Free-Range Kids

The Oscars Wanted Parents to Worry About Child Abduction and Rape

This year's awards went all-out promoting unnecessary fear.


The Oscars

In a piece for today's New York Post, I wrote about how the Oscars seemed completely fixated on the evils of not just racism, but rape. Especially child rape.

The Academy Award for Best Film was about child rape (Spotlight), the Best Actress winner starred in a movie about abduction and rape (Room), and Vice President Joe Biden showed up and spoke about campus rape (as if it's more prevalent than off-campus rape, which it's not). Then rape survivors were featured on stage, and Lady Gaga sang about rape for a documentary about rape. And when ABC cut to commercials, often it was to advertise its own new show, The Family, which is about a child kidnapped and held captive for 10 years. Maybe there was no rape involved. Maybe it was just a wholesome stranger abduction.

The thing is, since no one is for rape, you have to wonder why the entertainment industry is so invested in showing us how against rape it is.

Nancy McDermott, author of the forthcoming book, The Problem with Parenting, turned a lightbulb on for me with this thought:

With the #OscarsSoWhite issue hanging over them, "the only way the Academy could get back any moral authority was to fixate on child abuse."

Her analysis reminded me of a wonderful essay by Fred Clark that talked, in part, about the flood of letters to the editor a newspaper received following an article on a kitten burning:

Those letters and comments were uniformly and universally opposed to kitten-burning. Opinion on that question was unanimous and vehement. 

But here was the weird part: Most of the commenters and letter-writers didn't seem to notice that they were expressing a unanimous and noncontroversial sentiment….[T]hey seemed to think they were exhibiting courage by taking a bold position on a matter of great controversy.

When our whole society is at odds about everything else—immigrants, the economy, education—perhaps the one thing we can all agree on (even while congratulating ourselves for being so evolved) is that we hate rape, especially the rape of children. This shared revulsion could be the glue still holding us together.

The problem with this particular glue is that we have poured it all over everything, to the point where it sticks to almost every aspect of our lives. It's not just all over the Oscars, and TV, and the news. It's part of our everyday lives. When we consider giving our kids even an ounce of unsupervised time, we can't get the door open because it, too, is glued shut with fear. As I wrote in The Post:

When the entire entertainment world starts to look like "Law & Order SVU," all of us — but especially parents — become terrified. And that has a direct impact on how we raise our kids. 

As you might have noticed, most kids don't walk to school anymore. Safe Routes to Schools puts the figure at 13 percent. And most kids don't play in the park after school either, unless they're doing organized, supervised sports. The Child and Nature Network says only 6 percent of kids age 9 to 13 are playing outside on their own each week.

Of course, technology plays its part in keeping kids inside, but another part of the reason is parental fear.

Recent studies of parents' top five fears found kidnapping was No. 1 and "Stranger Danger" No. 4.

Obviously we all want our kids to be safe. Obviously, this is not a pro-rape blog post. It is a post that insists we look at the damage done by fixating on child abduction and rape. Why do people call 911 the second they spot a child outside? Because in everything they watch, see, and hear, an unsupervised child is about to be kidnapped. 

When we overestimate danger, we are compelled to overprotect kids. The results are empty parks, empty streets, empty playgrounds, and lots more time spent staring at screens.

NEXT: If We Release More Prisoners, Will There Be More Crime?

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  1. How can Hollywood claim to be against rape after what they did to Star Trek?

    1. It’s just Star Trek,a commie plot.No money or hunger ,every one has every thing and women answer the com.Run by the military.

    2. Some of us actually enjoyed the two most recent Star Trek movies.

      How about…

      How can Hollywood claim to be against rape after what they did to Star Trek Indiana Jones?

      1. “Some of us actually enjoyed the two most recent Star Trek movies.”

        Insanity. The actual reboot was acceptable, Into Darkness managed to be terrible despite Benedict Cumberbatch being in it.

        1. If you say so, Irish.

          I enjoyed Into Darkness more than the reboot… And not just because of Eggs Benedict Cumberbatch–although he certainly did no harm.

          Bear in mind, I’ve only seen the entirety of the Original Series and Voyager. Bits and pieces of TNG, but no DS9 or Enterprise.

          1. You should give DS9 a shot. It’s the best Star Trek that doesn’t involve whales.

            1. DS9 is very good, although I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I seem to have stumbled into a comment section filled with Into Darkness fans.

              1. That’s what I’ve heard! I do mean to watch DS9, but I’m engaged to a wonderful man…who isn’t much for the Trek. I’ll have to make a case for it.

                1. Engaged?!? Congratulations. I married my cousin yesterday. Not like that, I mean I performed the ceremony. That doesn’t sound much better.

                  1. I married my cousin yesterday. Not like that, I mean I performed the ceremony.

                    Was it an official Florida wedding where they stomp on the Bud Light can at the end?

                    1. Coors. I had to drive to Texarkana to get it.

                    2. Did you go in a T-Top Trans Am, trying to get there and back in less than 28 hours?

                2. If he’s not into Star Trek he’s not worth marrying. Get out while you still can.

                  1. “Not like that.” Uh huh, sure. It’s your story, Florida Man!

                    Also, many thanks! He may not be a Trekkie, but he’s way into other sci fi. We watched Ex Machina again last night after having originally seen it in the theater. Such a good movie. So great. The second time, everything is cash in a whole new light. Seriously check it out if you haven’t.

                    1. I don’t want to list any spoilers for Ex machina, but what a chump, you know who I’m talking about.

                    2. Dude, I know exactly who you’re talking about. The biggest Chump since Chump came to Chumptown.

              2. Look dude, I’m not gonna claim that the reboot movies are the greatest things ever. But they were clever and exciting, two things which are sometimes missing from Star Trek. Plus Karl Urban is fucking amazing as McCoy.

              3. Of course DS9 was very good, they had Babylon 5 to copy off of and Babylon 5 was the greatest piece of science fiction tv ever

                1. I loved B5. I really wish season 4 and 5 would have been allowed to play out like it was originally planned.

              4. Shocker you find Darkness appalling…/s

          2. Nobody watched the entirety of Voyager, you are a liar.

            1. Remember the time Janeway and Tom managed to turn themselves into lizards and then they lizard fucked each other and had lizard babies that were then left to die on some random planet?

              1. Amphibians mostly abandon their offspring after they hatch. Why would Salamander-Tom and -Janeway do any different?

                1. “Amphibians mostly abandon their offspring after they hatch. Why would Salamander-Tom and -Janeway do any different?”

                  Question: If they had taken those salamander babies and run them through the same kind of warp drive, could they have turned those salamander babies into people?

                  The moral implications of this are huge.

            2. No, it’s true. I have seen all of it. The asshole* I dated in high school insisted on watching it with me.

              *His assholery is not related to his Trekkiness.

              1. He forced you to watch Voyager. I’d say that’s the asshole gold standard.

          3. oh missing out. DS9 was fantastic after the first season, and Enterprise’s 3rd and 4th season are among the best in all of Star Trek

            1. I’ve never seen Enterprise either. I’m really reluctant to wade into that.

              1. I wasn’t a trek fan but I liked it.

        2. The first scene in Into Darkness ranks among Star Trek’s finer moments. The worst part of it was Khan transporting across the galaxy to Q’onos. Everything apart from that was okay.

          The worst part of the reboot was their refusal to cut cleanly from the prime universe. Leonard Nimoy should have been offered a job as an usher at the premier, but he should have been nowhere near the actual movie.

          1. Agreed. I’m not generally a fan of “Oh! But now it’s an alternate timeline!! /fanboy asthma attack!”

          2. And also the part where everyone’s in danger of falling out of a ship that’s already in free-fall.

        3. It’s not a reboot anymore – they’ve retconned it into an “alternate universe”. Yeah OK whatever.

        4. Irish doesn’t like darkness? I’m shocked

      2. Some of us actually enjoyed the two most recent Star Trek movies.

        Yeah, sickies.

    3. Yeah, and after what they did to Han Solo in The Force Awakens.


      1. I was a life long Star Wars fan. Episode 7 broke me of that. 8 will not get my money. And before you say “garblegarble EP 3eeve” I was still young and stupid when it came out.


        2. Whaaaaat!!! I really enjoyed Episode 7, Florida Man. 🙁 Don’t worry, I’ll keep you updated on how the rest of the movies go, just in case the internet doesn’t do it well enough for you.

          Also, it was about time, Doyers.

          1. Yeah, I’d been swishing around that loogie for too long.

          2. Instead of listing all my issues with the film, I will list what I liked. The actor who plays Rey did a really good job. That is all.

            1. Ouch! Cuts me deep!

        3. meh episode seven was okay, what did you people expect with abrams at the helm?

          1. I was fooled. I’ll admit that.

            1. I got hammered and went to the matinee. I have to say it isn’t a good look when you open up airplane shots to pour into your icee while surrounded by children.

              1. Did you at least offer the kids some? Square.

              2. I got hammered at the matinee.

                8 oz flask FTW!

          2. Episode 4 Han: “Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy!”

            Episode 7 Han: “My plan to get through the shields? I’ma fly the Falcon straight at the planet at light speed and then hit the brakes at the last second! WHEEE!!!”

    4. And Indiana Jones.

      And Star Wars.

      1. And Flight of the Phoenix.

  2. Just tell me Sean Penn didn’t get one of Chris Rock’s jokes. Then I’ll know all is back to normal with the Oscars.

  3. I’d like to hear Warty’s opinion.

    1. “Go ‘way! Rapin’!”

  4. Thank God we have Hollywood to act as our moral and intellectual compass.

    1. Well,the Godfather and Outlaw Josey Wales were very instructional.

      1. It’s sad that governments are chiefed by the double tongues. There is iron in your words of death for all Comanche to see, and so there is iron in your words of life. No signed paper can hold the iron. It must come from men. The words of Ten Bears carries the same iron of life and death. It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life… or death. It shall be life

  5. Roman Polanski had no comment while clutching his Oscar.

    1. Is that what he calls it?

    2. From a undisclosed location.

    3. I thought Whoopi settled that. It wasn’t rape-rape.

    4. Roman Polanski had no comment while clutching raping his Oscar.


    5. ‘Show us on the Oscar, where you touched her.’

  6. Washington Post = You Know Who Else Sounded Like a Great Presidential Candidate?

    ” one document, titled “To the American People,” is particularly intriguing.

    “I direct my talk specifically to those who support real change, especially the youth,” it begins, before declaiming “the tyranny of the control of capital by large companies” that has evidently harmed the American economy.

    The letter is undated but appears to be written around 2009, with references to the recent election of “Barack Husayn” and the “six years” of war waged by President George W. Bush in Iraq.

    It goes on to bemoan the bailout of big banks during the Great Recession and then links the forces in play to the agenda of American warmongers

    It calls on young Americans not to embrace Republicans or Democrats but a “great revolution for freedom”

    …”[That change] does not only include improvement of your economic situation and ensure your security, but more importantly, helps [Obama] in making a rational decision to save humanity from the harmful [greenhouse] gases that threaten its destiny,” the letter advises.

    1. It’s ok, Joseph Goebbels sounds a lot like most modern progressive politicians.

      It is rotten and dismal that a world of so many hundred million people should be ruled by a single caste that has the power to lead millions to life or to death, indeed on a whim…This caste has spun its web over the entire earth; capitalism recognizes no national boundaries…Capitalism has learned nothing from recent events and wants to learn nothing, because it places its own interests ahead of those of the other millions. Can one blame those millions for standing up for their own interests, and only for those interests? Can one blame them for striving to forge an international community whose purpose is the struggle against corrupt capitalism? Can one condemn a large segment of the educated Sturmer youth for protesting against the greatest ability? Is it not an abomination that people with the most brilliant intellectual gifts should sink into poverty and disintegrate, while others dissipate, squander, and waste the money that could help them? ? You say the old propertied class also worked hard for what it has. Granted, that may be true in many cases. But do you also know about the conditions under which workers were living during the period when capitalism “earned” its fortune?

      1. it sounds like a YouTube comment

      2. Wait, I thought that fascism was on the right side of the political spectrum.

      3. I really want to post that quote on Twitter after I remove the sentence about ‘Sturmer youth’ and see if I can get Sanders supporters to believe it’s him.

        1. Do it. It’ll be funny.

          1. Hell, I might leave the Sturmer youth part in there just to see if they even notice.

            1. Maybe they’ll try to sign up thinking it’s an activist group.

              1. “Wow these uniforms are HAWT”

            2. Actually, just cut “Sturmer”, and the Bern Victims will think it refers to Bernie’s college student supporters.

              1. At this point, you could leave Sturmer in there and they’d still fall for it. This is the Bernie base, remember.

  7. BS! Leftists love rape. If no rapes are happening, they invent them.

  8. That kitten burning link is fascinating.

    “No such comments offering any such defense existed, and yet reader after reader seemed to be responding to or anticipating this phantom kitten-burning advocacy group.”

    Since I haven’t already done so, I’d like to go on record as taking a courageous stand again kitten burning.

    1. We could all stand to learn from your brave example, Playa.

    2. What about cat juggling?

      1. How much money do you need?

      2. +1 More Thing I Need

  9. Shocked face, here’s mine.


    1. That’s more of an indifference face. Did you just get an AIM username?

  10. Obviously, this is not a pro-rape blog post.

    Isn’t it, Lenore ? Isn’t it really ?

    1. That’s exactly what a pro-rape blogger would claim…

  11. This subject [the extrapolation of child rape] is just another reason I continue to move as far outside the stream of society as possible. People are akin to a herb of bovines just rushing off to the same irrational and panic induced conclusions. Social media has only accelerated this trend beyond what conventional media started decades ago: Homogeneous stupidity; it has passed critical mass and there is no hope for it.

  12. Meanwhile Trumbo and Compton were far better movies than Spotlight and Room (Room was particularly awful). But they get snubbed because they vindicate free speech and capitalism (even if it’s in a back-handed way).

    1. Straight Outta Compton was fantastic. A very compelling story. How it lost to the kiddy-diddling priest movie is beyond me.

      1. I’ll have to check out Compton.

        1. Come out west and I’ll give you the VIP tour.

          1. I’ve actually driven through there before. I meant the movie.


          2. Drink some gin and juice.

            1. Juice? That’s an odd way to spell tonic.

    2. “Trumbo”

      Dalton Trumbo was an unrepentant Commie stooge for Joseph Stalin who gave a list of names to the FBI during WWII of people who were against the war because we were allies of the Soviets at the time.

      In what sense is a movie whitewashing Trumbo a vindication of free speech?

      1. Phuck the FIB trolls. Trumbo was a huge vindication of free speech. Obviously you didn’t see it or you took every word that everyone said completely at face value.

        1. Interest in the whole commies in Hollywood thang hasn’t sufficiently penetrated my apathy for me to actually learn about it, so I have a question:

          How much was the government actually involved in the studio’s decision to blacklist commies?

        2. I guess I would be more heartened if I didn’t know that, were, say, a libertarian (or conservative) in the same position as Trumbo, the very people who made the movie would likely be cheering for the feds to send hi to a work camp.

    3. The notion Trumbo got snubbed because of its subject matter is silly. It’s right up Hollywood’s alley. It looks to me like one of those movies where everyone’s in on the joke, and the critical response seems to mirror that assumption.

      You are wrong about Room, which is amazing.

  13. The Mpls Star-Trib censored Rock’s joke of black people not going to movies because they got shot while going to the theater by cutting out getting shot by the police .

    1. Wow. Way to make it worse, Star-Trib.

      1. Yeah, if you remove “by the police”, the assumption would probably be black folks shoot each other all the time. Seems pretty racist to me.

        1. They’re pros at sucking cop dick.

  14. perhaps the one thing we can all agree on (even while congratulating ourselves for being so evolved) is that we hate rape, especially the rape of children.

    Well that and the occasional kitten burning.

  15. The point of Room and Spotlight was not to argue against rape. Room (the best film of the year, IMO) was more about how the world expands around us and shapes us as we grow. Spotlight was about the procedural work involved in real journalism. Both films took for granted the notion rape is appalling.

    Agree about the ceremony, though.

  16. The thing is, since no one is for rape, you have to wonder why the entertainment industry is so invested in
    showing us how against rape it is.

    Its called sublimation and overcompensation. I doubt there’s an industry in this country with 1/10th the rate of sexual assault and sexual harassment as Hollywood.

    1. law enforcement

  17. ” Most of the commenters and letter-writers didn’t seem to notice that they were expressing a unanimous and noncontroversial sentiment”

    Reminds me of an old Mad Magazine spoof that depicted a modern day politician making a stump speech where he was proudly announcing his opposition to slavery.

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