It was an early afternoon not unlike many other early afternoons before it … (how many Greek tragedies have begun with those words?! well, okay… actually none, but your interest is probably peaked now, right?!)
Last Saturday afternoon, my oldest son and I caught a matinée showing of the new Transformers movie. I’m generally a fan of the franchise, and I was quite interested in experiencing the most recent release for myself. The critics have been harsh, but the fan reviews I saw were off the charts good. So, off we went.
We settled into our seats and silenced our cell phones. I arrive at the theater a bit like I do at the airport. I don’t like to rush. I like to get there early with enough time to get some snacks if the spirit so moves and to observe my fellow theater patrons. I also love the previews, and the bouncing chain saw and vocal stylings in the Blain Tree Service commercial 🙂
As I sat and waited for the previews to begin, a family of five walked up the stairs and chose seats directly in front of us. It did not escape my notice that the three children who were in tow behind Mom and Dad were all under what appeared to be the age of seven or eight. My heart sank a bit, and returned to a “place” it has been more often recently. I have to be honest and say that I am alarmed at the number of children under the age of 13, or 10, or 7, that are present at movies such as this one. In the final minutes as late arrivers took their seats and others made popcorn refill and bathroom runs, I payed particular attention to the growing numbers of young children. And although I did not tally precise mental counts, I believe it’s fair to say that on that early Saturday afternoon, near 40% of the total crowd were preteens and younger. And it may have been as many as half.
I’ll stop short of making judgments, but I cannot hide my concern. I think it’s fair to say that the entertainment industry (TV, movies, games, etc…) is pursuing our children. It’s not the only “industry” that is, but it’s one of the most powerful. The movie rating system has long been a topic of intense discussion, and I wonder a bit what criteria they are using these days. I fear the neon nature of PG has dulled over time, and people just assume our kids are capable of processing and coping with more violence, mature subjects, disturbing images, sexual references, language, and the list goes on. My observation is that it seems as though you could replace the rating letters of “PG” with “OK” in the minds of many parents. And the sliding scale of discomfort only arrives when a “-13” is added. I would guess that most parents still draw a hard line at R, but honestly, when was the last time a headline, “must-see,” blockbuster or superhero movie that drew your child’s attention, that they really wanted to see, was rated R?
My purpose in writing is only cautionary. I’m not seeking to condemn or instruct. The Bible is the source of wisdom in all things. I believe there is great value in parents seeking the Scriptures for guidance in modeling and teaching, even in things as specific as the movies they choose to see with their children, or allow them to see on their own.
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 2 Timothy 3:16
Before I go, I’d like to offer a few final thoughts on the word “guidance.” I believe it’s a fundamental responsibility of parents, and I found some fresh inspiration in the final bullet of the dictionary.com definition of the word. It reads…
guid•ance [gahyd-ns] noun
5. the process by which the flight of a missile or rocket may be altered in speed and direction in response to controls situated either wholly in the projectile or partly at a base.
As parents, may our eyes be ever open, looking ahead, observing. May our hands remain firmly on the thrust and directional levers of our children’s lives. Let the Guide wholly within us take the controls in our lives and, in turn, make our hands worthy in guiding the lives of our children. Let us be intentional and purposeful in praying for our children to come to know Jesus. For that very same Guide to be wholly within them. In this way, we participate in the sacred rhythm of God’s design for families. That one day our children take those levers from us, and as properly guided missiles or rockets, fly boldly in the precise direction God has for them. And lest someone who is not a parent think this is not for them, I would encourage any grandparent, aunt, uncle, mentor or teacher that we need to come around our children as a community. We need to care for them and for their parents who are doing the sacred and eternal work of raising their sons and daughters to be men and women of God. Don’t ignore or devalue the influence you can be in support of both our children and parents.
Parental Guidance Suggested.
| SPECIAL RESOURCE NOTE |
I know I said my intent was only cautionary, but I did want to pass along a resource my wife and I use when making decisions on movies for our family. If you’re interested, click the link to visit the PluggedIn website (from Focus on the Family) for reviews on all types of new media.