9:00am PT by Paul Bond
Faith-Based Film Filled With F-Bombs
An upcoming faith-based film is attempting to go where no previous movie from the genre has ever gone.
Generational Sins — directed by Spencer T. Folmar and written by Folmar, Dax Spanogle, Jason Spanogle, Casey Salviano and Fernando Salviano — is overflowing with profanity, including multiple uses of "f—," "shit," "bitch," "dick" and "ass."
It's a huge departure compared to recent faith-based successes like God's Not Dead, which took in $60 million in 2014 and contained just one objectionable word: "crap." Generational Sins is about child abuse, alcoholism and, ultimately, redemption through Jesus Christ, and it could be in the unusual position of being offensive to both Christians and the LGBTQ community, since it also contains the term "faggot." (GLAAD declined comment for this story.)
Movieguide, a yearly report on the entertainment industry from a Christian perspective, breaks down films into several categories, and it will be giving Generational Sins its lowest ranking when it comes to language, given there are 32 uses of profanity in the film. "The movie won't do well if it's advertised as faith-based," says Movieguide editor Tom Snyder.
In 2016, movies with no foul language made an average of $61.4 million domestically while films with more than 25 curse words made an average $34.1 million, according to Movieguide. "It's off-putting for the audience. People don't swear that much in public, except maybe in the hallowed halls of Hollywood," says Movieguide founder Ted Baehr.
Generational Sins executive producer Thurman Mason maintains that they're not only going after religious audiences. "People will call it 'faith-based' and we can't help that, but we're marketing it to secular audiences," he says of the film, which is still in search of a distributor. "We're creating a new genre, and there could definitely be pushback."
Chris Stone, founder of Faith Driven Consumer, an advocacy group for Christians, says he'll be recommending Generational Sins, but to adults and not families. "It's more graphic than I'm comfortable with, but it's not unrealistic," he says. "It's an accurate portrayal of brokenness and sin, and some Christians will opt out."
Director Folmar defends the use of a gay slur by noting it comes from a villainous character who offends people regularly. Still, director Ron Howard ran into a buzzsaw of controversy when activists complained seven years ago about Vince Vaughn's character in The Dilemma joking that electric cars are "gay."
Universal took the line out of the trailer but opted to leave it in the movie despite complaints from GLAAD and other groups.
"We're not shying away from anything," says Mason. "We live in an R-rated world, and covering up the darkness won't bring it into the light. There is objective, gospel truth in this movie. Hollywood stereotypes Christians as nutty fruitcakes detached from reality, but that's not the case and, as Christian filmmakers, we'd like to demonstrate that."
A version of this story first appeared in the May 10 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.