I just gave $100 to the Save Blue Like Jazz campaign. If you were me, wouldn’t you?
In some circles they call me “Penny from Blue Like Jazz.” I have mixed feelings about it, but there you have it. I wouldn’t take back my final year at Reed College for anything in the world.
Here’s the story: way back when, in 2001, I met a guy named Don. Even though I called myself one (usually at a whisper) I was skeptical of Christians, especially Christians who wore button downs, cargo shorts, and baseball caps. But it didn’t take me long to realize that Don’s conformist wardrobe was the only thing normal about him. He was actually an irreverent goofball, and more radical than many of the kids with dreads and patchwork clothing that populated campus. That is to say, he broke harder with his past than they had with theirs.
Nearly ten years later the Christian world knows this story. They read about it in Blue Like Jazz, and it ignited a bit of a revolution like any story that includes Reed should. Now we want to see it on screen. And despite funding difficulties it may still happen. But some people aren’t so sure. Well, I couldn’t disagree more so I thought I’d share why.
This movie isn’t just for Christians. Last year Reed’s alumni magazine ran a piece about the Blue Like Jazz phenomenon and the way it has affected the campus in the years since its publication. Can you imagine? Every single person who ever graduated from Reed College had the chance to read about the Christian search for meaning and how the values Reed instills in its students – objectivity, intellectual honesty, the courage to ask tough questions, the importance of developing a true community of peers – jive with Christ’s call on our lives to love him with our whole heart, soul, and mind and to love others as ourselves.
I want the non-Christian world to get a chance to see an honest and raw spiritual odyssey; one that shows an alternative vision to the infighting, the hypocrisy, the pettiness of so much that goes on in the church today. Which leads me to….
The spiritual quest of Blue Like Jazz the movie is honest and vulnerable. Many people have said Blue Like Jazz is just a bunch of ramblings, how could that be a movie? Well, folks, trust me, I’ve read the screenplay. It’s good. And it’s not just another cheesy Christian movie. It’s an honest look at the struggle to find one’s own path in the world, to wrestle with the craziness of the stuff we believe, and come out on the other side a truer person because of it.
It is seriously funny. Anyone who has spent more than two minutes with Don knows he’s a funny guy. Hearing him speak is like hearing a stand-up comic with depth. The movie is no different. Yeah, it’s meaningful, but it’s funny, too.
Steve Taylor is an amazing man and director with boatloads of integrity. When Steve read the confession booth scene in Blue Like Jazz he said to himself, I want to make a movie that includes this scene. Now, the thing about Steve is he is a purist, a non-conformist, a true artist. He’s not gonna make a movie or a song or an album just to see it sell. The man has principles. He’d rather work on something with integrity than sell out to the forces that be and create a marketable, white-washed product. That may be the downfall of Blue Like Jazz the movie. But I hope it means that those of us who believe in putting an honest message up on screen will make it happen.
Finally, selfishly, I want to see my character on screen. Okay, honestly, how many of you wouldn’t give their little pinky to see themselves on screen? Sure, it’s a fictionalized version of me, but still, that’s pretty cool.
How about you? Why do (or don’t) you want to see Blue Like Jazz become a movie?