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

Entertainment Media Analysis Report

Scream (1996)
CAP Score: 22
CAP ID: 2.50

Thomas A. Carder
CAP President

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Scream (1996) CAP Thermometers Scream (1996) was Freddie, Jason, Norman Bates, and Sissy Spacek all rolled into two -- the two who took turns killing people. Sadomasochistic mutual knifings, human mutilation, and a constant threat of murder were some of the deeds in this movie. The writers prepared a dialogue which touched on blaming movies for murderous character and named several of the "famous" killer movies -- how right they were -- but of course the writers countered this idea by attempting to redirect the thinking of the viewer onto some other rationale.

Wanton Violence/Crime (W) suffered in totality due continuous terroristic threats, graphic stabbing, series of attacks with injuries and threats of attacks/injuries, and multiple threats with weapons. Impunity/Hate (I)(1) suffered also in totality due to the use of the most foul word of the three/four letter word vocabulary and sheriff's deputy 'approving' of teen drinking, Oddly enough for an R-rated movie, Sex/Homosexuality (S) presented no full nudity or nude sexual intercourse, but a teen heterosexual couple in bed with inappropriate touching, teens stripping to prepare for a sexual encounter, and a bunch of sexual talk, dialogue of sexual experience, talk of gender-specific body arts, and a plethora of other sexual-related material erased all but 10 of the starting 100 points of this Investigation Area. While the use of illegal drugs was not noted in Scream (1996), vital to the threshold of restraint of teens was that the movie presented a ton of teen drinking, teen drinking and driving, and teen drunkenness: all with arrogance and without consequence. Thus Drugs/Alcohol (D) lost 36 of its 100 points. As usual in the entertainment media, the Offense to God (O)(2) score lost bigtime due to the use of God's name in vain with the four letter explicative, to irreverent use of the name and title of Jesus, and to background music equating God with evil. While it might seem that a killer/thriller movie would present reels of murder, there was much more violence than murder: most of the violence associated with murder, to be sure, but not actual (Hollywood) murder. Murder/Suicide (M)(3) was present, though, deleting all but 49 points due to graphic murders with presentation of meachnisms and results.


Additional examples of unacceptable material included:

  • realistic screams to start the movie
  • promoting the use of "900" numbers for sex talk
  • coarse language
  • threats of killing/terroristic threats/death threats
  • physical attacks
  • teen boy sneaking into teen girl's bedroom
  • lying to avoid accountability
  • dialogue of sexual experience
  • sexual tease with unobservable nudity
  • the use of God's name in vain without the three/four letter word vocabulary
  • talk of male organ
  • encouraging a stranger on the phone
  • arrogance against righteous authority
  • very short skirts on teens, slutty dress
  • generalization of kids as evil by a sheriff
  • questioning God's existence
  • physical attacks with weapons
  • hateful/cruel talk
  • seductive talk to manipulate a police officer, sexual enticement
  • camera angle to focus veiwer on female posterior
  • sex talk and of talk of sexual experience
  • teen couple going to parents' bedroom
  • gaping mouth kissing
  • heterosexual couple in bed together
  • invitation to sexual activity
  • talk of sexual desires
  • inappropriate touching
  • aftermath of sexual intercourse
  • a man atop a woman prone face-to-face
  • insane and frenzied accusations
  • murderous/evil flash imagery

  • Below is the table showing the scoring in each of the Investigation Areas plus the Final Score drawn from the actual CAP Report. In addition, the CAP Influence Density (ID) figure for the movie and the number of examples per hour of unacceptable material in each of the Investigation Areas is provided.

    Scream (1996) CAP Scorecard
    In accordance with the comparative baseline data of the CAP Entertainment Media Analysis Model, Scream (1996) presented material equivalent to R-rated material in Wanton Violence/Crime, Impunity/Hate, Sex/Homosexuality, Offense to God, and Murder/Suicide. Scream (1996) was equivalent to PG-13 material in Drugs/Alcohol. Thus, the movie was equivalent to the 83% R-rated material and 17% PG-13 material.

    (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)

    Copyright ChildCare Action Project (CAP)


    For several days after completing this analysis I was bothered by a part of the movie that was indeed incorporated into the numeric analysis model, but discussed in text only superficially. I have hesitated to include this addendum only because doing so would represent extra work and would not change the CAP final score. But since the discussion of this particularly invasive part of the movie spoke only briefly of it, I decided to add this addendum because of the possible depth and scope of the impact on the observer.

    The two murderers, Billy (Skeet Ulrich, the one who said "Movies don't make psychos; movies make psychos more creative" -- how wrong he was: how right he was!) and Stu (Matthew Lillard) were trying to cover up a planned wrongdoing by framing the intended victim, the father of Ulrich's girlfriend, Sidney (Neve Campbell). Ulrich and Lillard were going to do this by inflicting (hopefully) near-fatal knife injuries on themselves and by placing "evidence" in such a way as to point the blame at the father, who was to have been killed in "self defense" by the two near-dead-when-found murderers. While this would indeed be quite criminal to begin with, the producer was successful in making the actors portray the succession of horror in an exceptionally invasive manner.

    In this part, Ulrich and Lillard were to stab each other with a hunting knife, repeatedly. And that they did -- over an extended period, the steel of the blade disappear into human flesh. At one point, Lillard was heard to say something like "That's enough -- please stop" while Ulrich was continuing to inflict further injury. Ulrich was very, very convincing that he was enjoying what he was doing with lust and hunger for more sadism. While the facial and body expressions of both Ulrich and Lillard were quite convincing, it was the quality of Lillard's voice that drove home the urgency and depth of despair and horror. His voice was begging for mercy in tone and inflection as well as in word, imparting to the compassionate observer a deep feeling of helplessness, hopelessness, and pain for the victim. I am "seasoned" in viewing this kind of imagery trash and I was very negatively moved by it -- one can only imagine what such acting was doing to the coping skills of observers who have little to no compassion, or to those already embittered by hatred and by disregard for human life -- could it, it Ulrich's words, make a psycho or could it make a psycho more creative?