The Death of Family Friendly Films
This isn’t intended to be an iron-fisted judgment of modern cinema. Nor is this meant to be a rousing call to start a grass roots campaign against Hollywood. But I suppose you could call this a critique of a trend that has been going on for years now in motion pictures. It’s something that has been gnawing at me for years and it seems to be only getting worse. It’s the death of family friendly films.
Now I specifically use the words ‘family-friendly films’ for a reason. I’m not strictly speaking about cartoons or animated features that are intended mainly for kids. Hollywood puts out several of these “kids” movies every year. I’m talking about quality movies that your whole family can either watch or at least be in the same room as you watch them. Hollywood has firmly embraced the idea that “mature” content is a key ingredient to a good film. Even more, if you look at a good chunk of the stuff that comes out these days, you’ll see that adding “mature” content seems just as important as smart writing, good scripts, and sharp direction. In many instances no thought is ever given to the content’s necessity while other times “mature” content is used more as a crutch or a gimmick.
Now there’s certainly room to debate the merits of nudity, overloads of profanity, and over-the-top graphic violence. I think a good question could be asked concerning the effects if any that this content has on storytelling. But that’s not what this is about. I’m just asking Hollywood to consider that there are ways to make movies that are high in quality, not watered down, and extremely effective. Movies that may not appeal to every age group but at least there’s no fear of having kids (and movie buffs of the future) see or hear what you’re watching. I’m not closing any doors on movies that want to use “mature” content. But there is a broader audience out there that modern Hollywood seems to care little about.
The perplexing thing is that it can easily be done. For decades studios made movies that varied in suitability but without graphic or profane content. Don’t believe me? Just watch Turner Classic Movies, the only movie channel that I can leave on and not fear for my children walking in. Some of the greatest films of all time were able to focus more on good scripts and good storytelling and the results were fantastic films that weren’t kiddie pictures but true classics. Talk about an extreme rarity these days.
I have a young son who recognizes my love for movies so he wants to share that. It’s so sad that he doesn’t get to enjoy the vast majority of movies that hit the big screens today. The big question for me is why? Why has this trend taken such a hold on Hollywood? Does it say something about the moral compass of Hollywood? Does it say something about us, the audiences, who funnel our money to support some of these films while never demanding variety or anything different. Without hurling accusations I believe there is some sad commentary at the root of this. And whether or not things will get better in this regard I don’t know. But the fact that there is little outcry over this is a pretty telling tale in itself.