Complaining about Reviewing “Kick-Ass”

Yes… I spelled it.

You see, yesterday I received an email questioning my motivation for reviewing the film, “Kick Ass.” Here’s just a snippet:

I have to question your motivation. Is it possible that your viewing of the film was not intended as a mission to expose and target the R-rated content of the film, but rather to satisfy your own curiosity about it?

Wow. Nice.

First… I have to admit that I haven’t even seen this film. My good friend Todd who does movie reviews for us reviewed this one. And no, I promise you, it wasn’t “to satisfy his own curiosity.” It’s because I told him to review it.

Here’s the skinny:

Many of you are familiar with the fact that a movie bearing the title “Kick Ass” was released on video this month. This film is very popular with teenagers and even was nominated for a few Teen Choice Awards, including “Choice Action Adventure Movie.” As a matter of fact, the film beat all the competition when it was released on video. The Hollywood Reporter reveals:

Lionsgate’s “Kick-Ass” kicked aside all competitors on the home video charts its debut week, taking the No. 1 spot on the national sales, Blu-ray Disc sales and rental charts…  “Kick-Ass” was the week’s clear Blu-ray winner, easily defeating last week’s top seller, Warner’s “Clash of the Titans,” which finished at No. 2, and “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” which landed at No. 3. The title also tied “Avatar’s” record in Blu-ray percentage sales for a No. 1 release this year, selling nearly half of its units (49%) in the high-definition format.

Bottom line: Kids are watching this film, a movie rated R by the MPAA for “strong brutal violence throughout, pervasive language, sexual content, nudity and some drug use – some involving children.”

Despite this rating, I heard numerous church kids talking about how much that they wanted to see this film. Many of them saw it. Nice that this kind of film is popular with the kids, huh?

Because of its popularity with teens and tweens, we went ahead and reviewed this film on our MOVIE REVIEWS page so parents and youth workers would know what to expect. This really bummed out one of our readers. More on that in a minute.

We don’t review every film that comes out. We don’t feel the need to review “Saw 17” … we think most parents know that this is probably one to skip. But we like to provide you with our two cents of films that have a large following in pop culture. Other Christian movie review sites do the same.

Regardless, I received an interesting piece of criticism yesterday by email. I felt compelled to share this particular piece of lunacy with you all. Here it is in totality, unedited, so I can’t be accused of misrepresenting this fellow:

I am saddened and extremely disappointed to see a review for the film “Kick-A**” on this very website. Aside from the fact that you have taken no steps to eliminate or hide the profanity present in the title for readers of this Christian resource (however pointless that may seem to some), the very fact that you felt compelled to post a review of this “trash” is beyond me. We as youth workers do not have to subject ourselves to every piece of mainstream entertainment just because our teens are clamoring to see it. Common sense should have indicated that the film is not intended for a teenage – or more accurately – Christian audience. This is not the first time that I have wondered to myself “What were they thinking?” upon reading movie reviews for objectionable films on this site. But in this case, the sheer lack of judgment has moved me to respond. In Christian love, I have to question your motivation. Is it possible that your viewing of the film was not intended as a mission to expose and target the R-rated content of the film, but rather to satisfy your own curiosity about it? Anyone curious about the film’s content could read any of a hundred mainstream movie reviews to determine whether or not the film is appropriate for their child to see. Simpler solution: look at the rating box, which includes a description of the content that earned the rating. Instead, you paid for the experience, making you a part of the paying audience that Hollywood is looking for when deciding whether or not to greenlight a sequel. Do you feel that your presence at the film could be seen as a witness to a lost teen? Would Jesus be satisfied with the argument that you were subjecting yourself to the film only as a service to better inform your readers? Please consider the perspective of a long-time – and perhaps former – reader.

Patrick
TN

Thanks for your two cents Pat. My response will be quick.

First. Please make sure you send your “loving response” to Dr. James Dobson also, because his Plugged In site reviewed the film as well. (I’ve always wondered about that Dobson guy!)

Second, Perhaps Christians should consider ‘picking their battles.’ If you find that you can’t even say the movie title “Kick-Ass”…. Wow! Personally, I regularly encounter kids that are addicted to porn, fascinated by Satan and completely comfortable with vile lyrics in their iPod. These kids need Jesus.

People need someone to tell them truth–they don’t need Pharisees telling them which words they can and cannot say. Honestly, this movie has much bigger issues than the word “Ass” in the title. If you read our review of the film, you’ll see what some of those issues are.

Thirdly, please call Zondervan, Tyndale and others, and see if we can get some of the Bible edited too. That book included way too many explicit references. Maybe we should start with these verses:

Proverbs 5:19 (NIV)
19 A loving doe, a graceful deer– may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love.

Ezekiel 23:19-20 (NIV)
19 Yet she became more and more promiscuous as she recalled the days of her youth, when she was a prostitute in Egypt. 20 There she lusted after her lovers, whose genitals were like those of donkeys and whose emission was like that of horses.

Crazy Bible. I wonder what the motivations of those authors were.

As for your threat to become a former reader… I just have to warn you… if the word “ass” disturbs you, it’s probably a good decision to stop reading any of my articles, blogs or books right now. Because I will always tell parents and adult leaders what Katy Perry says (and it’s much worse than “ass”), what Lady Gaga does, and I’ll even show some pictures if I think they’ll help adults realize what their kids are watching. (This is always a tough call– I always ask my wife, “Do you think we can show this picture of Christina Aguilera? Or might this be distracting to some?” It’s a hard balance: educating, but not distracting)

So thanks for your “loving criticism.” Please don’t read the article about Katy Perry coming out this Sunday (now upon our Youth Culture Window page. You’ll pop a blood vessel. I promise!

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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14 Responses to Complaining about Reviewing “Kick-Ass”

  1. adam mclane says:

    I don’t get the antithesis of this, at all. Are Christian leaders supposed to be ignorant of culture?

    I thought your review of Kick Ass kicked butt. Thanks for going there and doing that.

  2. Patrick Garrett says:

    Thanks, Jonathan, for being so on … this blog is reminiscent of one a couple uears back when you talked about the television show ‘Jackass’ and someone flipped out — though you have since removed that post 🙂
    I’m ashamed to share that e-mailer’s name. You did well. Thanks for your honesty, authenticity and desire to be relevant to ministry and culture.

  3. Greg says:

    I have to say I almost want to side with Patrick after reading your “loving response”. It’s one thing to get an e-mail that upsets you. It’s quite another to post snippets of it for all to see and then bash it to bits without, I’m assuming, giving the chance for Patrick to publicly respond. I’ve enjoyed your ministry for a while now as well. Just please don’t lower it to this kind of stuff.

  4. Danielle A. says:

    While I agree with Greg a little bit in terms of airing your response to Patrick publicly – on the other hand, I see where it could be considered necessary. I’m sure that Patrick is not the only reader out there with those thoughts – just the only one with the guts to do it – which means that other Christians would need to hear the same thing. I think it’s important that we as youth workers actively expose ourselves to the secular culture so that we are in touch with what’s out there and are able to understand and empathetically provide those teachable moments. Remember – Jesus Himself hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes. To say that “we as Christians” shouldn’t lower ourselves to the levels of Kick-Ass to understand the culture – that’s a crappy stance to take. Keep up the good work, Jonathan – you are appreciated!!!

  5. FanMan says:

    Jonathan,

    Firstly, thank you for your blog – I enjoy and appreciate it. I appreciate you and the way in which you reveal new trends. I appreciate that you review movies like Kickass , so that I do not have to go see it. I understand completely your reasons why you put the response to your blog out. Please do not stop with this ministry. I’m tired of some Christians ‘loving respone’ – I can not see or hear any love in that response.

  6. Joseph says:

    This whole situation presents me with a tremendous tension… Jesus said in John 13:35 that people will know we are His by our love for our fellow believers. There doesn’t seem to be much love going either way here.

    On the other hand, there didn’t seem to be much love going either way when Jesus encountered the Pharisees in scripture. And Patrick’s email certainly sounds Pharisaical, and Jonathan’s response sounds kinda like Jesus’ responses to the Pharisees…

    Man, I just hope and pray that there can be some restoration here. I’d just hate for some non-Christian to come across this conversation and get a bad impression of Christians or Jesus because of it.

  7. Jason says:

    Thanks Jonathan for doing what you do. Personally this is a movie that I would not see for many reasons. Mainly because I have a family with 3 young children that keeps me from being able to just go see a movie to review it. And i definitely would not say to a teen, “Hey lets go see this new movie, Kick Ass! Won’t that be fun?” And even when it comes to video, it is not a movie I would want to kick back and watch with my wife after the kids are in bed. So for me, I need to know that there is someone out there that I trust and respect that does go to see these movies, watch these shows, listens to these songs, that our teens are listening to, so that I can stay as informed as possible in this ever-changing youth culture.

    I do respect Pat’s opinion. I think that he does have a few valid points, but not enough for me to think that we should not be still at least checking out what the culture is doing so as to stay informed on what they are being taught. It helps us to understand better why they think like they do, talk like they do, and respond to society and even more important, Christ like they do.

    So again Jonathan, thanks for what you and your ministry are doing for all of us working with teens.

  8. Thanks for your comments so far. I appreciate you all.

    Patrick’s “loving response” didn’t even attack me, it questioned the motivations of our ministry and my team. That’s really sad.

    Let me just go on the record– we’re far from perfect. We’re going to mess up. Our ministry team is trying our best to provide you all with free resources, training tools and articles that help you reach kids. We consistantly have conversations like, “Should we use this song at all to start discussion?” “I don’t know? Paul seemed to do this in Acts 17 when he quoted pagan poets to get to Jesus.” What’s the line?

    We probably get it wrong sometimes.

    We need Jesus just as bad as the kids we’re reaching.

    So sorry when we get it wrong. Sorry when we use the word ass. But I hope 99% of our stuff helps you reach kids for Christ.

    In the meantime. We’ll just keep telling it like it is… just like the Bible does.

  9. Lily says:

    Hi,
    First, I wanna say that I appreciate your ministry and what you do. It’s always been a great help.
    As for this email, while I agree that it might have been necessary to show what it said, I agree with Joseph that there doesn’t seem to be much loving going on on either side. We may not see eye to eye on some points as youth workers, but our purpose is not to put one another down, but to encourage one another. If I could somehow communicate with Patrick, I would tell him the same thing.
    You and your team have always and still are doing a fantastic job, I don’t understand how your motivations, other than to reach the unreached for Christ, could be questioned.

  10. Ava says:

    I think Patrick is completely right. It is OBVIOUS that the movie Kick *** is not going to be appropriate for teens. Hello? there is a bad word in the title of the movie…. so why even bother to review it?
    It is because of this type of thing (tolerance) that Satan is slowly creeping into our churches. And it makes me very sad.
    Thank you, Patrick, for being an example to us.

  11. Furby says:

    Hey Jon,

    Once again, thanks for being willing to talk about the taboo things. Students are discussing these movies, they’re watching them and investing their time and money in all kinds of media just as bad as Kick-Ass and worse. It makes sense that we have what we need to have great conversations with our students about these things. I find it so much more productive when I know what I’m talking about with a student, than when I just simply would say something like, “Hey Mikey, why do you watch that? Is that something Jesus would watch?” Often, it helps to be able to point out the specifics and let them turn into a teaching moment. The students are already talking about these things. Why wouldn’t we involve ourselves in these conversations?

    I think that one of the most dangerous things we could do is assume that by taking these topics and goings on directly, we would be helping “Satan creep into our churches”. True, we need to be careful that our awareness isn’t mistaken for endorsement. But talking about the hot topics and with knowledge as opposed to the “I-just-read-the-box-and-I-already-know-it’s-evil” messages is so powerful.

    I recently read lyrics of popular songs to our students, just to show them what is actually going on. Their eyes were huge and their faces showed shock. If we just ignored the media our students are dwelling in, how could we possibly find teaching moments like this?

    Thanks so much for all you do. I am so thankful that you’ve taught us how to do this in a responsible way. Thanks.

    Patrick and Ava make a valid point when they bring up concern about giving the enemy leverage against us. And may we continue to tread these messy grounds carefully and with wisdom. Let’s stay cautious and guarded. But let us continue to boldly point out the deception and lies from an informed point of view.

  12. Dawid says:

    Hi Jonathan
    I dont know what the problem is, but I must say I always come to this website to see what to watch and what teenager watch, because I dont normally have time to go and watch every movie that is out there. I’m part time youth leader and me going and see people and watch movies there is not enough time for all of that. So I rate your reviews big and very insightfull as well

  13. Jacqueline Henley says:

    Wow, I can’t understand why a youth pastor would critize you all for discussing reviewing this movie. We have to keep parents, children and ourselves knowledgable about the tactics of Satan. Man, the person who complained about this review would have really had an issue with my Sunday School class this pass Sunday. I had to write out the lyrics of Lil Wayne (curse words —)and compare them to Lacrae (a christian rapper) to get them thinking on what it is they were listening. One young man, said Lil Wayne was the best rapper ever and he claimes to be a chrisitian. He had no comment after the class. Next topic is the illuminati…pray for me. Jackie

  14. DM says:

    I was very disappointed to read this blog and find the harsh reply. Certainly, Patrick could have used a less condescending tone in posting his comments and questions…which, when asked politely, are legitimate and valid concerns. What I just don’t understand is the over-the-top berating of a reader by the blogger. When you host such an interactive and subjective website dealing with youth culture, you need to possess a thick skin toward criticism. Rather than simply address the guy’s concerns, there was a lengthy bitter attack upon the reader, even to the point of quoting fairly obscure biblical references in an attempt to portray the Bible as being somehow profane. We all have our different convictions about how to engage the culture, but let’s try to express them with a little more maturity and tact.