Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Is Violence Our New Trend In Children's Movies?

My grandchildren and I have a little movie ritual. Whenever the newest top kid movies come out, I try to have them come spend the night and we go to the movies. We always go to The Liberty theater at Carnegie, OK, which is the longest running movie theatre in Oklahoma. Would you believe it only recently went up to $4, from $3.50? The boys don't like the "Show Dog" hot dogs,so I can't use that as a supper menu that night.

This summer, we've been to see at least two: Cars 2 and the new Smurf's movie. While sitting in both movies, I remember thinking, "I can't believe this has so much violence for young children." On the way home from Cars 2, in an effort to pull some positive things out of the movie, I asked the boys what were some things we learned from the movie? Immediately, one of the boys said, "To not kill?" Granted we were talking about cars, but to children, those cars were personified as people. I moved the conversation to talking about being faithful to our true friends and being true to ourselves. But, I was troubled over the direction of the movie.

Then, just a couple of weeks ago, we went to see the Smurfs. On the whole, it was a very cute movie and much more loveable than the cartoon of the 80's. I think perhaps because the computer animation has a depth not possible in regular cartoons. I loved the little village where the Smurfs lived and their little mushroom houses. I thought to myself, this will probably explode into numerous toys for sale this Christmas. I would have loved a little village like that to play with as a little girl. However, since of the scenes involving Gargamel, were over the top violent, it did reinforce the lesson that evil does not pay. But, I'm thinking Gargamel involved violence when my own kids were little and none of them turned out to be violent offenders, so maybe we're going to be ok. There was a positive message about being true to yourself, so the movie did have some positive points. 

While I was writing this, I decided to go on-line and see what the regular movie reviewers thought. Cars 2 came out pretty bad in the reviews, which surprised me. We thought it was way better than the original Cars. Only a couple of parent reviews mentioned the violence for either movie. Maybe I'm getting too old for this stuff, I don't know. I just think when we take violence for granted it doesn't lead to good things in the long run. But, I am a little reminded of many years ago during the first run of the Smurfs when one woman told me she didn't let her children watch the Smurfs because there was witchcraft in it. I told her, "yes, but the man that practices witchcraft never wins (Gargamel), so the children learn a lesson that witchcraft doesn't pay". I think it will probably "all come out in the wash", as they used to say when I was growing up.

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