Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book/ Radio/ TV Series Review: The Lone Ranger

The Lone Ranger Rides
By Fran Striker
Rating:  4 out of 10

    Hold onto your hats as you read this rip-roaring tale!  Filled with intrigue, action, and gun-slinging cow punchers who use colorful language and bleed freely, this story will keep you on the edge of your seats!  Look out for the blazing six-guns as you--- but wait:  is this the kind of book Christians should be reading?

    I think too often we are willing to trade value for excitement, and joy for fun.  This book definitely falls into the low value/ high excitement category.  It is action packed, but conveys little or no useful information.  In fact, the part about the Lone Ranger’s rescue and training of Silver is an imaginative and interesting rather than realistic account.  Also, the language used is too- shall I say- true to life?  In other words, there is some strong slang/ mild cussing.  This book is a classic dime novel, and personally I think it would not be well-known at all if it were not that the Lone Ranger became such a wildly popular character.

    In fact, the radio series is much better than the book, and the television series is much better than both.  In my opinion, if you are going to let your children enjoy any fictional audio drama/ movie series, The Lone Ranger may be the best one available (aside from a few Christian series).  Just like if you were going to give your children candy, you would try to find one that used real sugar or a natural sweetener, and was low on food coloring and artificial flavors, I think that if you’re going to let your children enjoy some high-action fiction, you’d better choose some that’s high moral/ low intensity.  I would suggest that a book/ movie can be full of action, yet not too graphic or intense- i.e. while there is crime, fighting, etc, the action is not gruesome or terrifying.  In my opinion, The Lone Ranger radio/ television series falls into this category, but the books certainly do not, and children get hooked so easily on easy-to-read, high action fiction that it is dangerous both for their character and their education to give them books like this.  If you want them to make acquaintance with this icon of American fiction, give them the radio/ TV series.  (BTW, these make great rewards, and hundreds of episodes are available on Internet Archive and YouTube!)

NOTE: Many of the radio episodes, especially the older ones, include some strong slang/ mild expletives. For the most part, it is slang such as "Great day!" "Jumpin' Jehoshaphat!" "darned" and "blame it!". As with anything, you will be wise to proof these stories before giving them to your children.

Revised opinion of radio/ TV episodes:

  I will confess that I really enjoy audio drama, and have become fairly familiar with The Lone Ranger audio series. As time has gone on, I have recognized a few more problems than I saw at first with these stories. (This applies to the TV episodes as well.)
1. The Lone Ranger is a super-hero. In other words, he is always smarter, faster, stronger, etc. than the "bad guys". No matter how many traps are set for him, or how cunningly the brainy villain contrives his schemes, the Lone Ranger always sees through it, and discerns what the real situation is, and what to do. Granted, this was necessary to keep going with the story, and is the natural outcome of any long series, but it is still something that should be discussed with children. They need to know from the start that there was no real Lone Ranger, and that no one is really that smart all the time. Basically, the trouble is that he is an unrealistic character, and can create false ideals in a child's mind. But: This is far better than providing them with our modern run-of-the-mill "heroes" who are cowardly, liars, cheats, or rebels. Children learn better by trying to imitate the good points of a hero than avoid the faults of a villain.

2: Morality without a reason. This is the prevailing problem with secular fiction up to the mid-1900's; the main character is very moral and upright, but the reason why he is moral and upright is that "it's just right." This begs the question, "Why is it right?", but that question is not answered.
The reason a moral principle is right is because God says it's right, but this has been increasingly left out of literature, leading to moral decline. If we don't know why we do a thing, we won't continue doing it.
For example: Johnny tells Mama a lie. Mama finds out a month later and says, "Johnny, you shouldn't lie."
Johnny: "But it worked! You didn't spank me for doing (whatever)."
Mama: "But it's wrong to lie."
Johnny: "Why? It worked great!"
     Mama:  "Because...  it's just wrong!  Don't do it again!"

     Now, will Johnny not tell a lie next time because "it's just wrong?"  Who says it's wrong - Mama?  Because, if she says it's wrong, that doesn't matter to Johnny since he's already doing whatever she has told him not to do, and then lying his way out of punishment.  But, if Johnny knows that GOD says it's wrong, and He can see him every time he lies, and that God punishes sin, do you think Johnny will be more inclined to tell the truth?  Anyway, this is an example of why we need to have the reason why we do what is right included in our stories.

3:  Willingness to do evil that good may come.  I have not seen this often in these stories, but there was a season produced which included several instances of the Lone Ranger and Tonto doing evil to bring about a good result.  Such as the episode where they robbed many of the people of a particular town, as a way of convincing them that they needed to retain their sheriff.  (BTW, this is the most extreme example I have seen.)  Of course, they returned everything as soon as the townspeople got the point, but children should never think it is okay to do what is wrong in order to bring about a good result.

The most important thing to remember with these stories, as with anything, is to know what your children are taking in.  Proof what you are giving them, or watch/ listen to it with them.  If you do this, you can have helpful conversations with them, and really grow their thinking.  They may even help you!

God gave children parents to guide and protect them; not blindly allow them to swallow whatever comes down the pipe; even if it is approved by most other Christians.  This is a serious task; be careful!

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