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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Some violent R-rated films inappropriate for school environment

Blood, guts and the grisly abomination of war litter the battlefield as the Allied Marines storm the beaches of Normandy. U.S. soldiers lie dying on the sand, their intestines spilling out on the sand and disembodied limbs project bloody spectacles that only a war fanatic or veteran could empathize with. So why is watching R-rated movies like “Saving Private Ryan” necessary in classes like World History and AP U.S. History?

Although these movies powerfully portray the atrocious conditions of war and human suffering, they could just as easily convey the same message without the vivid bloodshed and violence. PG-13 movies or documentaries can teach students as much about a specific atrocity as a gory, unnecessarily graphic movie.

Students cannot just decide to forgo signing the permission slip, either; peer pressure and the threat of being ridiculed as soft push students to watch the movies, regardless of their personal qualms about the violence in r-rated movies.

Watching the movie, I cringed at the blood spouting from the ragdoll bodies of soldiers flying through the air in the midst of an explosion. I looked away when a man struggled to hold his guts together, and I started singing lullabies to distract myself from the shrieks of dying men, their wounds saturated in salt water and sand. In my view, the grotesque depictions of war, however accurate, are too vivid for a school setting.

That is not to say that all classes that use R-rated movies are terrible. World History is an incredibly enjoyable class; the simulations and lectures are fascinating and engaging. However, the use of barbaric scenes in R-rated movies like the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan” distances students from school material by horrifying the students with their gore.

Schools already teach about human suffering in its various forms in war, slavery and oppression; there is no real need to re-teach what has been ingrained into us through years of repeated lessons.

Besides, many classes only show the brief, graphic clips of these movies to solidify viewers’ visual understanding of the events; by watching a movie even the harshest critics and war veterans acknowledge as an accurate depiction of war’s terror, what do students gain other than a repetition of knowledge and emotional scarring?

Granted, not all R-rated movies are scarring. Movies like “12 Years a Slave” use its grotesque yet accurate representations of history to convey messages of resilience and courage. Although we cannot completely understand the mental and physical persecution in slavery, we do find a tangible image of the brutality of that time; in doing so, we find a better emotional understanding that we would not necessarily receive from vague and objective textbook descriptions.

However, while war movies may accomplish a similar message, only watching the brutal segments of “Saving Private Ryan” and “Enemy at the Gates,” while entertaining, does not provide the same inspirational message. It is clear that there is no true necessity to ingrain the full gamut of these horrors through R-rated movies.

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