By David Outten, Production Editor
What do you love to do?
Some people love to cook, to paint, to sing, to write, to garden, and in many other ways to “do” something. Some are passionate about writing software, designing cars, creating businesses, making movies, or teaching.
Others are happiest to be watching. They’re content when they can watch television, look at Facebook, or read a magazine. To work, cook, or clean is drudgery.
This may have been the case throughout history. For some, life is an opportunity to “do” things. For others, life is about things they simply “have” to do. For that group, the mass media provides a respite from their drudgery.
Drudgery can be reduced with microwave meals, fast food, and bags of chips. You can even go to restaurants with large screen televisions to permit others to cook while you continue to be entertained.
Media can be like a drug that puts its users into a stupor. Have you ever looked at the expression of someone as they watch television? Situation comedies use canned laughter because actual audiences seldom crack a smile.
Media tends not to be interactive. Viewers are simply biochemical receiving units monitored by marketing research firms to arrive at prices for advertising. It’s one-way “communication.” The viewer is being talked to knowing that there’s no one to talk back to.
Look at a person in an actual conversation. They look more alert because every comment they hear may require a response. Every comment they make may involve gestures, or at least facial expressions appropriate for the dialogue.
When hours and hours of every day are spent consuming media, what happens to the desire to “do” rather than to “watch?”
There are young people who have difficulty deciding on a career because they can’t think of anything they’d like to do but absorb media. Everything is drudgery compared to being entertained. There are children who’d rather watch television than be involved in physical play.
On the other hand, there are people who love to “do.” They love to cook, draw, write, compose music, garden, or fish. And, even if they’re not talking to someone while doing what they love, chances are their facial expressions are more alive than those of television spectators.
The question is, “Does heavy media consumption create people who don’t want to “do” anything, or do people with no desire to “do” anything become excessive media consumers?”
It could be some of both, but the average American apparently spends eight and a half hours a day as media consumers. Those who love to do things, no doubt, spend less time with media, and those who don’t like to “do” spend more time, but on average Americans spend an entire work week just watching media.
Children brought up “just watching” may find it more difficult to begin “doing” as adults. They may also struggle with finding anything they enjoy doing. For them, employment becomes drudgery. Opportunities to escape drudgery with the help of family financial assistance or government aid look more attractive to “watchers” than “doers.”
If you want your children to be “doers” rather than “watchers,” cook with them. Get them out in the garden. Take them fishing. Draw with them. Encourage “doing.” Get excited and praise them when they “do.” Limit how much time they can “watch.” Watch programs with them that teach how to “do.” Discuss doing what has been taught or try actually doing it. On the Internet, you can look up videos on how to grow tomatoes, make sushi, fish for bass, or turn a photograph into a work of art with software like Photoshop. You can also learn how cars are made or how money is made in the stock market. Don’t just watch movies. Learn how they are made. Help get your children excited about “doing” something.
Life is really much better if you enjoy “doing.” How miserable life must be if doing any task is drudgery. It can be depressing to forward to all the things you “have” to do (like going to the dentist). Life is so much better when you look forward to doing things.
The mass media not only creates the culture in our society, it also creates the culture in our families, and in our hearts and minds. How media is used in your family may determine if your children grow up to be depressed or excited about life.
Do you want to be a doer or a watcher?
At Movieguide(R) we’ve pulled together a list of movies that faithfully show the meaning of the Resurrection season.
Check them out, some of them you’ll recognize, some of them you won’t, some may even surprise you that they are on the list.
10. EASTER PARADE
Quality: * * * * Acceptability: +2
1948: The bright and happy Hollywood holiday classic starring Fred Astaire, Judy Garland, and Ann Miller, with fabulous songs by Irving Berlin and directed by Vincente Minnelli. The “Easter Parade” ending would make a perfect transition to a more religious movie, such as THE ROBE or QUO VADIS, in celebration of Easter.
CLICK TO COUNT DOWN
By David Outten
Shocking reports on WND (World Net Daily) (LINK) and ZD Net provide evidence of pedophiles using Facebook to share photos of very young children in arousing poses and even in the act of being molested. The Facebook names of the pedophiles and pedophile groups leave no question what their purpose for being on Facebook is. We will not repeat any of the names here.
As of March 31, Facebook had 901 million users. The population of the United States is just over 300 million.
Over 250 million photos are uploaded to Facebook daily. The challenge of combating abuse of Facebook is huge. Based on the above-mentioned reports Facebook has not found a way to eliminate the problem. Facebook responded to an inquiry from ZC Net with the following:
“Nothing is more important to Facebook than the safety of the people that use our site and this material has absolutely no place on Facebook. We have zero tolerance for child pornography being uploaded onto Facebook and are extremely aggressive in preventing and removing child exploitive content. We scan every photo that is uploaded to the site using PhotoDNA to ensure that this illicit material can’t be distributed and we report all instances of exploitative content to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. We’ve built complex technical systems that either block the creation of this content, including in private groups, or flag it for quick review by our team of investigations professionals.
“We’ve worked with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the New York State Attorney General’s Office in the U.S., as well as the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre in the U.K., to use known databases of child exploitive material to improve our detection and bring those responsible to justice.
“We feel we’ve created a much safer environment on Facebook than exists off-line, where people can share this disgusting material in the privacy of their own homes without anyone watching. However, we’re constantly refining and improving our systems and processes and building upon our relationships with NCMEC and law enforcement agencies specializing in child protection to create an even safer space.”
Facebook’s stated policy sounds much stronger than its success rate. Some of the pages found by WND were in blatant violation of Facebook’s policy statements. They apparently got past Facebook’s PhotoDNA system.
Many millions of people around the world use Facebook for perfectly healthy and decent purposes. Several members of the Movieguide® staff use Facebook. Movieguide.org has a Facebook page. The problem is that social networking is not just done by honorable people. Networks of pedophiles want to trade their salacious photographs and to attract children they can abuse.
The Better Protection
Children like to have privacy in communicating with friends in their social networks but Facebook is dangerous, not because that’s the company’s intent, but because the challenge of monitoring the behavior of 900 million people is so immense and because company or government monitoring invites another kind of abuse with “big brother is watching everything you do.”
At the risk of costing children some privacy, parents should monitor their children’s Facebook activity (with their children’s knowledge). Parents should say, “If you want a Facebook account, you need to agree to let your parents see your communication.”
More than just a means to spot pedophiles, this kind of control helps parents to know more about the character of the friends their children associate with. Allowing children unmonitored access to Facebook is like sending them out on an interstate freeway riding their bicycle. Pedophiles have been known to pose on Facebook as people they are not in order to attract children. You need to be aware of who your children’s Facebook “friends” are.
Facebook’s PhotoDNA will not protect your children. You need to play an active role. Many of the salacious pictures being passed around by pedophiles were acquired because parents didn’t effectively monitor their children’s associations.
One of the worst fears any parent has is that their child might be abducted, molested, or murdered. There are people who want to use Facebook for the wrong reasons. You can’t count on Facebook to monitor the behavior of 900 million users. You can, however, monitor the posts of the much smaller number of “friends” your children make on Facebook.
Finally, whether you’re a parent or not, you can help protect the world’s children by supporting the international ministry of Movieguide® and the Christian Film & television Commission® with your prayers, recommendations, and cash contributions (which are tax deductible). And, don’t forget our twice-weekly e-newsletter, which is free and available by signing up at http://www.movieguide.org/.
By Dr. Ted Baehr and Dr. Tom Snyder
In the 1970s, the people of the United States went into a grand funk of stupendous proportions. Hollywood and the news media kept telling us that the government was thoroughly corrupt, that society’s religious and cultural traditions were simple-minded and destructive, and that we were on the wrong side of the war against the evil communist tyrannies of North Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union.
Then, in 1976 and 1977, something extraordinary happened.
Two men, Sylvester Stallone and George Lucas, released two movies about underdog heroes who battle incredible odds, ROCKY and a “little” $11 million movie called STAR WARS.
Hollywood hasn’t been the same since.
ROCKY and STAR WARS showed the Hollywood establishment that people love heartwarming, heroic stories about courage and righteousness overcoming fear and evil.
In heroic stories, the hero encounters numerous obstacles and tribulations that test his character, courage, stamina, strength, intelligence, and inner resolve or will. In doing so, such stories provide meaning and purpose to our own lives. They bring us laughter, tears, and joy. They stimulate our minds and stir our imaginations. They help us escape from our daily lives for a while and visit different times, places, and people. They can also arouse our compassion and empathy, or spur us toward truth and love. Finally, they also can give us an insight into transcendental, eternal truths and values, or embody the ideals or values of our own culture and society by giving expression to deep, commonly felt emotions and thought.
We identify with such heroes as Rocky Balboa or Luke Skywalker, or Frodo and Sam in THE LORD OF THE RINGS, or Beauty in BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, because we recognize that we too are on our own momentous journey or quest. Thus, how a hero’s journey informs and illuminates our own journey becomes a significant touchstone in our own lives.
In recent years, the popular culture’s focus on heroes has led to a huge interest in bringing the renowned superheroes of the comic book world to the big screen. Part of this interest has been fueled by giant technical leaps in the ability of computer-generated images to create detailed, fantastical images, including jaw-dropping action scenes.
This Friday, Disney will release another huge superhero movie. THE AVENGERS is one of the most entertaining and uplifting superhero movies yet from Hollywood. It’s sure to be a huge box office hit.
At the end of the story in THE AVENGERS, the group of heroes is ready to sacrifice their lives to stop the evil force threatening Earth, which is led by the demonic figure from Norse mythology, Loki. In fact, during the climactic battle, one of the heroes will have to risk his own life in order to save everyone else.
This notion of sacrifice has become a frequent theme in many recent superhero stories, from SPIDER-MAN 2 to CAPTAIN AMERICA and THE GREEN LANTERN. In fact, one might say that sacrifice is in the very DNA of nearly all stories about superheroes and heroes.
Actually, it’s such a central motif that one of the people MOVIEGUIDE(r) helped inspire with our work, film scholar Dr. Stan Williams, wrote that in many stories, not just stories with heroes in them, sacrifice is a key theme in Act 2 and 3, including movies like THE AVENGERS.
As such, the theme of sacrifice is part of a narrative structure that reflects the “greatest story ever told” – the story of Jesus Christ’s birth, teaching, suffering, sacrifice, death, and resurrection. The whole structure may be outlined as follows:
Promise, Birth, Suffering, Sacrifice, and Resurrection/Redemption.
This pattern is reflected in many, if not most, hero stories. Thus, it can be found in both STAR WARS and THE AVENGERS.
For example, the story of Luke Skywalker in STAR WARS is one of Promise (the promise of the “one” who will bring “balance” to the Force), Birth (the birth pangs of Luke’s long journey toward becoming a Jedi Knight), Suffering (all the trials and tribulations Luke undergoes throughout his story), Sacrifice (Luke offers himself to the Emperor and nearly dies), and Resurrection/Redemption (Luke’s intent to sacrifice himself is designed to resurrect and redeem the soul of his own father, Anakin, who has become Darth Vader).
In the same way, the journey of the superheroes in THE AVENGERS is first one of only Promise. Thus, at the movie’s beginning, the team of superheroes is only a Promise, yet to be fulfilled. Their journey is also one of Birth (the birth pangs of becoming a cohesive team that works together), as well as Suffering, Sacrifice, and, ultimately, Resurrection and Redemption.
In this way, therefore, Jesus Christ is the “Greatest Superhero of Them All,” because His journey of Suffering, Sacrifice, and Resurrection is not only His journey. It’s also tied irretrievably to our own journey of Redemption and Resurrection, toward the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. For, without Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). But, with Christ and His Sacrifice, “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).
So, while you’re enjoying THE AVENGERS this weekend with your family or friends (or anytime in the future, for that matter) please remember your “great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, eager to do what is good” (Titus 2:13,14).
The Movieguide(R) Summer Preview: May 2012
The summer movie season is upon us. Hollywood opens up their bag of tricks each weekend for the next few months to hopefully delight and engage moviegoers. There’s many familiar faces as bets are hedged with sequels. We’ll update this preview each month during the summer.
Check back the opening week to read the Movieguide(R) Review of each one!
May 4, 2012
If you liked Iron Man and Captain America, then Marvel is betting that you’ll like those two superheroes in the same movie joined by The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow. There promises to be plenty of action and comic book fun. Check back to read the review.
May 11, 2012
Most weekend moviegoers are too young to know that this new movie is based on a gothic soap opera that ran on ABC in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Tim Burton directs Johnny Depp as a vampire who comes back during the 1970’s in a dark comedic take on the original. Caution is going to be needed as the obvious occult, gothic themes will probably be mixed with sexual content. Check back to read the review the week it opens.
May 16, 2012
Actor Sacha Baron Cohen, who probably will never win a Movieguide(R) Award, is back with a new movie. Cohen is in the title role of a dictator intent on making sure democracy never makes it to his country. His history of movies suggests that this will be anything but family friendly; but we will see.
May 19, 2012
“G-4! H-2” This is what you shout out when playing the Battleship board game by Hasbro. How this translates into an epic movie about a battleship battling aliens is anybody’s guess. There will be much action violence and hopefully an engaging story. Check back for the review.
WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YO”RE EXPECTING
May 18, 2012
Five couples prepare for parenthood in this romantic comedy. With hopefully a pro-family message, check back for the review.
MEN IN BLACK 3
Agents Smith and Jones time travel to the 1960’s to stop an alien from changing history.
By David Outten
On February 2, 1984 President Ronald Reagan told the following story to an audience attending a National Day of Prayer event.*
“This power of prayer can be illustrated by a story that goes back to the fourth century. Telemachus, an Asian monk living in a little remote village, spent most of his time in prayer or tending the garden from which he obtained his sustenance. One day, he thought he heard the voice of God telling him to go to Rome. Believing that he had heard, he set out. Weeks later, he arrived there, having traveled most of the way on foot.
“It was at a time of a festival in Rome. They were celebrating a triumph over the Goths. He followed a crowd into the Colosseum, and then, there in the midst of this great crowd, he saw the gladiators come forth, stand before the Emperor, and say, ‘We who are about to die salute you.”’ He realized they were going to fight to the death for the entertainment of the crowds. He cried out, ‘In the name of Christ, stop!”’ His voice was lost in the tumult there in the great Colosseum.
“As the games began, he made his way down through the crowd and climbed over the wall and dropped to the floor of the arena. Suddenly the crowds saw this scrawny little figure making his way out to the gladiators and saying, over and over again, ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’ They thought it was part of the entertainment. At first they were amused. But then, when they realized it wasn’t, they grew belligerent and angry. As he was pleading with the gladiators, ‘In the name of Christ, stop,”’ one of them plunged his sword into his body. He fell to the sand of the arena. In death, his last words were, ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’
“Suddenly, a strange thing happened. The gladiators stood looking at this tiny form lying in the sand. A silence fell over the Colosseum. Then, someplace up in the upper tiers, an individual made his way to an exit and left, and others began to follow. In the dead silence, everyone left the Colosseum. That was the last battle to the death between gladiators in the Roman Colosseum. Never again did men kill each other for the entertainment of the crowd.
“One tiny voice that could hardly be heard above the tumult. ‘In the name of Christ, stop.”’ It is something we could be saying to each other throughout the world today.”
Telemarcus did not say, “In the name of decency, stop.” Neither did he say, “In my opinion you should stop,” or “If you don’t stop you’ll burn in hell.” He didn’t even say, “I’m the founder of Monks for Morality, you need to stop.” He simply said, “In the name of Christ, stop.” A very ordinary man, he spoke with authority. That he was willing to surrender his life to deliver the message showed that he was delivering a message of love, not judgment. God, not Telemarcus, deserves the credit for ending gladiator contests. God’s Holy Spirit touched the heart of each person who silently left the Colosseum. It was God who touched the heart of Emperor Honorius who then banned gladiator fights. Telemarchus just played his role in a scene God wrote.
Only God can stop the moral decline in American entertainment. Only God can touch the hearts of Christians who continue to watch programs with higher and higher levels of vulgarity and promiscuity. Only God can get teenagers in church youth groups to quit buying tickets to horror shows and vulgar comedies. Only God can reach the hearts of Hollywood executives who approve funding of waves of immoral entertainment.
We’re no martyrs. We’re just a saved sinner who God has called to work toward the redemption of the media. We’re parents and grandfathers who want to leave their children and grandchildren a more civil society rather than a more vile one.
Our message for Christians is, “In the name of Christ, stop!”
If the 70 percent of Americans who claim to be Christian would stop watching entertainment that Jesus wouldn’t choose to watch Hollywood’s executives would be forced to provide wholesome entertainment or loose their jobs. Every time you turn on your television you vote with your remote. YOU KNOW WHAT’S BAD. Don’t ignore the Holy Spirit. Don’t rationalize or excuse garbage viewing. In the name of Christ, stop eating the immoral slop that’s currently being offered on television.
Our message for Hollywood executives is, “In the name of Christ, stop!”
The word “B****” (mother dog) does not belong on television and certainly not in the title of a prime time television program. Vulgarity, promiscuity and violence degrade culture and harm future generations — AND YOU KNOW IT. You are responsible and accountable, not just to the public, but to God. In the name of Christ, Stop!
We don’t expect to be martyred. We don’t claim to be more “spiritual” than anyone or more holy. We just believe we’ve been led by God to be passionate about the redemption of the media.
The message, “In the name of Christ, stop!” stands on its own.
Do you believe it’s from God? Do you believe God would have us stop because He loves us? Do you believe he’d have us stop because He wants something better for us?
You can be among the first Christians to vote with your remote as if Jesus Christ were punching the buttons. You may be one of those to who wait to see if others will do so first. You may be someone who rejects the message.
The direction of the current competition on television leads toward orgies and real death matches. Is that where you want to go? Do you want to live in a society where vulgarity is used as punctuation in virtually every sentence?
You’re not accountable to us for your response. You’re accountable to God. You’re accountable to your children and grandchildren for the culture you leave them.
We praise God for using Telemarchus to help end death match entertainment. We praise God for using William Wilberforce to help end slavery. We praise God for using Martin Luther King Jr. to help end segregation. We praise God that we live in a culture where we believe “all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights.” God is the one to be praised for what’s left of America’s decency and prosperity.
If Americans vote with their remotes for righteousness and Hollywood executives approve nothing but wholesome, inspiring entertainment it will not be because I or anyone else said the right thing. It will be because God touched hearts, changed behavior and brought redemption.
The future is in his hands, not mine. For the sake of our children and grandchildren we pray for redemption.
Please, “In the name of Christ, stop.”
* This transcription was modified slightly to make it read more clearly than it was spoken.
The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) reports that when products or brands are advertised in family-friendly programming, consumers are more likely to purchase the brand.
In its study, the ANA found, “Ad effectiveness soars by 30 percent in family-friendly content, particularly for family products. Purchase intent and brand equity also increase. Conversely, the study found that family brands advertising in adult content suffer decreases in the same areas.”
Adult content, according to consumers, would include gratuitous sex, violence, and drug abuse. The study was done online with 2,400 consumers. It included six TV ads from companies in different industries “whose collective advertising spending exceeds $10 billion.”
The key findings include:
1) Ad effectiveness scores on each ad-even low-scoring commercials-jumped an average of 30% when they were seen on a family-oriented show.
2) 10.7% of the audience was more likely to purchase the brand when the ad was placed in a family-oriented show versus a program with adult-themed content.
The ANA study confirms what previous studies have found regarding family-friendly programming and advertising effectiveness.
The ANA includes such major companies as Walmart, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, Kraft Foods, Kellogg, Ford, General Motors, American Express, Motorola, Intel, Allstate, McDonald’s, GE, IBM, Verizon, AT&T, Visa, Subway, Dell Computers, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, and Liberty Mutual.
- Source: Association of National Advertisers.