Movie Made Children

Henry James Forman’s “Our Movie Made Children” was a book that pushed the thoughts that a lot of parents at the time may have had about the movie industry and their children; it was a bad influence.He framed the media as having a large influence on the youth and how they would depict situations in their life, especially when considering their morals and actions. [1] He constantly referred to interviews and written responses that he received from high school and college age students of both sexes. He goes on to explain that one of the doctors that he uses to gather information, one Dr. Blumer, says tha tthe films are brought down to a twelve-year-old intelligence which allows for the young to absorb and take these images to form their ideas of life from the movies. [2] Forman seemed to think of media as a way to basically corrupt the minds of youth into straying from the tradition of their parents. Even without the use of the cinema and films, books and other written materials (both forms of media) have been known to give impressionable, and corrupt, morals and ideas to youth.

Forman goes on to say that, like other institutions that may help shape a child’s morals and other ideas of their life (i.e. school, church, etc.), movies are becoming, in their own write, a sort of school. [3] That’s not to say that all movies are bad, but what he is concerned about is that the presents of these ‘good’ movies aren’t as prevalent as say the ‘bad’ ones; the ones that are responsible for the corruption of the youth. One of the interviewees that he has refers to crime as being more favorable to him since he considers the criminals as heroes, protecting and dying for friends against police. [4] This can be compared to what parents are afraid of today with a lot of video games and violent movies that have been debuting in theaters recently. More of the focus has been on how video games like “Call of Duty” and “Grand Theft Auto” have glorified violence and gun shooting in a very radical way. Take my little brother for example. He is a fifteen year old teen who grew up watching and playing these games with my older brother. He has learned more curses than I currently have in my vocabulary through the use of the game and thought it a good idea to ‘steal’ my car. (He never got farther than my drive way before I corrected that mistake of his.) But these games glorified car stealing and cursing, making it favorable to this generation, just like the crime ‘heroes’ in film made crime favorable to a kid around the same age decades ago.

Forman writes in a way that seems to focus on an older generation. His arguments are more based on getting those that he writes to to get involved with the film industry and to get the production of more morally ‘good’ films to be made, more so than that of the more ‘corrupting’ movies that he writes against. It’s not that he believes all films are inherently bad and evil, but that the amount of good films are lacking. He seems to be more worried about future generations losing out on the morality lessons taught in school in church, and disappearing entirely.

I think that it’s ironic that something that somebody had been so concerned about and had moved people to intervene, is still a widely talked about subject. Morality and media seem to have always gone hand in hand. Sometimes for the good, sometimes not as much. But throughout everything that the argument has been through, I do not believe that it will be a winning one, especially not with how the world functions today, with tools like the internet, late night television, and ‘network’ shows.

 

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[1] Henry James Forman, “Molded by the Movies,” Our Movie Made Children, (New York: The MacMillian Company, 1935), 158.

[2] Henry James Forman, “MbtM”, 176-177.

[3] Henry James Forman, “MbtM”, 179.

[4] Henry James Forman, “MbtM”, 182.

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One thought on “Movie Made Children

  1. Holly,
    The point you made about your brothers video game habits, I can totally relate too. Even above the content of some video games and movies being mature but easily accessible, I think the way in which these forms of media are a basis for discussion among its viewers could be equally as destructive as the content. Perhaps Forman foresaw this as an issue, perhaps he didn’t. I think because of the way in which he was concerned with the morality of the youth and older generations in society being on the same page, suggests the way in which he viewed the interpretation of film as a factor that would divide society. Interpretation of media is something we understand more clearly in the present day with the development of psychology, maybe Forman was onto something.

    Like

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