From Movies to Minecraft: Learning to See Beyond the Pretty Pictures
If a picture is worth a thousand words, did you know that a movie creates 30 pictures every single second? Wherever you turn these days, you and your family are bombarded by media: movies, TV shows, Netflix (TM), video games, the list goes on. Come sit down for a fun workshop to help you teach your children to step beyond the cute stories and pretty pictures that you see on screen to understand what is being presented underneath. Along the way, learn why it is so vitally important to connect with what your teens and younger children are enjoying, both to guide their understanding AND to help foster a better relationship with them. Appropriate for all ages.
Welcome to all the new visitors from the New Year New Beginnings 2020 Women’s Conference! As promised, here is the handout for my session. In this handout you will find links to all the media referenced in the talk, as well as a handful of discussion points to begin looking at media with a critical and discerning eye.
Bear in mind, there will be wording and phrasing differences from the session due to the nature of public speaking. As well, these discussion points are not intended to present a fait accompli of evidence, but rather to provide talking points to further your own discussions and thought processes.
Panic at the Disco – Hey Look Ma I Made It
Now this is a song that has been incredibly popular on top 40 radio this past year. Panic at the Disco is an alt-pop-punk band that has created a very emo type of lyric and sound that resonates well with the troubled emotions of the public at large. Hey Look Ma I Made It is catchy, well written, and easily sung by the average listener. However, the lyrics present some troubling turns of phrases, particularly when the listener is in a loud place or holds to Christian morals.
What viewpoint does the singer have towards both himself and his friends?
What kind of symbology is the singer adopting as his banner?
If someone who did not know your stance on faith and morality heard you repeating lines from this song, what impressions could be drawn?
Looking at this song, particularly the chorus in the light of verses like Matthew 15:18, how do you feel the worldview compares to the Bible?
Wolves at the Gate – Man of Sorrows
This song is definitely a stretch for most people, being a song by a Christian metal band. However, despite the sound perhaps being grating to some sensibilities, the content of the song is well nigh unparalleled in non-worship music. Pull up the lyrics and listen through once or twice carefully with an open mind.
How does the sound of the music contribute or detract from the story being told in the lyrics?
How well do the lyrics convey the story of Christ and the Cross?
Is the content of the lyrics a surprise listening to the sound of the music?
Does the background lyrics and tones add to the depth of emotion and the gravity of the story, or confuse the matter?
Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw
To anyone remotely familiar with summer blockbuster action films, Fast and Furious has been a long-time staple. Cars that don’t act quite like we think physics should, lots of guns, bromance, and occasionally gratuitous skin scenes. However, this movie subverted a lot of my expectations and I enjoyed it far more than I expected. Fair warning, as I recall there is one scene in the first 5-10 minutes that contains skimpy attire, but the rest of the film is relatively clean except for language.
At the start of the film, what was the major theme of the tale?
What is the driving motivation for the main characters to take the mission?
After the scene at the house in Samoa, how did the speech change the main mission and theme of the movie?
Is the sub-plot of family and redemption of family relationships confused by the movie, or does it provide the impetus for this change and forgiveness?
What distinction does the film make between the person and the action when it comes to a relationship with estranged family?
How does the bond and brotherhood between Hobbs and Shaw set the scene for victory? (See similarity in Ecclesiastes 4:8-12)
If ever there was a Disney movie that took the last decade by storm, it has to be Frozen. If you disagree, you are just gonna have to Let It Go, I am right you know. Iconically catchy songs, gorgeous animation, and a very well done soundtrack make for yet another Disney Princess merchandising storm.
Unfortunately, That is all the bare surface information, what do the themes and subtext add to the combo? Lets dig into that now with a bit of back and forth, answers supplied in parentheses. The subtext here is much more subtle than usual, and might be a better point of discussion with your older teens rather than young children.
Where did Elsa get her powers? (She was born that way)
How is she treated when she first really reveals her power to adults? (Estranged, told that its unnatural)
How does she feel when she is told that her beautiful powers are a danger and a menace and have to be concealed? (Broken, like she is denying a very natural part of herself)
What is the difference between what she creates when allowed to live and flourish by herself naturally, not hated and estranged and hidden? (Beautiful castles and gowns and cute little snowmen who like warm hugs v. giant snow monsters and death and spikes and danger)
What type of person opposes her powers and hates her? (Nasty, bigoted, sniveling jerks like Weaslton who hold to old traditions)
What kind of person is shown as being accepting and open to Elsa? (Kind people who love everyone like they are and welcome them for being themselves)
How are we told that the “Curse” that affects Anna can be broken? (True Loves Kiss)
How is it actually broken? (Not by a kiss by a prince or a smelly nerf herder who loves her, but by the love of a woman)
What movement despises the old traditions and moral codes, casts their opponents as old fashioned bigots, says that what they are doing is perfectly natural and that they were born that way, and says that if everyone just loved them for who they were that everything would be beautiful and rainbows and love?
(The LGBT lobby)
Netflix Original: Green Eggs and Ham
Just a quick mention and a few brief questions due to its upcoming inclusion in a stand-alone blog post. Based on Dr. Seuss and given the full unfortunate Netflix treatment.
What themes are presented, and what actions are given the green light because its for a “good” reason?
How does the animation and the language used contrast with the story themes?
Does the inclusion of jokes and inclusions aimed at adults, e.g. Pencil Pushers and Bean Counters, skew the appropriate ages for watchers?
Power Rangers (2017)
A classic kids TV show, Go Go Power Rangers (cue guitar solo), cartoonish violence and aliens played by guys in rubber suits. A treasured part of childhood tv for many people under 30. What kind of beast is the live-action movie? Its a brilliant version depicting the shift into becoming Power Rangers, but has tons of issues that make it unsuitable for young kids who liked the original TV shows.
It still has catchy lyrics and cute snowmen, but just take a minute and think about that subtext they present to your children.
How does the inclusion of more lifelike villains and enemies affect the appropriate audience?
Is the level of skimpy attire something that is appropriate in this movie aimed at teens?
How does the inclusion of blatant death and murder in the movie feel when cast against the backdrop of the kids show heroes?
Is the revival of a dead person possible, outside a direct miracle of God?
How does the relationship between the teens and their parents change over the course of the film?
Minecraft (Video Game)
Literally the most popular video game of the decade, this cubist sandbox exploration and creation game has set the block high for its sheer versatility and adaptability. I once saw some mad genius create a working hard drive that could store information inside the game out of blocks of material. And other brilliant artists have recreated such iconic worlds as the entirety of Middle Earth.
As the one who is tasked with taming this new world in Minecraft, you are the master of your fate right?
How are you limited despite being the sole original and most powerful being in the game?
You have many powers, even able to fly and shape the world to your will, but even you are subject to the will, designs, and creations of the game developers, the original Creators. How is this similar to your position here on earth?
Some times, things are simple. Minecraft at its roots is a cubic reflection of the world where we live where we create and build and destroy and explore. Remember that cover image at the top of this page? Let me show you the other side of that image.
Sometimes, the prettiest cartoons hide the saddest propaganda and the sweetest music tells the most twisted stories. That nice cute little bungalow shack and farm is nothing but a facade. If you go back, you can even see the grass through the front windows of the cover image. All I had to do was to show you what you expected to see. And the image was taken while standing on a twisted lump of stair pieces.
So don’t take your media for granted. Look at what they are telling you, and look for the grass showing through the windows and the missing walls.
In all your media, be it modern or classic, book or film, be discerning. Compare what it says, what it implies, and what it hints at, to the word of God. Be cautious in this world where the places we seek entertainment from are those seeking to destroy our belief and our God.
Thanks for coming and following up on my session!
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