Sins of the Father

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So my oldest son is home from college for spring break and I take him to see LOGAN. Wolverine is, by far, one of our favorite Marvel characters; we’ve loved every film in the series. We settle into our seats, pretzel bites and sodas close at hand, when another father/son duo sits in front of us. The boy appears to be less than 10 years old. The lights dim and the previews start. There’s another Alien movie coming out, Power Rangers are getting a major makeover, there’s a creepy sci-fi thriller called Life (that looks a whole lot like 1979’s Alien) on the horizon. Then a bright red-backed warning comes on screen “THE FOLLOWING PREVIEW HAS BEEN APPROVED FOR RESTRICTED AUDIENCES ONLY”.

What follows is an atrocious ad for a buddy cop film looking something like what passes for “comedy” these days. The preview treats the audience to the following messages:

  • Women are for men’s sexual gratification!
  • Police are corrupt/police are idiots!
  • Homophobia can be fun!

It accomplishes this in under two minutes. I mean I’m embarrassed in front of my son and he’s 21 years old; how is the dad in front of me not running for a refund?!

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I slip my ticket stub out and realize that LOGAN is R-rated. Now, I am distracted hoping the children in the audience (I can see at least three other dad/son groups including two boys that don’t look older than five) won’t be further damaged by what lies ahead in this 2 hour and 21 minute film. The lights go black and the screen lights up; my fears are realized in the opening scene. The violence is epic. The use of Mexican-appearing immigrants as murderous car thieves is insensitive, at best;  it smells like downright racism to me. (Let’s get that wall up and all). A gratuitous full on naked breast shot of a drunken bride-to-be follows in the first few minutes.

The violence escalates through the remainder of the film. We’re treated to metallic claws driven though faces, heads blown off and Ginsu knife body chopping. This is just some of the havoc created by the 11-year old actress playing the lead female role. This is the young girl recently described by People Magazine as the “new badass child star in town!”

The storyline does weave three fathers into its tale — two good and one not so — including:

Charles Xavier — the wise old professor who “adopts” society’s outcast children and attempts to turn hurt to good.

Will Munson — a kind, hard-working farmer who protects and provides for his family to the ultimate cost. Will’s  goodness is evident in the character of his teenage son played adeptly by Quincy Fouse.

Logan — a damaged, self-centered, self-preserving rogue who resists every fatherly instinct to care for his daughter.The best line of the movie comes from the nurse who’s taken on the role of Laura’s mother (until, of course, her savage murder). She says to Logan:

“She is not my daughter, but I love her. You may not love her, but she is your daughter. Please, help her.”

These messages are likely drowned out to many by the cacophony of gore. Certainly, none of the children in attendance could pull any of this out which, brings me to the point of this post  — if we don’t protect our children, no one else will!

The American Academy of Pediatrics‘ Council on Communication and Media position statement, Media Violence, identifies the following staggering facts drawn from current literature on the subject:

By 18 years of age, the average young person will have viewed an estimated 200000 acts of violence on television alone

Prolonged exposure to such media portrayals results in increased acceptance of violence as an appropriate means of solving problems and achieving one’s goals.

Research has associated exposure to media violence with a variety of physical and mental health problems for children and adolescents, including aggressive and violent behavior, bullying, desensitization to violence, fear, depression, nightmares, and sleep disturbances.

The movie finally ends following one more brutal bloodbath involving small children being hunted by vicious, evil men. As the lights come up, I take a moment to recover. As I catch my breath, I’m suddenly filled with anger, maybe rage —  A young dad escorts his tiny son to the theater exit; the kid is not even five years old. This dad has a protective arm around his son but, his eyes are fixed downward. He feels my heat and glances at me. Guilt is what I see but then my anger becomes conviction — I brought my son too!  If the snack stand menu listed fear, depression or nightmares instead of popcorn, nachos and Milk Duds,  would I have purchased anything? Yet, that’s what the young dad did and that’s what this old dad did as well!

Logan’s last words to his daughter Laura are “Don’t be what they made you.

Maybe we fathers need to pause and pray that our poor choices don’t make our children!

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