ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)
SAD BUT TRUE
Fortifying the Common Thread
Thomas A. Carder
At the beginning of the fourth installment of SAD BUT TRUE: The Millstone, I offered that within it was the root cause of the decay of righteous submission to fair authority and for school violence, including kids killing kids. I also offered that if the root cause was not obvious within the body of The Millstone installment, it would be revealed at the end of the installment: that the entertainment industry is the single most influentially corruptive force with the most universal and consistent reach on the planet. This installment is to fortify that the entertainment industry is the common thread for the decay of righteous submission to fair authority and for kids killing kids.
SAD BUT TRUE
Fortifying The Common Thread
Thomas A. Carder
President, ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)
August 28, 1998
Is the entertainment industry really the common thread for disregard of righteous and fair authority, for arrogance and rebellion, for kids killing kids? Granted, the entertainment industry touches the life of every child in America, but isn't the life of every child in America touched also by public school systems? Therefore, could not the public school programs be the common thread? Not exactly. Let me explain.
An intent of government in America is to provide every child with an education. Except for the few who are able to receive home schooling or private schooling, children in America get an education through our public schools. Even the home schooled or private schooled child may at some time attend a public school for whatever reason. So, in effect every child in America is exposed to public school programs in one way or another.
All the children who attend public schools, start to finish, get at least twelve years of standardized education. In other words, each of these children then get the same material, right? No. The public school programs in New York City might not be the same as those in Memphis or Little Rock. For example, some public school systems inhibit and even prohibit discussion of Salvation through Jesus. However, in a local middle school, choir students are permitted to sing Christian songs and to wear WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets. Further, a child transferring from, e.g., the Decatur school district may not be at an achievement level compatible with the expectations of the Chattanooga school district. Some education programs even include what some call values modification or clarification tools for some age groups while other school systems do not.
Well, at least the books used are the same across America, right? Isn't the sixth grade History book in Las Vegas the same one used in Richmond? Nope. Some school districts use *It's Perfectly Normal,* a "health" book with 67 severely graphic and anatomically complete drawings of human nudity with human sexual acts including intercourse, masturbation, and same-sex intimacy. However, some school districts will not permit such material in their district. The bottom line -- all public school systems are NOT the same. Therefore, the influence of public schools cannot be the same country-wide.
While consistency of influence of public school programs from city to city is NOT possible, consistency of the influence of the entertainment industry from city to city IS ASSURED. Granted, not every child in America sees a particular movie but when a child in San Francisco sees a movie s/he gets the same programming received by the child who sees the same movie in Atlanta. ANY movie is identical whether it is played in New York City or Paducah or San Francisco, thus the same influence can be expected in any city. When Leonardo DiCaprio in *The Basketball Diaries* (1995, R) drew a few thousand AW-RIGHTs in Ft. Lauderdale as he blew away six of his classmates with a shotgun and threatened a teacher, the same emotions were conjured in kids in Seattle, Dallas, and Minneapolis. And the nudity of Kate Winslett in *Titanic* (1997, PG-13) enticed the same feelings in young boys and fostered the same lowering of inhibitions in young girls in Bangor as in Indianapolis as in San Jose.
Some opponents of this ministry try to fall back on the argument that *The Basketball Diaries* was rated R so children under seventeen years old are not supposed to see it. Likewise, *Titanic* was rated PG-13 so kids under thirteen years old should not see it. Michael Carneal, the boy who shot eight of his fellow students (three deaths, five injuries, one of which was paraplegia), did so when he was fifteen years old -- he saw *The Basketball Diaries* when he was fourteen. And nearly all of the 300+ second grade to eighth grade students and some of the kindergarten and first grade students in a local school had seen *Titanic* within a few weeks of its appearance...WITH PARENTAL APPROVAL. Talk about peer pressure! None of the sixth graders and under were thirteen years old. So, that a movie is age-restricted provides absolutely NO reliance that underage children will not see the movie. Besides, the rating system of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is NOT law, it is a set of guidelines. It is up to parents and the individual theaters to enforce the guidelines. And I have a gigantic problem with Jack Valenti, president of the MPAA, and his panel of men deciding, based on some survey of what might be a questionable population, at what age it is acceptable that my kids (and yours) witness vility and ignominy in the movies -- in effect determining when it is acceptable that your children lose their childhood.
Others wish to rely on the personal strength and resilience of their children (and of themselves) and believe "That stuff won't affect my kids (or me) in that way" and "My kids (and I) are too intelligent for that stuff to change them (or me)." Many parents of young girls felt their daughters were too intelligent and self-reliant whose good and strong morals and ethics were too solid to become pregnant out of wedlock. I had no idea my son could act like James `you're tearing me apart' Dean and a zillion other malcontents. And the parents of Carneal and other schoolyard assailants had no idea their boys could kill, let alone kill fellow school kids. A very painful and somewhat invasive point to make, but the point has been made.
Since the entertainment industry is expert at promoting, encouraging, creating, and endorsing
freedom from accountability,
freedom from authority (especially parental),
freedom from consequences,
unconditional acceptance, permissiveness, and excessive tolerance,
usurpment of and abandonment of parental teachings/authority,
situational, emotive, and behavioral ethics,
and is expert at
stealing childhood from children,
it is no wonder that many kids react in kind to the influence of entertainment industry. The entertainment industry is far better at "behavior modification" and "values clarification" than ANY public school program. School programs represent authority and compliance, two concepts not wholly accepted by the foolishness bound in the hearts of youth (Prov. 22:15) while the entertainment industry represents camaraderie and unconditional acceptance. And since the influence of the entertainment industry is universally consistent, it is logical to conclude the same thinking and emotions will result country-wide: that the same stimulus exposed to all moviegoers country-wide will cause the same or at least similar thinking and emotions in most movie-going kids country-wide. And our choices of behavior are dictated to a point by our thinking and emotions: our integrity, self respect, and coping skills.
Therein lies the basis for the single common thread country-wide, indeed world-wide, for disregard of righteous and fair authority: for exaggerated and amplified arrogance and rebellion in our children. And because of the entertainment industry, fortified by a thousand or more subordinate influences in modern life -- including some programs in public schools -- it may be a very small step for some, quite possibly for many, from thinking about killing to doing it.
There may be, and I suspect there is, a strong symbiosis, an exponential symbiosis, between the dissonance caused by some school programs and the dissonance nurtured by the entertainment industry. Somewhere is a hierarchy of influence. Do the school systems and the many other cogs of the machine of American life determine the content of the entertainment industry, or does the entertainment industry subliminally and invisibly engineer the machine? Which leads? Does the entertainment industry influence the moral structure of life or does the moral structure of life determine the content of entertainment media? It would be easy and convenient to believe that the entertainment industry is just a reflection of real life. But that is not true. The entertainment industry is nearly as influential, possibly more influential in some cases and in some ways, than parental teachings and guidance, especially at the onset of and after puberty. It is SAD BUT TRUE.
SAD BUT TRUE, Fifth Installment - Fortifying the Common Thread.
©1998 ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)
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In the name of Jesus:
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Thomas A. Carder
ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)
©1998 ChildCare Action Project (CAP)