Tuesday, June 01, 2004


Modern Entertainment

My buddy, Al Baker, wrote a great post on his blog about Shrek 2. Long story short, he identified a few scenes that are questionable and why is there a need for this stuff.

Short answer, there isn't.

The bar for what is acceptable and what isn't has been sliding ever lower for years. I'll give you some cases in point for "kid's movies":

1. Lion King - try explaining Mufasa's death to a 3- or 4-year old. This is a very dark, violent movie. Then again, so was Bambi, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.
2. Finding Nemo - Dory's line "Yes, I'm a natural blue" is a double entendre that most kids would miss but adults won't. Does it really need to be in a kids' movie?
3. Shrek - take your pick (pro wrestling, torture, the scene where Farquaad is looking under the covers of his bed and then blushes)

My point (and I do have one) is this.....once kids start graduating out of Treehouse, they will begin watching "kids" movies that are darker in tone with more "adult" references. Believe it or not, this is intentional.

You see, there was an implicit decision made back around the time of the first Toy Story that it was possible to make kids' movies that had enough subtle jokes to make adults smile. The logic was that, if there were jokes and storylines that adults got, then they would be more inclined to bring their kids to the movies. The problem is that filmmakers are packing in more "jokes" designed for the adults than for the kids.

So how do parents deal with this? Unfortunately, you cannot simply say "no" anymore, because it's a good bet the kid up the street has the movie on DVD at home and will invite your child over to watch it. Kids have a natural curiosity, especially when it comes to the things parents say no to. I defy any parent out there to tell me that they never watched, read or did something their parents said they shouldn't watch, read or do. The proliferation of easier access to all things good and evil in the world places a much greater burden on parents to be ever more vigilant in teaching our children. Compounding this problem is the fact that the Christian morality is not interpreted the same family-to-family and our kids could wind up watching/reading that which we find morally questionable.

With my kids, I hope to do what Al has done here and take them to see movies myself, listen to their music, guide them through the Internet and talk with them about what they are reading/watching/learning/doing at school and elsewhere. I will try to put things in the context of what I believe God would have us do. I am not perfect, but if my kids are willing to be open with my wife and I, I believe that we can have an influence on their spare-time activities and give them a comfort level that they can come to us whenever they have questions about something they have seen, read or otherwise been exposed to. I personally grew up watching movies and appreciated them as pure escapism and magic. I hope to share my love of movies and music and books with my kids, but I also know that I will probably struggle with the same things my Dad did, as I watched movies and read books and listened to music he thought was questionable.

There is, I believe, no greater missions field than the one under your own roof. A family is the greatest earthly blessing we can receive from God and I, for one, am committed to doing my level best for them. I trust that many (if not all) of you readers are with me and will hold me accountable to that standard. As I said before, I am not perfect, but I'm trying my best.