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



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Entertainment Media Analysis Report

October Sky (1999), PG
CAP Score: 67, CAP ID: 0.88

Thomas A. Carder
CAP President

Executive Summary / Commentary
Findings / Scoring

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"October Sky" (PG) -- with sky-high impudence. The movie presents how a father and son should NOT talk to each other. The father, which the son said was his hero, was most bitter and hateful toward his son. And the son, loved by the father, threw several verbal knives at him. Four teen boys, accused of setting a forest fire with a rocket, were arrested in handcuffs while in the High School building -- a most atypical tactic of police, portraying them as Gestapo goons. The High School principal was portrayed as no better, also atypical giving opportunity to formulate the wrong impression of school administrators. Reckless shooting of an old car was imagery of immunity to harm -- a signal of dangerous irresponsibility. Theft of private property was portrayed as "Oh, well. Boys will be boys."

And the language -- 41 uses of "potty-mouth" language, including God's name in vain once with the four letter expletive. Makes me wonder whether this "based on a true story" story was true. I suspect we all know about "based on a true story" stories. Such flippant use of unacceptable language drives even deeper the stake of belief that movies like this one are why some, maybe most, of our teens and preteens talk the way they talk -- as if such language makes one mature and important.

While language, impudence, and hate splattered this movie like spots on a leopard, there were only a few sexual innuendo, no nudity, and nobody under the sheets. The central male figure parked with a girl once, but was interrupted before the first button was undone. But unusual for teen movies, there were only two instances of drugs or alcohol. Once when the father drank a beer and another when the boys obtained illegal moonshine for making rocket fuel.

The saddest part is that this could have been a great movie if the goodness of it was not buried beneath new age entertainment ignominy.

FINDINGS / SCORING: October Sky (1999) CAP Thermometers

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) lost no intermediate nor maximum level points.

Impudence/Hate (I)(1) lost intermediate level points three times due to a portrayal of a father animatedly hateful toward his son, a portrayal of a son animatedly hateful toward his father, and a completely inappropriate arrest of four teenage boys. Impudence/Hate lost maximum level points twice due to a stepfather beating his stepson and due to a general attitude among teens of "It ain't good enough, not matter what 'it' is."

Sex/Homosexuality (S) lost no intermediate nor maximum level points.

Drugs/Alcohol (D) lost no intermediate nor maximum level points.

Offense to God (O)(2) lost no intermediate nor maximum level points.

Murder/Suicide (M)(3) lost no intermediate nor maximum level points.

Other examples of entertainment ignominy, each warranting the loss of the minimum point level, included

  • talk of suicide among teenagers
  • two mine cave-ins with injury and a mine death with graphic fatal injuries
  • multiple instances of sexual innuendo
  • demonstrating how to inappropriately touch
  • dangerous play, reckless handling of explosives, making of explosives without adult supervision
  • repeated portrayal of a principal as hateful and loud
  • repeated portrayal of a father as hateful
  • repeated arrogance toward a father by a son
  • reckless gunfire
  • fighting to settle differences
  • repeated theft of private property
  • presentation/consumption of moonshine and beer
  • reckless endangerment of four teen boys (standing in the back of a speeding pick-up truck)
  • act of wanton disregard for personal safety and that of others (four boys running toward moving train)
  • parking ostensibly for sex
  • defiance of father's directive
  • threat of divorce if one party does not comply with demands
  • attempted murder
  • portrayal of a teen as more mature and wise than father

    (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 is incorporated into the Impudence/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 and deaths by police action or war are incorporated into Wanton Violence/Crime.

    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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