The Hearts and Minds of Children: The World’s Influence

There is potential danger with anything coming from mainstream American entertainment but especially with what is geared towards our children. It is not usually the things that are blatantly offensive that we need to be as concerned with; these are often obvious and easy to work around. Rather, we really need to focus on the subtle indoctrination of what is the norm. We, as parents, are responsible for the development and training of our children, and the goal of The Classical Academy is to assist you in the transforming of their hearts and minds. The agenda of this world seeks its own transformation of our children–just not for Christ. Their agenda continues to push an inclusive LGBT-family propaganda that desires to normalize a destructive and anti-biblical perspective of marriage, family, and self-image onto young children. This is certainly not new, but I believe many companies have been emboldened by the current culture and political power of the entertainment industry (unfortunately not just in Hollywood but in multiple athletic organizations like the NCAA, NBA, and NFL, as well). Here are three major productions that demonstrate some of those subtle, yet affective, approaches now influencing our children’s hearts and minds.

The recent Oscar-winning film Zootopia has been seen by the LGBT community for its progressive and inclusive message. Some quotes from an LGBT website about the film: “In one bit of LGBT subtext, we learn that, when Nick was a pup, he desperately wanted to belong to a troop of scouts but is shunned and humiliated because he is a fox, and the scouts aren’t tolerant of them.” They are proclaiming their disdain with the Boy Scouts’ long holdout over not allowing homosexuals into their organization. They also recognize the impact of the film on children. “Zootopia does carry a heavy message about racism, homophobia and hate, but … the directive is cast upon younger viewers in subtle Disney fashion while older ones can appreciate the sophisticated framework. Everyone should take their kids, or xenophobic acquaintances to see this film … for a Disney parable on ‘human’ rights.” Zootopia is extremely well-written and quite entertaining. The outward message is often good and has several positive aspects. However, it wraps certain lies around varied truths so they become almost indistinguishable. The underlying theme of the film is that being who you were created to be is either insufficient or just plain wrong.

As I watched, read about, and discussed Zootopia with my children, there were a few things that struck me. At the very beginning, in a conversation between the main character, Judy, and her parents, the father says, “Judy, you ever wonder how your mom and me got to be so darn happy? … Well, we gave up on our dreams, and we settled.” The whole dialog in this second scene of the film sets up the idea that, if you plan to stay as you were made, then you can have no dreams. This immediately informs the children watching that not only do their parents NOT know what is good for them but neither does God. A few scenes later Nick, a sly hustling fox who ends up being Judy’s sidekick, is in an elephant ice cream shop. There is a seemingly young fox dressing as an elephant, and Nick, his “father” is proclaiming his son wants to be an elephant when he grows up. Judy offers some very telling advice to the little fox, “And you, little guy, you want to be an elephant when you grow up? You be an elephant. Because this is Zootopia.  Anyone can be anything.” This clearly implies that he is not, nor does he have to be, what he was created to be. There are several suggestions here, but it mostly states (not just for pretend) that a fox can be an elephant, which is the very heart of the transgender issue. As the movie progresses, it is not insignificant that the predators in the movie can no longer be predators. There are several implications here as well, not the least of which is the inference to Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.” The film is suggesting that we can create a heavenly experience here on earth without needing or following God (or His created order), but instead the “heavenly reality” will come through political and social justice. At the end of the movie, I also found it interesting that the villain is revealed to be a “lamb” whose primary evil deed is proclaiming that predators are predators by forcing them to be predators. The inference could easily suggest that Christ (the Lamb of God) has an absolute truth which the world views as completely foolish and ultimately evil. This is all done in a masterful way to encourage children to reject the created order and instead create an order for themselves–without ever stating it explicitly.

Zootopia reminded me of the film Happy Feet which had a similar underlying theme suggesting that you do not have to do what you were created to do. Several years ago, I picked the up the Happy Feet DVD for my younger children, and was shocked at what was being conveyed. It is a cute and captivating story of an adorable misfit penguin, Mumble, who was not good at singing but loved to dance. The dilemma of Mumble not singing was not a trivial one as if it were a cultural or personal preference that he should be able to choose, like a job, education, hobby, diet, or appearance. The “song” of the Emperor Penguin was an integral part of their created order in procreation, and this lead directly to a constant anti-religious connotation throughout the film. The attack on Mumble comes from none other than the elder penguins in charge who are villainized for wanting to protect the created order. The head “pastor” penguin (interestingly named Noah) stands in judgment over the young penguin and rants, “You bring this disorder, this aberration … Have you lost your minds? It is this kind of backsliding that has brought the scarcity upon us.”  Other penguins mock the pastor saying, “We are just having fun – Harmless fun” and “Can you speak plain penguin, please?” However, Noah continues “preaching” about their god, “You invite him to withhold his bounty.-He rules the seasons. -He giveth and he can taketh away (directly referencing Job 1:21).” But, it wasn’t sufficient for the movie to make just the church look foolish. The film takes a direct jab at fathers, also. Mumble’s dad joins the chorus of elders and reluctantly tells Mumble, “You must renounce your so-called friends – your peculiar thoughts, your strange ways. – If we are devout – sincere in our praise – the fish will return.” The pastor chimes back in, “Your father speaks wisely. Heed his suffering heart and repent.” Mumble responds to his dad “Don’t ask me to change, Pa, because I can’t.” Then at the end of the movie, the dad says, “There ain’t been one day – not one day, that I done right by you. You’ll have to forgive me.” The father is only reunited with his son after he acknowledges how wrong he has always been. The progressive agenda is telling us that a child who says he cannot change should not be asked to change. (Remember, we are not talking about the normal options that all children have as they grow up, but the very order into which they are created.) Instead the child’s new order is simply to be accepted regardless. The LGBT inferences abound: I was born gay. I am a girl inside a boy’s body. I should be able to use whatever bathroom I want. The created order must be changed to accept what I say I can or cannot be. The film never presents the love and compassion of a true Christian pastor, only the disdain for the created order he represents.

Finally, the new live-action re-release of Beauty and the Beast shows how the entertainment industry intentionally wants to promote these subtle changes into the norm. A well-balanced review from Dr. Ted Baehr on MovieGuide.org states, “This BEAUTY AND THE BEAST has most of the charms and positive messages of the 1991 movie, but they are marred by some annoying, gratuitous politically correct homosexual references that are on the nose, out of place and in your face.” According to MovieGuide, “The basic story of a daughter who sacrifices herself for her father yet discovers true love by looking past appearances to see the inner beauty and worth remains mostly intact.” However, at the very end of the movie there is a short clip suggesting the normalcy of homosexual behavior. There at the grand ball is LeFou dancing with another gentleman who earlier in the film had been happily dressed in woman’s clothes.  LeFou’s suggestive attraction to men is set up and alluded to on multiple occasions during the movie.  Dr. Baehr describes, “When Gaston tells LeFou he intends to marry Belle, LeFou asks, ‘What about us?’ Also, when Gaston admires himself in the mirror, LeFou also admires the reflection, adding that he’s determined to ‘get’ Gaston like Gaston is determined to get Belle.” Disney has written only a handful of new elements into the movie to make it more progressive. There is no actual homosexual activity or conversation (which is not their immediate intent as this would still be to offensive to most parents); however, there is a specific objective to normalize homosexual activity so that, one day very soon, the God-ordained family structure will be so undermined they will be able to promote openly this LGBT agenda to our children. Both the film studios and the LGBT community fully understand what they believe needs to be achieved.

In what has become a controversial interview with Attitude, a gay online magazine, Beauty and the Beast director Bill Condon spoke about the film and the scene with LeFou. “LeFou is somebody who, on one day wants to be Gaston and on another day wants to kiss Gaston. He’s confused about what he wants. It’s somebody who’s just realizing that he has these feelings. And Josh (Gad) makes something really subtle and delicious out of it. And that’s what has its payoff at the end, which I don’t want to give away. But it is a nice, exclusively gay moment in a Disney movie.” The magazine’s editor-in-chief, Matt Cain, commented, “It may have been a long time coming, but this is a watershed moment for Disney.” He continued, “By representing same-sex attraction in this short but explicitly gay scene, the studio is sending out a message that this is normal and natural – and this is a message that will be heard in every country of the world, even countries where it’s still socially unacceptable or even illegal to be gay.” He added, “It’s only a first step towards creating a cinematic world that reflects the one in which many of us are now proud to live. But it’s a step in the right direction, and I applaud Disney for being brave enough to make it – and in doing so hopefully helping to change attitudes and bring about real social progress.” After its blockbuster opening weekend, many of the main stream reviews suggested, what is the big deal? There isn’t any overt homosexual content. However, that is exactly the point; the whole objective is to make this seemingly insignificant gay behavior part of everyday normal activity which every child just needs to learn to accept. Hollywood is seeking to make normal that which is abnormal through raising our children on stories that makes these abnormalities appear as normal.

When it comes to movies we help determine much of what is produced for our children in Hollywood through the tickets we purchase at the box office. Unlike television, which is predominately dictated by major corporations, we control the primary flow of money with movies, while the corporations control the primary flow of money with television. This simply means that the entertainment industry tends to be more careful in presenting certain agendas in children’s movies than in television. The concern here is definitely bigger than just movies. It is, also, those television shows we watch, the music we listen to, and the books we read. We all need to understand and grapple with the worldview being offered to, even persuading, our children every day. The following are some key elements that I would recommend thinking about and that The Classical Academy uses to help your children when watching, listening, and reading: What is the worldview of the movie, show, song, or book? What is the director, author, and/or artist saying about his work? What and how are they trying to make you feel and think? Most importantly, how do they relate to Holy Scripture, and do they call us to faithfulness, or show us the consequence of unfaithfulness? This is not an easy struggle, but it is a worthy and essential one.

Whatever activities you choose to let your children enjoy, be aware of what the world is trying to make normal, and make sure your children are aware of the message they are being given. The greatest lie is always mixed with a lot of truth and then seen as part of the truth. This is exactly what the serpent did to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and exactly what the world seeks to do with our children. As Christian parents, we should be teaching our children to strive for what is good. Children should always be encouraged to work harder, be kinder, love and serve one another, and be more faithful, while seeking to be the absolute best at who and what they were created to be. If you pay close attention to the films, shows, music, and books that are being made for your children, you will have some great opportunities to instruct and direct them in the truths of the Scripture and the foolishness of this world.

Written by Eric Van Gorden

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