Last night, Diva and I sat and watched the movie “Picture This”, starring Ashley Tisdale, on the ABC Family Channel. Diva is a huge fan of Ms. Tisdale, a Disney channel actress and singer best known for her role as Sharpay Evans in the High School Musical juggernaut.
Here’s the description of the movie per the ABC Family Channel web site:
"Ashley Tisdale stars as high school senior Mandy Gilbert who's not too hot within the high-stakes world of teen society. But her social status is about to dramatically improve when she lands a date to the biggest party of the year with Drew Patterson (Robbie Amell), the school's hottest guy. Only problem … she's grounded! With the help of her friends and her new, must-have video phone, she'll have to outsmart her overprotective dad and Drew's ex-girlfriend, in a crazy, adventure-filled day that proves that popularity can come and go, but good friends will always be in the picture.”
Cute, right? I thought this would be a nice, wholesome and innocent family movie to watch with my 8 year old. I was disappointed. While it told a cute overall story and it was clearly a vehicle to promote Ms. Tisdale’s acting and singing talents, it had some references that I thought were not only inappropriate, but completely unnecessary for advancing the plot. Here’s a short list:
- Several phrases describing sex with no commitment – “Hit and quit”, “hump and dump” and a couple more. Diva asked what these phrases meant. I just told her it meant a boy took you out and then never called you again. Lame and inaccurate, I know, but when put on the spot I didn't know what else to say.
- Slightly mocking references to Alcoholics Anonymous (as in, “Where’s your Mom? At an AA meeting, and then she’s going out for drinks afterwards”) I suppose this was meant to be funny?
- Discussing loss of virginity by using the term “deflower". As if that wasn't bad enough, they talked about doing it in the shower! Diva also asked what this meant. I gave a lame, inaccurate, G-rated answer to this too.
- Use of the word “a**” twice to describe the posterior. Really, what’s wrong with saying “butt”?
- Implied underage drinking at a high school party (I don’t think high school kids would likely drink fruit punch out of martini glasses, and everyone else holding opaque plastic cups at the party – are we really to believe there’s Coca-Cola in them?)
I must say these were minor or implied references, and since weren’t really central to the messages in the overall story, we kept watching, although in retrospect I probably should have turned it off. This movie was clearly geared toward a teen audience, not my rising third grader.
It didn’t help that peppered throughout the movie were promos for a new ABC Family series, “The Secret Life of an American Teenager”, which, from the ads, deals with a teenager hiding a pregnancy from her parents.
Of course, Diva and I have already discussed teen pregnancy as a result of Jamie Lynn Spears’ brilliant decision to get knocked up at 16, so she is familiar with the concept of teen pregnancy and how it’s just not the ideal situation for mother or baby. However, she does not yet know the specifics on how one actually gets pregnant. I’m sure that question will come soon enough, given that I myself will be giving birth in a month or so. :)
Anyhoo, the promos did indicate the new series comes with a warning: “Parental Discretion Advised”. I will use that discretion and will not permit her to watch it. I don’t know if “Picture This” had a similar warning, if it did, I didn’t see it. Granted, I did not research this movie much (at all!) but I figured it was FAMILY friendy, since it was the ABC Family Channel.
I wouldn’t have minded this so much if I was watching with a teenager, but with an 8 year old, I’m starting to stress a bit about her being exposed to so much at such a young age. I certainly don’t want her emulating such teenagers before her time. I wished I had been given some indication about this movie’s target audience.
So, as I learned last night, you still have to research and censor your kids’ TV choices, even when it’s the ABC FAMILY CHANNEL!