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Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Wile E. Coyote, GENIUS

That about describes most of the people who make a living commenting on Amercain culture and social institutions. They look at G-rated movies, think their might be too much adult humor and violence in them, and then make amazingly profound statements like "But 30 or 40 years ago, there were a lot of things falling on heads and dropping off cliffs." Even if that sentence didn't cause pain because of its deformed structure, it's a fairly good reflection of how stupid some people can be. The problem with movies today isn't that they contain more violence or more adult humor, per se, but that the content that goes into them is not written, all too often, by people who know anything about what is really suitable for children and care less. So maybe lots of the board members of the MPAA are parents -- today, that doesn't mean anything, except that perhaps they have screwed up kids. Because we're eviscerated our societal sense of objective right and wrong, and therapied out of existence the norms of child-rearing that worked pretty darn well for about 10,000 years, we're left without any moral compass, so to speak, to guide what we, as producers and as consumers, should expose children to. That's how you get Victoria's Secret going from a legitimate business engaging in legitimate activities to a peddler of soft-core porn goodies. That's how you get parents who are scared to death that their children might see a depiction of a firearm in a movie (oh, the horror!), yet children's movies marketed on godlessness and sex and body humor gross a jillion dollars every year.

It's not that there are things in movies that are pop culture references (there's a whole lot of stuff in Bugs Bunny that doesn't make a whole lot of sense if you don't know anything about 1940's America) or that are over children's heads, movies have always had such material (cf, a scene from one of the old -- and very family-friendly -- Thin Man movies. Myrna Loy: "Nick, pick me out a dress" William Powell: [takes a neglige that could not have been worn on screen out of the closet] "Here, this one is my favorite" Myrna Loy: "Why, Nickie, that's a nightgown, not a dress!" William Powell: "Well, it's still my favorite"). It's that we're making such references more and more accessible to children, and making the things they address more and more inappropriate. "Adult" issues as a broad category include, as an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon points out, things like getting dressed up and going to work. It's a matter of degrees and of type, of drawing the line between those things that our faith (for those who still have any) and our common sense (for those fewer who still have any) tell us will harm children, and everything that might be "adult" in some way or another. Right now a lot of us are like Chicken Little (I didn't know they were making a movie -- how very unfortunate), running around crying that the sky is falling, and too often ignoring the very real problems that ARE present.

(full cnn article here)

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