(I make fun of a "family values" activist here. If that offends, skip this post.)
There is a letter to the editor in today's Buffalo News that boggles the imagination.
A little background: Buffalo's main theatrical venue, Shea's Center for the Performing Arts, does a "Family Film Series" every year where they offer free screenings of "family" movies -- generally PG or G-rated fare. The letter in today's paper registers a complaint about one of the films recently shown. Here are some selections from the letter:
As a parent and an educator, I am writing to express my appreciation for your support and sponsorship of family-oriented events, but also to bring to your attention the lack of family values portrayed during the Jan. 11 event.
....The other adults and I were appalled at the vulgarity that was shown in the film. I am not in favor of censorship. I am, however, in favor of age-appropriate material for children, especially when presented under the auspices of a "family event."
I have to believe that not one of the sponsoring agencies viewed the film to assess its appropriateness. Had they, I would imagine the film would not have been selected, or at the very minimum, the multiple utterances of expletives would have been beeped out or voiced over and the sexual overtones edited for content.
Furthermore, the amount of smoking that was portrayed in the film was astonishing. Granted, the film was released in [year]. Today, however, the clear message being conveyed is that of a smoke-free lifestyle.
It is unsettling to me that an organization would agree to have its name and reputation associated with a "family event" when clearly the values of respectful and appropriate language and healthy lifestyle are not a part of the event.
I hope The News continues to support family events, but takes greater care in selecting experiences that foster positive values."
Wow, that's a pretty strong condemnation, and I'm sure that you're wondering just what R or PG-13 rated monstrosity was allowed to sully the imaginations and moral lives of these poor kids. Die Hard, maybe? There's a lot of smoking and swearing in that. Or maybe A Fish Called Wanda, which has smoking, sex, and lots of swearing.
Nope. The movie with such display of staggering immorality, with smoking and sexual overtones and vast amounts of potty-mouthed depravity that was nevertheless inflicted on the poor little angels was Ghostbusters. From 1984.
Can you imagine this woman's reaction if her kids were to watch, say, Casablanca? That movie has smoking and sexual overtones galore! There's not much swearing, but I imagine all that gambling and drinking would make up for it. The horror! O the swooning in the aisles!
And I always love the phrasing of such missives: "I am a parent and an educator", as if this has anything to do with, well, anything (and raises the question of just what an "educator" is -- is it a teacher? a guidance counselor? a homeschooling parent?); "I am not in favor of censorship", leaving out the implied second clause: "But you can't expect me to exercise my own responsibility for judging a film's content before I show it to my kids, especially a movie that's been out for twenty years."
I swear to God, every time I encounter something like this, part of me wants to sit my kid down and have her watch Pulp Fiction. You know, just to balance out the world.
(I edited the letter, obviously, to withhold the name and release date of the film for maximum effect in my post. The unexpurgated letter can be read here.)