A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)
When the movie industry sprung to life during the early 1900s, there was excitement and quality content. Sure they pushed the limits of the time with the slap stick comedy of the non-talkies, but generally speaking the films of those long ago days were such that the entire family could partake without fear of psychological damage.
But sadly, the world had drastically changed!
In the near hundred or so years since the dawn of movie making, the limits of quality content have continued to push to a point in which it is scary to even consider going to the movies much of the time. What I mean to say, is that there are more disturbing and inappropriate movies being made than good quality films. And often, they are not even worth the price you pay in the second run theaters.
The last two movies I went to see clearly fit this category. One in particular, Kick Ass, left both my husband and I numb. Not only were we, as adults, psychologically scarred and left to question what the heck is wrong in the world, but the knowledge that various sets of friends took their children (under 15) to see this movie scares me to no end.
The film was billed as a comedy. The preview was in fact hilarious (containing the only three comedic scenes in the near two hour film, mind you). And if done right, this concept had the potential to be a hilarious and entertaining film; one that could provide a teachable and appropriate message.
But it by far was not made right!
And the message, well not so good. It ended up being all violence and sending a negative message regarding behavior that kids should NOT be partaking in, even though the film appears to make it acceptable. In essence, the film implied that it is okay to put on a costume and go beat people up or kill them, as if a video game instead of real life.
After seeing this film, it is not a wonder why violence in society has gone up. Much of the “entertainment” out there is filled with violence, sex, and inappropriate situations. And parents are allowing their kids to engage in such “entertainment,” without any intervention or guidance.
Now I am not a prude, and I surely am not saying I don’t enjoy a good action film packed with some violence and romantic interludes. I do. But most of the films I watch with that kind of content are centered around adults, not kids as in Kick Ass, and I am an adult that can reason and understand the fact that the film is purely fiction, however believable it may be.
While kids today may be more aware of things in the world than the average kid when I was young, they still do not have the same capacity for understanding as adults and should not be exposed to the same content that adults may watch.
But should parents be completely to blame? The experts have told them that these films won’t harm their kids. Specifically, there were several studies conducted in the 1980s and 1990s that looked at the impact of violence on children. Many, if not most, concluded that generally there was no lasting impact, especially when parents talk to their kids about the real-ness of a film after they watch it.
But today, parents are not talking to their kids, and they seem to miss that key point about the studies. And in fact, parents are watching these films with their kids as if friends rather than parents and not helping them cope with the disturbing messages portrayed. Consequently, we have a generation of kids that just simply are not quite right, viewing violence as a natural part of existence with no consequences.
But there are consequences! Violence is up, sex among teens and pre-teens is back up, and nothing is being done to stop this senseless and irresponsible filmmaking.
Don’t get me wrong, as an author and educator, I am all for freedom of speech and the amazing other rights protected by the constitution, but I don’t think our founding fathers had films like Kick Ass in mind when offering such a blanket right. Furthermore, even with the rights in place, there are limits set. I mean, you can’t let a curse word air on television, but you can make a film essentially about a dad teaching his kid how to be a killer, so long as it is for a good cause.
Come one, who really thinks this kind of thing is a comedic family movie appropriate for children to watch?