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Is Amy Poehler’s high school comedy-drama appropriate for young people?

Posted on 03 May 2021 by Caitlin

This blog was written by Caitlin, one of our Youth facilitators. She regularly engages with young people and enjoys hearing their perspectives on content aimed at younger audiences. Below she gives advice on talking about content you watch with your rangatahi.

In a sea of teen films and series sometimes I feel like I am drowning in sensationalised exploitation of young people. So when a film like Moxie comes along I can finally breathe a bit.

For whānau it can be hard finding a film that you can comfortably watch with your growing teenagers. It is also hard to know what to say when topics like suicide, sexual violence and bullying are the focus. It is understandably fair to think you could say the wrong thing or your child might get mad at you for trying to navigate a difficult conversation.

Moxie is a film to watch with rangatahi that focuses on challenging topics but doesn’t show confronting and explicit depictions, and could even spark some interesting conversations.

Released by Netflix in March, Moxie follows 16 year old Vivian as she takes on sexism and misogyny within her high school. The film highlights challenges that rangatahi face, especially wāhine.

Here are some tips to start a conversation. Ask simple questions like:

  • Who is your favourite and least favourite characters and why?
  • Was the film was realistic?
  • Did the movie reinforce stereotypes, why/why not?
  • Are any themes missing?

Films are never without faults and Moxie is a great film to weigh pros and cons. Find out what different members of your whānau do and don’t like and see if you have different perspectives. Of course no one has the “right answer” and it is actually okay to see things differently.

For example, there were scenes that made me feel like the creators had not talked to young people. I can’t imagine many young people relating to a song from the 90’s Riot Grrrl genre. There are amazing female artist’s today that young people already connect with. So the song that was shown to Vivian by her mother doesn’t seem to be the right choice for inspiring Vivian and her friends fight for equality.

It is good to be mindful when bringing your own thoughts and ideas to the discussion and be open to the voices of young people and the way they interpret the storylines.

Steam rolling in with your opinion might kill the conversation.

  • Ask questions and listen first, can you relate with your own response?
  • Go in with the intention to learn from your rangatahi and not to teach them.
  • Be mindful of the language you use. It is as simple as using words like “and” instead of “but”. “But what about this” can easily make someone think that what they have said doesn’t matter and it’s no longer the thought-provoking point we intended.  
  • Be aware of your own biases and past experiences. This doesn’t mean you’re wrong it just means that it won’t be the same as everyone else’s.

The more you have these conversations the easier and more natural they become. It also paves the way for your tamariki to come to you if they watch something that doesn’t make them feel right.

Netflix is currently showing Moxie as 13+ and does not have a New Zealand rating. The Classification Office classifies films, DVDs and video games. Currently content on streaming services such as Netflix don’t have to come through our Office before screening here. The system is changing and in the near future NZ ratings and warnings will be shown on services due to a law change. See our Streaming platforms to show NZ consumer information for more information.

Help information

For more information on how to talk with your whānau about what they are watching, check out our resources on how to have these conversations. If the content of this blog has made you feel uncomfortable or concerned please reach out. Free call or text 1737 for more support.

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