Joe turned down Hollywood studio money to produce Benji Off the Leash independently so he could keep it safe for even the youngest children. The message he wants to send to Hollywood studios and the television networks is that it can be done. Good entertainment can also be wholesome, positive, and safe for our youth. See Joe's Special Message to Parents.
Over the past few decades, we've watched the bar of what is acceptable in general audience entertainment drop... and drop... and drop. First it was language. A few words here and there... then a few more words... then fewer clothes... and more violence. Like children testing their parents, the industry continued to push the bar downward, until out of fear that the government was about to step in, they - the industry - the Hollywood studios - formed the MPAA to rank their indecency.
This gave them the "right" to say and do whatever in the world they wanted to, by warning parents that it was there. So the bar went lower and lower.
Then came the lowering of the bar on television. The cable companies, for reasons no one has ever really fully explained, were able to slide under the rules set by the FCC because their programming did not actually go through the air, it went over cable and people were charged for the right to watch it. Which, without regard for the effect it might have on the economics and standards of the entertainment industry, the people bought into.
Then the over-the-air networks complained that they should have the same right as the cable companies and another rating system was designed to rank programming, depending entirely on the parents to completely control any viewing of free television done in the home.
Then, in just the past few years, movies referred to as "family" movies have begun to show up with all sorts of language, potty humor, excessive violence (in the name of action ), and sexual innuendo, stretching the limit even further.
"When I was a kid," Joe Camp says, "like any kid, I hid behind the figurative barn and giggled at off-color jokes. But I knew that they belonged behind the barn. They didn't lower the bar of what I believed to be acceptable behavior. Putting this material into a movie theater full of neighbors, friends and family tells the youngest kids that such material is "okay," that whatever they want to say, whenever, wherever... it's okay. With no concern for what others might feel about hearing such. In other words, it's teaching kids that 1) anything is acceptable if they deem it so because the movies and televisions say so and... 2) that makes for totally selfish kids who think only of themselves."
The Studios have lectured and lectured that they do not create culture, they reflect it. To continue that cry is patently ludicrous.
A good friend once used the analogy that when you pour liquid through a colander, it won't hold the liquid, but the colander does get wet. And if that liquid is an acid, it will eventually dissolve the colander into nothing.
My dream is to see that bar - which has been dropped to the lowest-ever common denominator - go back up. To see a choice of fun, exciting, dramatic, emotionally involving, and funny entertainment that does not rely on poop jokes, sexual innuendo, gratuitous violence, and gutter language to get a kid to giggle.
I pray for a day when you can turn on the television and not worry about the privacy of your home being drenched in programming that promotes no values whatsoever... in fact, promotes lack of values.
Worthless dream, folks say.
Impossible dream. Can't happen. Not today. Not when the economic bottom line of so many studios depends upon drawing a paying audience. But I say it's not impossible. The impossible is merely harder. Takes more time and effort. The only real question is: are we up to the task? Will we, who care, who believe that God still wants us to rise above such stuff actually stand and rise to do something, or will we say, "Gee, this is the way life is today. Can't fight the steam roller."
Will those of us who believe there is still value in being able to express ourselves clearly without gutter language take the time and effort to do something about it??
Will those of us who believe there are many better ways to solve problems than beating, killing, and blowing things up show our kids the way
Will those of us who believe that there is still value in having our daughters grow up to believe that they can be even more popular and successful for their what is in their brains and their hearts than how much of their body they show?
Will we turn off those TVs and stop going to those movies?
See the Risks of TV, which deals more with the new studies that prove the physiological damage television is doing to the ways young brains are being formed.