All But Dissertation
No dissertation--none of the time!

Saturday, May 24, 2003  

Dale Buss laments the gratuitous sex scene in "The Matrix Reloaded."

The Dionysian vignette from "The Matrix Reloaded"--a version of what the Israelites were doing in "The Ten Commandments" before Moses came down from Mount Sinai--is bad enough in itself, but it's even more affrontive for being kicked off with a quasi-prayer, part of the alleged spiritual depth of the movie. (Alas, there is not space to ponder this movie's metaphysical profundities, such as, "We're all here to do what we're all here to do" and "Choice is an illusion.")

The point is that the sex scene isn't the least bit necessary to tell this story. The whole "Matrix" series is supposed to become this decade's "Star Wars" trilogy. But did those epics suffer from the lack of a scene in which Hans Solo and Princess Leia couple in the back of a spaceship while Wookies cavort lasciviously outside?

Realistically, what can we as parents do about this situation (that is, objectionable scenes in movies that are not, on the whole, otherwise terminally objectionable)? What should we do? We can't turn off the culture, and we can't isolate our children from it. Saying "No" is always an option, and one that my husband and I use regularly. But soon our young teen will go to college, and our "Just say No" methodology, if left only to that, will not have taught him a thing.

This is our solution for now: As he grows older, increasingly we watch objectionable things with him and then talk them out. For instance, we watched "About a Boy" a few weeks ago. The overarching theme of the movie was laudable: lonely, isolated people breaking out of their various pathologies and finding community. It was funny; it was clever; it was touching and well-acted. It also contained a few instances of bad language and very bad morals. But it was a superlative opportunity to verbalize all of those things. We discussed

*how to find a theme in a movie and evaluate it
*the fact that something that is otherwise good can hide poison
*and the chronic dilemma of whether that poison negates the goodness of the thing as a whole. In the specific case of "About a Boy," we came to the conclusion that it did not. The good overrode the bad. For "The Matrix Reloaded," on the other hand, such is not the case. The sex scene + the violence + the general lameness = thumbs down.

Of course, this plan won't work with, say, an eight year old. It seems to be working fairly well for us, but the scary part is that we won't know until it's too late to change anything.

Note 5/26: one more thing--prayer. It's part of the air we breathe, so I forgot to mention it. But praying for the child, for the child's protection from the culture, and for the culture itself, is response #1.

posted by Lady of Shalott | 5:32 PM
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