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2 Reasons Why Hitchcock’s PSYCHO Encourages Us to Be Media-Wise

Photo via Wikimedia Commons- Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho trailer

2 Reasons Why Hitchcock’s PSYCHO Encourages Us to Be Media-Wise

By Tess Farrand, Associate Content Editor

Alfred Hitchcock’s PYSCHO turns 60 years old in 2020 but still ranks among fan favorite and cinephiles’ list of great movies, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require media-wisdom for some immorality and movie manipulation.

At the time of PSYCHO’s release in 1960, horror/thriller movie elements ushered in the wave of a plethora of similar projects.

In fact, PSYCHO actress Janet Leigh’s daughter, Jamie Lee Curtis, named after her mother and her father, Tony Curtis, followed in the footsteps of her mother as the star of the horror franchise HALLOWEEN.

Hitchcock’s PSYCHO birthed several movies about the late director and the characters in the movie such as the 2012 movie HITCHCOCK, documentary HITCHCOCK AND TRUFFAUT and the A&E series starring Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga (THE DEPARTED) titled BATES MOTEL.

With all the acclaim from both fans and cinephiles, here are two reasons to exercise your media discernment with PSYCHO…

  1. Depictions of murder and other immorality

In PSYCHO, the taxidermist Norman Bates (Anthony Perkins) operates a motel with his mother. One night, Marion Crane (Janet Leigh) looks to fill a vacancy while on the run with loads of cash. Crane eventually meets her demise at the hands of Bates’s mother (or is it…) halfway through the movie when she gets stabbed multiple times while taking a shower.

From the description of the plot alone, Christian viewers see some content concerns.

Movieguide® publisher Dr. Ted Baehr educates viewers that one person’s threshold for one type of content might be different than another person’s threshold.

For instance, the pre-marital sex in PYSCHO could be a trigger for some viewers and not affect others at all.

The book of James says that we may ask the Lord for wisdom, and he will supply our needs.

If you’re watching a movie like PSYCHO, why not ask God for wisdom about the content you’re seeing?

  1. Filmmaker manipulation

Part of Hitchcock’s appeal for audiences was his careful orchestration of his projects. For example, in PYSCHO viewers only see what Hitchcock wants them to see.

In A History of Film Wexman states, “Hitchcock’s visual distinctive style is based on the strict control of the audience’s point of view, often isolating people and objects ominously in the frame (such as in the repeated shots of stuffed birds of prey in Psycho).”

Media-wise viewers though should be aware that the director and filmmakers craft their projects with consideration.

Ask yourself as you watch the movie, “How is my perspective getting muddied or manipulated?” or “Do these tactics impact my views of the story or my views on real life?

Discernment questions like these are especially necessary in a movie like PSYCHO where many twists and turns occur throughout the plot.

Media-wisdom is one of the heartbeats of Movieguide® for more articles on discernment, check out our “Parenting” section.