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


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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to our youth through you,
their parents and grandparents, in His name by His Word

Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya- Sisterhood (2002), PG-13
Analysis Date: June 12, 2002
CAP Score: 31
CAP Influence Density: 1.71

MinMax: -100

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NOTE: If you do not want the plot, ending, or "secrets" of a movie spoiled for you, skip the Summary/Commentary. In any case, be sure to visit the Findings/Scoring section -- it is completely objective to His Word and is the heart of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model applied to this movie.


If Scriptural references appear, the full text appears at the end of the Summary / Commentary likely using a mix of KJV and NIV.

DIVINE SECRETS OF THE YA-YA SISTERHOOD (PG-13) -- The strongest presences in Divine ... were not characters nor plot nor storyline.

Distributed by: Warner Brothers
Director(s): Callie Khouri
Producer(s): Bonnie Bruckheimer, Scott Elias, E.K. Gaylord II, Hunt Lowry, Mary McLaglen, Bette Midler, Tom Proper, Lisa Stewart
Written by/Screenplay: Rebecca Wells (novels), Mark Andrus (adaptation), Callie Khouri (screenplay)
Cinematography/Camera: John Bailey
Music: T-Bone Burnett, Bob Dylan (song), David Mansfield
Film Editing: Andrew Marcus
Casting: Avy Kaufman
Production Design: David J. Bomba
Art Direction: John R. Jensen

Boxart ©Warner Bros.

Sorry, folks. But by some form of foul language every 2.1 minutes alone this movie does not deserve the PG-13 rating. Further, with all the smoking, drinking and talk of alcohol abuse in a romantic way the PG-13 rating is faulty. I am going to rant for a few moments then I will get to the Summary/Commentary.

A recent study revealed that adolescent exposure to drinking and smoking in entertainment leads to an undeniable increase in substance abuse. The finding entitled Relation Between Parental Restrictions on Movies and Adolescent Use of Tobacco and Alcohol reports that of 4544 youths from grades 5 through 8 of fifteen Vermont and New Hampshire middle schools (90% were under 14 years old) only 16% were completely restricted from viewing R-rated movies (their basis was that R-rated movies present more drinking and smoking than less severely rated movies - and they are right). The report further states the prevalence of having tried smoking without parental knowledge was 35% for those with no restrictions on viewing R-rated movies, 12% for those with partial restrictions, and 2% for those with complete restrictions. The prevalence of having tried alcohol without parental knowledge was 46% for those with no restrictions, 16% for those with partial restrictions and 4% for those with complete restrictions. Rather revealing of the influences of the entertainment industry wouldn't you say?

Further, the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association and others have proven that violence in movies can and does begat aggression in youth. The American College of Physicians has proven that viewing smoking and drinking in movies can and does increase the use of these substances in youth. Harvard educated child developmental expert, Dr. Karen Nelson agrees with me that any behavioral expression can be shaped by observation of behavior in entertainment, good or bad. Doctor Larry Gilliam and Dr. Nelson agree with me that it would be unusual for even a 16 year old to be able to fully comprehend the consequences of his/her actions or to be able to fully separate fantasy from reality. God Himself warns of "bad company" influencing good manners [1Cor. 15:33].

And our study has found that the corruptive influence of modern entertainment that leads our children by their noses into arrogant and irresponsible behavioral choices is quite probably more a matter of portrayed attitude-the portrayal of freedom from authority, freedom from accountability and freedom from consequences-the stealing of childhood from children-than specific instances such as violence, alcohol, tobacco, sex, language, hate, indifference, etc. Indeed, we find that all these behavioral aberrations are but spinoffs or by-products of the big screen attitude of freedom from authority, freedom from accountability and freedom from consequences ... a matter of arrogance against wholesome and righteous, the portrayed attitude of "I'm gonna do it in spite of, indeed because of the rules" and "It ain't good enough no matter what 'it' is" attitude. When are we going to listen to the experts? And speak up? Do something? All it takes for evil to prosper is for good people to do nothing -- or to like it.

On to the Summary/Commentary

This movie jumps around in time a lot. The lives of five women and their intertwining are presented in fragments. The main characters, Vivian Walker (Ellen Burstyn), in her 60s, and her daughter Sidda Lee Walker (Sandra Bullock), in her 30s are at odds. Sidda, a top-notch New York playwright, participated in an interview with Time Magazine which did not sit well with momma Vivi at all. Sidda told some childhood secrets that momma did not want the world to know, that her childhood was not that pleasant and guess who Sidda blamed? Now the feud starts and the now elderly Ya-Ya Sisters gets involved: Necie (Shirley Knight), Caro (Maggie Smith) and Teensy (Fionnula Flanagan). Vivi is the leader of the Ya-Ya- Sisterhood. Getting wind of the feud, Teensy, Necie and Caro decide to intervene.

The show opens with Vivi, Necie, Caro and Teensy, all in their much younger days, participating in a fireside ritual to form the Ya-Ya Sisterhood for life. After a few chants of make-believe incantation-sounding rites, the girls stab themselves in their palms to draw blood and clasp hands in a ring, lifting their clasped hands and shouting YA-YA!

It seems Vivi has a reputation for being not that stable or reasonable -- the reason for her being miffed at Sidda's interview with Time Magazine. Occasionally, the timeframe takes us back about 30 years to meet the younger Vivi (Ashley Judd) and how her life was instrumental in making things miserable for many, how her life was shattered by the wartime death of her one true love, and how her life was further shattered by her marriage to a cotton farmer, Shep Walker (James Garner), by drinking and by addiction to prescription medication. There is one other male of significant screen time, Connor (Angus MacFayden), Sidda's live-in fiance who had just recently become Sidda's fiance who was just live-in before.

Sensing total meltdown between Vivi and Sidda, Necie, Caro and Teensy kidnap Sidda and drag her down to Louisiana for therapy with Necie, Caro and Teensy as the therapists and referees for the mother-daughter feud, hoping that saturating Sidda with the stories from her mother's past would heal the wounds and foster forgiveness. There the plethora of intricate and sometimes confusing flashbacks to the pasts of the entourage begin their assault on your senses.

The strongest presences in Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood were not characters nor plot nor storyline but were foul language of all manner [Prov. 8:13, Prov. 22:11], drinking and smoking [Luke 1:15, Prov. 20:1]. Thirty-eight uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary [Titus 2:6-8], twelve uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and seven without [Deut. 5:11]. At least 28 presentations of drinking and/or smoking plus a plethora of conversational insults about drinking, drunkenness and being alcoholic, which is why I spent so much space on the opening material regarding the influence of sinematic drinking and smoking.

Adult tantrums, a threat with a knife, cohabitation, brief side female nudity, inappropriate touch, gambling and stripping to nudity for exhibition are clearly not what Jesus would approve as and in entertainment for your 13 year olds and younger which does not say they are fit for older teens and adults. Hatred of family, family fights, speaking hatred of one's children, spouse abuse, abandoning the family and parental brutality clearly make this not a movie conducive to family unity and cooperation. There is much more to this 111 minute escapade into redefining morality but I will leave them to listing in the Findings/Scoring section.


If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ]. If you wish to have full context available, the Blue Letter Bible is a convenient source. If you use the Blue Letter Bible, a new window will open. Close it to return here or use "Window" in your browser's menu bar to alternate between the CAP page and the Blue Letter Bible page.

  • Prov. 8:13 To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech.
  • Prov. 22:11 He who loves a pure heart and whose speech is gracious will have the king for his friend.
  • Titus 2:6 Similarly, encourage the young men to be self-controlled. In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned,...
  • Luke 1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb. [Speaking is the angel that appeared to Zechariah, promising Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth a son - John the Baptist, but it also says that not drinking aloholic beverages will find favor in the eyes of the Lord. Though it is not a sin to drink, God knows of our tendency to excess. And the "strong drink", or liquor of Jesus' day was less potent than our dry wine. What does that say about our liquor of up to 75% alcohol?]
  • Prov. 20:1 Wine [beer, mixed wine] is a mocker[to make scorn, make mouths at, talk arrogantly], strong drink [pure wine] is raging [cause to be disquieted, be in an uproar]: and whosoever is deceived thereby [caused to go astray by it, believes otherwise] is not wise. [If alcoholic beverages in entertainment were not a problem for our young, why would there be and why has there been such a push to get and keep booze commercials off TV?]
  • Deut. 5:11 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain [shav' {shawv}: emptiness, nothingness, vanity]: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.

    *******Food for Daily Thought*******
  • 1 Cor. 15:33 (KJV) Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (NIV) Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.
  • Jude 4 For certain men* whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. [*men: anthropos {anth'-ro-pos}, generic, a human being, whether male or female]
  • Matt. 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto [or for] one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto [or for] me.
  • Luke 17:2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. [cause by teaching or example]
  • Ps. 119:133 Direct my footsteps according to your word; let no sin rule over me.
  • John 14:15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.
  • 1 Thess. 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.


    As always, it is best to refer to the Findings/Scoring section -- the heart of the CAP analysis model -- for the most complete assessment possible of this movie.

    Divine Secrets of the Ya=Ya Sisterhoos (2002) CAP Thermometers

    Wanton Violence/Crime (W):
    o ritualistic self injury o threat with a knife o gambling o tale of suicide o parental brutality o mother beating children with a belt buckle during drug-induced madness

    Impudence/Hate (I)(1):
    o 38 uses of the three/four letter word vocabulary o two uses of the most foul of the foul words o adult tantrums o racial hatred with verbal insults by an adolescent o spouse abuse o marital hatred and argument before children o vulgar gesture o hatred of family o abandoning family o speaking hatred of children

    Sex/Homosexuality (S):
    o adolescent talking to nudity with naughtiness o long term cohabitation o inappropriate touch, repeatedly o adults in underwear, repeatedly o picture nudity o public nudity as exhibition o "Took me 25 years to find out my husband was gay" o woman raising dress to underwear o stripping to nudity o brief side female nudity o ghosting of female anatomy through clothing, repeatedly o admission of sexual immorality

    Drugs/Alcohol (D):
    o talk of booze, drinking, drunkenness, alcoholism romantically, repeatedly o drinking, repeatedly o smoking, repeatedly o drugging to abduct o party drinking o prescription drug abuse

    Offense to God (O)(2):
    o 12 uses of God's name in vain with the four letter expletive and 7 without o mockery of faith, repeatedly o "There are some things for which I don't expect to be forgiven. Not by my children. Not even by God."

    Murder/Suicide (M)(3):
  • none noted

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    NOTE: The CAP Analysis Model makes no scoring allowances for trumped-up "messages" to excuse or for manufacturing of justification for aberrant behavior or imagery, or for camouflaging such ignominy with "redeeming" programming. Disguising sinful behavior in a theme plot does not excuse the sinful behavior of either the one who is drawing pleasure or example from the sinful display or the practitioners demonstrating the sinful behavior. This is NOT a movie review service. It is a movie analysis service to parents and grandparents to tell them the truth about movies using the Truth.

    "There are some in the entertainment industry who maintain that 1) violent programming is harmless because no studies exist that prove a connection between violent entertainment and aggressive behavior in children, and 2) young people know that television, movies, and video games are simply fantasy. Unfortunately, they are wrong on both accounts." And "Viewing violence may lead to real life violence." I applaud these associations for fortifying 1 Cor. 15:33. Read the rest of the story. From our nearly seven years of study, I contend that other aberrant behaviors, attitudes, and expressions can be inserted in place of "violence" in that statement. Our Director - Child Psychology Support, a licensed psychologist and certified school psychologist concurs. For example, "Viewing arrogance against fair authority may lead to your kids defying you in real life." Or "Viewing sex may lead to sex in real life." Likewise and especially with impudence, hate and foul language. I further contend that any positive behavior can be inserted in place of "violence" with the same chance or likelihood of being a behavior template for the observer; of being incorporated into the behavior mechanics and/or coping skills of the observer. In choosing your entertainment, please consider carefully the "rest of the story" and our findings.

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    (1) As noted in CAP Special Report-001, "Investigation Area and Scoring Trend," of the six CAP Investigation Areas, Impudence/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 in vain is incorporated into the Impudence/Hate Investigation Area. The use of God's name with or without the four letter expletive is incorporated into the Offense to God Investigation Area. There is no duplication.

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

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