’s best for you, but I do know that God rewards those who earnestly seek Him.
Suggestion #2: Keep studying the Bible — all of it.
Like many, as I watched your interview I found myself intrigued with the dude next to you asking the questions, Seventh Day Adventist pastor Chris “Forerunner” Hudson. In general, I favor websites like his Forerunner Chronicles, sites that try to spread a biblical message.
But in this case, I’m concerned about that message getting distorted.
See, Forerunner Chronicles is specifically about spreading the message of Revelation 14:6-12. Fear God, worship Him, give Him glory, et cetera … these are all great, biblical, God-honoring ideas. But there’s a reason why the other parts of the Bible exist. God reveals Himself just as much through the Psalms, through the Penteteuch (a.k.a. the Torah), the major and minor prophets, and the gospels and epistles of the New Testament. The book of Revelation is meant to be a culminating crescendo; it can’t be fully understood without the rest of the Bible as context.
Now I’m not claiming to fully understand it, either. But if you’re wondering why other folks might be put off by your association with Forerunner Chronicles, it might not simply be that “friendship with the world is enmity with God.” It might also be that there’s a part of Christ’s character that’s underrepresented (and subsequently misunderstood) when Christians position themselves only as adversaries of worldly corruption rather than allies spreading God’s message of peace and chesed. The world’s system may be opposed to God, but the world is also populated by people made in His image, people for whom Christ paid the ultimate price.
So you might want to expand your circle of fellowship beyond guys like Forerunner, because it seems a lot of folks are stuck on what he is against, rather than what he is for. Not saying you should throw him under the bus, or leave your church, or anything like that.
Mostly I’m just saying keep studying the Bible… all of it.
Anyway, that’s probably enough for now.
Blessings to you and your family, and keep Christ first.
Oh, and if Charlie Sheen calls, feel free to tell him that you don’t have any tiger blood, but you were redeemed by lion’s blood.
Two weeks ago, I was counted among the 7.7 million viewers who tuned in to BET to watch The Game. I will admit that I must have been living under a rock because I thought The Game was an actual football game. I didn’t realize it was a real show until I started seeing a slew of social network statuses and tweets, counting down to 1/11/11, and tons of advertisements posted on buses and billboards. I was curious to see what was this great show that everyone was raving about?
For the clueless, like myself, The Game is a dramedy that follows the lives of three African American pro football players and the complex relationships they have with the women in their lives. This season opened with the characters experiencing an array of issues, from “baby mama” drama to sleeping with the boss’ wife … I was not impressed, and the show did not gain a new fan. Passionate fans suggested that my “not getting it” was a result of me not seeing any of the previous seasons, which was necessary to fully appreciate the show and each character’s story. They advised I watch the reruns.
The creators of The Game attribute its popularity to the fact that it’s relatable and represents a down-to-earth, Black woman’s perspective. And the viewers seem to agree. With a major public outcry, the show’s fans were able to resurrect it from the TV graveyard two years after it was canceled by the CW. Now the show’s ratings are higher than ever, and BET’s gamble has apparently paid off. There is something to be said about this show’s ability to harness such viewing power. Meanwhile, it’s also opening doors in Hollywood by putting talented Black actors to work who might not otherwise be as competitive in the majority market.
Though the show serves up a platter of stereotypes, at times it’s clear that the writers intend for us to laugh at the characters rather than with them. The opening dialogue in the second episode of this new season began with the character Tasha (played by Wendy Raquel Robinson) apologizing to her white friend, Kelly (Brittany Daniel), for hooking up her ex-husband with his new girlfriend. “I don’t know what I was thinking interfering with a strong intelligent, beautiful, white woman, and the love that she found with her light-skinned Black man,” Tasha says. “I guess it was just another case of a Black woman hating on a white woman.” “Well, your people are very emotional,” Kelly responds, as the camera pulls back to reveal that this “real” moment was actually part of the taping for a reality show starring Kelly. It’s clear that Kelly is still fame hungry after racking up a fortune from divorcing her NFL husband, and we’re meant to take her show as a commentary on — or perhaps even a mockery of — programs like Basketball Wives.
I recognize that any sitcom featuring a majority Black cast that has ratings that can contend with the “big boys” like The Office (which draws about 8 million viewers) is an important feat worth celebrating. Yet the celebration of this milestone is somewhat bittersweet, as it comes for a show that’s a carbon copy of every Black stereotype and one-dimensional character we’ve seen before — better executed, perhaps, but still more of the same.
Although I may be late to The Game, I’ve discovered that I’m not alone in my disenchantment with it. Despite the show’s hardcore following, it has drawn criticism from some who believe it reinforces negative images of African Americans. Ironically, the show’s lead actress, Tia Mowry, is best known for her 1990s TV series, Sister, Sister, and roles in Disney films that project a more positive and wholesome image, which is probably another reason why viewers like me find it hard to embrace The Game.
In an interview with BET.com, Mowry complimented The Game‘s creator, Mara Brock Akil, stating that she felt blessed to be able to play real down-to-earth characters. “That’s one of the main reasons why people love Mara and her writing. She writes these characters that are grounded, who are real, who are not perfect….”
Controversy is nothing new to Akil, who prior to The Game created Girlfriends, which also received some heat for its negative portrayals of Black people.
But don’t get me wrong. I understand that these shows represent a slice of Black life that many people find appealing, and it would be unfair to hold them up to the standard of a family series like The Cosby Show. The Game is more comparable to Desperate Housewives. Both shows feature wealthy women, with loose moral values, who have more secrets than truths.
Ultimately, The Game is a soap opera, and if you try to see it for anything more than that, you’re likely to be disappointed like me. For all its success, the show feels shallow, with predictable plots centered on catfights, sex, and paternity scandals. And while it may be giving “the people” what they want, I think it’s another example of how television thrives on the crudest aspects of Black American life.