Not too long ago, My husband and I took our son and his friend, both age 13 to see the Hollywood produced movie “Yes Man” featuring Jim Carrey. Overall, the movie (rated pg-13) was a good one and made us laugh. There were also some good talking points that parents could have with kids regarding when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. Unfortunately, the movie also had some rough spots that made us sink low into our seats. One of these spots was Jim Carrey’s role in saying “yes” to a geriatric woman who wanted to and eventually did (in an implied fashion) perform oral sex on him. Eeewww!! Not only were we embarrassed, we longed for the more age appropriate shows we grew up with. Do you remember I Dream of Jeannie, Gilligan’s Island, or Hogan’s Heroes? If you’re too young to remember then I can tell you that these shows were really funny, entertaining and did not expose kids to premature promiscuity or violence. I wondered why the producers / actors of “Yes Man” decided to taint humor in such a crude way. What purpose did it serve? Have you had moments like the one above? Do you find yourself wanting to protect your children from media overexposure?
I suddenly found myself wishing that I could harness some of Hollywood’s energy on causes like the environment and “going green” and redirect them toward “cleaning up” the media roles they participated in. It certainly would make a parent’s job a little easier.
Don’t get me wrong. As a parent, I know that I’m ultimately in control and I don’t want to shirk my parental responsibilities by controlling the media or the world, but it would be nice if movies and TV shows didn’t have to be catalysts for unnecessary violence and premature promiscuity.
What can parents do? Load of things!
Years ago, it took an organization called Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to clean up the high number of DUI’s and “one for the road” mentality of the 60’s and 70’s. The group effort and public outcry worked. Wouldn’t it be great if parents today could unite similarly to put “clean” back in the media? What would it take for all of us to stop throwing our arms up in the air saying “there’s nothing we can do” or “it has to be okay because everyone else is doing it”? If you would like, you can get information and get involved with www.mediafamily.org or www.commonsensemedia.org
The night I saw Yes Man, I made a big mistake. I forgot to check my favorite movie website and may have opted not to take my son. www.kids-in-mind.com This site has an excellent system to rate movies in three categories: sex / nudity, violence / gore, and profanity. The site will inform parents of exactly what their kids will see and hear. Parents can use this information along with their personal value system to make an informed decision on whether or not to allow their kids to see certain movies.
I encourage parents to share this website and to confer with each other when planning sleepovers, birthday parties or even family outings. I also have the hope that parents will have the courage to stay strong and say “no” when they don’t agree with the masses that choose to let their kids see movies inappropriate to their developmental age.
There’s one more thing parents can do. This is really important. Talk to your kids. Be around them as much as possible so that when they open windows of opportunity, you are there to solicit their thoughts and guide their moral beliefs and actions. In the end, there will always be forces in the world that are out of our control as parents. Boxing up our children to shelter them is not an option. We have to help them make sense of their environment and empower them to think well and make the proper choices.
May the force be with you!!
If you have additional resources where parents can share information on protecting our precious children, then please share them in the comments section.