Friday, April 23, 2010

Letter to Kathryn Bigelow

Dear Kathryn,

Recently I saw your Academy Award winning film, “The Hurt Locker.” I can understand why your film won an Oscar for its portrayal of a squad of American soldiers in Iraq who detonate hidden explosives. It is a good film, very tense, and I appreciate that it wasn’t designed to be a political statement. It just tells a story. Thanks for that.

I do have to say, Kathryn, that as a Christian there is one very objectionable scene. It involves the young Iraqi boy nicknamed “Beckham.” (Played by Christopher Sayegh) As you know, Beckham sells DVDs to the Americans. Isn’t he about 10-13 years old in real life? Was it in the name of realism or artistic freedom that you had him offer a GI (Jeremy Renner) “gay sex” videos? I noticed you portrayed Beckham as being willing to smoke and engage in adult conversation with words that most parents of 12 year olds object to. Can you let me know how that was important to the script?

Kathryn, I’m trying to come to grips with what constitutes child exploitation. I don’t know how Christopher Sayegh has been raised. I do know he’s a real boy who acts in films and not a sales boy on an American army base, isn’t that right? Let’s get real. He is just a kid. I am wondering if you would have been comfortable having her own 12 year-old play that part Kathryn? Couldn’t Beckham have been selling Super Bowl videos?

Your company hired a child. You decided to teach him lines about adult subject matter, and have him say them for the whole world. Hmmm???

I wonder if very many people would consider this child exploitation, Ms. Bigelow? I wish the film industry, and actually the entire entertainment industry, could be a little more accountable for what it requires of children.

Were you aware that the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that child maltreatment involves “The failure to … protect a child from … potential harm ... harm to a child may or may not be the intended consequence.”[1] You probably know that it’s a fact that early exposure to sexual material can be harmful, though I am sure you intend no harm to Christopher Sayegh. Or do you prefer that I call him “Beckham?”

Ms. Bigelow, a Bible verse says “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.”[2] I think that means good stuff like loving others and being honest. I don’t think it covers gay sex. As a biblical Christian, Kathryn, I say let a child be a child. He’ll find out all that stuff sooner or later anyway! Right?

When I brought up this topic one day to my 16-year-old daughter she felt “Hurt Locker” was kind of exploitative of young Christopher. Then she said, “What about the little girl in “The Exorcist?” Remember actress Linda Blair? In 1973, she reportedly said, "I wanted to be a princess. I wanted to be in Disney movies … ", I didn't want to be a monster…"[3] Evidently after the Exorcist she had several roles in which she played a 13 year old alcoholic and a rape victim among others. I guess those guys who made the Exorcist were really trying to be realistic, huh?

So thanks for a great movie. I really mean that. But can we work on making kids roles a little less exploitative?

Sincerely,

Mike


[1] Child Maltreatment: Definitions, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
[2] Proverbs 22:6
[3] imdb.com, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000304/bio

Quotes of Note ... The Invisible World

“Spiritual warfare is learning to recognize the strategies, refusing to cooperate with them, and aggressively cutting off the schemes of the devil in Jesus’ name.” Dean Sherman

“those who protest that God cannot exist because there is too much evil evident in life… Evil exists; therefore, the Creator does not. That is categorically stated… If evil exists, one must assume that good exists in order to know the difference. If good exists, one must assume that a moral law exists by which to measure good and evil. But if a moral law exists, must not one posit an ultimate source of moral law, or at least an objective basis for a moral law? By an objective basis, I mean something that is transcendingly true at all times, regardless of whether I believed it or not.” Ravi Zacharias

“But the Devil is no big threat to God’s purposes; he is not even remotely comparable in power. He has been given a limited time before his final judgment to try to prove his case, just as all other moral beings who have chosen to live in rebellion against heaven.” W.A. Pratney

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