Dr Ted Baehr on FAMILY TALK with Dr. James Dobson

 


Louann

Welcome to Family Talk with psychologist and author, and your host, Dr. James Dobson. I’m Louann Crane here with Ryan Dobson. And Ryan and Dr. as a mom with kids still at home I find it so difficult, in fact quite impossible, to find movies, songs, computer games, all kinds of media that is appropriate for our kids and our values. In fact Ryan, you and I have given up on cable completely, haven’t we?


Ryan

It’s true Louann. It is shocking what they market today as appropriate for kids and I have to say, “Those who know me would be surprised, because I love to watch TV. And it is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and I don’t miss it at all.

Dr. Dobson

Well that’s a good plan Ryan. And honestly I’m one of those people who never thought you would do that. But that shows you’re commitment to your family and especially to your little boy, and to my grandson. So you’re doing a great job. The media is just saturated with filth and perversion and sacrilege that Hollywood is trying to shove down our throats, and it really is disgusting and offensive that all this junk – and that’s what it is, junk, is published and produced for both adults and kids. And I think it’s having a devastating effect on our culture and on our way of life.

Ryan

Unfortunately it’s reflective of the culture at large, Dad, and I’m glad that we have our guest here today who has devoted his life to helping parents, like me, and I use your services a lot to figure out what is appropriate and what’s not appropriate. I was using it recently on a movie for my son and I’m glad that I did because we didn’t let him watch it. I think that one’s going to go unnamed. But I am really looking forward to hearing from him today.

Dr. Dobson

You’re talking about Dr. Ted Baehr whose joining us today. Ted and I have known each other for many years. How long has it been 30 years.

Ted

I think it’s at least 30 years.

Dr. Dobson

I have such high regard for him. He’s a writer, in fact, he’s written a book that’s been out a couple of years now — wrote it with Pat Boone and it called The Culture-Wise Family: Upholding Christian Values in the Mass Media World. Dr. Beahr is best known for the outstanding movie evaluations he provides online through his Movieguide analysis. Ted, you truly are a godsend to so many families, so many parents like Louann and Ryan who are attempting to do what’s right. You were in my office just a few minutes ago and I wish everybody could have heard what you said. Ryan you and Louann were also there and you were telling about that fact that you were not a believer in Jesus Christ, had no interest in things of the scripture or things of God and you were 28 before you really had an encounter with him. Why don’t we start by you telling that.

Ted

My parents were stars in Hollywood. My father was a cowboy star and I grew up bicostal and my mother died when I was young so I got one of those negative feelings about “If there was a God he couldn’t be good because He wouldn’t have taken my mother. I felt angry. So once upon a time this beautiful woman was trying to date my father, because he was cute, and she said, “You hate God so much, why don’t you just read the Bible and tell me what’s wrong with it. It took me a couple of months and finally I started reading it and God spoke to me. I can remember the time, it was like 11AM on Saturday, February 12, 1975. She said, “Do you want to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior,” and I did. It was clearly God that changed my life. It wasn’t anything else.

Dr. Dobson

Ted, you’ve probably never had an interview that started with this question but I’m going to ask you any way. There have to be people listening to us today almost by accident — people riding in a car, people who turn on a radio and they hear voices instead of music and they got interested in what you’ve said thus far and they’ve never known Jesus, and you’re talking to them right now. What are you going to say to them? Because you came that same route and the Lord got through to you.

Ted

Before you come to Christ, and I do weddings as a pastor, I say it’s like choosing your wife. Before you do there are a lot of possibilities, but once you do He becomes the only person in the world. Once you choose Jesus a whole open up for you.

Dr. Dobson

The Bible says you become a new creature. Is that really true?

Ted

You become a new creature. There’s nothing more exciting, nothing more fascinating, than a walk with God.

Dr. Dobson

Now you went on from there to the work you’re doing now, where your great passion is to preserve righteousness in the culture and to help those who want to avoid the wretched material that’s out there and to bring into their family things that are uplifting and things that are clean and holy. And you’re dong such an incredible job with it. You try to bring as many people in Hollywood to the Lord as you can, don’t you?

Ted

Not only do we try to bring a lot of people in Hollywood, as we see coming people in Hollywood all the time. We see extraordinary cases. A Jewish man sitting next to my wife was saying, “You know. I had this phone call with you a couple of years ago.” He was one of the top writers in television. He was very anti-Christian at the time and I talked to him for an hour, “I’ve now become a Messianic Jew.” So we see people transformed. All we have to do is introduce the truth to them in a powerful way. I must admit that the importance of what you said earlier about your children and learning how to be media-wise and culture-wise is the most important person in Hollywood is the twelve-to-tewntyfour-year-old who goes to movies. The key is reaching these twelve-year-olds, One is it gives them – especially their scripts for behavior. A hundred years ago the scripts were given by our parents at that stage of cognitive development. Today they get their scripts of behavior, because their parents are both working, from the media that they’re watching. They’re not good at all. So ti is critical that, one to protect them, but two, that when they vote, and they vote for the goos, it changes society. Changing the media changes the culture.

Dr. Dobson

That’s sad because the culture is in the sewer for the most part. There’s some good stuff out there.

Ted

But you know that the media is the things that we can redeem. We need to repair the culture. We need to get those values back, and we see that’s happening. We see changes taking place. This is good news. The amount of foul language, according to a university in Utah, has gone down by fifty-percent since we began doing our work in Hollywood.

Dr. Dobson

Is that done because people don’t want to see it or hear it?

Ted

Yes. twelve-to-twenty-four-year-olds usually say that they don’t want to see it. According to an L.A. Times Gallup Poll seventy-four percent of the young girls don’t want to see sex and violence, and about fifty-eight percent of the young boys.

Dr. Dobson

Seventy-four percent?

Ted

Make the connection here. Because most of this is acculturation. We have acculturated our children to accept things that they shouldn’t accept. In fact I’ll give you a couple of indications. It’s like smoking or drinking or whatever else. You start off, the first time it’s terrible and you keep doing it so you can hang out with everybody else that’s there and then it becomes a craving that you have to the people that are susceptible to smoking or drinking.

Dr. Dobson

Yes, you said its a process of acculturation but it’s also a process of desensitization.

Ted

Exactly.

Dr. Dobson

Things bother you in the beginning and then they seem okay.

Ted

And we know a lot about this. They’re been 500,000 studies that said on the media, but as far as we can discern there’s only one study that says — and it was done in 1985 — that says the media doesn’t have an influence and that study’s never been replicated. So I’d be willing to conclude that if there are 500,000 studies and 499,999 say that it has an influence, it has an influence.

Louann

Dr. Baehr, we’ve alluded to your Movieguide for someone who doesn’t know what that is explain that briefly.

Ted

Movieguide is part of our process of helping families become media-wise. The Culture-Wise Family teaches them how to become culture-wise, how to teach their children at different stages of development and then Movieguide gives you the information, and thank you Ryan for your comments. What we try to do is present a lot of information to help you know before you go. I’m always getting people who call me and say, “My daughter wanted to go see this movie and then I read her the content section and she said no more.” We’re the first line of defense. The New York Times calls us the most conservative, but we’re also growing phenomenally and our biggest audience is between twelve and twenty-four so I think there’s something wrong with the New York Times if the twelve to twenty-four-year olds are coming too.

Ryan

You review every movie that comes out.

Ted

One-hundred-percent of the movies.

Ryan

That’s amazing.

Louann

What a huge service to parents like me that, number one, don’t want to go to every film and, number two, can’t afford it at eight, nine and ten dollars a pop. What I appreciate about this, Dr. Baehr, is you’ve taken all the conflict away between the parent and the child because you are an objective third party that we can both go to. It’s an example of, hey, here’s someone who studies films for a living and this is what they say. This is not a conflict between a parent and a child. It’s a wonderful tool we can both go to.

Ted

Even if you turn off the cable, which I applaud you, two of my children don’t watch TV at all and I applaud them. And I love them dearly, but you haves to build in that internal mechanism that says, “No.” I can give you a lot of examples, but we know how to do that. We know how to build in those control mechanisms. There are tools out there that you can use to help your children understand. Now, will they all go along with it, no. But, a lot of them will. A lot of them have a propensity to want to do the good. You just have to equip them so that you don;t have to fight with them any more. This is one of the big problems. Parents don’t know what their kids are watching and they need to be concerned.

Dr. Dobson

You have an awful lot of data showing that movies that have a lot of sex and violence in them, and, in fact, the most violent and lustful movies, if I can use that term, don’t do very well. Family films do better. It’s amazing how well they do and if the people in Hollywood want to make money, which is the driving force we would think, they would pick up on that and understand it, but they don’t. They keep bringing out this junk.You mentioned when we were talking earlier that people really don’t like movies about homosexuality. and young people don’t. It’s amazing and yet they continue to make them. So what’s going on?

Ted

Ha, well, I’m going to give you a complete answer here so bear with me. Number one, Hollywood makes movies for different groups. It’s just like car companies. They want to make convertibles for young boys who want to pick up girls. They want to make SUVs for older people who want to go hunting and take their kids around, so they make different types of movies. Number two, Hollywood has in movies and entertainment and radio has various different functions. One function is it’s an art and then the second  is it communicates. Movies and television communicate and therefore there are people who have this particular bent that want to communicate. There’s a homosexual community that wants to make MILK. There’s also Christians that want to do AMAZING CRACE and CHRONICLES OF NARNIA and the new Robert Duval movie, which is one of my favorite movies of all time, SEVEN DAYS IN UTOPIA — a very Christian movie. And three, is that movies and television work differently, so in television you have the gate keepers, and friends of mine who run Walmart and Proctor and Gamble, and you know them too, are trying to to the Proctor and Gamble and Walmart movie night, for years came out to Hollywood and did an analysis of movies, like we do. We do an MRI of movies. They would do it for television and they would spend over $10 million doing this analysis, so they found out that women, when they had children, became more conservative because they weaned to protect their children. They found out what women want.

Louann

You can really know that?

Ted

For three hours that did that and then one of them calls me up and says, “This is awful. We spend all this time and money and then the network executives comes up and says, ‘Well we know that’s what they want, but we have to change that. We have to change what they think. We have to change who they are.”

Dr. Dobson

So it’s propaganda.

Ted

So it’s propaganda for television. For television you have hundreds of little stations. You have some that have very clear agendas. You have some that you may not know that they have clear agendas, like NBC doing THE PLAYBOY CLUB, which is horrendous. In movies it’s a little bit different. Even when they try to make these movies it’s always a vote at the box office. It’s a very democratic medium, because if the kids don’t buy tickets to MILK, the Academy Award winner that lost money at the box office, they won’t go to MILK. But they do buy the tickets to go to CHRONICLES OF NARNIA.

Dr. Dobson.

Ted, you say in your book, The Culture-Wise Family, that movies have tremendous power to influence and people do want to emulate what they see there, and that’s why it’s so important to protect your kids from the wrong images and the wrong productions. I wrote about that in my book, if I could be self-serving. When I was writing, Bringing Up Boys I talked about the extreme emphasis on beauty, youth and beauty, and worth being linked to that has been emphasized for so long on television and in Hollywood films and I wrote this about it, “The media and the entertainment industry are largely responsible for the assault on self-worth that we are witnessing today.” They laude images of bodily perfection, including supermodels and playmates and babes and hunks. The net effect on children and teens is profound not only in this country, but around the world. We say it demonstrated dramatically when western satellite TV transmissions penetrated the islands of the South Pacific for the first time. It projected images of gorgeous, very thin actresses who starred on MELROSE PLACE, BEVERLY HILLS 90210, this has been a little while, and other teen oriented shows. Four years later a survey of 65 Fijian girls revealed that their attitudes had been shaped or warped by what they had seen. Almost immediately the girls began to dress and fix their hair like Western women. Dr, Ann Beacher, research director at the Harvard Eating Disorder Center also observed serious changes in eating habits among Fijian adolescents. Those who watched TV three times a week, or more, were fifty percent more likely to perceive themselves and being too big or too fat than the others who did not. More than 62 percent had attempted to diet in the previous 30 days.” Isn’t that interesting. You take a culture that’s been shielded from all this stuff and all of the sudden you show them some images on a screen and that’s what they want to look like.

Ted

And there are a whole lot of studies that are in the same area. There was a small town in Death Valley that didn’t get any television because of the mountains around it, and this was 30 years ago. The satellite company heard about it, put in television and found out the whole moral behavior of the town changed.

Dr. Dobson

This is why it’s so important for parents to guard what their kids see.

Ted

Absolutely.

Dr. Dobson

I mean, do not permit it. Even if you have a fight over it. Don’t permit it because you’re corrupting the morals and the values and the attitudes and the beliefs of your own children when you pay money to Hollywood to teach them something you don’t believe. Man. I can get excited about that.

Ted

I get excited about it all the time.

Ryan

Ted, do me a favor. Talk to the parent who knows that if they go home and say, “You can’t go see this,” they’re kid is going to scream and howl and say, “I don’t like you.” They’re struggling with I want my kids to like me and I want to be their friends, but I’m worried about this. They’re thinking about it right now. What kind of a fight am I going to get into? “All my friends are seeing it. I’m the only one that doesn’t get to.”

Dr. Dobson

I’ve got an answer for that. There are a lot of things that parents choose to fight over with their kids that really don’t matter that much. I mean, you know, this takes us back a bit, but sometimes the music you kids listen to or whether the room is clean or al ot of these kinds of things will not have eternal significance, but when you run up against one like we’re talking about now, where the very soul of your child is being invaded by those who deliberately want to destroy the things that you believe and have taught. You stand like a rock and if you have to fight over it, do it as kindly and respectfully as you can but you don’t let them do it.

Ted

Psalm 119:36 says, “Turn my eyes from worthless things.” And why do we do that? So we can see the people around us, so we can talk, so we can love our wives, love our children and not be caught up in the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh.

Dr. Dobson

Another translation of that reads, “I will set before my eyes no unclean thing.”

Ryan

Dr. Baehr, I was reading your book where you say, “Watch a child a child whose watching TV and then think of all the things they’re not doing.” They’re not developing eye/hand coordination. They’re not asking questions. They’re not developing a relationship with another person. That really resonated with me and again it made me glad I’ve turned the TV off, because my son is just sitting there watching something and not growing, or expanding or anything, except he’s being filled with whatever stuff is cooing out of that tube.

Dr. Dobson

Ryan, what good things happened in your home after you did that?

Ryan

You know what, I mean this is a personal thing, but I was surprised to watch Lincoln’s creativity and imagination almost explode overnight. He was being creative himself. It wasn’t being created for him. He was having to use his imagination. He started having little battles with his army men and I can hear him talking in the other room and there are adventures taking place. He’s thinking of new concepts. It changed everything. His behavior changed. I have to say it did. And we don’t let him watch junk. We watch benign things on channels that don’t have commercials, but it changed.

Ted

The University of Indiana did this study which showed that if you take them off all of the TV and the games for three days their test scores improve dramatically. Their interpersonal relationships improve. Their ability to concentrate improves. All of this starts . . .Now, Ha, the trouble is that those three days may be the worst days of your life.


Louann

I can attest to that. Because I know there’ve been times I’ve done that with my children and they’ll say, “I’m bored.” And, I tell you, Dr. Baehr, you just give them that little bit of time, sometimes not three days, of an hour of boredom, they push through it and then the things they discover to do are just phenomenal.

Ted

You’ve said something very intelligent here about not being a friend to your child. We are called to be the father and the mother and to protect our children. Not to be the ones who take them into the paths of darkness. So we have to be more mature about our own life. We’re not called to be friends with our kids. We’re called to love them and love is a lot harder.

Louann

Dr. Baehr we are surrounded by media as you’ve described. It’s overwhelming. It overwhelms me. In these closing moments can you give me some ideas as a mom. What can I do to help train my children better.

Ted

That’s a very good question and we know a lot about what you can do. Years ago I got 60 academics together in the late 70s to develop a way of doing that. Number one, you have to break the spell of the media. You have to help the children to understand that this in not real. You have to help them understand that the media has an influence on them. It is very important, and I have all sorts of techniques for doing that and they’re all in the book. Number two, you have to understand the way children react at different stages of development. And, number three, you have to understand the grammar of the media. How does the media speak to the heart, whereas books speak to the mind. And, number four, you have to understand your values. That’s probably the most difficult thing. I always thought the people knew their values inside out. I found out that most people are adrift. And Dr. Dobson has pointed this out many times that they haven’t clarified. You have to get your values clear. What do you want to teach your children? And, number five, you have to learn to ask the right questions. Whose the hero? And if the hero wins the battle through murder and mayhem, does he agree with my values? Do my values say that he should win. You have to compare your values with the message of the movie. And please do it before you go. That’s why we do movieguide.org, so you can know before you take your children to see this movie. If it doesn’t agree with your values don’t go down the slippery slope. Don’t just compromise. Just say no. There’s so much good out there’s no reason to indulge in the bad.

Dr. Dobson

Dr. Ted Baehr has been our guest. He co-authored a book with Pat Boone called The Culture-Wise Family: Upholding Christian Values In A Mass Media World. Thank you for writing this book and for the others that you’ve written, but thank you also for caring about families, caring about children in the next generation, caring about righteousness in a day when it seems like a majority of people, even in the Christian church, don’t have time to be bothered with what’s going on around them. You’ve stood like a rock and I appreciate you my friend and I hope you’ll come back and be with us again.

Ted

Thank you.

Louann

And at familyguide.org we’ll have a link to Dr. Baehr’s book The Culture-Wise Family along with a link to the movieguide.org website. What a great tool that is for parents.

Ryan

It really is. We’re also playing some of their movie reviews at familytalk.org — right there on our home page, so you know exactly what you’re going to get when you plop down that cash to treat your family to a movie.

Louann

Dr. Ted Baehr’s team has also compiled a list of the 100 best movies of all time. It’s pretty convenient if you’re looking for something to rent this week. We’ll link to that too, of course at familytalk.org. If you prefer to call us for Dr. Baehr’s book the number is 877-732-6825.