Tuesday, May 29, 2012

One Line "The Avengers" Got Wrong



Okay, so let me start by saying that I'm not the first to pick this bone. The buzz has already started. Apparently others have written about this. Even MSNBC has shared some unfavorable sentiments about it.

But it makes a lot of sense. Usually when you're fighting mad about something, someone else is too. And it feels good to know I'm not alone.

But this past Friday night when I sat in a dark, crowded movie theater watching the hit Disney movie "The Avengers" with my husband, I felt all alone during one particular line.

Here's the backdrop: Thor, a demigod and member of the Avengers, has an evil brother Loki, also the villain of the film. While discussing Loki's wickedness, Thor begins to defend his brother. His spiel sounds a lot like, Well he's not all that bad.

Then fellow Avenger Black Widow makes the huge observation, "He killed 80 people in 2 days."

Thor replies with, "He's adopted."

Now, let me begin with an honest admission. When Thor flippantly delivered the adoption line, I laughed along with everyone else in the theater.

But by the time the next line was spoken, my mind had left the movie theater. My mind and heart had transported back home to my son and daughter who happen to have been adopted. My heart hurt for them. Especially my son, because I know he's been dying to see the movie.

And how do you explain to an 11-year-old boy that you don't want him to see the movie, not because of too much profanity or illicit sexual content, but because of a line that you know will hurt him to the core.

A line that sheds negative light on adopted children.

A line that will communicate to him that the adopted child is always the bad seed.

A line that perpetuates the stereotype that adoption is something weird, freakish and unnatural.

Disney missed the mark in a big way on this one. "The Avengers" does not present adoption as another beautiful way that God forms families.

Come on, folks. It's 2012. When are we going to get this thing right? I recently blogged on Five Things Not to Say to Adoptive Parents, and I have received a huge response. Apparently, none of us wants to be the idiot that says the offensive thing to the adoptive families we know. But the reality is, haven't we all been that idiot at some point? I know I have.

But, the important thing is we should learn from our mistakes, and try to do better next time.

When is Hollywood going to learn from its mistakes? How many anti-adoption lines -- or even storylines -- do we have to endure before these folks get it right?

And what do I, a loving adoptive mother, do in the meantime? Do I not allow my children to see these movies? Do I take them, but distract them when the demeaning lines are spoken?

I can imagine the scenario going like this: Black Widow mentions the 80 murders in 2 days, then I whisper into my son's ear right before Thor's adoption line, "Hey Christian, this is some good popcorn, isn't it?"

Ahhh, I've distracted him long enough to miss Thor's line. But he's no stupid kid. I imagine him frowning over the laughter all around him, and then saying, "Awww, Mom. You made me miss one of the good jokes. I wonder what I missed?"

And I'd think to myself, Sweetheart, you didn't miss anything you need to hear. You missed a joke that poked fun at the very institution that brought you to our family. You only missed two words of the film, but they were words that could have caused you pain that would have taken a long time to repair. 

Those two words are words I don't ever want my children to hear. As a matter of fact, they were words that the rest of us don't need to hear either.

Unlike the Avengers, I can't save the world from all the evils that lurk out there. I can't rid the world of every mean word spoken about adoption. And unfortunately, I can't use Captain America's shield to protect my children from every insensitive comment, joke and perception about adoption firing around out there.

But I can speak my mind about it to you, my friends.

And so I have.


Carla




If you've seen The Avengers, how did that line make you feel? Did it slip past you or were you offended? Share your thoughts here and join the conversation!

13 comments:

  1. I am with you, I laughed, then thought of my niece, who's adopted. Although, I often forget she was adopted and am fairly certain she was created in my sister's womb. Back to the topic...

    Seeing as how he is 11, why don't you take him to see the movie and use that line to begin what could be an incredible conversation? There will be times in his life when stupid things are said to him when others find out he's adopted. This could be one way to equip him to formulate a response and be ok with what others may say, regardless of the ignorance of their words.

    As adults, we do not always react to harsh words well, but how often have we been taught what to do in those situations? The sticks and stones saying is a bunch of junk but I believe we should start teaching our children how to counter negative voices.

    Knowing you and Pastor Ant as I do, I know you could use this as an incredible teaching lesson and an eternal one of who God has said we are, that we are ALL adopted by him, and that sometimes the world just doesn't understand that a child is a blessing and is adored, regardless of how he or she entered the family.

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    1. Thanks Michelle for your very wise words. It helps knowing you're not alone in the way you feel. And you are right, it could be a teaching opportunity. I'll have to weigh the benefits. But there will be many times we have, and will continue to have, teaching moments with all of our children, especially those who were given to us through adoption. Which is an amazing way to join a family, I might add!

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    2. "our children who were given to us through adoption" - what beautiful phraseology.

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    3. Thank you Traci. It's a beautiful description of a beautiful thing...

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  2. I agree with Chelle. He's going to hear it and he's certainly going to see The Avengers sometime soon. The question is, with you or without you. If you talk to him about it, you can help explain that the world treats adoption one way and in God's kingdom, we see it mirror what He has done for us.

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    1. Aaron (Unreal City) you're right. We will take him to see it. I like that explanation: the way the world treats adoption and the way God sees it. Love that. But wouldn't it be nice if the world were a little more sensitive towards adoption? We can only hope, pray -- and blog! :)

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  3. Ok, so here is my thoughts - I left a comment earlier but it wandered out in cyber space. I saw the movie opening weekend and the packed place erupted in laughter. I also was laughing. But, it was almost immediately that I thought that is so sad. Our culture/society has such a distorted view of adoption. Adopted children are often viewed as the "black-sheep" of the family and not valid or valued. I think this view is based on our culture's view of life being insignificant - as reflected in our media, movies, music, abortion, etc. The value of life is treated flippantly. Thank goodness, that is not God's view - as we have been adopted into His family and we are joint heirs with His Son, Jesus.
    From the many people I know that have adopted children, their children are always treated as an equal, as wanted, and as valued as a biological child - not as an outcast like our culture portrays. Hopefully, adoption will become more of a norm, starting in our churches as it is our responsibility.
    Loved seeing your thoughts on this, Carla!

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    1. Thanks for your words, Kelly! They are healing words that people like you will continue to wash over those around you. You, like the previous comment from Aaron, remind us of God's view of adoption. The only view that really matters in the end anyway. "Hopefully, adoption will become more of a norm, starting in our churches..." Preach on, Sister!

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  4. Hi Carla
    I have not seen the movie, but thank you for making us aware of these issues. I consider myself sensitive to others in general, but there are so many things that fly over my head. I really appreciate it!

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    1. Thanks for reading Valerie! Hope I don't spoil some of the movie experience for you. I think that's what the family of God should do -- keep us aware and sensitive to one another. Hopefully I've done that at least a bit here.

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  5. From Gretchen Packer...

    Mannnnnn, you knocked this one out of the park, Carla.

    OUT OF THE PARK. Fantastic piece. Eloquent, honest, educational--simply lovely. You articulated EXACTLY how I feel about being an adoptive mother...the reflexive laugh at adoption joke and a nanosecond later consumed by heartache. Thank you so much for sharing your heart.

    It is so comforting to me, and I'm sure numerous other parents who adopted children, to know that we are not alone in how many landmines we have to disable thanks to negative cultural stereotypes and mean "jokes" about children who are adopted.

    EQUALLY how many lindmines we have to clutch our children's hands and walk right over, knowing we will all take a hit. And it will hurt, but hopefully it will hurt a little bit less if we do it together.

    I'm sorry, Ana Lu's only 4-years-old, but a part of me is already tired of "teachable moments" -- walking over the landmine -- and rebuilding the pieces after the emotional bomb hits our family. Although I'm often grateful for opportunities to build character, they can be even more challenging than just disabling the bomb ourselves. Because disabling the adoption landmine or walking over it together...Either way is exhausting. Either way is painful.

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    1. Gretchen, thanks for your comment. Landmine is a great word picture. There will be many for every parent, more for us adoptive parents and even more for those who have adopted transracially like you. I'm so glad you and I can walk through these landmines together!

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