No, this article is not about the Don Henley song, "The End of the Innocence." Rather, it laments the fact that there is little left for children to be entertained by that has not been perverted. Two decades ago many were shocked that someone had produced an X-rated cartoon, called Fritz the Cat. Fortunately, there were no sequels (so far as we know). Cartoons, after all, were originally designed for youngsters as an enjoyable and innocent form of entertainment.
But then along came The Simpsons. To be sure, there were situations in the program that were worth chuckling about, but Bart's lack of respect went far beyond a defensible "cute" or mischievous. Now cartoon perversion has accelerated. Saturday Night Live, a program suffering from a serious lack of humorous content, has aired several episodes of two "super-heroes," which they have titled "The Ambiguously Gay Duo." There is nothing ambiguous about their homosexuality; there's nothing funny about it, either.
Unfortunately, it gets worse. There is another cartoon, which airs weekly on "Comedy Central" at 9:00 p.m. (Central). It carries the rating of TV-MA (mature audience). Its name is South Park, which purports to be a fictional town in Colorado. According to Denny Wilson, South Park uses "paper doll cut-out-type animation featuring 8-year-old children" (source unknown). Mr. Wilson describes both the television program and also the new movie, which is even worse: South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut. Following is a description of the television show that anyone with cable can watch. Then there are some comments regarding the movie.
Why has the program earned a TV-MA rating? The 8-year-old children of South Park have the foulest mouths of any characters anywhere on television. Graphic depictions of violence are a part of every program, including the killing of one child, Kenny, each and every week. God is mocked. Jesus has a TV show but is portrayed as incompetent and as powerless. Controversial themes include homosexuality, anti-Christian bigotry, drinking, drugs, illicit sex, and disrespect for every type of authority--parents, teachers, religious leaders, law enforcement, etc.
There are some questions that all of us should be asking.
1. How did we ever arrive at a point in this society where 8-year-old children speak so vilely that their speech would once have been associated with only the worst adult element in society?
2. When did it become permissible for God and Jesus to be mocked, and for anti-Christian bigotry to be promoted? Would racial bigotry be tolerated?
3. When did it become acceptable to use small children to convey such sick messages?
4. Why is it that anyone considers this base material as funny?
5. How much further can this form of "entertainment" degenerate before there is a groundswell of outrage?
6. How will young people grow up to respect anything?
Guess what? The movie is worse than the television show. "Originally this film was given a NC17 rating, and was only recently downgraded to an R rating," Wilson observed. Checking www.screenit.com revealed that there were at least 133 uses of the one word still not generally allowed on television, followed by an assortment of various other vulgarisms.
One would think that cartoons could avoid nudity, but according to www.screenit.com this movie managed to combine nudity with anti-Christian bias: "Many bare-breasted women are at Heaven's gate where the population is stated as less than two thousand, while Hell has a count of millions if not billions." "Satan is portrayed as a gay man who just wants to be loved.... Satan and Saddam Hussein are gay lovers...."
Wilson offers this summary:
It [Heaven, gws] is portrayed as an exclusive club for elite sinners. Hell is depicted as "the place to be." God is cursed regularly.... God is continually ridiculed. Satan is the hero of the film. Satan comes and saves the world. The Christians are constantly made fun of and belittled. Those who choose to stand up for education, censorship, and moral principles are mocked and defeated.
The language and attitudes this movie conveys are so bad that film critic Roger Ebert gave it a "thumbs down." Ebert would not do that on the basis of language alone. He defended Spike Lee's use of the same type of language in his Summer of Sam movie. He would not oppose nudity; he thought Stanley Kubrick's use of it in Eyes Wide Shut was fine. In fact, he complained that 65 seconds of nude action was muted. Apparently, what bothered Ebert about South Park was the fact that eight-year-olds were so profane and that their attitudes of disrespect were completely beyond decency. (Of course, one might wonder at what age he thinks foul language and nudity become acceptable.)
Wilson "watched an interview with the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, on the TV recently. They said they didn't really care if people liked it or hated it, the point is to get a reaction." Their entire goal is to get a reaction? Do they regard getting reactions as some sort of virtue? Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold got a reaction at Littleton, Colorado. Timothy McVeigh got a reaction as a result of his actions in Oklahoma City. Hitler got a reaction when he tried to conquer the world. What kind of high are Parker and Stone hoping to achieve by their promotion of corrupt and evil things and their attitudes of disrespect?
Our prayer is that the reaction that will result from their "art" is that parents will become outraged enough to say, "Here is the place we draw the line. We will not allow our children to be influenced by the wicked imaginations of those who have nothing positive to offer society. They will not destroy our children!"
Is it going a bit far to assign to Parker and Stone the destruction of young people? We do not mean to imply that they will accomplish such a feat single-handedly. But this kind of "entertainment" is precisely what this country does NOT need at the moment. Those in the entertainment industry might ask themselves, "Where do teenagers such as those in Littleton come up with the attitudes they have? What has caused them to be so careless of life that they would take the lives of innocent students and then give up their own as well?"
As Tim LaHaye wrote as long ago as 1980, the year his book, The Battle for the Mind (Old Tappan, NJ: Fleming H. Revell Co.), was published:
It certainly has not been the Bible-believing churches of our nation that have advocated sexual permissiveness; trial marriages; easy divorce; abortion-on-demand; inflammatory sex education forcibly taught our school children from kindergarten through high school; coed dorms; homosexuality as an optional life-style; and free access to pornography, marijuana, and occasionally, hard drugs (64).
We might further add that neither Christians nor those who call themselves Bible-believing churches have been in favor of crude, vulgar, and blasphemous language, nudity, or attitudes that teach disrespect for authority and things holy. However, the entertainment media have certainly supported all of these things.
Apparently those in Hollywood don't think people have conversations without profanity any more. They must also think that the average person is thinking about something of a sexual nature 95% of the time. They must think it is hilarious for children to curse and swear and that the public wants to see blood and gore when people are shot or blown up. In many movies the "heroes" have a callous disregard for human life. (One wonders where the humanists are on these matters.) Christians are the ones who promote decency.
How can Parker and Stone get away with making Satan the hero while Christians are made fun of? Should these men continue to profit from the ugliness they have manufactured, they will, as Balaam did, find the price of success insufficient. Perhaps their obsession with Satan will net them a location near their hero in torment. Likely, however, they will be disappointed in their expectations of good company and hilarity.
If this trend toward profuse perverseness continues, one of two reactions may occur. This type of licentiousness may provoke a call to censorship on the part of those who have been most opposed to any limitations. We have arrived at the point where it certainly would be deserved and where many people may finally be thinking to themselves: "Enough is enough." The other alternative is worse--judgment from God upon this nation for her excessive sinfulness.
*Send comments or questions concerning this article to Gary Summers. Please refer to this article as: "THE END OF INNOCENCE (7/25/99)."