Saturday, April 02, 2011

Moral Messages In Media?

This post is inspired by a friend’s comment on Facebook about the movie “Tangled”.  Our family watched “Tangled” last night (and the kids put it on the DVD again this morning) and just loved it!  The animation is amazing, the plot is interesting, the characters have depth, and it’s just a fun movie!

Spoiler Alert!

The problem in the movie is that the hero starts out as a thief with very little in the way of redeeming qualities.  By the end of the movie, he is a good guy, but he never pays for his earlier actions.

You may have figured out by now that I have the ability to be a world-class worrier!!  I don’t practice that skill much any longer since I’m getting better at trusting God and not trying to control everything and everyone around me.  What are some of the media things I’ve worried about?

  • 1. Cinderella – a girl only needs a man to be happy.
  • 2. Beauty and the Beast – while it celebrates intellectual activities, the main character is not content with her life in the village and is disdainful of the villagers with “little minds”.
  • 3. Pocahontas – a complete travesty of history with overtones of pantheism.
  • 4. Harry Potter – I didn’t have issues with the witchcraft and wizardry, but rather with the hero’s ignoring the adults, breaking rules, and even using unforgivable curses.
  • 5. Veggie Tales – telling Bible stories with silliness – can this be good?
  • 6. Shrek – potty humor
  • 7. Pirates of the Caribbean – Jack Sparrow – need I say more?

And I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.  There are no perfect books or movies.  And if there were, they’d be boring.  Even Bible stories often show people doing bad things and not always receiving the appropriate consequences.

So, should we shield our kids from anything that doesn’t have the appropriate “message”?  No.  When kids are very young, we should perhaps be careful to weight their books and movies (and lots more books than movies!) toward those with positive messages and generally good characters.  As our children get older, though, media can be a wonderful tool for both entertainment and education.  I’m not suggesting that we need to be overt in trying to teach our kids whenever we watch a movie or read a book.  Rather, we should make it a habit to read aloud to our kids (which we still do even though the kids are 12 and 15) and watch movies with our kids and make discussion a normal part of our family life.

This hasn’t come easily for me.  I’m learning to do my best as a parent and trust God for the outcomes.  While it does require work to be a good parent, it’s much easier than trying to be a perfect parent.  In observing families, it seems that the ones whose kids turn out confident and ready for the adult world are those who had good relationships in the family and who have been gradually given more responsibility.  We do have some hard and fast limits on our kids’ media exposure – no R-rated movies unless they are with a parent, no T-rated video games without parental approval, no more than 1 hour of media on weekdays, etc.  As they’ve gotten older, we’ve gradually loosened our limits (from PG movies to PG-13, etc.) but we still try to be involved and watch movies and read books with them and have discussions with them.

How do you handle media and moral messages with your kids?  Has it changed as the children have gotten older?

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