Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Transformation of Transformers

As the father of two young children (8 and 6), I pay more attention to the content of movies than I did prior to kids. I also noticed more "bad" things as a Christian than I did when I was not a Christian. Or maybe I should say that now these things bother me more. It's also growing more evident how our society is changing to find sinful acts more susceptible. Forty or fifty years ago you couldn't use the word "pregnant" on TV, and couldn't show a married couple sleeping in the same bed. Nowadays you can show brief nudity on network TV and use words that many people wouldn't use in their real life. Why is this necessary?

Believe me, I'm not a prude, and can enjoy R-rated movies (and own a few). However, I can separate the good from the bad in what I watch. My kids don't have the same ability, and absorb more into their minds than we like to realize.

My son wants to see Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and I can't bring myself to take him to it based on what I've heard. I grew up watching the Transformers cartoons on TV and playing with the toys (Soundwave was my favorite!). They were great fun, with a solid story of good versus evil. Over the years there have been numerous animated series, all of them with pros and cons to those of us who began with "G1". My son has watched some of them on DVD, and has liked them. He also likes the current animated version (though personally I'm more old-school).

When the first Transformers movie came out a couple of years ago, we were excited to see it. It was going to be great to see these giant transforming robots "live", and my son and I had some special time together watching it (my wife and daughter aren't into it and went to see another movie). I was very surprised at a couple of the scenes, and am very glad that he didn't really seem to notice much about them. Specifically I'm talking about the brief and awkward discussion on masturbation, and Bumblebee urinating on the agent. Why were these necessary? How did these things advance the plot or explore the characters? The movie would have been just as good (and actually better) without them. I'm surprised that the studio and Hasbro would allow these events, since the movie and toys were definitely marketed towards kids as well as adults. Many of us who grew up on these characters now have kids of our own, and want to share these things across generations. But frankly these things are inappropriate for younger children.

I've heard that the new movie has Sam's mother accidentally getting high on marijuana brownies, and some of the Autobots have hip-hop stereotypes and use foul language. These are not the examples that I want my son watching, so I have to disappoint him and not allow him to watch it until I've had a chance to see it myself first (which will probably be when it comes out on DVD). Again, I have to ask why these scenes are necessary? How does this honor the decades-long legacy of the Transformers? How is this appropriate for kids who go into the toy aisles and see them half-filled with Transformers toys? Heck, even for adults this is completely unnecessary!

Despite all of this, and pretty poor reviews, the movie is making a ton of money. This pretty much assures that a third movie will be made. I'm not looking for a great plot, as I'm fine with going and watching cool CGI robots in action. I'm also not looking for a Christian-themed movie. I just hope that they get a new writer, and a new director if Michael Bay insists on treating the franchise in this way. I want to be able to share these things with my son. But I'm concerned about how this will transform the younger generation in a bad way.

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