Sunday, February 25, 2007

Here's looking at you, kid.

True story -- several years back, some members of our Youth Group nearly convinced one of our adult leaders that The Rocky Horror Picture Show would be a good choice for Saturday night entertainment. (And maybe it would in your church . . . but trust me, it wouldn't be a good idea in mine!)

So . . . how can you avoid similar situations? Some suggestions:
  • Know your people -- what they're watching, what they're not, and what's likely to be an issue (or not). And if you think something could be "problematic," then talk it over with them before you show the movie.
  • Know your movies -- I don't see more than a couple of movies a year (even on DVD), but I read the movie reviews in The Oregonian, The New Yorker, and The New York Times; if nothing else, it gives me an idea of what my church members are watching.
  • Know your movie reviewers -- the Movie Review Query Engine will give you just about everything that anyone has ever written on any recent movie; if you're looking for a quick guide to a lot of reviews about a recent flick, try Rotten Tomatoes. And if you're trying to determine just how suitable this movie might be for your particular audience, Kids in Mind will give you specific and detailed descriptions of everything that anyone might possibly find objectionable viz. sex, violence, profanity, or drug use.
  • Speaking of reviewers, two that I've found especially helpful are the Roman Catholic Bishop's web-page on movies, and the (ahem) Mutant Reviewers from Hell (MRFH). The first is probably the better of the two for "good" movies, the second for the movies that the members of my Youth group are actually watching. (Postscript: in response to this blog, I got a nice email from Justin -- the youth pastor in Michigan who runs MRFH. He wants you to know that MRFH offers a quick guide to family-friendly films. And judging by one of his posts, I'm guessing he is slightly embarrassed by the title of his website.)
  • With a little work, you can actually get your Youth group to enjoy "classic" movies like The Seven Samurai or Casablanca. (Don't laugh, I've done it!) If you're interested, try Ty Burr's book, The Best Old Movies for Families.
  • And by the way -- you know that stupid FBI warning at the beginning of movies -- the one that warns you not to yada, yada, yada? It applies to you. That's why you really need to get a video license from CCLI. (And yes, they can get you one for Canada too!)
  • Always schedule time afterwards to talk about a movie -- and don't be afraid to stop (and then restart) the movie if you feel there's something you need to talk about.
  • Finally, you should never, never, never show a movie to a Youth group that you haven't screened yourself -- and make sure you've watched it in the format you'll be showing to them. (Some DVDs include footage that wasn't in the movie version; this can turn a PG-13 movie into an R and an R into an NC-17.)

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