Moxie

Posted on March 2, 2021 at 12:42 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, sexual material, strong language, and some teen drinking
Profanity: Some strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Teen drinking
Violence/ Scariness: References to rape, predatory behavior
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: March 3, 2021

Copyright 2021 Netflix
“It’s so nice not to be on anyone’s radar,” Vivian (Hadley Robinson) says to her BFF Claudia (Lauren Tsai). It’s the first day of school and we might detect just a hint of wistfulness in her voice. Everyone is waiting for The Ranking, an annual list of female students selected based on how attractive they are. Some are selected based on how attractive individual body parts are. So, there are names attached to “Most Bangable,” “Best Rack,” “Best Ass.” And presumably the young women are supposed to feel flattered.

Vivian is shy and unsure of herself. Asked to write an essay on what she is passionate about and what steps she has taken to pursue it, she draws a blank. But we see in a dream she has the night before school starts, she has some strong feelings she does not know how to express. The arrival of a new student named Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña) will give her a new perspective and help her find her voice.

The school’s alpha male is Mitchell (Patrick Schwarzenegger), arrogant and predatory. But his behavior is dismissed by the school’s principal (Marcia Gay Harden as Ms. Shelley) and the students. When he finds he cannot intimidate Lucy, he becomes even more aggressive. Vivian tells Lucy to ignore him so he will move on to someone else. “Keep your head down,” she advises. Lucy says she will be keeping her head up, and Vivian for the first time considers how pernicious the behavior of Mitchell and his friends is. It is more than teasing.

Vivian is close to her single mom, Lisa, played by director/producer Amy Poehler. When Lisa says that at Vivian’s age she was trying to burn down the patriarchy (crucially, she admits that as engaged as she was, she made a lot of mistakes and was not as inclusive as she should have been). Vivian goes through Lisa’s old files and sees the “zine” she and her friends created. And so Vivian follows in that tradition (and in the tradition of “Bridgerton’s” Lady Whistldown and A in “Pretty Little Liars”), Vivian creates an anonymous zine called Moxie (1930s slang for spirited determination), calling out the behavior of the boys who publish the rankings and insult girls. She leaves copies in the girls’ rooms at school, asking everyone who supports her ideas to draw stars and hearts on their hands. And some of the girls too. So does one boy, Seth (Nico Hiraga of “Booksmart” and “Edge of Seventeen”).

“Moxie” is based on the novel by high school teacher Jennifer Mathieu, and you can see the lived experience of working with teenagers, at the same time righteous and vulnerable, in the film. At times, it becomes didactic, as though it is running through a checklist of abuse, and some of the items on that list (the right to wear a tank top to school) are out of proportion to the others. And the resolution in the end is far tidier than anyone who has seen or read about real-life cases will buy.

What works better is the portrayal of the strain on Vivian’s friendship with Claudia as she becomes closer in both the relationship and the style of Lucy. This is more than the usual teen drama about outgrowing childhood connections. It is about developing a deeper understanding and empathy, and that extends not just to Claudia, but to the other girls in the school as well. The emphasis on finding ways to support each other despite differences is well handled. The film should spark some important conversations, some second thoughts about the line between “boys will be boys” and recognizing and stopping damaging behavior. It even might inspire some stars and hearts, some zines, and other ways for girls to tell their stories.

Parents should know that this film concerns toxic masculinity and abuse ranging from insults and objectification to rape. It includes sexual references and some mild language.

Family discussion: Does this movie make you see some incidents at your school differently?

If you like this, try: “Nine to Five,” “Booksmart,” and the documentary “Roll Red Roll”

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Teen Views on Social Media

Posted on September 12, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Copyright 2018 Common Sense Media

Common Sense Media has released a new study about teenagers and social media.  The full report has suggested responses for parents to the findings to give teens support and guidance.  Some of the highlights:

They can’t stop. They won’t stop. Seventy percent of teens use social media more than once a day (compared to 34 percent in 2012). Interestingly, most teens think technology companies manipulate users to spend more time on their devices. Many of them also think that social media distracts them and and their friends.

Managing devices is hit or miss. Many turn off, silence, or put away their phones at key times such as when going to sleep, having meals with people, visiting family, or doing homework. But many others do not: A significant number of teens say they “hardly ever” or “never” silence or put away their devices.

Snapchat and Instagram are where it’s at. In 2012 Facebook utterly dominated social networking use among teens. Today, only 15 percent say it’s their main site (when one 16-year-old girl was asked in a focus group who she communicates with on Facebook, she replied, “My grandparents”).

Less talking, more texting. In 2012, about half of all teens still said their favorite way to communicate with friends was in person; today less than a third say so. But more than half of all teens say that social media takes them away from personal relationships and distracts them from paying attention to the people they’re with.

Copyright 2018 Common Sense Media

 

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Parenting Teenagers Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Teenager’s App for Lonely Teens

Posted on September 18, 2016 at 4:23 pm

NPR reports on an app created by a teenager to help other teens with one of the most agonizing challenges of middle school and high school — finding a place to sit at lunch.

She told NPR

Pretty much, kids can sign up as ambassadors for a Sit With Us club and agree to post open lunches so that anyone who has the app and has nowhere to go can find a table and, hopefully, make some new friends….This way, it’s very private. It’s through the phone. No one else has to know. And you know that you’re not going to be rejected once you get to the table.

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Exclusive Clip: Milton’s Secret

Posted on September 15, 2016 at 8:00 am

The first film to be based on the work of best-selling author and spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle is “Milton’s Secret,” a thought-provoking story about purpose, presence, family, and integrity. 

Milton (William Ainscough) is a 12 year-old boy growing up in an economically and socially unpredictable world. His mother and father (Mia Kirshner, David Sutcliffe) are workaholics with marital and financial problems, and he is bullied at school. When his grandfather (Donald Sutherland) visits, Milton learns that rehashing the past and worrying about the future are preventing him from finding true happiness. 

We are pleased to present an exclusive clip.

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Teens Spend More than a Full Workweek on Digital Media — Common Sense Media

Posted on November 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm

A report published today by Common Sense Media revealed that 26% of American teenagers spend upwards of eight hours a day on entertainment media. The San-Francisco based non-profit, which tracks children and their technology use, found that teens divide their screen time between social media, music, gaming and online videos. The report does not factor in time spent on media for school or homework.

The report found wide variation in the kinds of media consumed. Even among the teens who focus on gaming, there are sub-groups (mobile gaming, video gaming, video/computer combined gamers), and those who focus on social media or reading. Among the findings:

Boys and girls have very different media preferences and habits.
There are stark differences in the media preferences and habits of boys and girls, in both the tween and teen years. The biggest difference is in console video game playing: Most boys like console games a lot and play them frequently, and most girls don’t. Girls like reading more than boys do and devote more time to it. Both boys and girls enjoy listening to music and using social media “a lot,” but girls enjoy those activities more and spend quite a bit more time doing them. For example, among teens, 27 percent of boys say playing video games is their favorite media activity; only 2 percent of girls do. Teen boys average 56 minutes a day playing video games, compared with only seven minutes for girls. On the other hand, teen girls spend about 40 minutes more a day with social media than boys on average (1:32, compared with :52 among boys). And teen girls spend more time reading than boys too: an average of 33 minutes a day, compared with 23 for boys (41 percent of teen girls say they enjoy reading “a lot,” compared with 19 percent of boys that age).

Despite the variety of new media activities available to them, watching TV and listening to music dominate young people’s media diets.
Tweens and teens have a plethora of choices when it comes to media-related activities, from watching YouTube videos to using Instagram, from playing Angry Birds on a smartphone to playing World of Warcraft on a computer. But when asked which activities they enjoy “a lot” and which they engage in “every day,” watching TV and listening to music dominate. Among tweens, the top activity is watching TV: Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) say they watch “every day” (by comparison, 24 percent watch online videos and 27 percent play mobile games every day). Among teens, music is No. 1: Two-thirds (66 percent) listen to music “every day” (by comparison, 45 percent use social media and 27 percent play mobile games every day).

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