Sunday, March 5, 2017

Thinking Out Loud on the Homefront: Here We Go Again

For the first time in recent memory I spent Saturday without jumping through too many hoops. I wasn't cleaning non-stop, wasn't cooking something, wasn't running hither and yon. I woke up, had a cup of coffee, and leisurely checked my social media feed.

That last part? Yeah, like many of you, that last part is becoming increasingly discouraging.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on everything, despite not knowing all the details or reading past the headline. And that's just regarding what's happening in D.C.
Meanwhile, among the "trending" stories on Facebook was one concerning a drive-in movie theater below the Mason-Dixon Line. The story even led to the Transit Drive-In sharing the story with a comment that had me silently applauding.
In short, the southern state drive-in, which I refuse to mention here because it doesn't deserve to be mentioned by name, has announced that it will not be showing one of 2017's most anticipated movies when it premiers in two weeks. Why? Because word has gotten out that there is a gay character.
The movie? Beauty and the Beast.
My first reaction was to read the story, because stuff like this has reached such a ridiculous level that sometimes I fall for the clickbait. Sure enough, the theater owners cited religious reasons for their decision to not show the live action adaptation of the Disney animated classic. According to the story, reaction in the area was mixed, with some up in arms and some applauding the move.
Frankly, I remain dumbfounded at the choice to lose out on so much business. A Disney movie rated PG is offensive enough to not show and lose out on major box office receipts?
I looked back at thoughts I've shared with you all previously, and one time I mentioned how it falls on parents to teach right from wrong. If a family is devoted to their religion, then through a combination of parenting and religion do what you can to teach your children right from wrong with a strong moral compass that strikes a balance between the religious and ever changing secular view of things.
It is obvious that the world is changing. What is accepted today was not as readily accepted 25 years ago.
There is still a long way to go for both sides, and not falling squarely on one side or the other I won't try to explain how far both sides must go. I think the radical ends of both sides are all we ever hear about anyway, so public perception is likely skewed. Personally, I fall in the realm of, "You like him/her? Good for you. You a Yankee fan? Do you think Han shot first? Do you watch the Big Bang Theory? Have you seen The Dark Knight Trilogy?"
As a person, I try to find some common ground with someone before I decide if they are anyone I want to spend any time with. As a parent, I want my children to know people in all walks of life. After all, America is a gigantic melting pot, and depending on where you go in this country, you never know the kind of person you'll meet.
Getting back to the movie controversy, if you even want to call it that. The character in question is played by Josh Gad, who voiced Olaf in Frozen. I have gone from viewing him as an overacting scene stealer to a versatile actor who can play several different roles when asked. In Beauty and the Beast he plays LeFou, Gaston's friend. In the cartoon, LeFou was a buffoon and cheap comic relief. If anything, Disney adding depth to the character did the story a favor, not that it needed it anyway since the cartoon was an Oscar nominee for Best Picture before there was an animated category.
The underlying point here is that in a business such as movies, it is probably best to err on the side of letting the patron decide what he or she wants to see and/or take his or her children to see. Furthermore, in life, one really shouldn't make a big deal (a story in the news in this case) out of doing or not doing something based on religious beliefs.
The theater in the south evidently was brought under new ownership in recent months. If it is going to espouse religious beliefs as a reason for not showing something as benign as Beauty and the Beast, then I hope locals in that area call them on their hypocrisy. Such upcoming blockbusters as Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (lots of killing, various gods), Baywatch (sure to feature at least one scene of gratuitous Hollywood youknowwhat), Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales (sorcery, gods, probably lots of killing), and others will likely be shown. None of the ones mentioned by name have any redeeming religious value, but nor do they, in my mind, diminish one's religious upbringing.
As I have said many times, that falls to us, the parents. If you don't want your children to see a movie, don't take them. If you don't want to watch a TV show, change the channel. And if you don't want to patronize a certain establishment, then go take your business some place else.
In the end, with movies specifically, they are entertainment. If we're using them to educate, then we're doing something wrong.

Howie Balaban is movie fanatic who loves having nearby drive-ins that give the people what they want.