(Corrupt Film Praised)

Movie madness could refer to more than one film, though I had a particular one in mind here. Most of what is said below can be applied to other degraded and degrading productions. I trust my comments will give readers food for thought.

Has the world gone completely mad? Have we abandoned all decency and common sense? That was my reaction as I read about the latest Hollywood offering–Kick-A**, a movie concerning an eleven or twelve-year-old girl who slaughters dozens of individuals in various gruesome ways, while spouting gross profanities. (Supposedly, this is a comedy. But if so, it’s a far cry from Arsenic and Old Lace!) And it isn’t just the film that bothers me. It’s the way it’s rationalized in the media. With barely a whisper of protest, we are told:

1. Life Is Like That
We must face reality. There are many violent killings in the news. It happens all the time. And visit any playground and you’ll certainly hear children using foul language. Well, true enough. But does this mean we should glorify such things, and propose them as amusing entertainment? Raw sewage is real too. But would you want to place a bowl of it in the middle of the dinner table for all to admire?

2. It’s Only a Movie
“Chill out,” they say. “It’s make-believe, for goodness sake!” Yes, it is a fictional story. But are they claiming that therefore it will have no significant affect on the viewer? Television commercials are largely fictive too, mini-tales of how the right kind of soup or soap can bring us true happiness. And advertisers spend millions on them. Why? Because they know they can influence behaviour.

3. It’s Nothing New
Columnists trot out the titles of other films that contain relentless perversion and gory mayhem, offering them as justification for the present folly. But is poison rendered harmless because it’s no worse than other poisons? Or take this twisted logic into the courtroom. Will the judge say to a convicted drunk driver, “I’m going to excuse you, because others have done much the same”?

4. These Are the Good Guys
The point is made that the masked heroes of this tale are meting out justice against various thugs and criminal types. How helpful! But in the real world, administering vigilante justice and personal vengeance will land you in jail. Were it otherwise, we’d have total anarchy. As John Locke said, “Where there is no law, there is no freedom.”

5. Her Parents Approve
The critics are falling all over themselves to praise the thirteen-year-old actress who plays the heroine in this movie. But there seems to be no concern at all for the soul-searing damage caused by filling her mind with such vulgarity and violence. You’d think we’d have learned something from all the child stars who have gone haywire later in life. And where are her parents in all of this? It’s reported that they are “very supportive.” Her mother actually brought her the screen play. Movie madness! In my opinion, they should be arrested and charged with child abuse for that kind of “support”!

6. It’s R-rated
A Restricted rating for a film means that those under the age of 17 may attend only if accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. The claim is that this protects the more immature and vulnerable among us. (I leave you to ponder Hollywood’s concept of “maturity.”) But this rating only covers in North America. Elsewhere, apparently, different standards are being applied. And when the film becomes available as a DVD for home use, even less control is possible.

7. Don’t Censor Us!
Whenever objections are raised to the scurrilous content of a book or a movie, there is a lot of finger-pointing at those narrow-minded prudes, and puritanical moralists who are trying to stifle artistic freedom. We are told there must be no censorship! But freedom of expression is not absolute. (If you doubt it, try shouting “I’ve got a bomb!” on board a plane!) Reasonable limits must be set for our protection.

8. Who Cares?
A couple of articles on the film note that fewer and fewer people seem to complain about such things any more. Sadly, this may be true. The slow degradation of society–in which the entertainment industry is surely complicit–has infected us all to some degree. We’ve become too complacent, unwilling to raise our voices in protest. Shame on us! But boycotts and letters to the editor can still make a difference. I encourage you to speak up. Perhaps the present madness can be restrained. Isn’t it worth a try?