Reel Fathers and Father's Day

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Movies and Escaping Together -- a Dad's Perspective

Movies came alive for me in 1977 when George Lucas released Star Wars to theaters. Aliens. Space ships. The Force. Lightsabers. For a young boy who spent summer days in the Kentucky woods fighting imaginary evil doers with rocks and sticks, it was pure awesome! I pried as much money as I could out of Mom and Dad so I could get to the packed theater and see it a bazillion times. After wards, I collected cards, action figures, and more ticks from the woods, and with millions of fans eagerly awaited more from Lucas and company.

Since then I have attended many a packed theater for movies like Lord of the Rings, The Bourne Ultimatum, and most recently Iron Man 2. Yes it can be annoying when you're sitting next to the movie-goer who has yet to discover deodorant or in front of the person who thinks your seat is a soccer ball or near the parent who made the dubious decision to bring a whimpering five year old to an intense PG-13 movie. But there is something about seeing a good movie with other people - a communal electricity - that's hard to beat. Movies have always been an escape for me, and they are the most powerful when you can escape with rather than just escape from. Of course, the best people to escape with are family and friends.

Not long after Star Wars became a hit, something amazing happened: the VCR! Now we could bring these treasures home. Then came DVD and Blu-Ray. Now we have Digital Copy and online streaming so we can watch movies on laptops and iPods. While the theaters remain packed for popular films, new media seems to be emptying family rooms. Just the other night in my home four people were watching four different things in four different areas of our house. Back in the one TV, one VCR days, the guys would make the gals sit through Indiana Jones, and the gals would make the guys sit through The Sound of Music. There was value in that, but those days are gone.

Movies are still often about escape, but increasingly the escape from is an escape solo where we shut out not only on the world, but the people closest to us. Those shared family room experiences are dwindling and we need to get them back. But how? Step one is for moms and dads to be a bit more forceful in pulling ear buds out of children's ears, children off of computers, and themselves off the busy list and just get together. Step two is to find wholesome entertainment our families can escape into without fear that we'll find ourselves knee-deep in filth.

While Hollywood and wholesome are increasingly divergent concepts, we can still speak our minds with how we spend our money, and we can protect our families and broaden the scope of what we can enjoy together with systems like ClearPlay. Family Movie Night does not need to become an endangered species. With a little work, we can fill our family rooms again, and when we all return from worlds of wonder a couple of hours later, we can come back a little more unified for having done something worthwhile together.

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got to go have a lightsaber fight with my son.

Brian Fuller

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