Thursday, May 2, 2013

Speaking "Alternate English"

We Bought a Zoo.  It had been advertised as a family friendly movie, albeit one the critics weren't exactly thrilled with.  That was fine with us.  In the past few years, "award-winning artistic masterpiece well-loved by the critics" has come to mean insanely weird, difficult to follow plot, or pushing some politically-charged agenda. 

Besides, fine art has become less than important since three young children came on the scene.  Or maybe it's just that I'm older and tired from the busyness of life so that when I have the chance, I want my movies to be entertaining, not draining.  I want to see on screen the way life should be, not the way life is.  I want the bad guy to get his comeuppance and right to always win.  I want justice to prevail, sin to have very real consequences, and for those consequences to be immediate, not in the after life.  Oh, and I want the happy ending.  Always.

Yes.  I want the fairy tale.

Don't get me wrong.  I love historical fiction.  I believe in the importance of reliving horrific events from our world's history.  They remind us to avoid those mistakes in the future.  They demonstrate just how sinful man is at his core and how low he can sink when given the rope to carry out those innate, twisted desires.

But as a general rule, "family-friendly" movies have become of utmost importance to me as a parent.   What's more, the closer I grow to God, the less I want to fill my own mind with what I refer to as "smut."

As you might imagine, I usually wait for movies to hit television before I DVR them.  By that time, most of the language has been chopped, even if the verbally polite audio doesn't match the moving lips, and inappropriate commercials can easily be zoomed past.

We Bought a Zoo, though, was a $5 after-Thanksgiving-sale purchase.  And it was PG.  Perhaps that's my problem. When I think PG, I remember when the producers of E.T. wanted a PG versus a G rating to draw in an older audience, so they added a single irrelevant curse word to the script.  My how PG has changed.

Husband and I previewed the movie one date night, me squirming uncomfortably with each curse word and completely out-of-place sexual innuendo made to Matt Damon, who was playing the part of an obviously grieving widower. 

Family friendly?  Not for my family.  All I could think was "My children will never be able to watch this!"

A few weeks later, I picked up the DVD case and just happened to glance at the back cover where I read "Includes English Family-Friendly  Audio Track (Alternate Audio)."

Intrigued, I popped in the DVD and went to the main menu.  Beneath "Play" and "Scene Selection" was "Language."  I clicked, and the different language options were the expected ones: English, Español, and Closed Captioning for the Hearing Impaired.  But then, there was a fourth option: English Family-Friendly (Alternate Audio).

By changing the language of the video, I could watch a cursing-free version of the film.

At first, it was amusing.  I was and am honestly thankful the company gave me the made-for-TV audio.  Yet, the label has troubled me ever since.

According to Hollywood, my household speaks a different language than the bulk of society.  We don't speak English.  We speak alternate English.

Alternate English.

When did a clean mouth free of curse words become alternate versus mainstream? When did a cursing-free household become marginalized as so different as to be the odd-man-out?

It's a sad commentary on where our society has gone, where it's headed, and why Christians need to take a stand in their own homes.  If the 78.4% of Americans who claim to be Christians would ask God to help them bridle their tongues and speak like Godly men and women, well, you get the point.

Scripture tells us out of the mouth can't come both blessing and cursing.  In other words, our hearts can't speak two languages.

Our children must see us as parents and Christian mentors practicing this "alternate English" in our homes.  Otherwise, they will never be able to bridle their own tongues, will never master this strange language, which grows stranger by the hour.

1 comment:

  1. Ironic and sad that it's the norm now. In most cases it is so unnecessary to the flow of a movie it actually distracts from it. It's just plain defiance that leads most directors to use it.