Recently a friend mentioned a detail that caught her Southern ear while watching a movie. In the scene she referenced, the narrator tells the viewers about the women on the porch “peeling corn.” Of course, those of us raised in the country give that one a tee-hee-hee because everyone should know that corn is shucked — not peeled! Faulty movie details are irksome to me; highly paid movie directors should do their homework.
Fake Southern accents are hard to take, especially if the acting is a bad, overdone exaggeration of Southern culture. Few actors raised outside the South can master that tongue, or mannerisms, for that matter, but I try to be tolerant. Not everyone can have Reece Witherspoon’s Tennessee twang or Octavia Spencer’s Alabama tones. When the accent is right, it does not draw attention to itself.
Another glaring flubbed detail in TV and movies is the ever-present fully developed, several-months-old baby handed to the mother immediately after a birth in a labor and delivery scene. Apparently, the people helping with those scenes have never seen a fresh newborn all slimy and red and indignant over being squeezed from its cozy womb. Babies do not come into this world neat and tidy, clapping their little hands and cooing like doves. Trust me on that one.
A biology background can make a person notice things other people might not. One night watching TV, I told my husband that the plants in rows where the actors hoed were not corn, and that maybe corn stalks are hard to come by in Hollywood, so they use Johnson’s grass or something else. He did not take issue with the fake corn. I suppose I need to stop expecting realism.
Maybe I am just too detail-oriented. Even in children’s books I expect more integrity in illustrations than often exists. In perusing books for Easter presents, I saw a springtime-theme picture book with symbolic spring phenomena presented in rhymes and artwork: butterflies emerging from cocoons, birds building nests and laying eggs, seeds sprouting — all that plus a bear coming out of his winter hibernation cave. The problem with the bear was that he was grossly roly-poly, not a fat-depleted, lean bear from a real hibernation looking for something to devour. But that is not a cutesy image.
Perhaps my strongest reaction to one of those springtime books happened when looking at the Easter selections. Because I want my grandchildren to know the truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I wanted a book with that perspective rather than Easter bunnies and all that. The totally unrealistic crucifixion scenes disturbed me.
Do not get me wrong — I was not looking for a Mel Gibson “The Passion of the Christ” slaughter scene illustration, but children should know that death on a Roman cross does not look like a Precious Moments pink, green and yellow glowing event. Nearly all the books showed a clean, fully clothed Jesus (even smiling) on the cross with birds in the sky and green grass, more like a picnic scene than a crucifixion.
Eventually I found a well-written and -illustrated Easter story book that represented the awful death of Jesus using darkness, as noted in scripture, with a side view that left the gory details to the mind of the reader. Even a small child would know that something bad happened to Jesus there. Adding to the quality of the book, the author did not leave the children without hope, ending the book with a resurrection scene depicting a fully restored, alive Savior, absolutely the most important detail, the essence of the whole Gospel. Without it, true hope on earth cannot be found.
I can accept the silly things in media like a movie set where apple trees are represented by some strange nursery ornamental, or fake accents, or mountains in the background of an N.C. beach scene, but whether in a children’s book or a tome of theology, we cannot afford to distort the details of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Too much is at stake to get that wrong.
So, come next Sunday, here is a Happy Easter, Glorious Resurrection Day, or whatever you may call the day. I will leave that detail to you!