Summer Reflections, Part 1

September 7, 2012

It’s hard to believe that I haven’t posted since June, that school is back in session, and that Fall is right around the corner. The end of August really took me by surprise this year. One thing that I look forward to during the summer is going to the movies–summer blockbusters, no need for a sitter thanks to camp–it is all good. Unfortunately the movie crop wasn’t that tempting this year. After The Avengers, there really wasn’t anything that had me jumping up and down–and that was worth the jumping! The Amazing Spiderman was pretty good. I am really looking forward to seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX tomorrow.

We took our daughter to see Brave, and that was pretty good. Finally a movie about a girl that doesn’t end in a wedding–where she gets to choose her own course. Disney should really take notice. Interestingly, we finally watched Disney’s Snow White with our daughter around the same time. She just finished The Sisters Grimm and wanted to know more about the fairy tales in the book. It had been a long time since I watched the movie–it was never one of my favorites–but something struck me as I was watching–a couple of somethings actually. One is that the movie is not about marrying Prince Charming. It is about dying a virgin so one can go to Heaven and marry God/Christ. The Christian overtones at the end are really striking, and I don’t know how I never noticed it before.

The second thing I noticed really didn’t come together in my mind until the movie theater shooting in Colorado. The effect of violence in popular media on our psyches continues to be an important conversation. A parallel conversation is the impact of negative images of women in the media and how that affects girls. That is one reason I have delayed showing my daughter any Princess movies–I wanted her to be able to think about the message first.

Now, my mother has always said that I watched these movies as a kid with no ill effects. Without going back in time to change that, I don’t know if she is true or not. However, I may be willing to agree with her because I experienced these films differently–just like people used to experience violent films differently. People would see a movie once in the theater. That was it; the effect was limited. Now movies are viewed, especially by kids, over and over on DVD. A violent video game isn’t just played once–it is played for hundreds of hours. There is a lot of evidence supporting the idea that if someone is told something over and over, they will come to believe it. Might not something similar happen with repeated exposure to violence or negative images? I would argue that it is not necessarily the products of the entertainment industry, but the way we engage with them.

However, because of this difference in engagement, perhaps the industry needs to do something differently. What that is, I am not sure. Serious thought for the end of summer. I promise some pictures of tasty treats soon to make up for it!

Kim Harrison

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