Do not watch the film “Megan is Missing”. Unless…

Today, I watched the film, “Megan is Missing”.

Oh my.

There is no gore or nudity, but the film is unsettling in several ways, and then the last 22 minutes are so unsettling that you will likely never forget it.

You do not want to watch this. There is no reason to watch this.

Unless…

…you have ever talked to a stranger on the internet or been tempted to talk to a stranger on the internet or have children who have.

Then you should watch this film.

I want to make three points:

1) “When a predator goes after a child, the child loses.”*

That is the heart-stopping reality. That is the fact we must know as we raise children and function as part of a society.

I want to talk here, though, to victims of all ages.

Hunters seek prey. Manipulators find/make victims. Violators exist, all around us, in real life.

I detest manipulators and violators. I always have. For whatever reasons, I have a constant radar tuned to this. I struggle to control my emotions when I see or hear intentional, selfish controlling by parents, peers, pastors, politicians.

However, I also sometimes feel a glow in the embers of anger toward victims. Don’t be a victim. Don’t listen to violators. Don’t listen to their flattery. Don’t listen to their insults. Don’t laugh at their “jokes”. Don’t talk to them. Don’t hang with them or go near where they hang out. Get away. Run for your life. Coincidentally, the film I watched last night, “Fish Tank”, indirectly made that same point: get away from violators however you must.

If you are forcibly taken, or, for some reason that Abraham Maslow can explain, you willfully walk into a violator’s trap, the only way to save yourself is to become a violator. You cannot “victim” your way out. You have to become the hunter and this may be so foreign to your personality and conditioning that it would never occur to you. You must become the one seeking selfish control. Outwit. Outmaneuver. Use words to win. Punch them in the throat as hard and as many times as needed until you have won. Until you have saved yourself. A hunter will not turn into prey on its own. If the world could choose between you and the violator dying, it would choose the violator every time.

2) Profanity is immaturity and ignorance.

Profanity is never an expression of wisdom and maturity. Sure, most people curse at some point. Fine. There is a difference between an occasional emphasis and the way the teens in the movie talked.

And here is the discouraging fact: the lives and language of the teens in the movie was real. The alcohol, the drugs, the meanness, the profanity. The filmmaker made a deal with several of his adult friends and their kids. “The parents trusted me and allowed me to hang out with the kids, listen in, tape them at parties, at raves, and in groups.  The deal was that no matter what I heard, it stayed with us and never got back to their parents.  That ability to hear how kids really talk to each other, or text each other, gives the script an honest quality.”

There is a quote I like: “Children require guidance and compassion far more than instruction.” Anne Sullivan, Helen Keller’s teacher, said it. And though it resonated with my heart and observations, the quote always seemed incomplete.

Once you hear the profanity in “Meagan is Missing”, or observe teens away from their parents, it seems that discipline is the missing piece. The profanity is shocking. One might argue that the unnatural constraints put on teens contributes to the misbehavior—they are too restrained by external, pervasive forces, and they naturally chafe and strain against the restraint. Nature wants them to leave the nest, but their are held in the nest against their will. Unable to be adults, they exaggerate the “grown-up” things they can do: sex and language. “It was somehow slightly frightening, like the gambolling of tiger cubs which will soon grow up into man-eaters.” (Orwell, George. 1984)

It is no secret or surprise that different people are ready for different levels of liberty at different times than other people. It is true that modern society keeps people children longer than is necessary. However, that does not mean that ignorant language and irresponsible behavior are good responses to any constraints. Retarding your own growth is not a way to grow. Using foul and perverse language whenever you are away from adults is not a sign that you have grown up. It is the a sign of the opposite. That is one big reason for keeping teens in an artificial holding-pattern: biologically and intellectually they are adults, but too many of them have missed something (Discipline? Guidance? Responsibilities?), and their decisions, behavior, speech, maturity are poor. In short, teens look like adults, but some do not act like adults.

If your heroes talk that way, get a better class of heroes (which is the title of series of mine). If your friends talk that way, get a better class of friends.

Grow, and let your speech reflect it.

3) What’s with all the anger?

I watched the movie “Fish Tank” last night. Then I watched “Megan is Missing” today. If there is any truth—even exaggerated truth—in those films, then some kids live in anger like fish live in water. Some kids are surrounded by anger like air—constant, inescapable. It is heartbreaking and unnecessary and rouses the warrior within. Can we do better to help those kids?

The world is full of broken people. (Is everyone broken?) That brokenness makes them susceptible… to anything. It makes them prey and marks them as prey. It makes them hunt to hurt. It fuels their staggering cruelty.

Finally,

The internet is not safe. If you nodded your head smugly at that last sentence, then you need to watch “Megan is Missing”. There is nothing smug or dismissive about how deadly dangerous the internet is.

“This is Billy Bear.”

* from an article on Michael Goi, writer, director of “Meagan is Missing”.

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3 comments

  1. Excellent, excellent commentary and clear, concise directions. I have not watched either movie but understand the content after reading your post. The book, “A Tribe Apart,” was written by a woman who, with parents’ and adolescents’ permission, hung out with the youth for a number of years; going to school with them, going out in the middle of the night to observe their activities, etc. It begins with a snapshot (among others) of a young, talented, passionate man headed for college, who wants to make a difference in this world. It ends with the stirring account of his suicide… Misunderstood, not given enough parental guidance or professional help, he simply gave up.

    Another reason adolescents need guidance (preferably from parents or other dedicated, caring professionals like teachers) is that the part of the human brain responsible for decision-making is not fully developed until the early to mid-twenties.

    The internet is not safe… for kids or adults. It would be great if it were; but in the meantime, to be forewarned is to be forewarned. Thank you for sounding the trumpet.

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