Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Maleficent - Harmless or Harmful?

In 1959, Disney released the animated fairy tale SLEEPING BEAUTY. The villain of the story was Maleficent.  Recently,  Disney released a sort of updated version of this tale and gave it a PG MPAA rating. They herald it as a movie the whole family can enjoy. But in truth, this movie should be gravely concerning to parents. Mainly because the line between villain and hero are markedly blurred in this film. Which doesn’t negate a problem for discerning adults who can make internal judgments from a wide base of experience, knowledge and understanding. But children are not able to discern nearly as well. 

For children, if they perceive that the “hero” is both good and bad, the movie has now taught them something altogether different than what their parents are teaching them. And with the flair, drama, wit and emotion the movie provides, they cannot help but be influenced negatively on a much deeper level. 

Fathers are repeatedly portrayed as villains in the film sending subliminal indoctrination to children to dishonor and disrespect their own father. We all know this is actually old hat in the film/tv industry.  But it’s imperitive to understand that kids are being taught at the movies. 

Many years ago, movies taught children in line with what their parents taught them at home -  to  do the right thing. Some even gave nods to following God. But those ideas have eroded to following their own heart. God said the heart is desperately wicked and deceitful. In other words, don’t trust your heart. Trust God and lean not on your own understanding.

Inconsistent Hero

As Christians, we teach our children about God by reading his Word, but our biggest influences is our behavior.  In the Bible, Jesus gives a parable illustrating the difference between a man who says he won't do the right thing, but then does, and compares him to a man who says he would do the right thing, and then doesn't.  Showing that it’s not just our intentions that count, but our actions

Maleficent, the true villain in this movie, is portrayed as one who could do good but chooses to stay a villain.  What kind of message does this send to kids?  I think it's pretty obvious. It can be cool - and fun! - to be bad. 

Our children observe that we all make mistakes. Mistakes are unplanned. They are mishaps, slip ups. Like when you call one of your children and the wrong name comes out. If you’re the parent of more than one child, you know the drill. You start to call Johnny but a stream of every other one of your children’s names first!  Kath, eh, Bil, eh, Anna…..Johnny!  That is a mistake. And it's very different from a sin. Sin is doing wrong with knowledge. When you know to do right and don’t, it’s sin.  Technically, we do the wrong thing all the time, but unless it’s deliberate and with knowledge, God does not “account” that as sin to us.  

The inconsistencies to clear right and wrong in this film can only lead to confusion in children.

Do film makers simply have a fundamental misunderstanding of the cognitive stages of development in children? Nope, I don’t believe that is the case at all.  In fact, if you consider the carefully worded and plotted movies they produce with their subtle and not so subtle story lines, they've proven that they understand better than most parents. 

Bottom Line

Maleficent obscures good and evil as well as the movie’s unfavorable father figure. The politically correct environmentalist themes are very effective at confusing the innocent and confirming the jaded. 

For Christians, our identity is a two sided coin. We are saved by grace, seated with Christ on high and sealed.  But what we DO bears witness to the grace we've received through Jesus Christ.  He has done and continues to do a miraculous work in us. But movies like Maleficent do not stir our children to follow Jesus or do right. If anything, it promotes the opposite.

When they were little, mhusband and I always explained to our children why we didn’t watch certain films even though many of the people we knew did.  Some of the films that we didn't let them watch when they were younger, we enjoyed when they were older because they had grown and had much better ability to sift and decipher and discern subtle themes and plots. 

If your husband is not the type to shield your children from movies that you would deem harmful or damaging (like Maleficent), express your concerns to him. If he insists on a film that you object to, then pray and seek the Lord about it. But don't take a stand against him over it, otherwise you are usurping the authority that God gave to him.  

[**Disclaimer: I believe it's every mother's duty to take a stand against anyone, husband included, when it comes to films where nudity, excess violence, gore, horror, etc are involved. It's the same as protecting a child from an intruder, burglar, predator, etc.]

One of my consistent prayers for my kids has been that the Lord would give them very heavy consciences. That their sense of right and wrong would be so relentless and intense that it would drive their path to the foot of the cross all the days of their lives.  That they would see wrong for what it is - sin - and turn away from it. That movies that they see now and when they’re grown would only drive the wedge further into the ground between right and wrong. And they would continually choose right. 

In an upcoming article, I’ll give a list of the movies and tv programs we have watched over the years that have been an encouragement rather than a detriment, to their development. You might be surprised at some of them!


Jessica said...

I'd like to see your list. There aren't very many movies that I feel comfortable letting my kids watch. We watch some old 1960s Dr. Seuss movies on YouTube and that's about it.

I was coming to your blog to ask if you had heard about this story: http://nypost.com/2014/06/03/tween-girls-stabb-friend-19-times-to-prove-horror-meme-is-real/ I definitely think the movies kids watch these days has a lot to do with this news story! Horrifying!!!

THIS is why I shelter my kids!

Simply Keeping Home said...

Jessica, good job for being so careful with what your kids watch. That is so important!

The news story you shared was terribly alarming!! There is a DIRECT link to what these kids/monsters are watching and what they turn around and do. Similar to how everything a pregnant mother consumes affects her growing child in utero. How is it so many people don't see that? EVERYTHING is a learning experience - especially for children because they are still developing their brains.
I'll try to get my entertainment list out in the next day or two. :-)

Tricia said...

I am so glad I read your review about the movie! Both our kids (8 and 12) asked to see it. We're going to pass on it. I am looking forward to seeing your entertainment list! Everything on TV is SO mindless or SO very inappropriate these days.