Is this REALLY Age Appropriate???

I saw the Lone Ranger recently.

 (You can read my review here!  I wrote about cultural shifts from the original to the current Lone Ranger and three main themes in this Lone Ranger that affect our world today: the idea of being anti-establishment, the foolish things shaming the wise, and the struggle we have accepting our fallenness –   both our own, when we think we are better than others, and the fallenness of others when those we look up to disappoint us.  They are some pretty meaty and important issues, whether or not you’ve seen the movie…check it out!) 

But for this blog I just kind of had to pause for an OMG! moment…and not a good one.  OMG in the slightly horrified sense, not the “I’m so happy” sense.   This is why:

There were two women sitting next to me, presumably a mother and a grandmother, with three little kids (boys and girls) who couldn’t have been more than 5 years old.  In the Lone Ranger.  Did I mention that part?  It’s rated PG-13, “for sequences of intense action and violence and for some suggestive material.”  If you read further about the content, you will find that a man cuts another man’s heart out and eats it…and that’s just the first thing on a very long list of violent material.  There are other lists of mature material as well, just to be clear.  Cutting out a man’s heart and eating it was definitely not the only point of concern, it was just one of many – but I might think that one alone might be enough.  Much of it is done off screen or shown in silhouette, but it’s clear what’s happening.   It made me uncomfortable.  A lot of the violence made me squirm a little, to be honest – it was fairly explicit.  It definitely merited the PG-13 rating, and lived up to its “sequences of intense action and violence.”

So, a well-deserved PG-13, for violence, and there were little bitty kids in there.  And they stayed the whole movie.  UGH!!!  I don’t want to be judgmental.  They aren’t my kids.  I don’t even have kids.  I know it’s easy to look on from the outside, but once you’re on the inside things can be SO different than you thought.  I know that.  And I am not all that ultra conservative in terms of thinking kids should be protected from all the evil in the world, or the movies.  I think it’s important to help kids begin to think critically for themselves about what is good for their hearts and souls and minds, and what is hurtful to them.

That being said, it still seemed to me that the movie content wasn’t really appropriate for 5 year olds.  Even the MPAA agrees – which is why they gave it a PG-13 rating.  And I don’t consider the MPAA a particularly conservative group.

I don’t know if you’ve seen Raising Helen.  It’s about a young single, Helen, (played by Kate Hudson) living the life, so to speak, in NYC when her older sister dies and leaves her their three children.  Helen wants to be cool.  She has a hard time telling her teenage niece, now daughter, “no”—no to boys, no to a fake ID, no to making out in the church sanctuary, no to sneaking away at prom with a really bad boy…  The movie is about Helen growing up and learning to be a parent.  In a turning point of the movie, Helen and her teenaged niece have it out.  Her niece protests, “I am not a child!”  And Helen says with conviction, “YES, you ARE a child.  And you have a right to a childhood, and if you won’t fight for it, then I will.”

That’s what I kept thinking while those kids were watching Lone Ranger.  They have a right to a childhood and someone should be fighting for that for them.  They will have to grow up soon enough.  They will see all manner of violence and sin soon enough, but those few years of the innocence of youth – shouldn’t we be fighting for that, at least for a few years?

I think what disturbed me more than the fact that they were in there was the fact that they didn’t appear to be the least bit phased by it, not even the little girl.  Which means this is nothing.  Why?  Because they’ve already been exposed to so much this doesn’t phase them.

Maybe I’m way out of touch, but it’s not like I don’t know kids that age.  It definitely raises the issue of the tension parents face between trying to protect their children and trying to equip their children.  How do you help your children stay innocent and pure, but also be discerning and wise as serpents?  In this case, my very judgmental thought is that the adults weren’t planning on using their time at Lone Ranger as a teachable moment.  I suspect they were just looking for some entertainment.  I have to wonder how it will affect those kids down the road.  Maybe it won’t have any major effect.

I guess I keep thinking that parents have a very small window of time to influence their children and the way they see the world and the way they think about the world and sin and Jesus and righteousness…  In that small window, parents are either stirring their child’s affections for Jesus, making them more sensitive to His leading and His ways, or stirring their affections for the things of this world, and desensitizing them to sins and idols and worldly ways of thinking…and therefore desensitizing them to the Lord and His Spirit and His ways.

What do you think?  Am I oversimplifying things or being dramatic?  Am I legalistic and judgmental?  I’m not trying to set the rules, but I am trying to be sure we are asking the right questions and posturing our hearts in the right place, but again, I’m not a parent, just a part of the body of Christ (and someone who works with kids and has friends that are moms, etc.) who feels that, as part of that body, I bear some responsibility, too.

Thoughts, anyone???

Please, please, please!!!  Let your comments be passionate, yes; full of conviction, yes; but also please ensure they are full of grace and compassion.  We aren’t here to throw stones, especially as we know not where others are coming from, but to encourage one another to press hold of the prize (1 Cor. 9:24)  “Let your conversation be always full of graceseasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”  Colossians 4:6

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One Response to Is this REALLY Age Appropriate???

  1. I think you are right on here! I love what you say, “In that small window, parents are either stirring their child’s affections for Jesus, making them more sensitive to His leading and His ways, or stirring their affections for the things of this world, and desensitizing them to sins and idols and worldly ways of thinking.” Beautifully written. My 8 year old son has a friend who saw this movie and I was scratching my head a little as to that decision, but no judgment. . .just sad as to what this world is coming to–and also longing for heaven!

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