Jury Coordination and Notes

Archive for August, 2008

When is violence appropriate? How to answer the hard questions…

Friday, August 29th, 2008

One of KIDS FIRST!’s baseline criteria is “no gratuitous violence or abuse.” But what is gratuitous violence, and how can parents and kids recognize it?

What exactly is violence? Physical violence includes hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, shoving, shooting, knifing, killing, certain acts of martial arts, damaging property, causing bodily harm, slapstick humor, and torture – real or animated. Verbal violence includes put-downs, name-calling, screaming, lying, teasing, foul language and disrespect.

Depending upon the age group targeted, not all violence is inappropriate and must be viewed within its context. We are often asked to explain what gratuitous violence entails. Here is a quick comparison of gratuitous vs. non-gratuitous violence to help you and your children make sense of the images they see.

Gratuitous violence may be identified by the following:

  • Is not important to the plot and does not add to understanding the story or main characters.
  • Is part of a continuous stream of kicking, punching and hitting – all in the name of conquering “the bad guy.”
  • Shows humans, animals or cartoon characters being hurt in a humorous way.
  • Makes fun of somebody or makes fun of the harmful act.
  • Shows humans, animals or cartoon characters being squished, smashed or beat up and recovering a moment later.

Non -gratuitous violence may be identified by the following:

  • Contributes to the overall story.
  • Is used sparingly.
  • Might teach a lesson or define the “bad guy.”
  • Shows historical accuracy.
  • Is there for its emotional effect on a scene.
  • Portrays a negative behavior that is addressed and corrected within the story.
  • Is in a program more suitable for an older child.
  • Is shown with real consequences or correction.

(pictured top left, Adina’s Deck, an independent film about Cyberbullying.)

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I Love That DVD! Kids Have Their Own Ideas About What is Great.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008

Kid’s All-Star values are different than adults. A DVD might not have many All-Star assets that we, adults think are important, and that I outlined in my last blog
If kids love it and want to watch it over and over, maybe even learned something from it or sang the songs afterwards at dinner, this is an All-Star DVD from your child’s point-of-view. This is especially so for kids who may not be developmentally ready to decide if a DVD has qualities that would improve their life.

Here are some things children might say about a DVD that is an All-Star for them:

“I loved the Bob the Bunny! I wish I could play with him.”
“I want to watch that again! ”
“My favorite part was: ALL of it.”
“Bob was so silly. Remember when he went down the hole with his friends. Remember when…”

Children get excited when they love a DVD. Sometimes they interact with it while it’s on. Other times they can recount specifics: character names, storyline, places. Usually they will ask to watch it over and over, or want to take it with them when they visit a friend. My five-year-old son has a habit of watching all his DVDs quietly. Sometimes he requests to watch them again, but the real test is later that night. At bedtime, he will start to tell me stories about the DVD, remembering parts of it that excited him in extreme detail. One time, two days after we watched a new DVD, he decided to put on a puppet show, re-enacting one of the scenes in his own way.

Do you have an idea for a list of Child Rated All-Star assets? Ask your kids what makes a movie their favorite. If you have kids of different ages, note what assets are the same across the ages and which ones differ. Email your thoughts to me at [email protected] and we can use them to compile this new version from a child’s point of view. (You might expand on this – explaining to them that we are going to create a new All Star asset list for our Kids’ evaluation form.)

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