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Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP Ministry)
Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones (which includes at-home teens) through you, their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

(2003), R

Analysis Date
CAP Final Score
CAP Influence Density
September 28, 2003
23 out of 100

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UPDATED September 28, 2003
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ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Site Map (Table of Contents). Further, if you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

(2003), R -- "It ain't good enough, no matter what 'it' is."

Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Michael London Productions, Venice Surf Club
Distribution (US): 20th Century Fox Film Corporation, Fox Searchlight Pictures
Director(s): Catherine Hardwicke
Producer(s): Tim Bevan, Liza Chasin, Eric Fellner, Canada Johanna Gordon, Holly Hunter, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Michael London, Rosemary Marks, Rosemary Marks , Christina Sibul
Written by/Screenplay: Catherine Hardwicke, Nikki Reed
Cinematography/Camera: Elliot Davis
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Film Editing: Nancy Richardson
Casting: Jakki Fink, Shani Ginsberg, Christina Sibul
Production Design: Carol Strober
Art Direction: John B. Josselyn
Viewed At: United Artists/Regal Entertainment - Hulen, Fort Worth, TX

From model young woman to promiscuous, drug-torn thief. That is the life of Tracy (Evan Rachel Wood) and the theme of this show. And it is always all mom/dad's fault. Always. Granted, dysfunctional families can be the cause of many breakdowns in choosing to do the right things, but is it really possible that parents are always to blame? Does Tracy's downfall really have nothing to do with her own poor choices? Because of Wood's obvious talents (Little Secrets and Simone), I had a sneaking suspicion filmmakers would make a vulgar street chick of the rather wholesome young lady [Luke 17:2]. And Wood did a very good job making the transition. Acting was superb, but at what price?

Tracy was every parent's dream. Model student. More concerned with her academic achievement than her clothes or her position on the social totem pole. Until dad ran off [Mal. 2:16] and mom, Melanie (Holly Hunter) found a new bed partner, Brady (Jeremy Sisto) [1 Cor. 7:2], Tracy demonstrated solid character development. But one day Tracy became keenly interested in the popularity of the girls who live closer to the edge [1 Cor. 15:33]. Evie (Nikki Reed) was one of them. Evie had it all. Beauty. Money. Lots of socially important friends. Evie exuded that special something that made her sought by everyone who is anyone. And Tracy wanted the something Evie had. Slowly, Tracy's interest in Evie and her lifestyle became more than a simple interest. It became an obsession. Then a cancerous addiction. [Prov. 29:15]

Tracy's first encounter with Evie was when Evie invited Tracy to go shopping with her at a very expensive clothing store. This is THE store. The one at which everyone who is anyone shops. But the phone number Evie gave Tracy to call her to set a time to meet was not a good number. That should have been a signal to Tracy about the shallowness of Evie and others in her lifestyle, but Tracy was starving to be sought after like Evie. So Tracy went to the store hoping to run into Evie. And that she did.

Finding Evie, who had a number of excuses why the number was no good, Tracy tried to compete with Evie's financial status and failed. Distraught and perplexed, not about how to handle the failed social competition but how to get money, Tracy stole to get it. [Mark 7:21] And it worked. The girls bought everything in sight and reveled in their new possessions, the ill-gotten status notwithstanding [Hab. 2:9]. Indeed, morality was not even a single brush stroke in the painting Tracy was creating.

Now that the threshold of integrity has been corrupted for Tracy by successful theft, dealing in drugs to get money was not far behind [Eccl. 8:11]. And not far behind stealing and drug dealing was sexual promiscuity inherent with such a licentious lifestyle [1Ths. 4:2-5]. And along with the loss of integrity came the emboldenment to protect her new lifestyle at all costs with lies, deceit and trickery. [Mark 7:22] Tracy would do anything to get what she wanted, using behavior she clearly knew was immoral, illegal and potentially lethal. But Tracy let her hunger for acceptance by those she wanted to be her peers make her too vulnerable to withstand the lure of addictive behavior. During episodes of desperation, Tracy even mimicked the motions of suicide. Though clearly none of the masochistic techniques she used could ever be fatal, she satisfied an urge by making the gestures, likley with the intent to be discovered. Self harm and the attention often garnered by it apparently can be and often are addictive as well as contagious.

The teenage years are hard enough today as it is without acid like Thirteen fueling the modern fires of social combat, puberty and grasping for undeserved and unmerited autonomy for which all adolescents hunger [Prov. 22:15]. With what is planted by modern entertainment such as this, it is no wonder why every day seems to be a monumental struggle for the teen. And Thirteen won't make it any easier.

Thirteen is NOT an encouragement to parents to talk to their teens, it is encouragement to believe the worst. It is also encouragement to become the worst. Thirteen is a film to initiate a gap between parents and their teens and to exaggerate any existing gap by elevating "teen" and by presenting mom as trying to be a pal to Tracy and her acquaintances rather than a parent and never an authority figure. I don't wonder why so many youth try to blame parents for their own poor choices. All youth have to do is go to a movie like this one and they get tons of examples to feed delusions about personal accountability [1 Cor. 15:33].

Thirteen provides a plethora of behavioral templates of "It ain't good enough, no matter what 'it' is" no matter what your words say. Nothing ever satisfies the heart so embittered and so filled with hate, nihilism and "gimme" such as the heart of Tracy. This film will likely embolden teens to challenge any and all authority and, in doing so, will serve only to amplify and perpetuate that which it tries to condemn. All these movies that claim to show our kids that a behavior is morally wrong teach them how to be morally wrong. While it is not likely that any one film by itself will change your youth, this one combined with the incessant saturation of teen entertainment with the same ugliness and attitudes over and over again may make this film the one that pushes your teen over the threshold. That is, if the last movie they saw like this one has not already done so.

Thirteen is replete with behaviors perfectly suited to imitation by already troubled and confused youth whose emotional fires are fanned every day in so many ways so many times in so much of popular entertainment. Thirteen exuded extreme behavior in narcotic glorification of youthful autonomy, saturated in poor decisions. It threatens immense satisfaction and gratification through rebellion and defiance -- rebellion and defiance that can hurt only themselves. We reap what we sow [Gal. 6:7]. And we have become so drugged by the narcotics of extremes that what once was morally unacceptable has become morally invisible.

Thirteen is saturated with verbal and visual imagery of freedom from accountability, freedom from authority and freedom from consequences such as screaming vulgar obscenities at parents [Prov. 20:20]: such as partaking in dazzling worldly but potentially fatal pleasures; such as the "I'm gonna do it no matter what they say, no matter what they do to me" rationale; such as deceit for gain. Harvard educated College professor of psychology Dr. K. Nelson and practicing counselor Dr. L. Gilliam agree with me that it would be unusual for even a 16 year old to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality or to be able to fully anticipate the consequences of his/her actions: that such abilities do not typically plateau until the early 20s. Feeding such lack of coping abilities with entertainment such as Thirteen is volatile and is asking for trouble.

The opinion of Hardwicke and Reed of the modern teen is revealed in the percentages. Of the 62 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary in this film, 90% of them were by teens. Of the 42 uses of the most foul of the foul words, 89% were by teens. [Col. 3:8] Of the 4 uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive, 75% were by teens. Of the 19 of God's name in vain without the four letter expletive, 84% were by teens. [Deut 5:11] If the modern teens in general speak with such a density of vulgarity it is no wonder they do since films like Thirteen tell them they do. And encourage them to do so. And don't try to lay on me any smoke about this film being rated R. The "R" is as useless as a screen door on a submarine in keeping teens out. Besides, whether a teen goes to see an R-rated film is none of the theater's or government's business. It is in every sense and in every way mom's and dad's business. And God's business. No exceptions. No debate. Not until the moms and dads make it the business of the theaters or the government through law will it be the theater's or government's business. But nothing mom or dad can do can make it none of God's business. We will answer to Him about our management of the family. Especially the dads. Remember this, mom/dad. Every child (which includes at-home teens) has an angel who beholds the face of the Father [Matt. 18:10]. What do you want those angels to say to God about you?

Please read very carefully the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before you decide whether to use this Hollywood tripe as a teaching tool. If you use this film to teach, what your kids are taught may not be what you teach. This film is a perfect example of violating Ps. 12:8.

SPECIAL NOTE: We will be reducing the volume of coverage in the Summary/Commentary section of our reports and the number of reports generated in an effort to reduce costs until full funding can be achieved. The Findings/Scoring section of each report, the heart of the analysis model, will NOT be reduced in any way.

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If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Mal. 2:16 "I hate divorce," says the LORD God of Israel, ...
  • 1Cor. 7:2 But since there is so much immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband.
  • Prov. 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame.
  • Mark 7:21 For from within, out of men's hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft,...
  • Hab. 2:9 Woe to him who builds his realm by unjust gain to set his nest on high, to escape the clutches of ruin!
  • Eccl. 8:11 When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong.
  • 1Ths. 4:2-5 For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God's will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body [which includes drives, touching, promiscuity, etc.] in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God;
  • Mark 7:22 ... [For from within, out of men's hearts, come...] greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.
  • Prov. 22:15 Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child;...
  • Gal. 6:7 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.
  • Prov. 20:20 If a man [or woman, i.e., son or daughter] curses his father or mother, his lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.
  • Col. 3:8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. [Vain is shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity, such as an exclamatory. With or without the four letter expletive, the use of God's name in any way other than respect, reverence or thoughtful discussion is in vain. That includes the popular three syllable sentence with His name trailing it AND the misuse of Jesus' name.]
  • Matt. 18:10 Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven. ["Despise" is kataphroneo {kat-af-ron-eh'-o}: 1) to condemn, despise, disdain, think little or nothing of, which includes abuse AND can include letting our kids sin, which also invokes Luke 17:2!]

    ***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
  • Ps. 12:8 The wicked freely strut about [e.g., create progressively vile/offensive entertainment with impunity and no consequences to younger and younger audiences every year] when what is vile is honored among men [when enough people continue to defend it, embrace it, pay for it, enjoy it, want it]. [I call attention to Ps. 12:8 to warn of the creeping desensitizing power of "entertainment."]
  • Col. 2:8 Beware lest any man [by his influence] spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change [warp, distort, falsely represent, situationally redefine, counterfeit, conditionally apply] the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.


    Thirteen (2003) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
  • teen theft for money to compete socially
  • teen self-inflicted injury (motions of suicide), repeatedly
  • theft

    Impudence/Hate (I)
  • 62 uses of the three/for letter word vocabulary, 56 by teens (90%)
  • 42 uses of the most foul of the foul words, 37 by teens (89%)
  • teen arrogance at mother, repeatedly, frequently, increasingly severe to include threat to kill
  • body piercing
  • lie to gain social stature
  • "I'll kill you if you embarrass me, mom."
  • teen arrogance in class
  • lie to excuse lateness
  • lie about whereabouts
  • facial piercing - adult
  • teen tongue piercing
  • teen slamming door in mother's face
  • sobbing lies to gain sympathy
  • lie to hide bleeding from self-piercing
  • teen ordering mother to not come in room
  • teen calling mother a foul name
  • general lies
  • teen screaming vulgarities at mother, repeatedly
  • teen deceit, repeatedly, frequently
  • teen tantrum, repeatedly
  • teen trashing mother's house
  • teen entertaining ideas of suicide
  • "I hate you" teen to mother

    Sexual Immorality (S)
  • camera angle to force viewer on private parts
  • belly skin advertising, repeatedly, frequently
  • dressing to maximize the female form and/or skin exposure: clothes to advertise sexuality, repeatedly
  • vulgarities
  • sex talk by teen boys
  • inappropriate touch
  • adult in underwear
  • adult in underwear before teen girls
  • teen girl lifting her shirt to expose herself to a teen boy
  • vulgar sex talk by teen
  • lesbian kissing and lesbian suggestion of teen girl toward adult woman
  • teen underwear showing, thong straps above pant waistband, repeatedly
  • teen in underwear
  • teen sneaking out for sex
  • additional teen sex talk
  • vulgar comment by teen, repeatedly
  • gaping face kissing by teen, repeatedly
  • vulgar background song, twice
  • teen stripping for sex, repeatedly
  • teens making out in underwear
  • teen girl talk of oral sex, past tense
  • lesbian acts
  • two teen girls making out with adult male
  • licking kissing
  • vulgar print on girl's underwear
  • sexual song
  • implication of oral sex by teen
  • man stripping woman for shower
  • nudity, repeatedly
  • unmarried man and woman in bed together - teen daughter walking in

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
  • teen consumption of illegal drugs, repeatedly
  • teen drug intoxication, repeatedly
  • teen smoking, repeatedly
  • teen smoking dope
  • dinner wine
  • teen drug dealing, repeatedly
  • teen group drug intoxication
  • drinking
  • smoking, repeatedly
  • teen drinking, repeatedly
  • offer to deal in drugs for money

    Offense to God (O)
  • 23 uses of God's name in vain: 4 with the four letter expletive (three by teens, 75%) and 19 without (16 by teens, 84%).
  • "Holy book of lies" by teen

    Murder/Suicide (M)
  • none noted

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    There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our more than eight years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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