ChildCare Action Project:
Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

Entertainment Media Analysis Report

The Basketball Diaries (1995)
CAP Score: 15
CAP ID: 4.25

Thomas A. Carder
CAP President

ALERT: To fully understand this report you should first visit the topics suggested by the CAP Home Page Table of Contents.

While most CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Reports are summaries and are condensed to minimize length, this report is NOT summarized. This movie was a very, very morally destructive movie and I want you to know as much as I can tell you as possible in a written instrument from a Christian perspective BEFORE you plant your face in front of this movie.

The Basketball Diaries (1995) was quite possibly the most offensive movie of all the movies now in the CAP movie database. This movie contained incredibly dark and vulgar guided imagery which could quite possibly lead the impressionable into moral and value modification, poor coping skills, and dangerous decision-making.

Nihilism (the "I don't care no matter what," existence is useless attitude) and dissonance abounded in this movie! Dissonance can be described as the discord that stirs in a 13-year old child when an exofamilial authority figure says to the child that s/he is mature enough to handle "adult" material while mom/dad says s/he is not -- whom do you think the child will favor especially when other 13-year olds get to experience the "adult" material? The human being might do almost anything to avoid this condition.

The frequency of examples of unacceptable material was bewildering -- 246 in 102 minutes! Impunity/Hate alone revealed 88.2 per hour with at least 69 occurrences of the most foul of the vulgar words and seven occurrences of God's name in vain with the four-letter explicative. It is no wonder some who watch this form of "entertainment" believe "that's the way people talk." Maybe this class of entertainment is precisely why some people talk (act/react?) the way they do. Adaptation and/or corruption of decision-making skills due to the influence of the entertainment media is rarely disputed.

Attacks on Christianity/religion were bold as well. The "loony lady" used the most foul of words repeatedly in the same verbal paragraph with speaking of salvation and Jesus, and spoke "Mary the whore." A Catholic school and one of the fathers were portrayed as quite sadistic and uncaring. Together, these influences can certainly give the wrong impression of Christianity and religion.

Very few of additional examples of unacceptable material include the following.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) lost almost half of its starting 100 points due to graphic gang violence, crime, beatings, and threats with weapons.

Impunity/Hate (I)(1) lost all of its 100 points due to a large extent to the use of the most foul of the three/four letter word vocabulary, a teen screaming vulgarities at his mother, the teen speaking of welcome anticipation of his own death, and beating of a teen by a relative ostensibly justified by familial authority over the teen.

Sex/Homosexuality (S) lost all its points due to, among other things, homosexual propositioning to a teen by an adult with physical contact on a private region, prostitution/propositioning, teen stripping to nudity with sensual dancing to arouse, monologue of nude sensuality with masturbation by four teens, homosexual reference with foul language, and a homosexual act on a male teen by an adult.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) lost all its 100 points for the most part due to ingestion of street drugs by four teens and other examples of teens consuming drugs, teen drinking of alcoholic beverage, talk of violent death and other experience due to the influence of drugs, and drug dealing by and to teens.

Offense to God (O)(2) lost all of its 100 points due to the use of God's name in vain with the four-letter explicative, and due to using foul language in the same verbal paragraph with speaking of salvation and Jesus, and saying "Mary the whore."

Murder/Suicide (M)(3) lost most of its points due to six graphic shotgun murders of teens by a teen, and a dream murder.

Additional examples of unacceptable material included:

  • portraying a Catholic father as sadistic
  • arrogant and lustful dialogue of using drugs
  • the use of the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • the use of God's name in vain without the three/four letter word explicatives
  • suggestion of adult homosexual attraction to a teen
  • references to hetero- and homosexual activity and human anatomy
  • sexual innuendo
  • threats with weapons
  • endangering the health of a leukemia patient
  • glorification of recklessness
  • partial nudity
  • teens in underwear in the public
  • talk of sexual conquest
  • vulgar gestures
  • gaping mouth kissing
  • talk of male exudate
  • hate/death music
  • glorification of crime
  • drug dealing, consumption, and addiction
  • lies to avoid accountability
  • breaking and entering
  • pretense of suicide by holding a handgun against the user's head
  • transvestism
  • licentious disregard for private property
  • theft
  • blaming God for not "showing up" after an invitation
  • lesser episodes of screaming at righteous parental and exofamilial authority, and running from lawful authority
  • undeniable expressions of desire for revenge
  • adolescent smoking
  • unsafe acts

  • In accordance with the comparative baseline data of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model, The Basketball Diaries (1995) presented material equivalent to R-rated material in Impunity/Hate, Sex/Homosexuality, Drugs/Alcohol, Offense to God, and Murder/Suicide. The Basketball Diaries (1995) was equivalent to PG-13 material in Wanton Violence/Crime. Thus, the movie was equivalent to the 83% R-rated material and 17% PG-13 material.

    On a final note, the CAP Influence Density (ID - the higher the number the greater the impact) of this movie is the most severe of any of the movies analyzed by the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model (the CAP Model). Mary Poppins earned a CAP ID of zero. Shawshank Redemption earned a 1.45. The Basketball Diaries earned a 4.25! I have not yet seen a movie as morally invasive, as acidic, as contemptibly vile, and as toxic in guided imagery and Hollywood arrogance as The Basketball Diaries. PLEASE, do not view this movie and PLEASE, PLEASE do whatever you can to prevent your children from viewing it.

    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impunity/Hate was the strongest presence in all four movie classifications. It has a strong revelation about the entertainment media.

    (2) The use of the three/four letter word vocabulary without God's name is incorporated into the Impunity/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the three/four letter word vocabulary is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication. As required of the Holy Scriptures, unless God's name is used with reverence to His glory and praise, its use is considered in vain, whether literal or euphemistic.

    (3) Only portrayal of successful murder or suicide are incorporated into Murder/Suicide. Presentation of attempts to commit murder or suicide, deaths by police action, and deaths by war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

    Please remember we believe that if even one of the six Investigation Area scores for a movie is equivalent to the CAP comparative baseline database scoring range for R, PG-13, or PG material, the entire movie should be regarded as so rated.  For example, if only Wanton Violence/Crime earns a score equivalent to R but all other Investigation Areas earn a score equivalent to G, THERE IS R-RATED MATERIAL IN THE MOVIE AND YOUR KIDS WILL SEE IT AND HEAR IT IF THEY WATCH THE MOVIE!

    Additional reviews of this movie may be located at "Movie Review Query Engine at Telerama."

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    Thomas A. Carder
    ChildCare Action Project: Christian Analysis of American Culture (CAP)

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