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Rebecca Hagelin / February 24, 2009

Really Reviewing the Movies

 As we all breathe a collective sigh of relief that we made it through yet another super-hyped year of the Academy Awards in which Hollywood gushes over Hollywood, saturating themselves with honors and praise galore, many parents are still wondering: But what about my kids? Where are the films that encourage them to strive for what is highest and best in life?

The spectacle that captures millions of viewers around the world was, once again, filled with an odd combination of clips from both worthy and sordid films punctuated by speeches dripping with sappy political diatribes.

Hollywood, it seems, just can’t get enough of itself.

Families, on the other hand, are starting to get fed up. And well they should. Movie moguls just aren’t producing the films families want to see - but from the media mayhem and star worship that is now as much a part of the show as the awards themselves, you would think otherwise.

Thanks to detailed studies by the Dove Foundation www.dove.org and Movieguide www.movieguide.org, we know the ugly truth: Hollywood pumps out 12 times more R-rated movies than G rated flicks, even though (this may come as a shock to you), G rated movies are eleven times more profitable than R rated ones.

So, why the disparity? The answer is simple (and obvious to anyone who has seen the Academy Awards): The vast majority of movie-makers are in the business to push a world view of moral relativism in which the only absolute truth is, well, theirs. Right is made to seem wrong, and wrong is made to seem right; sexual encounters and lifestyles of every kind have no negative consequences; and displays of graphic violence are expected to be enjoyed by captive audiences between gulps of soda and popcorn.

The Dove Foundation www.dove.org spent three years gathering data from over eight million people through online and phone surveys to find out what consumers want in entertainment. The results are reflective of what we have seen in box-office receipts: Parents want more family-friendly fare.

Of particular note from the survey:

- “77 percent stated that 75 percent of today’s entertainment does not meet their expectations or reinforce values important to them.”

- if more family friendly entertainment products were made, 84 percent said they would “make an effort to watch and support them”

- 76 percent believe “that movie ratings have gotten too lenient, and that they don’t trust them.”

The last point is one to dwell on for a few minutes here. The fact is, in the last 15 years we have witnessed major “ratings creep”. Movies that would have received an R rating, for example, now easily pass as PG. And the “G” rated movie you popped in the VCR? Well, it might not actually be appropriate for your five-year-old after all. The fact is, you just can’t trust the MPAA’s system. Relying on Hollywood to tell you what is and isn’t appropriate for your kids is absurd. Remember, these are the same folks who lavish glory on their peers for creating cultural rot in the first place. It’s sort of like asking the guy in the dark trench coat lurking on the edge of the school playground to watch your kid for an hour or two.

So, who can you trust to help you make wise entertainment choices for your family? Here are three great resources no parent should be without:

- At www.pluggedinonline.com, you can type in the name of just about any movie and instantly read a free review written by entertainment experts who understand and value both good story-telling and decency. The reviews provide a great overview of the movie content so you don’t get surprised by crude language, gratuitous violence and other celebrated acts of immorality.

- The Dove Foundation website at www.Dove.org provides lists of movies that have received their Dove “seal of approval” for family-friendly entertainment. The site also contains reviews, research of public attitudes toward the current entertainment industry and tips on how you can make your voice heard by film-makers.

- MovieGuide.org is another great site that I have relied on for many years. This “family guide to movies and entertainment” is dedicated to “redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles”. The organization also produces a magazine, radio shows and other tools to help parents “train their families to become media-wise.”

You can take some comfort in knowing you weren’t the only one shaking your head during the Oscars and at the video store each week. But the best news is that, thanks to the resources above and a few others like them, you do have real help in finding films that meet your own viewing standards.

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