Sunday, September 28, 2008

"The Man Comes Around"

I’ve already noted some religious themes in the Sarah Connor Chronicles. I’ll now touch on a couple of others.

In the 1st season finale, the soundtrack uses Johnny Cash’s “The Man Comes Around” in one climatic scene. That’s an explicitly Christian ballad, interwoven with eschatological imagery.

And this ballad is, in part, a creative adaptation of an old Negro spiritual, “There's a Man Goin' Round Takin' Names.” Jesse Norman made a classic recording.

In the premier episode of the 2nd season, Cameron is in church, gazing at a crucifix. She asks Sarah if Sarah believes in the Resurrection.

The paradox of this exchange lies in the fact that the cyborg is a seeker while the human is a sceptic.

One might ask why a network drama would evoke so many religious themes: indeed, so many distinctively Christian themes. As a rule, Hollywood is not exactly sympathetic to the Christian faith.

It could be a cynical ploy to attract Christian viewers. On the other hand, Hollywood has a habit of snubbing Christian viewers even when that’s bad business.

Perhaps a better explanation is that Biblical themes and narratives have a dramatic resonance that secular themes and narratives cannot match. Indeed, Hollywood, try as it might, can never go back to pre-Christian innocence. It can try to be post-Christian and anti-Christian, but that’s a reactionary pose, and not an independent identity which can stand on its own two feature. 2000 years of church history has left an indelible mark, no matter how often the modern unbeliever tries to efface its legacy. And, of course, it’s not just a think of the past.

Finally, there are some Christian artists attempting to break into the Hollywood subculture. Perhaps this is a sign that they are beginning to make some inroads.


  1. There may not be a specifically Christian bent to Hollywood, but despite what it seems, there is definitely a moral stance in most of its work.

    The good guy wins, the bad guy gets it in the end. Even the slasher films seem to be overly moralistic: have you ever noticed how the sexually active get axed first while the virginal heroine makes it to the end (e.g., Halloween, Friday the 13th)?

    They even are attuned to the nuances of morally complex issues such as revenge: have you seen 8mm with Nick Cage? The villain is a sub-human monster, yet you are forced to ponder whether venting one's rage is morally appropriate or not. Are you reduced to the same level of amorality by engaging one's "lower impulses"?

    Personally, Hollywood has done more for me in terms of moral reflection than many books by Christians which tend to be shallow and overly simplistic.

  2. doxxa said...

    "Negro" seriously?


    That's the conventional term for designating spirituals. Same thing with the NAACP.

  3. It's striking that the Sarah Connor Chronicles is more religious that the original movie franchise, of which it's a spin-off.