Secret messages in the media battle against single moms who work hard to instill family values in their kids’ lives. Unfortunately, media is ubiquitous and moms can’t filter every message presented to their loved ones. The only solution is to train their kids in how to discern the secret and morally damaging messages in the media for themselves.
I had the privilege of teaching all three of my kids how to “read” the media and disarm the messages that were contrary to their beliefs and our family values. It took time, but once learned, it was a tool they could use whenever they chose. This included the skills of discerning product placement, hidden political statements, and subliminal messages.
Since it would take an entire book to share all the things I taught my kids, I’ll just point out a few key thoughts to help single moms bring awareness to their family. The below points will work for video games, Internet pages/programs, television, and feature films.
POINT 1: All Media have Messages. Youth are content watching shows that don’t require any thought. When a viewer takes in a message without consideration, he is telling his subconscious that the message is safe and worth storing in his memory. The accumulation of such messages eventually gives decision-making weight to the conscious mind. Therefore it is important that the viewer understands the message being received and makes a critical judgment of it. This activity allows the message to then be stored appropriately as a safe or unsafe idea, which will only make a positive difference during times of decision.
POINT 2: All Media have Layers. Our attention spans vary and we move in and out of a form of consciousness while receiving messages through the media. To make sure all the messages are caught and given due consideration before storing them in our memory, we have to discern every layer of presented plotlines. Since films can have up to five plotlines and a theme statement, it is helpful to discuss bigger shows with friends and family to learn what may have been missed. Keep in mind that everything that is caught can be judged and properly remembered as good or bad, while those things that hit the subconscious without consideration are stored without proper discernment.
POINT 3: All Media have a Worldview. The writer, director and editor impact the story. Each brings their own viewpoint to the project and influences the film’s worldview. This results in purpose driven creative types being able to make specific statements to influence their audience. And for those filmmakers who are less purposeful in their creative work, their personal worldview will still come through. The message may be based on their lifestyle or all of the little choices they made during the production. In either case, a worldview is created in every project.
I recently watched a movie by a new Christian filmmaker. It was clear what Christian message he intended to make in his story. But for the discerning eye, it was also clear that he added two additional messages based on the choices he made in production. The additional messages came from his old lifestyle and were contrary to his new beliefs. An undiscerning viewer that trusted the Christian film to be good may have blindly received two bad messages as if they were good ones.
We can no longer afford to blindly trust a Christian film to be good. We must instead learn how to discern the messages in the media and judge the good to be good and the bad to be bad. The proper juxtaposition of these ideas in our mind allows us to maintain a healthy mindset, worldview, and lifestyle.
I’m convinced that viewers can’t be negatively influenced by messages they discern and judge as bad. Viewers are only susceptible to the messages they allow into their soul without consideration. Therefore, I encourage viewers to be aware of the messages they receive and determine if they are good or bad. By acknowledging the bad as being bad, it disarms its ability to influence us.