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Reports indicate we’re likely to reach year’s end without the release of a full-feature G-rated movie, a growing industry trend attributed by Hollywood insiders and watchers to a wide range of reasons attached to an ever-evolving entertainment market.
But none more than one: an increasing disregard and disinterest in nurturing the hearts and minds of children.
The current Motion Picture Association film rating system (MPA), inclusive of the “G” rating, dates to 1968. To qualify for that designation, movies can’t include anything “that would offend parents for viewing by children.”
To be fair, such a designation is subjective, but like the Supreme Court once said of pornography, it might be difficult to define, but most people know what’s offensive for little eyes when they see it with their own.
Maybe not surprisingly, the top ten highest-grossing G-rated movies off all-time, not adjusted for inflation, come from Disney. “The Lion King” holds the top spot, followed closely behind by “Toy Story 3” and “Finding Nemo.” Once upon a time, The Walt Disney Company had its finger on the pulse of America’s parents and kids. No more. In recent years, they’ve been more concerned with appeasing the woke mafia than pleasing moms, dads and children.
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As parents of young children over the last decade, we’ve struggled to find wholesome films to watch with our boys. Any family who enjoys a good, clean movie will exhaust their options rather quickly. And by “good and clean,” I primarily mean films void of profanity, sexual innuendo, and gratuitous violence. It’s nearly inconceivable to me why we need to so often go back decades to find movies that inspire and entertain. Hits like “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” “Sound of Music,” and “Mary Poppins” are classics that have stood the test of time and appeal to audiences of all ages – but they were all made before I was even born.
Some argue studios are responding to market realities, and the fact that young families are more likely to stay home and stream their entertainment from other sources. Since older audiences are now more likely to go to the theater, there’s less incentive to produce G-rated content. But this theory belies the reality that families have demonstrated a willingness to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on movies that don’t offend their or their children’s sensibilities.
But if it’s true, and I think it is, that entertainment is downstream from culture, it’s no wonder we’re seeing a decline in the G-rated movie.
One of the tragedies of our time is that when it comes to shielding children from indecency, crassness, and crudeness, far too many people don’t even care if kids are exposed to what they clearly know qualifies as obscene. Instead, there’s a growing indifference or even a disdain for censoring oneself for the sake of someone else. I’ve lost track of how many times, even with our young boys in tow, when expletives fill the air at parks, restaurants, or sporting events.
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We decry violence in schools and on city streets, and yet ignore the fact that kids are simply emulating the blood sport they’re watching on their screens. We lament the sexualization of children, and yet fail to see it as a consequence of separating sex from marriage in movie and television storylines. We grieve the decline of the nuclear family, and never connect it to the fact that we rarely see happily married moms and dads depicted positively on the big screen.
If we want to change and soften the coarseness of culture, one of the very best ways is to encourage Hollywood to produce content that will not only generate a profit – but that won’t come at the expense of children’s minds and morals. Despite what too many industry executives seem to think and believe today, box office history demonstrates it’s possible to produce films that feed and develop healthy young minds – and also generate hearty corporate bottom lines.
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