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On moral grounds

A. JOSEPH ANTONY
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Event Dr. Ted Baehr advocates production of ‘movies for family audience’ in Hollywood and in India

Morals in moviesTed Baehr at Amruthavani, Secunderabad
Morals in moviesTed Baehr at Amruthavani, Secunderabad

“The more intelligent a child is, so is he or she prone to media influence,” said Dr. Ted Baehr, founder/publisher of Movieguide and author of works such as The culture wise family on a visit to Amruthavani, a pioneering communications institute in Secunderabad, recently. To illustrate the point he said, “James Holmes, who shot dead a dozen moviegoers at the screening of The Dark Knight Rises at Aurora, was a Ph D student at the University of Colorado.”

By age 17, an American teenager has spent 60,000 hours on the media while receiving just 2000 of parental attention. A Cornell University study says present day parents listen to their children for as little as two minutes a day,” said Dr. Baehr, actively associated with production of the animated version of The Chronicles of Narnia – The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe , which won an Emmy award and attracted a whopping 37 million viewers for the CBS Television series.

“Such is the impact of movies that even nine-year-old girls in the United States are turning anorexic, aiming to ape their screen role models while 90 per cent of children abandon values imparted by their parents due to media bombardment,” Dr. Baehr pointed out. The teenage pregnancy percentage had shot up dramatically too.

Amidst this ‘culture of death’, there’s hope still. Through his various advocacy groups, Dr. Baehr has strived for over three decades to convince Hollywood honchos that ‘the American public prefers wholesome, worthwhile, moral movies and it would benefit these executives to support the production of such movies.’ While the 12 to 24 years age group is most important for Hollywood, his advice makes sound economic sense too. “Should a movie a) lure the odd teenager or two with violence and sex or b) with quality fare, sell tickets to a family of three or four,” he asks.

Addressing Amruthavani’s journalism students, Dr. Baehr urged them to make a difference in the Indian film industry by their commitment to core family values, routed through quality movie scripts. The universal appeal of films such as Ice Age or Fireproof , aired even by HBO, only explained their popularity.

“Great movies are great stories well told, have a positive world view and are spiritually uplifting,” is Baehr’s mantra.

A featured guest on the Oprah show , CNN, ABC, Fox News, MSNBC etc., his work has figured in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, LA Times, Washington Post and other publications.

“Dr. Baehr’s biggest contribution lies in enabling reduction of ‘Restricted’ (R-rated) movies from 80 to 30 per cent,” said Fr. U. Balashoury, himself an award-winning movie maker.

“Through his sustained efforts over 30 years, the production of quality movies has shot up from an abysmal 1 per cent to 57,” added the Director of Amruthavani.

A. JOSEPH ANTONY

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