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In This Together: What a difference a generation makes
Jun 23, 2014 | 6020 views | 0 0 comments | 155 155 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A scene from "Orange Is The New Black." 
Photo courtesy of Netflix
A scene from "Orange Is The New Black." Photo courtesy of Netflix

Does anybody here think that there isn’t a really big difference between the old movie Mary Poppins and the new movie Maleficent?

How about between the television show Hogan’s Heroes and Orange is the New Black?

Or the books about Nancy Drew and the series that starts with Hunger Games?

The most obvious difference is that the first one in each comparison was the movie, show or book we baby boomers grew up with. 

The second set of entertainment is what is being put before us and our families as entertainment today.  Another difference is that the entertainment we grew up with was, in most cases,  much more innocent, in some way light. 

I know there were the war and the mafia stories then, and there are the toy and the snow princess stories now, but the trend to turn light stories into dark is starting to wear. 

The entertainment we now embrace is way too likely to be dark, and more and more often twisted.  Does anyone here have a problem with that?

I’ve been trying to keep my big mouth and prudish views (calling names preemptively) to myself, but a recent spate of articles about current cultural offerings has left me reeling: A television show about a teacher turned drug lord, a movie that makes abortion inconsequential, a book that is the darkest shade of gray. 

Does anybody here think that there are no consequences to spending our time with violent, perverse, anti-authority, pro-villain entertainment?

Does anybody here think that what we watch and read and absorb doesn’t affect who we are?

I can’t help looking at the message behind every single movie, television show or book I imbibe.

There is one.

Every time.

And sometimes more.

They might not always be intentional, but they’re there.

Even my daughter, when she was only 5 years old, found an unexpected message in Little Mermaid and it made her break into sobs right there in the movie theater.

She didn’t see the relationship with the boy who had legs as anything worth leaving a loving father and a family heritage for.

At her age, waving good-bye to a heart-broken father was the saddest thing that could possibly happen.

And I agreed. Especially when the mermaid leaving never had so much as a real conversation with the boy who had legs Р a recurring flaw in old fairy tales, though it pales in comparison to the flaws the fairy tales have taken on in movie revisions since.

Thanks to Saving Mr. Banks, we know the message of Mary Poppins even if we’d missed it before. And it’s not the importance of laughing over lunch or feeding birds. 

It’s the importance of fathers to their families. And the beauty of time together as a family.

As near as I can tell from the synopsis because I’m not planning to see it, Maleficent is about good people actually being really bad and bad people being better than the people we’d always known as good.

Movies and books and shows not only tell us stories, but can lift our spirits, give us insight, perspective and ideas.

But the ideas being generated most often now are a little bit troubling.

How did Sherlock Holmes go from a quiet, introspective, brilliant man in literature to a brash, impulsive, fast-talking brute on television and in movies?

Yes, there was entertainment with sadness and evil and rebellion in the past, but it wasn’t directed at young people as it so often is today.

If it’s true you are what you eat, it’s even more likely you will be what you watch.

It’s planted in your mind,

It’s normal even if violent, it’s acceptable even if perverse, it’s good even if you once thought it was bad.

We can’t control what they give us, but we can control what we pay to participate in.

Let’s exert that control.

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