Help Even the Least of These
By Dr. Ted Baehr, Publisher
Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers for AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR
How do we help families with their children who often think differently than you or me?
There are some movies that MOVIEGUIDE® reviewers love. Of course, they must have a lot of virtues, or faith and values as we say. The vast majority of these movies are often liked by the whole MOVIEGUIDE® team and may even receive the coveted MOVIEGUIDE® Teddy Award®.
For example, some of our MOVIEGUIDE® reviewers love, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR, which I liked as well. There is much to like in the movie. For instance: Capt. America at the end says, “My God,” like a prayer/appeal; in some ways, the movie is very anti-radical inhuman environmentalism; and, many of the heroes are willing to lay down their lives to save others, as Jesus exemplified and taught.
In some ways, AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR is like a classic tragedy, where bad choices by the Marvel lead characters lead to Thanos winning the end battle:
– Star-Lord reacts to Gamora’s death with anger, punching Thanos and awakening him, allowing him to be victorious.
– Loki saved the Tesseract from Asgard for his own benefit instead of letting it be destroyed.
– Vision and the mind stone that powers him is a product of Tony’s mistake with Ultron in AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON.
However, the answers to some of the 150 basic media literacy questions MOVIEGUIDE® reviewers ask violate to some degree a biblical Christian worldview and values. The key questions are: What is the premise? Who is the protagonist? Who forces the action?
The premise is that murder of half the population of the universe restores the balance that Thanos seeks. Thanos, though evil, is the protagonist who forces the action. Thanos’ self-proclaimed love for his step-daughter does not stop him from sacrificing her for more power.
If I was still a pagan 20-something in the late 1960s, when I was an environmentalist and got so involved with the occult that I produced a successful PBS series interviewing occult and other non-Christian religious leaders, like the Dalai Lama, then the movie and some of the other Marvel movies would have led me deeper into the occult and further away from Christianity…and the fruit of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control. In my pre- Christian state, Thanos would be appealing. He gets what he wants, a beautiful peaceful world.
The next movie should turn the plot back to the heroic Avengers. But, I do not have a crystal ball, and the second movie is not the issue since thousands of studies show that in a movie or TV program, the perpetrator of a crime must get punished soon after the crime, or susceptible youth in the concrete stage of cognitive development will think that the perpetrator got away with the crime so they can do so too.
As that guy who helped to start the Environmental Law Dept. at N.Y.U. School of Law and at the U.S. Attorney’s Office S.D.N.Y. in 1972, and who thought the government needed to radically decrease the world’s population for sustainability, I can see radicals and susceptible youth taking Thanos’ point of view.
We need to let parents know, some susceptible youth will be intrigued and even converted to the dark side, even though mature solid Christians may not even notice the temptations and just focus on the entertainment values and the good. Also, it is important to remember that thousands of studies show that susceptible youth rarely think or acknowledge that they are susceptible.
So, how do we help families with their children who often think differently than you or me? We help them by not being comic book movie groupies or fan folks, but by being discerning mentors who want to help others even though we have our own likes and dislikes. The key to being discerning mentors is to ask the right questions and to present all the truth in love, so parents and children can make wise entertainment decisions.
Of course, most people in the audience will not get aroused and even incited by the bad, but we must help even the least of these.