Standing for Christ: New film depicts life of Columbine victim

Published in the October 26, 2017 issue of The Bells

I’m Not Ashamed, a Christian movie based on the events of the Columbine shooting on April 20, 1999, came out in theaters this Friday, October 21.
The movie is an uplifting flick that encourages teenagers in the struggles that many young Christians face, like loneliness, the desire to fit in, and resisting temptation from other students. Reviews however, have blasted Pure Flix, the producers of I’m Not Ashamed, for misrepresenting the actual historical account of the event portrayed in the movie.

The reviews on this movie are mixed, so what’s important is to research and compare what happened in the movie to what happened in real life.
The Columbine shooting is the name given to the mass murder at Columbine High school in Littleton, Colorado. The two perpetrators, 17-year-old Dylan Klebold and 18-year-old Eric Harris, opened fire on their classmates and teachers when their homemade bomb failed to detonate.
The movie implies that the two students targeted Christians, such as protagonist Rachel Joy Scott, who was historically the first victim in the shooting. However, these accusations were proven false, and the murderers had no specific group of people in mind.
Klebold and Harris ended up killing 12 students and one teacher, and injuring 20 more people.
Although the movie was uplifting as well as tragic, it may have misrepresented the events of Columbine. Theguardian.com writes a scathing review on the Pure Flix film, who also created God’s Not Dead and God’s Not Dead 2.
They call I’m Not Ashamed “a false narrative of Christian martyrdom.”

Other reviewers, such as the Hollywood Reporter, criticize the movie for being poorly written and disrespectful to the victims of Columbine.
The movie is touching and sweet, and Masey Mclaine’s performance as Rachel Joy Scott goes beyond the somewhat cheesy and predictable script.
The upset that I’m Not Ashamed has caused is not only due to the historical discrepancies between the movie and the shooting, but also when it comes to the motive behind the entire shooting as something more “martyr-like” than it is.
Additionally, the depictions of the shooters are shamelessly flat and give little to no consideration of their motives and lives outside of the crime.

There are plenty of rioters that would rally to stamp out the humanization of criminals like these, but the movie medium has a bit more leniency and opportunity to portray all sides, which needless to say, I’m Not Ashamed did not take advantage of.
The film is the epitome of a feel-good, Chrsitian motivational flick, with a dark overtone that led to more controversy and resistance from the community than the usual Christian film. There is no doubt that the director’s intentions were good, but in the process of encouraging angsty teens, they failed to truly honor the victims of Columbine by accurately representing the happenings of April 20, 1999.

Author: Tori Van Hooser

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