As a movie critic, I frequently get e-mail from moviegoers disagreeing with my reviews, saying I'm reading too much into a film or overlooking a key point. Occasionally, one of my critics makes a point so well, so thoughtfully, I must concede the merit of their argument.
Such is the case with this fantastic rebuttal I received from a reader named Kelley Lara.
Advertisement - story continues below
And while I still believe the caution I put forward in my original review of "Tangled" – that the character Rapunzel models a rebellious spirit toward parents that could be caught by children watching the movie – is worth heeding, Lara explains how much more could be found in the movie, if that one caution can be overcome to see the rest that "Tangled" has to offer:
Thank you for your review of "Tangled" and the opinion that the movie's message was rebellion. I didn't see it that way. I am a Christian mother of two, an 11-year-old girl and a 13-year-old boy. My husband and I, along with both children, went to see this movie.
After I read your review, I spoke to my daughter to see if she got the impression that it was OK to rebel against her parents. She said she didn't. But as a precaution, we had a discussion about some of the messages we did get from the movie. The following are the "spiritual elements" we discussed from the movie.
Advertisement - story continues below
One – The "mother" in this movie is a wicked person – she is a kidnapper – who didn't steal the princess because she wanted a child, but because she wanted what the child possessed. The princess was stolen from the King by the "mother" – as Satan has stolen us from God because he wants what God possesses – worship. Satan does not love us, and the "mother" really didn't love Rapunzel.
Two – While we go through life listening to Satan (as the princess listened to her "mother"), deep down we know there is something not quite right and we belong to something or someone greater.
Three – Satan doesn't really love us; he just wants to keep us from finding out who we really are, because once we do, our gifts (the princess' hair) will be used for good of others, instead of our own selfish gain or for Satan's will. Likewise, the mother wanted to keep the princess imprisoned because she would lose her source of youth. If she were free, the princess would have eventually been discovered and returned to her rightful family, who truly love her for who she is not for what she has or can do.
Four – As a parent we should not manipulate our kids to do things because it will make us look good, or to get our way, but we should expect obedience by instilling truth with loving discipline so they will not look for something else. Manipulation always leaves the feeling like something is being with held from the one being manipulated, and eventually it will cause them to seek what is being withheld. The "mother" in "Tangled" is not interested is the welfare of the princess. She just wants what she can do for her, and so she resorts to imprisonment and manipulation to get what she desires and to keep from losing her. This will lead to rebellion, especially because everything this "mother" does and says is disingenuous. This is also a life lesson, that people tend to twist and manipulate others to get what they want from us. Another reason to pray for discernment.
Five – There are going to be "Ryders" out there, and we need to teach our children to discern truth from lies. The best way we can do that as parents is be an example of truth, live honestly and speak the truth. That way, when Satan sends liars into our children's lives, they will recognize the lies immediately!
Six – Rapunzel went on this "bar hopping frat party road trip" innocently. She was just trying to figure out "the lights" she kept seeing, knowing it meant something personal to her. Along the way, she had a "changing" effect on the "sinners" she came into contact with. Their hearts were softened, and they (drunks in the bar and Ryder himself) ended up doing good to help her. She was 18, the age most of our kids are released to the world. We have to let them go even though there are dangers out there. They have to make decisions and long the way they will encounter people that need to see "the light." We have to pray we spoke of the "the Light," enough that it will keep them on the path to the King regardless of what they encounter.
Seven – God reveals to us who we are and who He is when we seek Him. At the end of the movie, Rapunzel realized who she was and Whom she belonged to because she was searching and seeking out truth.
In short, we are all children of the King, and until we see the Light, we remain imprisoned under the control of a lying, deceptive, manipulative "mother"; and no matter how much we question Who the Light is, we will not know Him until we set out to seek and discover Him for ourselves. We will never be satisfied until we are safely in the arms of the One to Whom we really belong. We should not listen to anyone who keeps us from Jesus, even if it is our own parents, but we need to do it in a way that is honorable. Even if we have our children dedicated and raise our kids to know Jesus, they will not be reconciled to the King until they have their own moment of revelation and embrace the Truth themselves.
Kelley Lara, I applaud you. That's a fantastic rebuttal.
Each week on "Popcorn and a Worldview," I try to discern and discuss the worldview issues of the top movies released in theaters. As this Christian mom has demonstrated, there is an incredible depth of meaning and parallel in almost any film, and we may disagree on which messages cry out most loudly.
But to those who have written me saying, "It's just a movie," or "It's just a cartoon," I refer you to Mrs. Lara's points above. As the primary medium of communication influencing the hearts and minds of the visual generation, movies are so, so much more than "just entertainment."
It's time to start talking about what else we're digesting with our popcorn at the movie theater.