Sigh. Talk about counter-productive.
For starters, I'll just say I haven't watched this all the way through. I have read the Agony Booth recap and watched Cinema Snob's take on this. Since this shows us whole scenes, some in their entirety, and includes long quotes, I can tell what this movie was TRYING to do, and it failed miserably.
Second, I'll just say right now that I'm a Christian. And I'll say from an informed standpoint that this movie is CRAP.
Let's just list all the ways this movie is completely counter-productive.
The protagonist is a douche, or at least, turns into one the more he turns against rock. He starts treating everyone around him like they're horrible sinners and are going to burn in Hell. The movie gives us a few straw characters like his friend Marty to make him look more sympathetic, but it doesn't help. Marty may be a bit of an ass himself, but nowhere near the hyper-jerk levels of our "hero". I've known guys like this, and to say they're not effective witnesses is to say that Hurricane Sandy made New England a little damp. My father is a pastor, and he's related stories of having to deal with holier-than-thou jerks like Jeff. He doesn't have anything good to say about them.
Then there's the painting the entire genre of "rock", which here means anything from commercial metal to the freakin' Captain and Tenille, with the same broad brush. Is there a lot of commercially available rock that promotes promiscuity, drug use or violence? Of course there is. Is this a fitting description for the entire industry? Absolutely not. Jeff reminds me of a teen girl I used to know who literally believed that every "rock" song was a metaphor for sex, and would spend as much time as you let her showing you how she could twist words and meaning combined with leaps of logic to make a song like "Peaches" by the Presidents of the United States (talk about your one-hit wonders) into a metaphor for sex. I have an iPhone littered with songs from non-Christian artists, and I would argue that only a few of them are unquestionably about sex, but even then, not about promiscuity. I actually bought a few of them because I play them when my wife and I are getting romantic. Sex, as a concept, is not a bad thing, filmmakers! God invented it! The Song of Solomon is all about it! Or maybe the filmmakers think the Song of Solomon is a hit by Fleetwood Mac or something.
Jeff also talks a great deal about how some bands are involved in the Occult and that they sing about the Devil in their music, and names a number of songs or lyrics contained within to prove his point. Jeff, like many holier-than-thou's I've known, conflates mentioning something with endorsing it. For one thing, he specifically names Santana's "Evil Ways", which repeats the line "You've got to CHANGE your evil ways", and then he name-drops "Sympathy for the Devil" apparently without knowing the lyrics. There's really only two ways "Sympathy for the Devil" can be interpreted; it's either about the atrocities of man or saying that the Devil is behind those atrocities. The title is provocative on purpose, and entirely ironic. For that matter, I have heard numerous rock songs that talk about how hopeless and empty an existence is the lifestyle of drugs, drinking, partying and promiscuity. According to Jeff, they're all endorsing these things merely by mentioning them. Apparently, for that matter, Jeff has never heard of things like metaphor or writing from a different perspective than your own. I once wrote a song from the perspective of an aborted fetus, which I clearly am not. He also apparently has never listened to several hymns, including the ones that start off with the lyrics "I was sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore, very deeply stained within, sinking to rise no more". By Jeff's logic, this hymn, Love Lifted Me, is evil simply because it talks about drowning in sin.
Also, sorry, Jeff, but most bands are not actually involved in the Occult. They may act like it to provide shock value and sell records, but they don't even claim to be actual Occultists. I'm not excusing it, nor am I calling this type of music a healthy choice for a Christian to listen to, but to just willy-nilly accuse a number of bands of being Occultic and not even attempt to back that up is just weak.
Now let's talk about Jeff's confusion over being "controlled" as opposed to "natural reactions" or "emotions". Jeff seems to think that clapping your hands or swaying along to the music when you're at a concert is the same thing as being controlled by the music. Ummm...I've seen people do that during worship services, Jeff. Like, a lot. Even in Southern Baptist churches, and you just about don't get more fundamental than them. He acts like hearing a song he likes and wanting to stop and listen is the same thing as being controlled by that song. Being moved by music is NOT the same thing as being controlled by it, and this movie provides no frame of reference to compare being controlled by something to merely reacting to it. For example, if Jeff's dad puts on a Bach concerto or a Brahms symphony and is moved to tears by it, is he being controlled by the classical music? How about if I'm watching a funny movie and I laugh? Or read a sad scene in a novel and I cry? Or how about if I hear a rhythm in my car's window wipers and groove along to it for a while, which I've actually done? Is my car possessing me? Not to mention that if people have the same reactions listening to praise and worship movements, or even hymns, that Jeff describes people attending a rock concert as having, well, what does that say? Obviously, if clapping and/or swaying to the music or singing along to it, or hearing it in a public place and feeling the urge to listen to it longer, is a sign of being possessed, shouldn't there be a noticeably different reaction when supposedly non-harmful music is played?
Now let's talk about Jeff's witness. Simply put, he doesn't have one. He has arrogance, condescension and self-righteous bullying. That's all. At no point does Jeff communicate how he feels more pure of spirit and how much closer to God he feels by not listening to rock. All he does is start accusing the people around him of being sinners or hypocrites. There is no joy of the Lord in Jeff's heart. There is no Fruit of the Spirit showing in him. There is only self-righteous anger, often expressed by complaining that his friends are insulting him or reacting as if his friends are snorting coke because there's instrumental music playing in the backround of a party. He exibits the absolute worst qualities of any human being, let alone a Christian. He becomes a complete legalist, a modern-day version of the Pharisees that Jesus had to battle against repeatedly. If anything, the Jeff from the beginning is closer to a Godly young teen than the Jeff of the rest of the movie. Sure, he yells at his mother to leave him alone, but he feels convicted about it and knows that his behavior was wrong and against God, and apologizes to her. Wow, such a rebellious kid! It's only later, after supposedly becoming a better Christian, that he unapologetically condemns his mother for a hypocrite. Throughout this film, Jeff does his best to push people away and show them that he thinks of himself as better than they are. This is not how the Bible calls anyone to witness. At one point Jeff says he WANTS people to see him as different, because if they don't see any difference between a person of faith and a person without faith, they'll say there's no point. Umm...Jeff...you're supposed to show them how different you are because of the JOY of the Lord. Not the oppressive rules you think you have to live by. Ever heard the phrase "They will know we are Christians by our love", or perhaps that the Fruit of the Spirit, as described in the Bible, is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control? You don't show any of these fruits, Jeff. The spirit of God is not in you.
The idea that we are supposed to be "in the world, but not of it" does NOT mean being insular from those around you and condemning anything you feel the Bible calls sinful. It means that while you live in the mortal world, your soul belongs to God. "Come out from the world and be separate" means to live for God instead of worldly pursuits. It doesn't mean turn into the kind of condescending creep that Jeff turns into.
If anything, my witness, as small as it is, has been far more affective than Jeff's, precisely because I DON'T spend all my time around my non-Christian friends doing nothing but condemning their music or criticizing their taste. The fact that I can have fun and be a fun person while still being a Christian has made more than one of my friends react with pleasant surprise that my faith doesn't prevent me from living.
Honestly, if I didn't know better, I would assume this film was anti-Christian, and trying to warn us away from the kind of behavior Jeff displays. As the Cinema Snob asks, "How could anyone root for Jeff?" In no way am I endorsing the more explicit, shock-rock types of music that are out there, but really, there's a middle-ground here, filmmakers!
And this is coming from a lifelong church-going Christian!
If only I weren't three and a half decades too late.