It’s summertime. This past Wednesday I went looking for a good movie to take my almost 8 year old son to. Lo and behold: A Batman movie! Will this be appropriate for my son, I wondered, recalling my love for all things “Batman” at his age (and my son’s love for the campy Sixties-era “Batman and Robin” we DVR on one of the oldie tv networks). So I googled and reviewed commentary from facebook friends.
Let’s just say I won’t be taking him to see this movie.
Jenny McCartney pretty much explains why in this piece entitled “Our attitude to violence is beyond a joke as new Batman film, The Dark Knight, shows: The new Batman film reaches new levels of brutality, so why are we letting children watch it?”
If I were 10 years old, would I be badgering my parents to take me to see the new Batman film, The Dark Knight? You bet I would. It’s the latest and biggest release in the superhero genre, which children instantly understand as a direct appeal to their special interests.
It’s also touched with the alluring suggestion of forbidden fruit: the maniacal, deranged face of The Joker, grippingly played by the late Heath Ledger, leers from posters all over town.
If I were the parent who relented and took a 10-year-old child to see The Dark Knight, would I be sorry? Once again, you bet I would. It’s different from other superhero films, as fans are quick to point out. Certainly, there are surprises in its swooping camera angles and darkened, ominous screen.
But the greatest surprise of all – even for me, after eight years spent working as a film critic – has been the sustained level of intensely sadistic brutality throughout the film.
…we know that entertainment aimed at young people is becoming markedly more violent. My generation was terrified by the Child Catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; the current one is diverted with torture and agonising death.
Little boys have always played with swords and guns. But they did not always play at beating a prisoner’s genitals with a rope, or stitching a live bomb inside a man’s stomach. For that innovation we must thank Hollywood, the industrious factory of dreams, now frequently devoted to churning out nightmares.
The poet WB Yeats once wrote, “In dreams begins responsibility”, yet Hollywood will never take responsibility for its most brutal dreams so long as the paying public still flocks to the theatre of cruelty.
While researching this movie, I discovered that not only is Batman darker than ever, but other comic books have delved into the adult world. Green Lantern is now gay, as is a current character in the old Archie comics. Now we are assaulting kids with this kind of stuff before they even reach puberty?
In his post “What’s the Big &%#*! Deal about Profanity?” Craig Groeschel also notes have far we have fallen in terms of what entertains us:
Recently, when I asked a friend for recommendations of a good movie to rent, he responded enthusiastically, “Have you seen The Hangover? It may be the funniest movie I’ve ever seen!” Excited about a potentially great comedy, I asked a couple of my staff members about the movie. They too had seen it and said it was a riot and must see.
Since I wasn’t sure what The Hangover was rated, my last check point involved doing a little research to see if this was a movie for the whole family or one just for me and my wife to watch together. What I discovered floored me.
According to www.screenit.com, this comedy has more than its fair share of non-family-friendly scenes, intense language, and sexual situations. The rough spots include 91 different variations of the f-bomb (apparently it can function as noun, verb, adjective — maybe even a conjunction for all I know), 41 excretory words, 14 references to a person’s behind, 13 “hells,” and nine slang terms for male anatomy. To top it all off, this hilarious movie has 31 different versions of taking God’s name in vain.
When I told my friends and staff members that the movie had 91 f-bombs, which averages out to approximately one version of the “f” word per minute, they were all shocked. “Really? I didn’t even notice” was the most common response.
Really… you didn’t notice one “f” word each minute?
I also discovered two other entertainment phenoms I was previously unaware existed: A book entitled 50 Shades of Grey and movie called Magic Mike. Quite simply, don’t sicken your soul on this spiritual intake. McKay Caston writes after explaining that avoiding these types of material is not legalism:
So how should a disciple of Jesus respond to these types of popular books and films? Surely, not with self-righteous disdain. Rather, with sadness—sadness that each of us has a sinful nature that is bent on evil and is under moral condemnation for our own wickedness. Sadness that the enemy will deceive and destroy many marriages with the growing influence of such explicit pornography that markets in the mainstream to both men and women. However, the good news is that Jesus came for hard-core sinners like ME—in MY place condemned he stood. As graphic and shocking as this book and film might be, the cross is even more so… to the praise of God’s glorious grace.