**As a father of two ten-year olds, I have learned that one of the biggest unexpected benefits of being a parent is getting to watch children’s movies.
Happy Wednesday! Something has been on my mind for a long time and I am ready to get it off my chest by writing about it. I have noticed that as a society we often teach kids things that we do not live up to as an adult society. We teach the ideal to our kids (which we should) but at some point in adulthood we often stop living up to that ideal. An example from the past is when I noticed how much my daughter’s pre-school curriculum focused on taking care of the environment as compared to how little most of us really think about this as adults
This struck home again for me recently while at the movies with my family. We were watching Dolphin Tale – a movie inspired by the true story of a group of people who came together to save a severely injured dolphin that had to have its tail amputated. As is so often true with movies that have young children as their primary audience (movies that are rated G or PG), this movie was inspiring and carried several positive themes – protecting the environment, caring for animals, caring for others, teamwork, fighting against the odds to support a positive cause, – just to name a few. I can name so many other movies that I have watched with my kids that promoted similarly uplifting messages. In fact most of the more uplifting movies I have seen over the last 10 years have been movies meant most especially for kids and if I did not have pre-teen aged kids I probably would not have ever watched most of these movies.
So that got me thinking. Why is it that mainstream movies intended mainly for adults (those rated PG13 and R) are rarely as uplifting as movies meant for kids? It is easy to blame Hollywood for this by saying that as adults we do not have access to these types of movies because the movie production companies are not providing them. It goes deeper than that though. Hollywood is not providing many uplifting movies for adults mostly because we as adults are not demanding them. If we pay to see a movie, then we are supporting not only that movie but other movies of its kind in the future.
A look at the descriptions of the sixteen PG13 and R rated movies playing at the theatre in my hometown shows that only four of these movies have an uplifting message – a message that inspires hope, change, or action (while both of the kids oriented movies on the current show list did – Dolphin Tale and Lion King) – at least in my opinion. The others involved such themes as kidnapping, crime and mystery, infectious disease, action thriller, etc.. OK – I know this a little subjective and hardly a scientific study but still I think it is fairly indicative of the types of movies that we are watching (and therefore demanding).
In conclusion, I think that as adults with complex and stressful lives, more and more, we are looking for escape when we watch a movie and the more unreal the story the better in many cases. Therefore we are demanding the action and suspense thrillers, the horror movies, the crime and mystery stories. I definitely think that some escape is good and I am by no means calling for all movies that are not inspiring or uplifting to be banished. What I would like to see is more uplifting messages and themes in movies meant for adults. If we could push the percentage of movies that are inspiring up from the current 20 – 25% range to 35%, 45%, or even 50% what might that do for the psyche of our culture? What positive affects might that have on our society? The more we can be inspired to take action, to right a wrong in a positive way, to fight for justice, to stand up for something against tough odds while we are also being entertained the better. As adults we are never above learning lessons. We are never too old to look at something differently or to be challenged to make a change. If more of our movies could teach us something about society and about ourselves then that would be a good thing. We do it for our kids with the movies that are made more for them. As adults we should continue to look for and demand more of these types of messages in our movies and other types of entertainment as well.