Movies Reflecting Our Culture… Good and Bad

I don’t know about your kids, but teenagers in my area are off school this week for Easter break (Yeah, I’m calling it Easter Break!), and many of them are heading to the movie theatres for a variety of choices. So Todd and I kicked it into high gear last weekend and did a handful of movie reviews & quick Q’s for you guys, each complete with discussion questions to dialogue with kids when the movie is over.

One of the most interesting youth culture phenomena’s in the theatre right now is the brand new scary film, Scream 4, simply because the Scream films have always been on the cutting edge of pop youth culture. This new film falls in suit, trying to truly represent the Facebook and smartphone generation. But the trait that David and I observed the most out of this film was this generation’s increasing desire to see MORE!

David and I wrote our Youth Culture Window article this week about this film for that very reason. Here’s just a glimpse:

…The nefarious Ghostface has returned after 10 long years. But this time, the killer is playing by new rules.

Scream 4’s premise of “new decade, new rules” might just be more accurate and foretelling about pop culture than you realize. Today’s blockbusters have to go to a new distance, more extreme in every way. Today’s kids want more… and our culture is willing to provide it.

What compelled Wes Craven to return and add to the Scream trilogy after over a decade? (Besides money!)

According to Internet buzz, Wes wouldn’t even consider a 4th Scream without a script that was “as good as the first Scream.” But this time, the challenge was even greater. Create a fourth film that feels as fresh and representative of today’s young people as the first film did for teenagers in the 90’s.

And that’s exactly why we’re writing about this film in our Youth Culture Window section this week, because the filmmakers made a special effort to try to capture and reflect today’s young people. Time will tell, but Scream 4 will probably achieve both.

After reviewing the film, I (Jonathan) admit, I’m torn. On one hand, I admit that the film accurately portrays much of this young, cocky and desensitized generation. Yet, on the other hand, the film itself is a perfect example of the very irresponsible, imitatable opus that has helped mold these young people to what they have become.

Click here for the entire article. (The film took second in the box office this past weekend.)

Todd and I reviewed the film together, each of us giving it a “Skip It” score. In that review, we discuss scary films in general, and I share why I think films like Scream 4 were merely “gratuitous.” I give three examples of this unnecessary display of violence, teenage partying, and an unrealistic and unattainable image-standard for young girls. You can click here for that review.

Todd and I reviewed more theatrical releases, you can check them all out on our MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page. Another noteworthy movie was the new Russell Brand and Helen Mirren film, Arthur. This film really surprised me. Here’s a snippet of my Arthur review:

I’ll be honest. There were about 20 reasons I really wanted to dislike this film, the biggest being Russell Brand, the raucous British comedian who is a terrible role model to young people and hasn’t had a good film yet. I figured that Arthur would be more of the same: a warped premise, and dirty humor to fill in the cracks. I was concerned because the film has been marketed to the younger generation (including Brand’s appearance on American Idol, a myriad of funny previews during popular teen programming, as well as the PG-13 rating. Teenagers are going to watch this one!), so I decided to review it.

I was blown away.

I really wanted to hate this film. No, let me rephrase that. I reaaaaaaaaaally wanted to hate this film! But I just couldn’t. In actuality, it was really good!

In that review, I go on to talk about the redemptive message in that film. I was shocked how vivid the film presented the message that “temporary” thrills like money, partying and alcohol just don’t fulfill the big hole in our heart. Yeah… it’s that blatant. Insert altar call here!

So pop on our  on our MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page and you’ll see our reviews and Q’s of other films like Hanna, Rango and Soul Surfer reviewed by us as well (And here’s my blog with even more on Soul Surfer). I hope that our “QUICK Q” questions continue to be a good resource to you as you talk with your kids about what they watch.

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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2 Responses to Movies Reflecting Our Culture… Good and Bad

  1. Sean says:

    In response to the remake of Arthur: We all have our opinions, but come on dude. Your like one of about 6 people who actually liked this film. One that many concider to be the worst remake thus far. One I doubt many teens will want to watch anyway, with or without Brand. I went out with some friends hoping to watch Source Code, but was out voted and had to sit through 2 hours of this trash.Two hours I will never get back. My suggestion to you in order to help you redefine what a good movie is, or bad one for that matter, is watch as many old and new classics as you can(cult favs too).Netflix is good for this. Then ask yourself why they are classics? Why are they good? Why is Citizen Kane concidered the best movie of all time? It will help you look at movies differently. Perhaps paying attention to certain things you would not have before. My education started with Sergio Leone’s masterpiece ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST.Ever since I’ve never looked at a movie the same.

    Watch the original Arthur. Much better film. Dudley Moore and Liza Minnelli are much better in the roles and have more chemistry then Brand and the blond chick. Also shorter. That or just felt shorter.

    And I understand the Christian view of Brand as trash, but you won’t find many people who’d say he wasn’t great in “Forgetting Sarah Marshal” and “Get Him to the Greek.” His recent work has been somewhat poor however.

    Like I said above we all have our opinions, but I think you can do better Jon.

    Oh..and I’m 25. Thought I throw the age in there just so you understand that I’m still a young buck who has discovered the art of movies.

  2. Ha… yes, we’re all entitled to our opinions.

    I’m sure glad to have people like this to let me know what good movies are… because I didn’t know. 🙂