Friday, January 22, 2010


This was a funny question from e-mail.

Ruth, what movies were you allowed to watch, if you were allowed to watch movies, when you lived at home?

We didn't watch movies often. We didn't have a VCR or DVD player at home. Occasionally, when we were at someone elses house or at some other gathering, we'd watch "approved" movies. Usually these were Christian cartoons or documentaries. The movies I'll list are the mainstream things I got to watch.
1. Sound of Music - This is a QF favorite because it's got a large family who deals with trials and doesn't go with the current political flow. Even though it's based on a Catholic family, the appeal for the ATI crowd involves Maria. Maria is seen as a virtuous woman (a virgin) who gave her life to God, but then listened to God's call to motherhood (mothering the VonTrapp children). She also does the honorable thing in, when she realizes she is falling in love with the captain, she leaves the house to protect her innocence and virtue. I remember that the Captain already courting the Baroness was a big deal. What was never focused on was "You Are 16" and the oldest daughter's unapproved boyfriend---Which was always my favorite part. *grin*

2. Veggie Tales - Even at fourteen or fifteen, these were "age appropriate". I can't believe that now, but that's what they thought was aa.

3. Anne of Green Gables, but only the first one. I didn't know there were others until I left my house and watched the whole series on PBS.

4. Heidi - Prodigal son tale.

5. The King and I - I think we were supposed to focus on the fact that Anna Leonowen's kept her chastity and faith in the face of polygamy, harems, unchaste clothings and non-Christian beliefs. It didn't hurt that the king had hundreds of kids and "they all got along so beautifully".

6. Little Women - When you watch movies with your ATI/QF cronies, there's always a parent or other authority figure with you to direct your attention to cetrain points. Most of this is to keep your focused on the moral lessons as opposed to the screen or what's going on in the story that might not be as wholesome. Little Women was one of those movies where our guide wouldn't shut up. "Beth serves that poor Lutheran family and dies in service to God, isn't she a great role model?"
"See how Meg and Jo remain chaste and pure with their male friends?" - I watched it later and thought Jo was pretty flirty with Laurie, but Meg reprimanded her so maybe that cancels it out?
"Isn't it wonderful how the mother homeschools?" - Only after Amy gets beaten for eating limes but maybe that's a scare tactic against public schools?
"Beth is blessed for her servant's heart and look how she doesn't complain about things!" - She died.
"Look how Jo accepts what God has planned for her!"
"Look how Amy gives up art and travel for the home!"

7. Pollyanna

That was my extent of cinematic adventures (thank you, Dane Cook, for that term) from childhood.


  1. Hi Ruth- I personally LOVE Pollyanna with Haley Mills!! That movie always makes me so happy inside. I would think Aunt Polly (an unmarried woman RICH woman living comfortably without a man) would be against the ATI/QF dogma, especially one who was not too keen on taking in her orphaned niece. LOL. Also Pollyanna was a spit fire- sticking up to the adults telling them what stick in the muds they were being.....

    Thank you for explaining the logic behind "The Sound of Music" I never understood why the Duggars were so fond of it given the forbidden dancing and kissing.

    As always, thanks for writing.

  2. I've always thought the target audience for Veggies Tales should be students at a Christian college--educated enough to understand the literary and historical references, religious enough to agree with the "do-gooder", behavior-based, morality themes, and just the right developmental age for the rather schizo and disjointed jumps from storyline to storyline.

  3. Little Women's author, Louisa May Alcott, wasn't exactly an evangelical Christian either -- more of a transcedentalist and feminist, if you ask me! On the side, she also enjoyed writing lots of lurid pulp fiction under a pseudonym if I remember the story right. I guess she wasn't exactly an ATI poster child if you know the background! One of my daughters is writing a research paper on her. :-)

  4. Well, I'll say this much for your approved movie list...they're some of my favorites! I'm almost 30 and I love Veggie Tales. haha. I agree with the above statement on the pop culture references. My favorite was in the Wizard of Oz Veggie Tale when someone says "Tiiin Man. Rusted" haha

  5. I grew up watching the Sound of Music like clockwork. Before VCR's we had the annul Easter showing. My parents played all the R and H musicals while we cleaned house. I told my mom when I was five that I was going to go see those Sound of Music Mountains. And I did! I dragged my friend who had never seen the movie to Salzburg. She went on the SOM tour.

    I hate seeing the movie through ATI filters but it's still a great movie. And though I love Pollyanna too, it just makes me miss Jane Wyman in Falcon Crest.

    Ruth, do you find yourself exploring "forbidden things" like movies or do you just bump into them? I have a lot of friends from the former Soviet block and I made them all watch Grease and Dirty Dancing as a primer for American life. I also recommend anything John Hughes produced.

  6. Oh, yeah, all of those were on our approved list too! We were also allowed to watch Shirley Temple and SOME Disney movies. As we grew older, my parents let us watch some John Wayne and some other westerns. I think that if they had been around OTHER families that didn't let their children watch much, then they would have been stricter. But even in our church, people kind of looked at them oddly when they learned what wasn't allowed.

    They are all good movies, but I haven't been able to watch them in at least 5 years because I got so sick of them. I am too busy catching up on everything else I missed while still trying to stay on top of what is currently in. It's a full time job! :D :D

  7. I love the last sentence about Dane Cook.

  8. Interestingly, all of these (except we never had Veggie Tales movies of our own) were our staples too.

    I would add in Mary Poppins, which (yes, many people say she is a witch) is SUCH a male-dominated film with strong femminist songs! I was shocked seeing it now for what the words REALLY mean. Funny how little kids don't get any of that.
    My favorite Patriarchal line if
    "And one more thing, get this piano in tune!"
    "But George, you don't play!"
    "Winifred, that is entirely beside the point!"

    My dad to a T!! He wouldn't even let my mom keep out some decorative salt & pepper shakers because HE didn't want to have to expend the energy to count the holes to see which was salt and which was pepper (our other ones were clear, boring things, these were cute ceramic things with 2 holes for pepper and 3 for salt).

  9. Life must be such a joy and an adventure waking up every day in a free world! I hope you find it absolutely exhilerating, Ruth.

    Coming out of such a uber-religious patriarchal family is kind of like being born into a new life, don't you think? So ironic.

    Lover of life, lover of people (when I'm at my best) lover of Jesus (he loved me first =)

  10. I'm surprised that Anne of Green Gables was acceptable. She was such a rebelious, imaginative child. Surely these are not traits that ATI seems to encourage.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.