Saturday, March 27, 2010

Plugged In

The last few blog posts have involved “Culture War” themes, and the concerns of children being exposed to inappropriate media content. I wanted to blog on a resource related to these concerns. It is a resource, of which many non-religious folks are likely unaware. It is the “Plugged In” Reviews, a ministry of Focus on the Family.

I first became aware of the ministry several years ago. In Houston, the Christian radio station I used to listen to often had Plugged In movie reviews right before the weekend. The point of the reviews was to give parents a quick sense of whether or not new films might be appropriate for various kids in their family. The reviews were not prudish or closed-minded. They were not written by someone like Dana Carvey’s “Church Lady” character. Instead, the reviews consistently looked to find both positive and negative aspects of every film. I was often surprised at the positive traits the reviews flagged with respect to films with very worldly themes. And the reviews were pretty detailed and reflective. They explained the precise concerns that reviewers had with various films, and gave specific age recommendations to help parents determine which children might be appropriate to take. Indeed, I was often surprised at the level of tolerance the reviews exhibited. They often gave (cautious) recommendations despite describing some objectionable content. When I first began to hear the movie reviews, I did not have kids, but I remember thinking how helpful the reviews must be to those who did.

I no longer live in Houston, and the radio stations I listen to now don’t seem to carry the Plugged In movie reviews. But in the age of the internet, it is still easy for anyone to get access to them. The Plugged In site below contains movie reviews—as well as reviews for television, music, games and other media.

The on-line versions of the movie reviews are much longer and more detailed than I remember the radio versions were. The link below contains a review of the Princess and the Frog, the latest Disney Princess film. I read it after I took my daughter to see it, but the review contains opinions and attitudes very similar to mine after we saw the film. The review is typical of the Plugged In format. It describes both positive and negative elements in the film. It also details for parents sexual, violent, and spiritual content in the film, and it summarizes any profanity and substance use. The review then provides an overall conclusion about the film’s merits. This format is very helpful to parents, and I’ve consulted the reviews in the past when trying to gauge the appropriateness of various movies for our kids.

Again, I find the movie reviews to be very thoughtful and open-minded. The link below contains a review of the film Precious. Because of the graphic nature of the film, I thought there might be a reflexive panning of the film. But the review is much more nuanced and shows a great deal of sensitivity towards the subject matter.

I really have to commend Focus on the Family for their Plugged In reviews. They are filling a niche that is important to many families from a variety of backgrounds. In doing so, undoubtedly they are attracting folks who eventually come to support their ministry in other contexts.

Matthew 7:11 (New American Standard Bible)

"If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

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