Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Children's Movies and Misguided Moralisms

I'm taking a short break from the theological stuff today. With the summer movie season coming up, one thing is sure: the children's movies -- i.e. the movies I'll actually have a chance to see -- will have morals, and those morals will be worse than merely sappy, they will also be wrongheaded. No, don't get me wrong, I plan on enjoying the movies anyway. Of the 3 movies discussed below, I enjoyed 2 of them very much. The other, being a sequel, was mostly stale left-overs that never quite got warmed to the level of the original. Here is a sampling of kid-pic moralism:

Film: Mulan II
Moral: "My duty is to my heart."
The problem? In practical daily use, it equates selfishness with morality. That "duty to my heart" bit only gives good results if you have a pure heart. And that just scratches the surface ...

Film: The Incredibles
Moral gaffe: "Everyone's special." "Then no one is special."
Did you ever look at a field of bluebonnets? It is spectacular. But no one flower is "special". When, exactly, did people start thinking that, to be good and worthwhile, you had to "special" -- that is, different from everyone else? Doesn't that assume that "everyone else" is not really good and worthwhile? Since when did we find our value in what separates us from others instead of what we share with others? And what exactly has that done to our sense of belonging together as a people?

Film: Pirates of the Caribbean / Curse of the Black Pearl
Moral: "Sometimes an act of piracy may be the right course of action."
Yes, but the other 99 times out of 100 piracy is murder and theft. (Is piracy the result of "My duty is to my heart" kind of thinking? Hmm.) If the film industry wants something novel and innovative, how about a pirate movie where the murderers and thieves are portrayed as bad guys, and those trying to stop them are portrayed as brave and worthy? Of course, anyone getting their sense of morality from Hollywood pirate flicks has worse problems than whatever morally questionable package the filmmaker is selling. Pirates I was a fun movie. It just would have been better if they hadn't tried to tack on moral overtones at the end.


codepoke said...

I only saw The Incredibles. It's message about family was really quite brilliant. A movie in which the stars fight for a marriage is really, really rare. I found it really stirring.

Your take on the field of bluebonnets is convicting. I am a whole lot like that little kid, whatever his name was, and I agreed when he spouted his gaffe.


Thanks for the insight.

Weekend Fisher said...

I liked The Incredibles a lot. And you're definitely right about the marriage bit, that was a good thing, to give credit where it is definitely due. I just saw my kids squirming whenever Dash did that "then nobody is special" bit. Dash's mistake was a subtle one: it may be true about being *special* but not about being *valuable*.

Meanwhile, I love the part where Dash is fighting the ships and running upside down and across water and running circles around the bad guys in their little hovercraft.

codepoke said...

Dash was great. I liked Violet(?) pulling her hair back after finding out she could save the family all by herself when the pressure was on. That scene in the airplane was just heart-rending.

Honestly, my favorite part, though, was everyone figuring out a little part of how to win the final battle. Perfect.


I reasoned you were busy, but if lucy's post has been here for 3 days, then I will pray a little harder. I hope all is under control.

Weekend Fisher said...

Yah, way too busy. Things are "ok" on some level but not back to normal. Mom does not have a doctor's ok to drive yet. Still on oxygen, can't blame the doctor. She can't go to the bank or get groceries for herself, much less take herself to a follow-up doctor's visit. So it's been a little hectic. Nothing too tragic going on, just spare time approaching zero.

Thanks for checking.

BK said...

I'll have to watch the Incredibles again to see the context in which those statements were used because I don't remember thinking anything at all about it. Certainly, it is wrong to think that if everyone is special no one is special because we are all made in the image of God and we are all God's children which makes each and every one of us very special indeed. But I don't recall getting the impression that they were saying anything that would undermine that.

Oh, WF, when we last spoke on the phone you aked me if Cumberland Presbyterians believe in double-predestination. I took the membership class and the answer is that they don't.

Weekend Fisher said...

LOL, so they're theologically Lutherans who don't know it, though probably less the sacraments. I suspect that lots of moderate Presbyterians are that way.