What's the Big Idea?
It seemed lately that to get any quality entertainment within a household for their children, parents had one of three choices - 1)Buy from Uncle Walt's mouse palace, 2)Buy from a "mafia named" bunny and his violent friends, or 3)Create something yourself. What most parents wish they could do, make choice number three, is exactly what Paul Vischer of Lombard, IL did.
In July of 1993, Paul took a spare bedroom and converted it into a makeshift production studio. There he began Big Idea, a production effort that produces the highly successful VeggieTales series. Following a media formula that would most assuredly fail, (one computer + two art students + "like minded" volunteers) minus any capital or any connections, Paul set out to create "values based" entertainment. Before Christmas of 1993, Where's God when I'm S-Scared was released. It was America's first entirely computer animated video.
Through 1995, 150K videos were sold. By the end of 1996, word of mouth kicked in for Big Idea and the number of videos sold swelled to 750K. This continued, growing ever stronger, and Big Idea shipped out its millionth video in March of 1997. By November of the same year the number was over 2 million, and 3 million by March of 1998. Following the success of sales in Christian book stores, the first two videos were released to mass market stores (i.e. K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target, etc.) on March 31, 1998. By 2001 the number ballooned to 30 million and growing strong.
It was from the success of sales by Christian book stores that VeggieTales became labeled as "Christian videos". But this is a mistake. The videos and their messages point to a non-Christian approach, making them "Jewish friendly" as well.
None of the main title videos ever mention Jesus. The closest reference to Jesus Christ is the Christmas special video, and even in this video the story is about a toy saving Christmas.
Qwerty, the computer who delivers biblical quotes at the end of the video, has only used New Testament quotes thrice, and only one of these came from a Gospel - Mark. All other quotes are from the Old Testament. Upon viewing the VeggieTales series of videos, one will see that all of the biblical stories used within are from the Old Testament. Some such stories are that of Queen Esther, Joshua and the Walls of Jericho, also Daniel and the Lions Den. Even the musical scores keep themselves very Judaic in nature. There is not even Christian symbolism, such as a crucifix or cross, on any of the VeggieTale material.
This may be seen as just conjecture on this writer's part, but to fully understand this one must view the VeggieTales homepage and look for what is not being said instead of what is. There is NO mention of Jesus. Within the mission statement, Big Idea expresses "The best way to improve people's lives is to promote biblical values and encourage spiritual growth". Compare this to CBN (Christian Broadcadting Network) explanation, on their website, about "the biblical values that were the foundation of this nation have been slowly eroding" is from a lack of acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior.
The statement by Paul himself, "We pursue great art because we are convinced that great art - combined with great storytelling - can change the world" , is another point of omitting the one thing neccessary to hold the "Christian" label - Jesus Christ. The United Methodist Church says "The unprecedented impact the media (principally television and movies) are having on Christian and human values within our society becomes more apparent each day. We express disdain at current media preoccupation with dehumanizing portrayals, sensationalized through mass media 'entertainment' and 'news.' These practices degrade humankind and violate the teachings of Christ and the Bible."
VeggieTales is a unique and humurous storytelling method used to reassure small children the positive effects of God's love. VeggieTales is non-offensive and an enjoyable alternative to the mainstream children's programming. VeggieTales is at times funny and worth watching. (Note - when was the last time you saw dancing and singing vegetables without the use of illicit or illegal substances?) VeggieTales is theistic. Veggietales is not Christian.
www.BigIdea.com - www.CBN.com - http://gbgm-umc.org/umw/anti-hate/media.html