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Entertainment Media Analysis Report
A service to His little ones through you in His name by His Word
(2005), NR [PG*] (45min)
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Christian Long Distance
(This section may be and sometimes is somewhat subjective.)
Distribution (US): Thomas Nelson Publishing
Director(s): Willie Aames
Producer(s): Dan Lynch, Bill Reeves, Willie Aames, Michael Wunsch, Stacy Fogarty, Susan Wellfored
Written by: Willie Aames
Director of Photography: Andy Turpin
Camera: Hermilo Acosta, Jason Cantu, Willie Aames
Technical Director: Michael Wunsch
Music: Isaac Meyer, Luke Hendrickson
Editors: Willie Aames, Mario Cooper, Mario Renz, Evan Wunsch
Viewed on: Thomas Nelson Publishing Home Video
Fourteen tear old Sissy Pike (Harleigh Jean Upton) must make changes. She must make changes from life in L.A. to life in a small Midwest town. And all that goes with it. Including cows in the back yard, new friends and automatic social enemies.
This tale tells a good projection of the life of a teen girl of faith who has to relocate to a new home. In telling this tale, it tells of things that happen routinely in a teen's life, especially at school. Some of the things that happen are not pleasant. Some are even painful. Social warfare is the main presence in this film.
The Public life of Sissy Pike: The New Girl in Town is a story of how a courageous young lady, strong in her faith, handles the pressures of her peers; of how she manages their desire for dominance over her and control of her without submitting to them. As if the young lady has a Powerful Ally.
The film begins with Sissy leaving Los Angels and all her friends as her newly retired Navy chaplain father, Pastor Keith (Willie Aames) reports to a new job as pastor of a Midwest church. Arriving at her new home with her father and mother, Lisa (Maylo McCauslin-Aames) Sissy finds cows in the back yard which help make the move "udderly" fun.
Their first night in their new home, a Saturday night, finds Sissy wanting to make it a family night instead of the Saturday Bible study. Sissy also finds that a cocky young neighborhood boy, Cooper (Cooper Lee, Michael Fogarty), who wants to "welcome their wagon" to the neighborhood, has developed a crush on her.
After the initial shock of meeting her peers in school Sissy finds out quickly who are her friends and who are her enemies. Sissy's new best friend is Annette Schaffer (Anita Willard) who is able to finish Sissy's sentences for her. Leading the pack of enemies is Tracie Bennique (Emily Peterson), leader of the "right crowd", who rarely prowls without a posse (Meredith Fitzsimmons, Anna Mark).
Sissy's first official out-of-school meeting with them is in a youth group at church. There Tracie and company, who are attending the group only to get out of the house and away from mom/dad for a while, launch non-verbal attacks against Sissy. One of the attacks, led by Traci, is a burn book left on Traci's chair. A burn book is a notebook passed among a clique in which they each write down harsh insults about other kids. In this burn book, Sissy was the target.
As hurt as Sissy was, she was strong enough to end the cycle there and threw the burn book away. Little did Sissy know until a meeting with Traci's father, Mr. Bennique (Michael Ashcraft), the largest donor of the church and school, that Lisa had found the burn book and brought it to Mr. Bennique's attention.
Sissy also tried to improve attitudes in and attendance to the youth group by inviting Annette's brother, Isaac Schaffer (Isaac Meyer) and his band to the youth group at church. In the middle of an evening adult Bible study, the sanctuary walls began to reverberate with the sounds of rock-n-roll. Then began the explosion from Mr. Bennique, the largest donor of the church. I say "largest donor of the church" again to give you the impression the film imparts about "the largest donor of the church"; the impression of donor politics and how some large donors wish to manipulate a ministry and its pastor because s/he is the "largest donor of the church." The pastor is not subordinate to the donors. He is subordinate to Jesus. And so are the donors.
There is more interesting and, at times, thought-provoking features of this film, but I do not want to spoil it for you should you opt to view the film. Let me get to the main purpose of this service.
There is no violence noted in the entire 45 minutes of the film. And not one time was the three/four letter word vocabulary used. [Prov. 22:11] Nor was God's name used in vain with or without the four letter expletive. [Deut. 5:11] But the same cannot be said for matters of teen social warfare, arrogance and defiance.
Most story telling necessarily relies on portraying the issues above which may be better described as conflict or friction, but to address the "justification" of these and other matters of assault on morality and ethics is not our goal. That is your job as mom/dad. Our goal is to tell you about the content which the MPAA, advertisers, promoters, etc. of a film can't or won't tell you so you might be in a better position to make an informed moral decision on your own whether a film is fit for your family.
Teen social warfare in the school and church setting is repeatedly demonstrated. Teen defiance of the norm or the accepted standards is lightly presented as well. For example, Sissy brags: "We are the extreme generation!", seemingly to excuse arrogance and/or defiance, especially in style of attire. Sissy also claimed God does not care about what we wear as long as it is not revealing.
While Sissy's dress was not at all extreme and was certainly not revealing, the point is that it is risky to try to excuse any attire with boasting God surely does not care about what we wear. God cares for everything about us. Including our dress. Especially since the choice of what goes on the outside comes from the inside. Jesus did not dress to stand out. Maybe we should follow His example?
Another example of defiance includes the portrayal of using youth Bible study classes to deceive parents. Smooth words and fine-sounding arguments are used to excuse deceit and defiance. [Rom. 16:18, Col. 2:4]
I could tell you that, in my opinion, each issue of social warfare or defiance of the norm or accepted is done with awareness of moral standards and is necessary to the consistency and plot of the story. But that is all this should be to you -- my opinion. My opinion has no bearing in the scoring distribution which is insulated from my opinions and is instead driven by His Word.
Though only the main feature was included in the formal analysis, I feel it fair to speak to what might be a questionable use of the Scriptures in one of the Special Features where Harleigh talks to other cast members. In particular, Harliegh interviews the talented lead singer, Isaac Meyer who provided the theme music. Harliegh asked Meyer who, when asked his favorite verse, said 1 Tim. 4:12.
1 Tim. 4:12 only loosely applies to the point Meyers was trying to make which seemed to be a scolding rather than a praise for His admonition. In 1 Tim. 4:12 the Apostle Paul was speaking to a group of young men who were to take the Gospel to the people and advised the young men to not be intimidated by older men being not accepting of men younger than they doing the teaching.
Meyers paraphrased 1 Tim. 4:12 with "Do not be looked down upon because of your age" then pointed at the camera and said "Be an example." It was not clear to whom, adults or youth, Meyer was addressing his "Be an example." By his expression of arrogance, it seemed Meyer was pointing his finger at adults who have looked down on him.
First Timothy 4:12 says "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity." The NIV puts it "Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity."
Be careful, young folks, of convenience applications of Scripture. First Timothy 4:12 does not give license to have an attitude and still expect respect. The example to be set by God's admonition in 1 Tim. 4:12 is yours. If you get friction from adult authority it may be your attitude causing it. Don't try use God's Word as a weapon against it.
First Timothy 4 continues to advise giving attendance to public reading of the Scripture, to preaching, to teaching. One of those "preachings" and "teachings" is to respect elders who would be in danger of His wrath should they abuse their God-given authority over you. And it is God's wrath they would be in danger of, not yours. Someone showing you disrespect does not give you license to show disrespect, especially in vengeance. Did Jesus do that?
It is inadvisable to make His Word and obedience to it more worldly to make it more exciting and attractive or more comfortable. To do so might change His Word and change Him in the eyes of they who are looking for answers.
Speaking of making His Word more worldly, extremes in music might be precisely that. Though the music of the video is bold, it is by no means extreme. It was simply some kids having fun with glorifying our Lord through rock-n-roll. I like rock-n-roll and grew up with it. But too many use words of Scripture in song to excuse imparting a "message" of arrogance and rebellion with music. All too often the sounds say more than the words.
Consider the following from our analysis of Saved. Which would you say likely honors Jesus the most??
(A) With the traditional soft monophonic accompaniment: "Jesus loves me this I know. For the Bible tells me so."
(B) With "punk", "industrial", "acid" or "metal" accompaniment suggested by the changes to the words: "JEEEEEEEEEEEZZZUUUUSSSSS -GRIND -- SCREEEEETCH- LUUUUUUVV -SCREEEEECH- VVVVVVVZZZZZZZ MEEEEEEEE ....YAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH. -EEEEEEEEEEEEEE- -UUUUU -SCREEEEECH- UUUHHHHH- THISSSSSSSSS AHHHHHHHH KNOOOOOOOOOOW. -SLAAAAAAM- -SLAAAAAAAM- FOR THUH BAAAAAAAAAAABLE TEEELLLLLLLLLLS MEEEEEEEE SOOOOAAAAHHH -SCREEEEECH- SOOOOAAAAHHHSOOOOAAAAHHH"
They both say the same thing but say it quite differently. Too many use the sounds of hate and acid like (B) above to speak words of praise to Jesus not realizing or not wanting to realize that what is heard is not what is said but is arrogance and haughtiness and emotional fire or at least feeding of them, especially to like-minded people [Prov. 6:16 - 17, Rom. 1:32]. Be attentive to His Word in how and with what you honor Him. Not once was Jesus ever arrogant, haughty or rebellious (No, Jesus was not a rebel. They who were antagonistic to Him were the rebels. Jesus was the standard, not the change.) Let your praise serve him and not yourself. Make Him feel good about you without focusing on making yourself feel good. Remember, He spent three days in Hell so you and I would not have to spend one moment there. You and I did not.
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 objective heart of the CAP Analysis Model, independent of and insulated from the Summary/
Wanton Violence/Crime (W)
Sexual Immorality (S)
Offense to God (O)
Christian Educators Association International
|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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