Guidance key to movies
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Monday, January 07, 2013
1/07/13 at 6:45 AM
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Standing up to bullies necessary
I never realized "Grease" was so, um, dirty until I watched it with my kids.
Old enough to have sat in an Oklahoma City theater watching the John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John musical in all its first-run glory more than 30 years ago, two decades later my wife and I decided to share this age-old classic with our children.
And I was a little shame-faced by the end of it, to be honest. I guess the sexual elements either flew over my head or were taken for granted 30-plus years ago. In full bloom of fatherhood, however, I winced at every backseat reference the Pink Ladies or Danny Zuko's crew threw at the audience that included young girls ages 11 to 6.
I swore we'd never do that again. The ban on R-rated or any kind of blue humor lasted all of a few years, but we are not Puritans and eventually the kids latched on to our tastes in movies, which runs the gamut from G-rated Disney classics and the religious "Facing the Giants" to "The Hangover."
I do not take these things lightly, knowing the potential detrimental impact on young minds. A 2010 Dartmouth Medical School study indicated that children exposed to R-rated films were more likely to drink alcohol then their peers. I don't know if that's valid, but a parent will always worry.
I tend to think that kids will probably drink depending on how they're exposed to it at home, same with domestic violence or any other negative behavior. It all begins at home, not in some theater.
The fretfulness about such things returned because the family and I watched a DVD of "The Fighter" last night. This exceptional film featured an incredible, Academy Award-winning performance by Christian Bale, but also dropped just about every letter-bomb you can name. It featured drug use and other squirmy content.
Yet my son, 13, remarked shortly afterward "that was one of the best movies I've ever seen." So "Fighter" may have shown characters doing drugs, but it was certainly not a celebration of getting high; far from it. Family members cursed at each other regularly, but ultimately rebonded through addiction overcome and forgiveness granted.
Full disclosure: my son bought the R-rated "Fighter" as my Christmas gift all by himself at a certain department store, without me knowing it. He also likes well-crafted comic and serious films. He has been a World War II fanatic, and so we've watched "Saving Private Ryan," "Das Boot," and "Letters from Iwo Jima." Blood sometimes fills the screen, but perhaps he's also learned a little about heroism, loyalty and, if nothing else, bravado and expert filmmaking.
My parents are stellar human beings, but once being poor and young they sometimes dragged me along while they went on movie dates. Fortunately for me, those cinematic experiences included all-timers such as "Bonnie and Clyde," "Cool Hand Luke," "MASH" and "The Godfather."
Maybe that's a lot for a 10-year-old to handle, but I never became a gangster, prison inmate, Mafia caporegime or randy, anti-establishment combat surgeon. I did become a discerning fan of great entertainment, in my own humble option, even if it takes me two years or more to see those films.
That's my self-justification, and I'm sticking to it. My son is completely nonviolent and cares deeply for his parents and his pets, in that order. My girls go to church, have served in missions and feel moved to help bind up the brokenhearted in life.
Now if I could just get them to quit watching "Jersey Shore."
Rod Walton 918-581-8457
"The Fighter" features an incredible Academy Award-winning performance by Christian Bale, but it also drops just about every letter-bomb you can name. Courtesy