Good news for those sick of movie sleaze

The conservative side of the internet has been enjoying the fact that Americans have rather consistently been rejecting the anti-War films oozing out of Hollywood.  There’s a flip-side to this story, which is that Hollywood is slowly figuring out the wholesomeness sells:

The family values era is dead – with Britney Spears and her little sister doing their best to ensure that it isn’t coming back soon. But there’s at least one arena in popular culture where parents have been receiving a world free of drug use, sexual shenanigans and strong profanity: the movie theater.

Last weekend’s release of “National Treasure: Book of Secrets,” which made more than $88 million during its first seven days in theaters, is the latest PG-rated film to find success this year. If the trend continues over the next few weeks, seven PG movies could end up among the 20 highest-grossing films released in 2007 – the most since 1989, when Ronald Reagan left office and eight studio offerings including “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” and “Driving Miss Daisy” were on the list.

Next year looks even more geared toward 10-year-olds, with family-friendly releases including “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” “Where the Wild Things Are” and the latest “Chronicles of Narnia” film, “Prince Caspian.” Even the Wachowskis – best known for their violent and R-rated “Matrix” movies – are working on the colorful and kid-accessible “Speed Racer,” which could end up with a G rating.

The change comes as more parents are making their voices heard, especially online, about children’s movies. Common Sense Media founder Jim Steyer thinks the studios are listening; Steyer says he even heard “Kill Bill Vol. 1″ producer Harvey Weinstein say at a conference this year that he wants to make PG films.

“The bottom line is, it definitely seems like a trend, and I think that’s good,” said Steyer, who founded Bay Area-based Commonsensemedia.org , which offers family reviews and ratings of media and entertainment, in 2003. “It almost seems as if there’s a hunger out there for quality media for children.”  (Emphasis mine.)

You can read the rest of the story about this trend here.  As for me, I’m completely excited about the next Narnia moving, having enjoyed the first one tremendously.

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  • Lois Wright

    Well, well, it’s about time ! Cause I’m tired of the violence, the insensitive nature of how it’s portrayed in movies. The moral fabric is torn in bits and pieces everytime a child is exposed to such content and starts to question what is right. Being mean to another person is not natural, however it seems to be rewarded in the Corporate world. Let’s not pass this demented medieval, and Roman Empiresque mentality on to future generations.

    The speed Racer movie is a good example of such paradoxical content i.e., trying to instill family values around a nucleus of greed. I will not let my children watch such a movie.

  • zhombre

    OK, the didactic antiwar movies may have crashed and burned, because they preached at audiences with all the subtlety and artistry of a truckload of loose gravel, and the bean counters may have discovered a market for G and PG rated movies, but let’s keep perspective here. Michael Moore’s last movie made a bushel of money in both domestic and overseas markets, so he’ll be back; and less than wholesome movies such as Hostel II and Saw III also boast a return on investment that would impress any accountant. Wholesome may sell but you better believe gore and horror are going to continue to sell too.

  • http://Synova.blogspot.com Synova

    When my kids were really small I got a couple movies from some family movie club thingy. They were supposed to be Christian but they were pretty bad. Bad as in poorly done and with inadvertent secondary messages that I didn’t like. I wasn’t willing to give them a pass because they had “good messages” but stupid stories and unrealistic sub-texts. In the end I decided that there was more danger in being too careful and sending the message to the kids that what they were seeing was Right and True when it wasn’t, than letting them watch regular kids programming and occasionally pointing out what was wrong so they’d learn to be objective about what they watched.

    It seems to have worked. They’re all hitting their teen years and when I ask about something in a show they will almost always have already noticed it. So they’re thinking about what they see. I figure this is good.

    Age appropriateness is still an issue.

    _Enchanted_ was funny but there were parts of it that I thought had wrong messages. Some of the humor was for grown-ups, definitely. The story itself was a grown-up story.

    But I’ve had more trouble with educational programing than with cartoon network. And I care more about the assumptions in a movie than I do about explosions or violence. I’m more worried about the way a movie presents relationships than I am about shoot ‘em ups.

    And the movie I’m looking the most forward to? Don’t Mess with the Zohan. I have no idea what it’s rated. PG-13 probably, for sexual humor.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    AIR TV has some of that bubbly nature found in Enchanted. I suppose many of the anime I watch do have “wholesome” values in it. Which is why I prefer such things to most American movies.

    They particularly have good stories, character development, and admirable protagonists.

    Air TV has great moments, which I won’t spoil for you, except to say that it is the humanity between one individual and another told through different stories about different people.

    It is nice for children in my view, since there’s no violent killing, no bloodshed, no ecchi (nudity or what anime viewers call fan service), and there is quite a lot of knight in shining armor moments as well, to use a cliche.

    The English audio dub is also of superior quality to what I would usually expect from Japanese anime. American companies must be benefiting from all the young anime watching employees, perhaps ? ; )

    Some of the humor was for grown-ups, definitely.

    That shower scene for example ; )

    So they’re thinking about what they see. I figure this is good.

    The first step in resisting propaganda is to know that one is vulnerable to it.

    It shortcuts the instinctual “what you see is what you better believe” reflex in the human hindbrain.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    I can’t get the netflix Air TV link past the blockers, I’m trying to get that solved. In the meantime you can search for it on netflix and if you have an account you can watch a few of the episodes for yourself.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Btw, it wouldn’t be so bad if the Left and Hollywood actually knew how to use the tools of violence, whether that be demolitions, executions, assassinations, intimidation, extortion, or fighting. But they don’t know how to use violence. That’s the point.

    Pretending they know what it is all about, trying to present this image of capability or elite skill, when they are fakes. They don’t know what they are doing in war thus they cannot translate anything but scrambled code through the screen.

    They don’t have any solutions for crime, gangs, mobs, and domestic violence, so their portrayals of it are ultimately futile, meaningless, and misleading.

    You cannot create a solid foundation for future good behavior and thoughts on futile, meaningless, and misleading assumptions and models.

    People want something solid they can count on in life. Family, core values that have been tested, you know, stuff like that.

    Most people don’t like instability nor do they search for it. The nihilism of Hollywood and the Left, however, exist solely to create chaos and shatter the bonds that have bound and protected humanity since time immemorial.

    Michael Moore makes money because if you are willing to be unethical, like Soros and Gore, you can always make a lot of money off of the weak, the helpless, the ignorant, or the guillible.

  • http://OgBlog.net Earl

    10-year olds!?! Movies for 10-year olds?

    My 60-year old wife and I went to see National Treasure, and we enjoyed it a LOT……we don’t go to many movies, but we’d go to more if they made them more like that one!

    By the way, if you haven’t seen Bella (check out their website: bellathemovie.com) then work really hard to do so….it’s great.

    Last night, courtesy of Netflix, we watched Ninotchka, and isn’t it amazing how a 70-year old film can still entertain, and yes…teach a little, as well. GREAT movie!!

    The current crop of filmmakers have a few things to learn.

  • greg

    What’ does it say about someone who reveres “wholesomeness” in the movies yet was shocked to discover that a John Waters movie wasn’t appropriate for her elementary school-age children and who, another time, criticized her husband and (elementary school-age) children because they were oblivious to the liberal bias and actually enjoyed Happy Feet? A part of me wants to see such a person as simply a parrot of right-wing animus. But on closer examination, the person’s — Bookworm’s — specific objections to the Waters’ movie and to Happy Feet related to the movies’ mild sexual content. Bookworm said she objected to the butt-wiggling in Waters and to the ‘sexual content’ of the soul-music soundtrack in Happy Feet.

    Is Bookworm driven more by her right-wing authoritarian politics or by a simple aversion to sex?

  • zhombre

    Earl, I’ve been mining netflix too for old movies and may I recommend anything directed by Anthony Mann and photographed by John Alton. The former was a Hollywood journeyman who worked in 40s 50s and 60s. The best scenes in Spartacus were his until he got fired in favor of Stanley Kubrick. The latter, Alton, was a craftsman whose b&w work epitomizes the film noir chiaroscuro effect. Excuse this digression, but I’m a movie nut.

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  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    Some people prefer to mine old grievances instead of old movies, Z and Earl. Be sure to avoid those.

  • http://soccerdad.baltiblogs.com soccer dad

    This is the argument that Michael Medved has been making for a while.

  • http://thomaschronicles.com Thomas

    Hello Bookworm,

    I just saw National Treasure last night and it was pretty good. I thought the cinema photography could have been less busy, especially in the way the camera kept moving in constant sweeping motions (but, hey, it’s a Jerry Bruckheimer produced movie).

    This and a few other stylistic criticisms aside, the movie’s pretty enjoyable. It lauds values I find laudable, and its plot turns and story progression is interesting if a bit far fetched.

    Anywho, I want to stop by and wish you a very Happy New Year! May this year be a blessing to you and your family.

    Thomas

  • swampacreage

    Settle down Y and Greg. Be nice to each other . . now come on make up . . there that is better. I MOI that is saw two AWESOME MOVIES Sunday that being Charlie Wilson’s War(yes there is some servive sleaze in there for you . . not that there is anything wrong with that . . . well unless you think there is something wrong with that . who I’m to tell you ?) and The Kite Runner(no sleaze . . not that there . . well you know what I mean)Timely movies with regards to what is and has gone on in Pakistan an Afghanistan recently. I saw these movies back to back.Oh about 31/2 hrs of sitting.Call me synchronicity. Best one two punch of movie watching in a while. And by the way did you see the princess dress in the movie Enchanted ? In the final scene when she was trying to impress a special someone. Hmmmmmm . . . ooh be carefeul . . cover your eyes !

  • http://Synova.blogspot.com Synova

    The princess’ dress in _Enchanted_ at the end wasn’t so bad, but it’s true that many layers of boning and what-not so that a dress pretty much stands up unassisted *does* mean that the original dress and the costume dresses at the ball cover a lady’s real body more effectively, even with no shoulders and a low bodice. But the “modern” dress that the princess wore at the end signified a shift (do I need spoiler alerts?) from when she didn’t fit in at the beginning to where at the end she was wearing a normal dress and everyone else was in costume.

    It wasn’t the shower scene I was thinking of for “adult humor” by the way, although I suppose for some definitions of “adult” that would apply. I was thinking of when the Prince (spoiler alerts?) was going door to door and the pregnant woman with a bunch of kids took one look at him and announced, “You’re too late.” Would kids “get” that joke? I thought it was a gut-buster. And also when the little girl solemnly explains to the princess that “men only want one thing” and the princess, as much an innocent as the little girl says, “What’s that?” and the little girl admits, “No one will tell me.” That was *funny* but it’s not really a joke to be funny for children, it’s a joke to be really funny for the moms at the theater with them.

  • http://Synova.blogspot.com Synova

    And if I want to get pedantic (or something, that’s probably the wrong word) a lot of the old movie dresses, though not at all revealing, are actually hyper-sexual. Torpedo boobs and spray paint. Nothing *real* showed, but that’s what they were.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/ ymarsakar

    But the “modern” dress that the princess wore at the end signified a shift (do I need spoiler alerts?) from when she didn’t fit in at the beginning to where at the end she was wearing a normal dress and everyone else was in costume.

    But why would that make her fit in? I did notice the dissimilarity between what she wore at the end to the period costume everyone else wore, but I couldn’t figure out what that was for. Except to give the princess a change of costume from her other dresses.

    Maybe it’s that full circle thing. In the beginning, what she wore contrasted with what others wore. In the end, she’s still in the same situation, except it is on purpose. In the beginning, she was looking for the prince. At the ball, she was still doing the same thing.

    Torpedo boobs

    Is that what it was called? ; )

    _Enchanted_ was funny but there were parts of it that I thought had wrong messages.

    But why do you think the scenes you described were wrong messages?

  • http://Synova.blogspot.com Synova

    I’ve been saying a lot of stuff badly lately.

    She didn’t fit in at the beginning and it wasn’t that she fit in at the end, but that she’d… gone over, I suppose. It signaled a break with who she had been.

    Well *I* call them torpedo boobs. What do *you* call them?

    I don’t think I described any of the wrong messages and really, I thought the stuff that was not so right was pretty subtle. Like most things the movie simplified relationship issues that aren’t simple. They weren’t bad messages, just incomplete ones. But really, it was for *kids* so of course the messages are going to be simple.

    I mean… “In the beginning, she was looking for the prince. At the ball, she was still doing the same thing.”

    And I could object that the princess never really became an adult, which makes her romance with the lawyer sort of unequal and creepy.

    But why would I bother? That would be just silly. It’s a fun movie and the sort that will probably keep on being fun and someday may even be considered a classic.

  • Ymar

    I call it the lift and squeeze, part of the feminine ways.

    Course I cribbed that line.

    The most notable thing concerning relationship issues is with the recent topic discussed over at Neo Neocon concerning divorces and what not. There is a lot of economic issues involved with relationships and human motivations. Love isn’t the only thing, if only because love as an emotion exists as part of the human need to survive and thrive.

    Course, such a topic would be way over the heads of children and most teenagers.

    I was thinking about that subject with the divorced couple scene, and I felt slightly disappointed that the divorce lawyer wasn’t giving out any wise and philosophical utterings. But it was a minor opportunity lost, as you mentioned, Synova.