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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones through you in His name by His Word
(2004), PG-13 [R-13*]
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(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)
(2004), PG-13 [R-13] -- "Based on a true story." I wonder how much...
Cast/Crew Details Courtesy Internet Movie Database
Production (US): Friday Night Lights LLC, Imagine Entertainment
Distribution (US): Universal Pictures, Universal Studios Inc.
Director(s): Peter Berg
Producer(s): Sarah Aubrey, John Cameron, Robert Graf, Brian Grazer, James Whitaker
Written by: Book - H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger. Screenplay: David Aaron Cohen, Peter Berg
Cinematography/Camera: Tobias A. Schliessler
Music: Deane Ogden
Film Editing: Colby Parker Jr., David Rosenbloom
Casting: Janet Hirshenson, Jane Jenkins
Production Design: Sharon Seymour
Art Direction: Peter Borck
Viewed At: Driftwood Theater 6
Rated PG-13 for thematic issues, sexual content, language, some teen drinking and rough sports action.
Rated R-13 for abrasive attitude, brutal child abuse, teen and adult drinking and drunkenness, teen sexual intercourse with nudity and off screen, many uses of foul language and God's name in vain and repeated football violence, some vicious.
In 1965, the Permian High School football team won the State AAAAA Championship. Friday Night Lights was based on a true story about the Permian High School football team in Odessa, in West Texas trying again to win State in 1988 against the bigger and faster Carter High School team from Dallas.
There are three easily identifiable subplots within this story.
The first is of Gary Gaines (Billy Bob Thornton), Permian football coach hired for $50,000 to take the Permian Panthers to State again. Coach Gaines, one of the highest paid high school football coaches in the nation, was under probably some of the highest pressure to succeed. The school board kept politely reminding the coach with wife and daughter that his job was to take the Panthers to State ... or?
The second subplot is about James "Boobie" Miles (Derek Luke). I am beginning to wonder why Derek Luke is not higher on the Hollywood totem pole of visibility. He was excellent as Antwone in last years' Antwone Fisher. Luke's short performance was one of the finest in the whole film in spite of the obligatory profanity the writers had him uttering. I suspect if Luke were given as much screen time as Thornton, he would have out-shone Thornton's bright performance. Luke's performance in Antwone Fisher was better even than that of Denzel Washington who played Fisher's Navy psychologist. Boobie was the star running back who carried the team. The team proved vulnerable without Boobie when a severe knee injury (caused apparently by slacking off in weight training) took him off the field, first for about three weeks then permanently.
The third subplot involved star quarterback Mike Winchell (Lucas Black). Mike's nemesis was self confidence both on the field and socially. His insecurity stemmed from a life with an emotionally unstable mother (always the parents' fault, right?). One of the teen girls in the movie queried Mike why he had no girlfriend, whether he was "gay." Yes we must have something about the practice of homosexuality in this film. I mean really. It is PG-13 for young teens. Denying he was "gay", an aggressive and promiscuous girl invited Mike to prove he was not "gay." In bed. With her.
Another element of this film which may qualify as a subplot is that of Don Billingsley (Garrett Hedlund). Don's father, Charles (Tim McGraw) was a previous State champ player who had gone sour. Very sour. He beat Don, verbally abused him severely and publicly shamed him with the trumped up justification of Don being unable to hold on to the football.
Of course, we didn't hear much about the quality parents which obviously greatly outnumbered the abusive, neglectful parents.
"Based on a true story." I wonder how much of Friday Night Lights was based on the truth and how much was fabricated to boost popularity among teens. Even the anti-drug commercial writers know that a message with arrogance and rebellion will perk more teen ears than one of truth and consequences. Knowing only that the film was about high school football, I expected the film to score low in Impudence/Hate (language), Sexual Immorality and Drugs/Alcohol. And it did. I don't remember a film of teenagers that did not, to some degree, make the teens sex-crazed, foul mouthed booze hounds. And we actually wonder why so many of our teens experience unwed pregnancy, alcoholism and a general bad attitude.
Some folks use immoral and aberrant behavior in films to teach their children right from wrong, or are sure to speak with their kids about the immoral and aberrant behavior if they are presented in and as entertainment. But as most parents will eventually admit, there comes a time for most youth that our parental words become just that -- words -- and fall far behind hunger for new experiences and are usurped by peer pressures if only for just a few years.
Though I avoid like the plague using demonstrations of immoral/aberrant behaviors in film to teach my kids (for the reasons which follow), that technique of developing your children may have benefits of which I am not aware or to which I am not wise. In addition to presenting some fine wholesome character portrayals, Friday Night Lights provides a l-o-t of examples of immoral behavior. Sort of like mixing the truth with lies to make the truth more attractive. If you do use immorality and aberrance in films to teach your children about them, all I ask is that you be careful. Please consider this, mom/dad. Teaching children (which includes at-home teens) right from wrong using cinematic demonstrations of misbehavior may instead teach them how to misbehave: using films to teach children not how to behave may teach them how to not behave. WWJD? Not once did Jesus ever demonstrate sin, participate in sin, or encourage us to participate in sin to teach us about sin. And He is the best Father of them all.
God warned us a long time ago about the influence of bad examples [1 Cor. 15:33]. And I suspect Hollywood's portrayal of how they apparently expect the teen to act does not help. Though a great football story and though the reverse of 1 Cor. 15:33 is true as well -- i.e., good company corrupts bad behavior -- Friday Night Lights is rife with teen drinking, teen profanity, teen sexual immorality and more. [Ps. 12:8]
Scientists and psychiatrists have recently admitted that drinking in movies can cause and has caused alcohol abuse in kids as young as middle school and that even talking about immoral sex in films emboldens our youth to initiate immoral sex. With films like this, it is no wonder too many of our teens believe that because they are teens they are supposed to be foul-mouthed, drunken sex machines ... just like in the movies. And standing outside the theater before and after presenting a show like this one, especially after the show when the emboldenment is still fresh and when no parents are around, gives proof of the foul-mouthed implantation. And what they talk about gives evidence of the drunk and sex machine aspects. I guess going to a "brew-broad bash" is impressive ... to other teens anyway. [again 1 Cor. 15:33]
Though Friday Night Lights was a top notch football story film, it was low on the moral totem pole. Simply inspect the CAP Thermometers for this film and you will see what I mean. Again I say the Motion Picture Association of America is morally dead to think this film is fit 13 year olds. But then, which of the demonstrated behaviors that are sinful for a 13 year old are not also sinful for a 30 year old? A 60 year old? Note that "legal" is not part of the question.
Friday Night Lights earned a score of zero on a scale of 100 to zero in both the Wanton Violence/Crime (W) and the Impudence/Hate (I) investigation areas and scores equivalent to R-rated films in the comparative baseline database in all other investigation areas except Murder/Suicide (M) which earned a score of 100 on a scale of 100 to zero.
Granted, football is sometimes quite violent but the filmmakers used a l-o-t of individualized scenes of football violence, including with bloody injuries and deformity, clearly to focus the viewer on violence rather than the sport or the characters or the story. [Prov. 13:2] Of course, these things happen in real football but my job is to let you know about such things in and as entertainment so you might be in a better position to make an informed moral decision for yourself whether a film is fit for your family. We tell you what is there, you decide. [Ezek. 33:2 - 9]
Impudence/Hate (I) lost all of its starting 100 points due a great extent to the use of profanity, including by teens. But the greatest concentration of point loss in Impudence/Hate was due to violations of God's admonitions against child abuse [Luke 17:2, Matt. 25:40, and others]. A slime drunken father beat and verbally abused his teenage son for not being able to hold on to the football. The loving embrace by the father of the son in the end would not excuse and nor would it repair all the damages done. Such humility is a wonderful change for the good and would go a long way to repair emotional damages, but a noble destination does not excuse an ignoble path. The best way to repair the damage of child abuse is to not cause it. Remember fathers, whatever we do to (or for) His little ones (which includes at-home teens) we do to (or for) Him.
With teenage intercourse, including nudity, plus an episode of off-screen teenage intercourse in Friday Night Lights it is no wonder this film earned a score of zero in Sexual Immorality (S) equivalent to many R-rated films. [Gal. 5:19] Not helping the Sexual Immorality score was the sexual interest of a father in his teen son's partially nude teenage intercourse partner. Pediatrics 114: e280-e289 this year reports that watching sex and sexual activities on TV, that even listening to talk about it emboldens youth to initiate sexual behaviors (who has been telling you all this for ten years?). [again 1 Cor. 15:33] If two plus two equals four it stands to reason that watching sex in the movies will do likewise, maybe more so since the big screen plus megawatts of audio power are together larger-than-life. Remember that sometimes the sound in song can say more than the words.
Drugs/Alcohol (D) lost nearly all of its starting 100 points due to drinking, including teen drinking; to drunkenness, including teen drunkenness; to teens planning to get drunk; to smoking. [Eph. 5:18]
Offense to God (O) lost slightly under two thirds of its starting 100 point due entirely to repeated uses of God's name in vain, all but once with the four letter expletive, thrice by a teen. [Deut. 5:11]
Please read the listing in the Findings/Scoring section before you decide whether to take your kids to see this film, before you decide whether to let them go by themselves, and before you decide whether to see it yourself.
If needed to focus or fortify, applicable text is underlined or bracketed [ ] or bold. 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.
***Selected Scriptures of Armour against the influence of the entertainment industry***
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.
(The heart of the CAP Analysis Model)
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
|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 more than eight 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.|
|In the name of Jesus: |
Lord, Master, Teacher, Savior, God.
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