One of the best parts about having kids, especially boys, is that you get to play with Legos again. When someone sees a 40-year-old man playing with Legos by himself, they call the authorities. When someone sees a 40-year-old man playing Legos with his 8-year-old son, they call it good parenting. Hooray for good parenting!
Several months ago, like a lot of other good parents, I took my kids to the theatre to see The Lego Movie. We loved it. They thought it was hilarious. So did I. But there was something else that I liked about it.
I liked the message.
As I saw it, the story was about the importance of bravery, non-conformity, creativity, friendship and being a good dad.
It turns out that I was all wrong. Well, at least according to a few Christian parents on the Internet. As they saw it, the movie was an attempt to feminize boys, make them dependent on the government, turn them away from religion, huff gasoline, kick grandma and lock the dog in the deep freezer.
I grew up in the era of hidden messages. Preachers used to visit my childhood church and play Led Zeppelin records backwards. Find the nearest vacuum cleaner, turn it on and try pronouncing this word in a deep loud voice.
That’s what everyone in the room heard. Well, everyone except for the traveling anti-rock and roll evangelist. He heard, “Satan wants to make your kids huff gasoline, kick grandma and lock the dog in the freezer.”
Suddenly, everyone was terrified. So they all burned their rock and roll records. Remember those Columbia House mail outs you used to get where you could buy 12 albums for a penny? The reason why those things worked so well is because people like me used it to buy back all of the music they burned when they were kids.
But sometimes the message is there. Sometimes, you don’t even have to play things backwards to find the bad message.
In college I was in a popular children’s store in the mall. There was a large television playing a popular children’s cartoon. My friend said something about there being hidden sexual symbols in the movie. I laughed it off. One of the employees overheard our conversation and interrupted. I thought we were about to get thrown out.
Instead, he affirmed my friend’s theory about the hidden messages.
“Oh yeah. That stuff really is in there.”
And then he grabbed the remote to fast forward to all of the parts in question. He was right. It really was there. And then he gave us a mini seminar on subliminal messages in children’s movies. I just hope that the three-year-old girl who just happened to be there watching her favorite movie has gotten all of the therapy that she needs.
I’m not denying that there are evil messages in movies and music. I’m just denying that those evil hidden messages are in all movies and music. That’s where discernment comes in. A lack of discernment will convince you to let your thirteen-year-old spend hours and hours alone in his room “doing homework” on the Internet. A lack of discernment will also lead you to believe that every form of entertainment not endorsed by Jonathan Edwards is sent from hell for no other reason but the destruction of your children.
Here’s the problem with discernment. It requires work. You can’t be both a lazy parent and a discerning one. Laziness is nuking all forms of entertainment, news and other media. Discernment is using a scalpel to cut out what does not belong so that what’s okay can be more fully enjoyed.
If you haven’t seen it yet, check out The Lego Movie. It’s really good. And it’s out on DVD so if you don’t have kids, no one will know that you watched by yourself. If you do have kids, and they start kicking grandma and locking the dog in the deep freezer, it’s probably not the movie’s fault.
It might just be yours.
But not many parents want to do the hard work that comes along with self-examination.
It’s much easier to find something from a movie to blame it all on.
And rest assured, if you want something to be there, something will be there.