Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Crying or brave?

Yesterday was about screen time at home. Today it's about screen time on the big screen.

Admittedly, I have limited experience in the ways of the big screen. My family didn't go to movies. My first experience at a movie theatre was some move about Raggedy Ann and Andy and it was my great aunt who tried to widen my horizons. She quickly regretted that decision as a scene with a whirlpool of chocolate (at least this is what I remember) frightened me so badly that I just cried through the whole movie. A few years later she took me to see Bambi and anyone who knows me knows that the death of an animal is going to create only one emotion in me, and that emotion produces tears. A lot of tears. She said she was never going to take me to another movie. But a few years after that she did try again, only she wasn't very smart and she didn't catch on very quickly. The movie she chose was Benji. A movie about a dog who gets dog-napped and drugged? Yeah, you guessed it, I cried. A lot. That was the end of Auntie Frances' attempts to bring me into the big world of media.

My movie-going days took a big hit and it was years before I again found myself in a theater.

As a college education major, I was placed in a second grade classroom for a short field experience. During our time there, we were to survey the children on a particular topic and then to research that topic. I chose movie violence and the viewing experience of second graders. I was appalled. Remember, this was in the 80s but even at that time, a large percentage of the children had already seen PG-13 movies, and a few had watched R rated movies. Halloween and horror movies were listed as favorites by more than one child; movies that as an adult I wouldn't watch. And this wasn't a city school. It was a small community with a fairly large Christian population. In fact, the public school held an optional Bible class before school each day.

So my poor children (the ones who think I am mean, unreasonable, and archaic) also have to deal with a hyper-vigilant anti-big screen mother. Actually, that's an incorrect statement. I'm not against movie watching, I'm just against indiscriminate movie watching. Any movie they want to see has to first be researched by moi, mostly on pluggedinonline.com. The older ones have figured out that unless they can say they have read the review on this website, they shouldn't even bother to ask if they can see a certain movie. That college research told me more than I ever wanted to know about early screen experiences and desensitization. It makes me heartbroken to know that so many Christian families have no screening process (pun intended) before viewing. It is our job to protect our children when necessary, to teach our children to be discerning always, and to shelter them from that which they are not ready. When they are ready, then we need to be willing to discuss with them the discernment process and the further evaluation of what they have seen.

Why do I prefer an online source like Plugged In over reviews by friends? Because we all draw the line in different places. Our children are all different. Some are more sensitive than others. Some or more susceptible to repeating behaviors that they see. Some cry at every movie, like me. I need a review like I find on Plugged In to tell me everything so that I can make an informed decision. Some of what I read in a review makes me laugh. Concern over a cartoon chipmunk in a bikini? Really? At least I know it's thorough! Why don't I just watch the movie myself first? I cry at every movie, remember? And can't stand to watch a movie more than once (except for Titanic or The Help or similar movies).

The recent hype over the movie Brave had me curious. I know that everyone is going to be seeing it. The question is bound to come up at my house. I'm glad others have done the work for me. Armed with two reviews found here and here, I have my informed decision. Do you have yours?

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