Saturday, December 29, 2012

You let your kids watch that? This year's thoughts on my kids' media consumption

Over the past day, I've been engaged in a conversation with some other moms about what our kids watch. The conversation started with a question about taking a 9 year old to see The Hobbit . (In the end, the mom took the 9 year old, but she could only sit still for an hour) It's always interesting to see the range of family values reflected in such decisions. ( for example, one family did not let their child read The Hobbit  until 13; I required my 10 year old to read it this month, AND write a review!) Here follows a bit of my side of the conversation with the names changed to protect privacy:

It's individual. SO individual. In most matters I fall on the permissive end. Cycling back to the original Tolkien themed question, when I say my kids grew up on these books and movies I mean *really* grew up on them. As in, one of the first things Turbo said was "gollum, gollum". He used to creep around in only a diaper imitating Gollum. The Eldest first read The Hobbit at 5, and in fact it marked the end of reading aloud to him ( we read more slowly aloud than he could to himself, and he wanted more, faster. ) However, it was some years before we let them watch the opening sequence of RotK. Beheading orcses? Fine. Smeagol choking is cousin? No.

 I think we may be different than many families in that we, and especially I. tend to lie our fiction to be REALLY fictional. It's almost all sci fi and fantasy. In general, I don't bother with fiction that COULD happen. (obviously, 99.9% of the foreign films our family watches feature giant monsters). So my kids grew up on Tolkien, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, comics heroes... you get the picture. Sex is there, but usually implied, and the violence is usually done to defend the weak. Even better, in DW, The Doctor is always looking for an alternative to violence. As they've gotten older, we've tailored things more. Tiurbo can NOT watch any kinds of martial arts film, at all. He will start kicking people and the house. We limit anything with swearing, too. He's way, way more imitative than his siblings.

The teenagers, I don't limit them too much. I limit them less than The DM. When Supergirl was about 10, a bunch of her girlfriends were getting into Twilight. I read the first book, got about 40 pages into the second, and saw the first movie. And I said...."Aw, HELL no!" Rather than forbid it, I first talked to her about the issues I had with the relationship paradigm in them... then I introduced her to Buffy. And yes, it started getting intense and adult a few seasons in, but I talked to her about these things. I got so that she and the Eldest started rolling their eyes the moment I reached to pause Buffy. Sorry kid, you want to watch adult things, you'll have adult conversations. We've been watching The Big Bang Theory with the older two since season two. This fall we started watching How I Met Your Mother with them. It's hilariously inappropriate and and stretches belief enough for me to enjoy.

Supergirl has recently developed an interest in Stephen King. I was reading Stephen King at 7, which may explain why I am so "free" with what my kids watch and read. My mother never regulated my media consumption, and yet I grew up to he hard working, non violent, heavily involved in my church and happily married. Back to Stephen King  A few weeks ago she was reading IT, but then informed me she was returning it to the library unfinished because the level of swearing made her uncomfortable. Self regulation. She has it so I can let her.

What about you? How do you decide what you let your kids watch?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Why I think you should read Rachel Held Evans' new book

As I'm sure my faithful readers know,I almost always utilize our library to read the books I want to read. Sometimes, however, I am inspired to own a book for reasons other than "our library doesn't carry it".  High among those reasons would be controversy surrounding the book. Such is the case with Rachel Held Evans newest book, "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" . While the controversy has many different levels, one outstanding feature is the fact that she uses the word "vagina" (in a book about women! Imagine!), which caused some Christian bookstores to not carry the book. (My husband picked up one of the copies he gt me for Christmas at our local Family Christian ).

Not surprisingly , the word vagina was not he only potentially controversial thing about the book, but the book is much, much more than that. For those unfamiliar with the premise, Held Evans, a liberated religion writer, spent a year following as closely as possible instructions to women from the Bible. Some she followed all year (not cutting her hair, dressing modestly, and deferring to a decidedly uncomfortable husband) ; other things were more short term (spending a menstrual cycle in a  tent in her front yard, eating kosher for the duration of Passover). Through it all, she delved into the commentaries and histories behind Biblical exhortations, and the cultural contexts in which they were written. Her intense study serves as a confirmation of the egalitarian theology model. Held Evans's in depth look into the differing things Paul had to say about the role of women in the church, and the context behind them, is a must read for anyone who believes the words of Paul can be used to exclude women from full ministry. The great "women of valor" of the Bible who are highlighted are an inspiration in the various ways they were called to be prophetesses, teachers, and apostles.
"A Year of Biblical Womanhood"  is a liberating look at the myths about what makes a woman's behaviour "Godly" or "biblical", and I would recommend that anyone concerned with the role of women in our society (hint: that's everyone) give this book a whirl.
In the meantime, you can read some of Rachel Held Evans's most popular blog posts here .

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Hobbit is not too long

Mt daughter and I went to the midnight showing of The Hobbit.
Over the course of the day (I had to remind myself that I'm talking about the same day, not the next day!) a few people asked me if it wasn't....long. Not as far as run time, although I guess 2 hours, 49 minutes is long compared to the typical American movie. No, what people meant is, "Is the movie boring?"

No, no, a thousand times no!

What others are calling long and drawn out, I saw as attention to detail. You see, when a director makes a film from a book, and wishes it to be commercially successful, they have to make a lot of compromises. They have to leave out much of the book, combine characters and events, and condense what may have been one of the greatest speeches of a novel into one line (Anyone want to guess what I'm talking about here?) If the director is very clever, they will make a movie that satisfies "the moviegoing audience" (ie, those who couldn't be bothered to actually read the book) while merely making fans of the book sigh and say, "I'm disappointed, but I see why the director made those concessions" rather than calling for the director's blood.

I think, for the most part,that Peter Jackson did that with the LotR Trilogy. Not just because he *is* very clever, but because you can tell he LOVES these books. He did his very best, within the constraints the movie industry placed on him, to make a book he,the fan, would enjoy,and they still stand as some of my favourite movies. With the success of those, he had the chance to switch things around. He was able to make the movie(s) that we, the fans of the books (including Jackson himself) want to see,while making them engaging enough to still draw in the average moviegoer. If "An Unexpected Journey" is any indication, he's succeeding.