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Abusive content overshadowed Oscar talent

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP) — The razzle-dazzle 86th Academy Awards ceremony naming “12 Years a Slave” the best film of the year, paraded before viewers a list of movies with abusive content.

The technical and artistic qualities of the nominees cannot be debated. Indeed, it must have been difficult to select one nominee over another when it came to the skill and technique represented in each category.

But whatever positive messages may be contained in Oscar’s choices, their themes were eclipsed by desensitizing content. Content is never considered when Hollywood passes out little golden statues, but cinematic content has become as influential as its artistic merits.

While some of last years’ films offered a moral or life lesson — “Gravity,” “Captain Phillips,” “Saving Mr. Banks” — far too many took moviegoers down a dark road. Six of the Best Picture nominees were deservedly rated R. And how “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Dallas Buyers Club” escaped the seldom used NC-17 mystifies this film reviewer.

Movies are said to be an art form. It follows then, that the art of storytelling is most effective not just when it shows who we are, but when it suggests what we can become. Many of this year’s Oscar contenders seem to ignore that challenge. What exactly is the moral of “August: Osage County” or “American Hustle?”

So, why does this humble movie correspondent continue to subject himself to such grievous film-going experiences? (Don’t think I don’t ask that of myself about this time each year.) My answer — movies are modern man’s medium for relating parables to the masses. Like parables, films can teach and uplift as well as entertain. And like every other film buff, I’m always hoping for the next “Friendly Persuasion,” “To Kill a Mockingbird,” or “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Sadly, films that uplift the spirit as well as entertain are few and far between. So many of this year’s nominees seem to not just reflect our nation’s decaying moral standards, but embrace them.

If you are troubled by the crudity and profane nature of many films Hollywood considers “art,” then you really should read the critiques of those of us who provide the reasons for the ratings. A review is just an opinion, but the synopsis and the film’s content should help you when deciding what’s appropriate for your family’s viewing.
In addition to writing for Baptist Press, Phil Boatwright reviews films for www.previewonline.org and is a regular contributor to “The World and Everything In It,” a weekly radio program from WORLD News Group. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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  • Phil Boatwright