Bible Study

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“And you just remember that your old man walked Ben Wade to that station when nobody else would.” 

There are many good westerns that are worth your time, but if I had to pick one above all others it would have to be 3:10 to Yuma.  I like it for the acting; Russel Crowe, Christian Bale and Ben Foster are phenomenal.  It has a high production value and a beautiful score.  But what sets it apart, at least in my book, is the theme at its core.  More than a story about a man who escorts a criminal to his jail-bound train, 3:10 to Yuma is about the struggle of faith.  It’s about a son believing in his father, and a criminal wrestling with his own beliefs about the nature of God and mankind.

If you haven’t seen the film, please go ahead and do that.  I strongly suggest that you read no further until you’ve seen it.  That being said, if you have no intention of watching a western, or if you’ve seen it and forgotten much of the plot, here is a summary.  Dan Evans (Bale) is a poor rancher who lost his leg in the Civil War.  He struggles to maintain his ranch for his wife and two sons.  To make matters worse, the local authorities are giving him a hard time about paying his bills.  His barn is even burned down as a threat.  Enter Ben Wade (Crowe) and his violent gang, whose second in command, Charlie Prince (Foster), views Wade as a father.  They hijack a wagon full of money and then retreat to the nearby town.  Wade is captured, but his gang rides away.  A wealthy and powerful man named Butterfield rounds up a posse, which includes Dan,and later his oldest son.   As they trek across the western wilderness they face many dangers, and some of the men die.  The remaining group ends up in the town where the train stops.  Wade’s gang rides in and bribes many townspeople to join them in killing anyone who attempts to bring Wade to the train.  Seeing the odds stacked against them, everyone but Dan tries to back out.  Dan makes a final deal with Butterfield that will ensure his family and ranch will be taken care of, if only he can deliver Wade to the train at 3:10.  Wade willingly runs with Dan to the station as they dodge bullets.  Right when Wade gets on the train, Dan is shot down by Charlie Prince.  Filled with rage, Wade kills every one of his gang members.  Then, Dan’s son points his gun at Wade, contemplating murder.  In the end, Wade is allowed to live, and boards the train to Yuma prison.

There is a clear parallel between Dan’s son and Charlie Prince.  Both of them are looking to their father figure as a way to form their own identities.  In the case of Charlie Prince, he loves and respects Wade.  There is no doubt that he is entirely devoted to his “boss” and father.  He is willing to kill innocent people for him and also to protect him.  In one scene he burns a man alive to torture him into giving up Wade’s location.  Charlie Prince believes in his father figure, but he believes only in the worst side of him.  That is why his identity is defined by violence and cruelty, because that’s what he believes his father expects of him.  Dan’s son is a little more complicated.  At the start of the film he views his father as a weak shameful fool.  He does not respect Dan.  Then, as he interacts with Wade on the way to the station, he seems to find his power and confidence attractive.  Throughout the film, there is an unspoken tug of war for this boy’s soul.  Here is some dialogue between Wade, and Dan’s son, who is named William by the way.  I believe it captures the essence of this struggle to form an identity.

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Ben Wade: They’re gonna kill you and your father, William. They’re gonna laugh while they do it. I think you know that.
William Evans: Call ’em off.
Ben Wade: Why should I?
William Evans: Because you’re not all bad.
Ben Wade: Yes, I am.
William Evans: You saved us from those Indians.
Ben Wade: I saved myself.
William Evans: You got us through the tunnels. You helped us get away.
Ben Wade: If I had a gun in them tunnels, I would have used it on you.
William Evans: I don’t believe you.
Ben Wade: Kid, I wouldn’t last five minutes leading an outfit like that if I wasn’t as rotten as hell.

So you see that Wade is “as rotten as hell” when he leads his gang.  It is this hellish persona that Charlie Prince loves and respects, and it is the same tough persona that Dan’s son finds so appealing.  But Dan’s son isn’t entirely convinced that Wade is all bad.  He views certain actions as heroic and selfless, like helping him and his father escape deadly situations.  His desire to see the good in Wade reveals that he has something that Charlie Prince doesn’t: a good man to look up to.  And when Dan chooses to deliver Wade to the train station against impossible odds, his son finally views him with respect.  Consider Dan’s words to his son.

Dan Evans: I’m gonna be a day behind you, William. Unless something happens, and if it does, I need a man at the ranch to run things, protect our family, and I know that you can do that because you’ve become a fine man, William. You’ve become a fine man. You got all the best parts of me. What few there are.
[Dan shakes William’s hand]
Dan Evans: And you just remember that your old man walked Ben Wade to that station when nobody else would.

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Dan tells his son that he is a fine man who can protect his family.  The father gives the son his identity.  Dan believes that his son is good, and then he leaves him with an incredible image of courage, loyalty, and perseverance.  Dan proves that he is a man of his word when he delivers on his promise to get Ben Wade to the station.  Dan’s son can believe in him, and believe the good words that will certainly shape his identity as a man.

We have seen two young men who look up to their fathers embrace the identity that the father has given them.  In an interesting twist, Ben Wade develops his own identity in the image of the one he views as a father.  For most of the film, that father is evil.  Wade shares a personal story with Dan in the minutes before their fateful journey to the train.

Ben Wade: You ever read the bible, Dan? I read it one time. I was eight years old. My daddy just got himself killed over a shot of whiskey and my mama said “we’re going back East to start over”. So she gave me a bible, sat me down in the train station, told me to read it. She was gonna get our tickets. Well, I did what she said. I read that bible from cover to cover. It took me three days. She never came back.

Wade read the bible from cover to cover.  In the bible, Jesus dies and then comes back three days later.  In Wade’s life, his father died and his mother abandoned him.  She didn’t come back after three days, which must have caused him to either hate God or not believe in him at all.  Believing the worst of both his earthly and heavenly parent, Wade turned to a life of death and pleasure-seeking.  He took on the identity of the father he believed in.  Then he crossed paths with Dan, and Dan showed him a better father to believe in.  Not the kind of father who abandons, but the kind of father who will give his life for his family.   He’s the kind of father who will even run alongside an unworthy criminal to see that justice is done.  Please take a moment to watch this powerful scene.  The song is called, “Bible Study.”

Ben Wade sketched Dan into the front of the bible.  Dan showed him a good father, which I think made Wade start to believe in a good God.  Why else would he help Dan as they run together?  Wade now believes in Dan, and Dan believes in something greater than himself.  Even if getting on the train to Yuma results in  judgement for a life of evil, Wade is willing to go if it means running alongside a good man he can believe in.

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Madden Points

What if there was a theory that explained the way people are?  What if this theory just happened to borrow heavily from a popular video game franchise?  Well, if such a theory existed it would probably be called, The Madden Customization Theory, and it would probably blow your mind.  I’m not sure if John Madden’s video games were the first to introduce the concept of character customization, but they were certainly one of the earliest and most popular.  It is possible that some of you don’t know what I am talking about.  You’ve never played a video game, or you’ve never had the experience of customizing a virtual character.  Do not fret, explanations are coming.

We don’t have any control over when we’re born, who we’re born from, or even if we’re born at all.  It’s really a sobering truth if you give it the thought time it merits.  There is an infinity that came before you, and one way or another there is an infinity after you.  If that’s not humbling enough, some really smart people believe that you don’t even have free will in this brief life.  Either your circumstances, or genes, or God determine your every choice from cradle to grave.  Wow, that’s a lofty concept, and I’m willing to bet humanity was never meant to fully understand it.  Regardless, it is important to recognize these philosophical and religious concepts of time, will and eternity if we are going to have a foundation for this incredible theory.

In the above image you see numbers and categories. The numbers, or points, range from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the maximum skill in that particular category.  Aaron Rodgers is a real football player, so his statistics have been set by the programmers of the game.  The custom character screen is similar, except that you can choose how to disperse the points.  So if I wanted a player to be fast, I could put most of the points in the category of speed.  The catch is that you’re only given so many points to spread around.  You have to decide what kind of player you want him to be.  Sacrifices must be made.  Priorities must be set.

What if we had the ability to somehow determine the kind of people we would be, before we were even born?  It would only be fair that each of us would have the same number of “points” to disperse as we deemed appropriate.  So, if I wanted to be book smart I could put points towards that, and might have to sacrifice some athletic ability.  Or, if a woman wanted to be more attractive she could overload her points in the beauty column and sacrifice common sense.  It is a rare person who excels in most categories.  For many of us, there are clear strengths and weaknesses, which often appear to be random.  The Madden Customization Theory offers an explanation to account for the big guy without a brain and the scrawny guy with an I.Q. of 150.  We all had the same number of points, but we all have different priorities.

The Madden Customization Theory probably wouldn’t stand up to rigorous scrutiny from serious thinkers, but I’m willing to bet it struck a chord with you.  It’s appealing to imagine that somewhere in a time long ago we had the power to choose who we would become.  Maybe the best aspect of this theory isn’t what it assumes about the past, but what it says about the future.  We are largely the result of our priorities.  It matters who we want to become.  That’s how real characters are created.

Double Stuf Your Face

We were in the cookie aisle searching for a worthy party treat.  When we came to the Oreos, Nicole suggested we go for the Double Stuf.  My reaction, which is pretty standard for this kind of situation, was to reason through an argument why original Oreos are superior to their full-figured cousins.   After my tireless rant, we purchased the Double Stuf and brought them, and the argument, to the party.  The guests were more or less split down the middle on which they prefer.  This tells me that we have a legitimate disagreement on a trivial matter to contend with.  Therefore, let us begin.

It would be very difficult to overstate the importance of ratios in this argument.  After all, isn’t this all about ratios?  How much filling should there be in relation to cookie?  That is at the heart of the problem.  And if we can accept the supreme importance of ratios, we must conclude that it was the factor behind Oreo’s success.  In the beginning, the makers decided upon an ideal level of filling.  It was that amount that catapulted Oreo to where it is today.  It was just that much filling and just that much cookie: no more, no less.  Perhaps Oreo would have achieved the same level of success had they gone with double the filling, but that is mere speculation.

Oreos are delicious when they are dunked in milk.  In fact, Oreo boasts that it is “Milk’s favorite cookie.”  When an Oreo is dunked wholly in milk, it responds well.  have you ever dipped the Double Stuf?  It is awkward and you almost want to gag on the filling.  Too much filling in the presence of milk leaves an odd film on the roof of your mouth and does little to enhance the taste.  When dipped, it is the cookie part that thrives in the taste department.  A little filling compliments the experience, making a delightful trio, but double the filling proves too much for the milk and cookie alliance.  Sure, you can separate the filling from the cookie before dunking, but you could also pour gravy on it.  Let’s not get bogged down with the exceptions to the rule.

If you love filling, go for the Double Stuf.  I’m not against people preferring filling to cookie.  All I’m doing is crafting a coherent argument for anyone who wants a foundation in reason for their cookie preference.

The Long, Slow, Painful Death of The Simpsons

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I can say without any exaggeration that The Simpsons has influenced me more than any other television show in existence. As a child I would watch in the presence of my older brother, noting what he found humorous, so I knew when to laugh.  He would often explain why something was funny, since my 8-year-old self missed most of the high-level humor.  For instance, when Homer becomes a big brother to a poor child named Pepi, Pepi says, “Papa Homer, you are so learn-ed.”  Homer corrects him, “It’s learned, son.  Learned.”  If you don’t know how the word is really pronounced, the joke is lost.  I believe this kind of humor, this “high-level” humor, is what made The Simpsons a great (perhaps greatest) comedy.  It’s not what makes it great because, let’s face it, the show hasn’t been good for about 13 seasons.  Right around season 10, it started the long and steady decline toward mediocrity.  Now, when I do give it another chance, it is like visiting an old friend who is dying of a painful terminal illness.  It’s sad, it’s tragic, and it’s at the point where you just want their suffering to end.  The Simpsons needs to die.

It’s hard to begin.  How does one describe the comic genius that made The Simpsons special?  Well, here are 2 clips that I’ll use as examples.  This first one comes from ” Deep Space Homer” in season 5.  We’ve just seen a shot of Homer’s space shuttle and an escaped ant moved past the camera.  Here is Kent Brockman’s reaction.

As a member of the media, Kent Brockman is prone to sensationalism.  We see it in an earlier episode in which Kent claims, ” I’ve been to Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together.”  He is referring to a rebellion at Bart’s summer camp.  The writers are poking fun at how ridiculous the news media can be in an attempt to make a story more interesting.  But what really makes this funny is that Kent clearly believes his own sensational claims.  He jumps from one radical conclusion to the next and even accepts that the invasion is a foregone conclusion, which is why he is already trying to convince the ant overlords that he can be useful.  This is very silly, but we in the audience can see the work of intelligent people behind the scenes.

In this next clip, we find Mr. Burns attempting to win Homer’s trust.  Homer has become the head of the union at the power plant and Mr. Burns is threatening to remove their dental plan.  This clip comes from season 4, and the title is, “Last Exit to Springfield”.

There is this Infinite Monkey Theorem that assumes if a monkey were to hit the keys on a typewriter into infinity, it would eventually write Shakespeare.  A variation is that an infinite number of chimps (or some really high number) banging on typewriters would eventually produce some great piece of literature.  I actually wrote about this in A Universe of Infinite Chimps.  Anyway, in the clip we can see that the monkeys are smoking and focusing intently on their work, just like a bunch of human writers.  They are also chained to their typewriters.  I’m sure the writers who wrote this scene were thinking of themselves.  When Mr. Burns reads what the monkey wrote, it turns out to be the first line of Charles Dickens’, A Tale of Two Cities.  But the monkey wrote “blurst” instead of “worst”, so Mr. Burns completely overlooks the incredible feat and judges the animal like he would some great author.  It plays on our expectations, and Mr. Burns’ sincerity and serious tone throughout the exchange makes for the perfect contrast to the ludicrous event.

The main point I want to make with these clips is that the early episodes were cleverly written by intelligent people who were aiming high at their audience.  Sure, there is plenty of slapstick to be found, but slapstick is only funny if it’s carried out by a person or entity with dignity and intelligence.  The Simpsons often referenced classic literature and film in these great episodes.  Even now, I find myself discovering things that I first learned from The Simpsons.  Perhaps I’ll recall a scene after watching  a classic Alfred Hitchcock film, or Citizen Kane.  In 6th grade I got a congratulatory letter sent home for knowing what the scientific name for the Northern Lights was: aurora borealis.  I learned that from Principal Skinner.

As I’ve previously mentioned, it was around season 10 that the show started to suffer creatively.  If you search around the internet you’ll see a consensus on this moment in the show’s history as the beginning of the end.  Some blame the shift toward a younger audience.  Some blame new producers, or the exodus of Conan O’Brien from the staff (though he left after season 5).   Others simply believe that the show had run out of clever ideas, like any long-running program.  I’m sure there were a number of reasons for the decline, but the fact remains that The Simpsons has shuffled on into an endless sunset.

Here’s a preview of the first episode of season 23.

So here we have Homer in a ridiculous situation with a celebrity guest star.  This is the norm.  Critic Jim Schembri of The Sydney Morning Herald summed it up pretty well when he wrote,  “Now the show has in essence fermented into a limp parody of itself. Memorable story arcs have been sacrificed for the sake of celebrity walk-ons and punchline-hungry dialogue.”  He is absolutely correct.  Once rich characters have been emptied of intelligence, emotion and dignity for the sake of selling out to the lowest common denominator of humor and entertainment.  It’s pathetic, and a lesson in the cost of pride and greed.

This show is a cash cow, and has been for many years.  The voice actors make millions and the producers make even more.  They have nothing to prove and nowhere to go.  I imagine Matt Groening, the creator, has become much like George Lucas.  Both men made something that the people loved, and they gained incredible wealth and fame.  But at some point they lost touch with the original vision, and traded it all for just a little more.  Look at this quote from Groening in 2006.

I honestly don’t see any end in sight. I think it’s possible that the show will become too financially cumbersome… but right now, the show is creatively, I think, as good or better than it’s ever been. The animation is incredibly detailed and imaginative, and the stories do things that we haven’t done before. So creatively there’s no reason to quit.

You know that once a storyteller starts focusing on the “incredibly detailed” animation, he has lost his soul (i.e. James Cameron with Avatar and George Lucas with everything since Star Wars Special Edition).

It saddens me that The Simpsons now has more mediocre and bad episodes than good and great ones.  It also saddens me that I wish for its swift death, so that the memory of what was right isn’t overshadowed by what is so very wrong.  All we can do is re-watch those episodes from the golden age, and hope that future generations will understand that The Simpsons was at one time the greatest show on television.  And not because it was the most popular, or the longest- running, but because it was clever and profoundly hilarious.

Saying Something Positive About McDonald’s

When do you ever hear something positive about McDonald’s?

My betrothed will not take kindly to what I’m about to say.  She’s about the most outspoken person I’ve ever met in opposition to fast food.  That being said, I hope she and the rest of you can see through to the point I will attempt to make in the following post:  McDonald’s should be admired for its excellence.

Fat people sued them because they were looking for a delicious scapegoat for their reckless gluttony.  Morgan Spurlock demonized them in his documentary, Super Size Me, in which he ate nothing but McDonald’s food for a month.  He suffered physically for this feat, but I wonder why he didn’t just pour salt down his throat and marvel at how dehydrated he got.  Ronald McDonald, the clown who serves as the face of their kid-focused charitable endeavors, is often targeted by comedians for being creepy.  McDonald’s has also been forced into posting all of their nutrition facts.  This seems unfair since you can easily consume a couple thousand calories at most chain restaurants.   Lately, there has been a push in some communities against the Happy Meal, since it “lures” kids into eating unhealthy food.  You know, because kids are the ones who drive themselves to McDonald’s and pay for everything.  It really seems like McDonald’s is being singled out.  But why?

They are the #1 fast food chain in the world.  They serve nearly 70 million people a day in about 120 countries.  They employ 400,000 people and earned over 20 billion in revenue in 2010.  McDonald’s has become a symbol of globalization, spreading their brand throughout the civilized world.  In short, they are the best at what they do.

McDonald’s has achieved a level of excellence which should be praised.  Yes, for their ability to succeed in a global marketplace, and to evolve with the times, McDonald’s should be commended.

I am not saying everyone should eat McDonald’s all of the time.  That makes you fat and unhealthy much like eating out most other places would.   What I’m saying is that they are the global leader in their area of the marketplace for a reason.  They are easy to target for their contribution to American obesity, but when it comes down to it these same people who point a greasy finger at them are the reason McDonald’s is the powerhouse that it is.  If we didn’t like it, McDonald’s wouldn’t exist.

So let’s just admit to ourselves that McDonald’s is the best at what they do.  And let’s also accept responsibility for what we put into our bodies without acting like helpless victims at the mercy of such a delicious juggernaut.

The Powerful Subtext of Homeward Bound

Subtext-a message which is not stated directly but can be inferred.

Homeward Bound is one of those rare childhood films that can mean more to you as an adult.  I would place Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in the same category, and I explain why in the posts, Willy Wonka is a Fine Wine and Finding God in Film.  These films touch upon universal themes that children either overlook or fail to appreciate because there is much about life they have yet to experience.  In the case of Homeward Bound, it took many repeat viewings and a good amount of growing up for me to grasp the powerful subtext at its core.  From beginning to end this story is about fatherhood.

The film opens with the character of Chance, a young “pup” of a dog, delivering a brief monologue about his past.  He says,  “I was abandoned when I was very young. I lived on the streets scranging for food, sleeping wherever I could; that seemed like fun at first, but pretty soon, it landed me behind bars.”  We learn that he was separated from his parents, and likely also separated from his first owners.  Like a child whose father walked out, Chance feels the sting of abandonment.

The human children in the film, Peter, Hope and Jamie, are faced with the difficulty of accepting a new man in the role of father.  In the beginning of the film we witness a wedding between their mother and her new husband, Bob.  The children, especially Peter, are noticeably troubled.  There is a touching moment immediately after the couple finishes saying their vows where Peter looks down at Shadow and pats him.  It makes me wonder, what happened to Peter’s father?  Did he walk out on the family, or did he die?  It’s likely that Shadow was either Peter’s father’s dog, or given to Peter by his father.  Regardless, we can assume that Shadow is deeply connected to Peter and his lost father.  And in many ways Shadow fills the role of father for both Peter and Chance.

Without question, Shadow is the heart and soul of Homeward Bound.  He is loyal, faithful, and wise.  He is the leader and protector of Chance and the cat, Sassy.  At the start of the film we see that Shadow views Chance much like an old man views the younger generation.  He says, “I’d sure like to give that dog a talking to,” when Chance misbehaves at the wedding.  Then he continues by asking Chance the rhetorical question, “Would a rolled up newspaper mean anything to you?”  Shadow understands that Chance needs guidance and discipline.  He has a lot to learn, since he has grown up without a fatherly example.

Later in the film, after the animals have spent many days journeying through the woods in an attempt to return home, Sassy gets caught in a river and tumbles over a waterfall.  Once Shadow and Chance determine that she must be dead, we see the first moment in which Chance recognizes that Shadow is worthy of his respect.  Here is the exchange.

Shadow: [after Sassy is lost in the river] I shouldn’t have made her come.

Chance: It’s not your fault, she wanted to come.

Shadow: But it’s my responsibility. I had a responsibility to Sassy – to love her and protect her – the same as I have to you… and to Peter. And the same as you have to Jamie.

Chance: But we didn’t ask for this job.

Shadow: We didn’t have to. It’s built in. Has been ever since the dawn of time… when a few wild dogs took it upon themselves to watch over man, to bark when he’s in danger, to run and play with him when he’s happy, to nuzzle him when he’s lonely. That’s why they call us man’s best friend.

Chance: [narrating] Looking at him that night, he seemed so wise… and ancient, like the first dog who ever walked the earth. I just hope that one day, I can be like him.

The exchange could easily be applied to fatherhood.  Shadow speaks of having a responsibility to love and protect those who depend on him.  And when Chance challenges this obligation by saying, “But we didn’t ask for this job,” Shadow responds that it is built-in.  It is a deep and undeniable truth of life.  Many fathers don’t ask to be fathers.  Many fathers don’t accept the responsibility to love and protect their children. Chance is just beginning to understand.

Near the end of the film, Shadow falls into a hole and it appears that he may never get out.  Watch from minute 1 to minute 4.  After, I will explain how this is the moment that Chance fully accepts fatherhood, and Shadow answers the problem of abandonment, which permeates the entire film.

“I won’t let you give up,” Chance promises Shadow.  He has become the loving protector.  He gets down in the mud with Shadow to give him the strength to move forward.  Chance also finally acknowledges that he loves Shadow and wants him by his side.  This shows a profound devotion, much like the kind a father experiences with his son.  But at the same time Shadow believes that his life is nearing its end.  He states, “I have nothing left to give.”  Despite Chance’s sincere efforts to encourage him, Shadow takes this desperate occasion to teach Chance a “final” lesson.  He says, “You’ve learned  everything you need, Chance. Now all you have to learn is how to say goodbye.”  Every father must leave his son someday, and even if he was entirely loving and wise and loyal the son must learn to be on his own.  He must make peace with the absence of his father.

If you continue to watch that clip you will see the children playing basketball with Bob.  They are very happy, and we witness a touching moment in which Peter and Hope call their new father, dad.  It tells us that the children, especially Peter, have accepted him.  This means that they have learned to make peace with the father that is lost. It also indicates that they have made peace with the likelihood that their animals will never return.  They have matured by learning how to say goodbye.  And a major part of saying goodbye is the ability to say hello to what is in front of you.

The return of the animals at the end is deeply moving.  It is also profound.  After Sassy and Chance return, Peter becomes sad as he embraces the likelihood that Shadow was unable to make it.

“It was too far.  He was just too old,” Peter tells himself.

The gulf between the living and the dead appears too far for us to ever be reunited.  How could we ever hope to see them again?

I can’t help but think about God at this moment.  I think about the promise of new life.  All that is written about God being our loving Father, our protector.  How often are we like Peter, losing hope?  It’s too far.  He is too old.  It’s just an old story.

My Father isn’t about to rise over that hill.

Homeward Bound is about fatherhood, and healing from the pain of abandonment when fathers leave.  The entire film is an expression of a father’s devotion to be reunited with his son.

It is about boundless love.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  (Romans 8:38-39)

Parents and the Children Who Bring Them to Rated-R Movies

I once saw a rated-R movie at 10:30 pm and there were children younger than 8 running up and down the aisles.   Unfortunately, that wasn’t a surprise for me and my friends.  We have gotten to the point where we expect to find little kids in theaters showcasing films with ratings of PG-13 and higher.  For the toddler, it must be a strange transition to go from Dora crossing rainbow bridges to Lisbeth Salander hog-tying a naked rapist.  I wonder if this phenomenon comes out of the parent’s shameless ignorance, or is it just plain old-fashioned negligence?

I suppose I could go down the road of society’s ever eroding standards of right and wrong.  Parents feel less societal pressure to abide by any set standard of acceptable behavior, since standards are so darn oppressive, and this makes it less shameful to bring your kid to see something like Superbad or Bridesmaids.  Nah, who am I?  I don’t even have kids.

 

So this is what I’m going to do.  I’m not going to make any judgements about what might have gotten the kids into the theater.  Instead, I’m just going to write about why they shouldn’t be there.

For one, it is a huge distraction to have babies crying and toddlers speaking loudly amidst the presentation of a film geared toward adults, and especially at late hours.  When someone takes out a loan to see a movie like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo at 9 o’clock at night, they expect to avoid the Nick Jr. crowd.  It is hugely inconsiderate to everyone else in the theater when a parent brings their child, who is either too young to understand what they are seeing or too young to handle what they are seeing, to an adult crowd.  Perhaps I have it all wrong and these people are brave pioneers in the fight against responsible boundaries, but I’m pretty sure they just don’t care enough about their kids.

Another reason these pre-pre pubescents should stay home is that the things they are being exposed to are truly terrible and sometimes disturbing.  I remember flipping the channels as a kid, and stopping on a movie about giant mosquitoes that bit people until their eyes exploded.  This affected me for quite some time because I was still too young to know that stuff like that didn’t happen.  Little kids are still a long way off from knowing the difference between reality and pretend.   And even if they did posses the processing power to know that a film was fake, they still lack the mental and emotional maturity to respond appropriately to the images and messages being shot at them.   The contents of many films today, even PG-13, are not appropriate for young minds.  Perhaps I have it all wrong, and kids are more advanced these days, but I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t be exposed to murder, gore, and violent sex.

Children shouldn’t be allowed into rated-R movies.  It’s annoying and negligent.  It serves no one but the selfish parent who won’t get a babysitter.  Stop doing it.

Now.