Monday, December 29, 2008

The Movies - Spoiler Alert!

This blog strays a bit from my usual topics but I have to vent. Just a warning before you continue reading: I will be discussing both Twilight and 7 Pounds. If you don't want to know information about either movie, don't read on.

I should tell you I rarely go to movies. I have a Netflix account, HBO on my satellite and streaming off my PlayStation 3 system. So when I do choose to go, it is usually because either Ali wants to see a movie or I have a burning desire to view a movie everyone is talking about. Both of these situations arose recently.

Ali has been reading the Twilight series. When I first saw the book about 3 years ago, I read the back of the book and told her she could not read it. I thought it sounded too racy for a fifth grader. But by 8th grade, all her friends had already read the books and she was curious. So I did what I shouldn't have - I let her read the series without reading it first. Then we went to the movie.

You should know that, at this time, I still haven't read any of the books. It is on my to-do list but I will tell you my thoughts after seeing the movie. I came out of this movie extremely disappointed. This was basically a story about obsessive love between two teens. The girl was helpless and desperate for attention. The boy was protective and secretive. This seems like the perfect situation for an abusive relationship. My concern with this movie was that teenage girls, my own included, will watch this movie and think that is what love is really all about. Find a guy who will protect you at all costs, keep your relationship secret, don't clue your parents into anything. Ah yes...the perfect love.

Naturally, Ali and I spent much time talking afterwards. I don't want her to believe in love like this. And I only hope that the relationship she sees each day between her father and me will be a better model for her than the one in Twilight.

Next movie: 7 Pounds. Wow. I was so excited to see this movie. It was being hyped on tv, people were talking about it online, it got great reviews.

So imagine my dismay when I realized what this movie was really about. It plays as a story about a noble man, played by Will Smith, one of my favorite actors, trying hard to make peoples' lives better. And he does - 7 lives, as a matter of fact.

But here is the real story. This man caused an accident where 7 people died. So he decides to commit suicide. He plans it out very methodically. In the process, he gives away his house (person number one is helped) and then donates body parts he can live without (bone marrow, lung part, etc.). Finally, he puts himself into a bathtub full of ice (have to maintain the body parts he cannot live without) and kills himself. His eyes and heart then go to the other people he chose to help. So very noble. The last scene is one where the heart recipient and the eye recipient meet and both are so happy. Music swells. Hearts soar. The End.

I sat in the theater with my jaw hanging opened. How could this movie have been made? Let's make suicide more noble. Unhappy with your life? Feel guilty about a terrible event? Don't live on and make life better. Kill yourself but be sure to donate your body parts so others can be happy.

Maybe I just missed the message. But I was so disappointed with what I came out with. Ali and I had another long discussion after this one. "Imagine," I said to her, "how many people he could have helped had he chosen to live and help others." This is the message the movie should have given.

I hope that the next movie I choose will have a better message for me and my family.


gail said...

Thank you Lisa. Simply thank you.

Sharon Elin said...

Wow, Lisa, thanks so much for the insightful and thoughtful reviews of two movies that I knew little about, other than the hype.

Parents need to see movies that they children see. Too often, they send their kids to the movies and never have a clue what they're about or what messages their children receive from them. It's impossible to offer a balanced view or counter negative influences if one never hears the other side!

Your concerns about underlying negative messages about relationships as seen in Twilight plague me. I share these concerns. I worry about a generation of kids being taught by media/peers that dysfunction is normal, acceptable, and even charming. I worry that too many kids don't see examples of positive, working relationships and don't know how to communicate effectively or work through conflicts lovingly. I miss Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver! I know "Leave It To Beaver" is a tad too syrupy, but at least the family had a solid core.

I'm definitely disappointed about 7 Pounds, which I thought was going to be about beneficence and charity and good will. To hear that the character's actions are a step toward suicide makes me ill. I've experienced the legacy of a family member's suicide, and I can tell you firsthand that there is no such thing as a noble suicide -- it is a purely selfish act of desperation. Regardless of the reasons or the intent, suicide leaves survivors and loved ones with an incurable scar and loss. How can that ever be noble?

These are two movies I'll cross off my list. I'm so thankful that I saw your reviews!

Cathy Nelson said...

Confession--I cheated and watched both online last week. Huge disappointment.

One bright spot though--the girls at school checking out all the Twilight Books claim the movie focused on only a glimmer of what the books focus on. They tell me the characters are much more detailed and rich in the book, that storylines only glossed over in the movied are fully developed, and the love story and suspense factor are so much better in the books. There had been a rush on classics in the library recently, and when I asked why, I found out these were the books "Bella" likes to read. Surprise!

I have an advisory group of 15 8th graders, so with your permission, I'll bring this discussion to the table. It merits a conversation, either way, and not all parents feel they can talk to their teens about the topics.

The key point made in this post is that the movies (both) can be conversation starters. Hopefully more parents will take advantage of the opportunity.

Lisa Parisi said...

Cathy, by all means have these discussions in your group. I am glad girls are reading but there has to be a better message out there.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering, could cathynelson clarify:

"Confession--I cheated and watched both online last week. Huge disappointment." ?????

wondering exactly what does that mean??