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Film / Rock: It's Your Decision

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"This is a movie about a kid whose love for music is transmorphed into something quote-unquote evil by his paranoid parents until he is turned into a raving, bigoted fanatic who loses his friends, his personality, and any sense of independence. You can make your point without writing off an entire genre of music as a tool of devil-worshipping, drug abusing homosexuals; that makes you sound fucking crazy, especially when your examples are debunked."
Brad Jones, reviewing the movie on DVD-R Hell.

Rock: It's Your Decision is a 1982 Christian film about the evils of rock music.

The film centers on Jeff Sims, a teenager who is put under a bet by a preacher to give up rock music for two weeks, and research whether or not it's good for him as a Christian. Jeff takes him up on it, and soon ends up alienating everyone in sight as he becomes increasingly against rock and roll.

Trope: It's Your Decision:

  • Artistic License – Music: At the end of the movie, Jeff cites a list of "Satanic" rock songs to prove his point that rock is evil. However, it's quite clear the creators of the film only looked at popular classic rock song titles and didn't actually listen to them or look at their lyrics.
    • Santana's "Evil Ways" (the very first line of the song is "You've got to change your evil ways") and "Soul Sacrifice" (an instrumental).
    • Jefferson Starship's "Dance With The Dragon", which is about the Year of the Dragon from the Chinese zodiac, not Satan as a metaphorical dragon.
    • The Rolling Stones' "Sympathy For The Devil", which is written from Satan's perspective, and has him claiming responsibility for various atrocities throughout history, and "Dancing with Mr. D", which is about death and not the devil.
    • AC/DC's "Hell Ain't a Bad Place to Be", a song with a metaphorical title about a self-absorbed man tormented by the woman he hooks up with.
    • Earlier in the film, Jeff showed an album to Marty and claimed that most of the song titles or lyrics have to do with sex. The album in question? (Pronounced 'Lĕh-'nérd 'Skin-'nérd) by Lynyrd Skynyrd, in which none of the songs are about sex.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Jeff's mother wanted her son to stop listening to rock music. He did and becomes an ungodly pain in the ass who treats her much worse than he did prior to her intervention in his life.
  • Black-and-White Insanity: Jeff sees all rock and seemingly all popular music as evil and immoral by the end, even fairly harmless stuff like The Eagles and even Captain and Tennille, pretty much the last pop act anyone could accuse of being sinful or dangerous. He also directs his ire towards the soap operas his mother enjoys as well for similar reasons.
  • Clueless Aesop: The intended message is for Christians to stay away from lifestyles and media that would lead them on sinful paths. It fails to get its point across because it is written with a strong fundamentalist bias that even includes homophobia in Jeff's speech at the end, in addition to focusing primarily on a subject it knows almost nothing about, as indicated by Jeff making assumptions about songs having Satanic messages based purely on their titles.
  • Easy Evangelism: Jeff goes from a rock fan to a rock hater at his pastor's and his parents' urging.
  • The Fundamentalist: Hoo boy, Jeff. After changing his views, he becomes an insufferable, self-righteous boor who his former friends can understandably no longer tolerate.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Jeff's arc is intended as this, as he is supposed to be steering away from rock's sinful influence.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Jeff brings up some rock musicians being gay as a mark against the genre at the end. This is especially jarring as it's the only mention of that in the whole film.
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: Some rock stars lived "immoral" lives, and there were even a few who sang about it. Therefore all rock music, or even all "secular" music, is automatically an endorsement of Satanism and the Occult, drugs, drunkenness and promiscuity. Even Captain & Tennille.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Jeff's mother uses a pastor to get her son off rock music, which ends up coming back to bite her when Jeff later berates her for watching soap operas.
  • Hypocrite: Jeff, ironically. While he's busy worrying that he's been a hypocrite for listening to rock (and calling others that), he becomes an even bigger one concerning how he treats his friends. He continues to say that he's not trying to shove anything down anyone's throat, but never stops ranting and raving about how evil the music is and how blind his friends are for listening to it. His final speech is nothing if not a long attempt to shove his views down other teens' throats. Then there's his complaint that Marty is playing rock music at a party held at Marty's house. Why does Jeff feel like he can dictate what's played there, especially since he earlier had shut down Melissa's attempts to play a rock station in his car on the grounds that "it's my car!".
  • Informed Flaw: The plot is kickstarted by Jeff's mother feeling his bad behavior is due to his music and the film expects us to agree. But Jeff really doesn't seem bad at all. He's a bit mouthy and rebellious but that's normal and even healthy for any teen and he even sincerely apologizes at one point for getting angry at his mom and without any prodding from her or his dad. He's overall less a sinner headed down a bad road than a normal kid who just happens to like rock music. If anything, he becomes much worse after changing his views on the subject.
  • Large Ham: Jeff's speech at the end is done with more ham than William Shatner could ever hope to amass, and Jeff also serves it up with plenty of stuffing and gravy. Seriously, don't watch that scene while eating or drinking anything, because you'll start laughing so hard you'll choke.
  • Lost Aesop: In the Rev. Jim Owen's first scene, he comes off as the sole voice of reason in the film. He says a lot of things that are quite reasonable, and even exposes some of Jeff's mother's blind spots. He points out that Jeff was likely listening to rock music long before his parents got him the stereo, and that he only rebelled when they started telling him he couldn't listen to it. He even points out that Mrs. Simms hasn't taken the time to figure out why Jeff likes it, or even what the lyrics really say, so it seems like her discipline is really just over opinions or taste. He then compares Jeff's music to her watching soap operas, and suggests that every argument she could make against his music, he could make against her soaps. The film should have ended here. But almost as soon as that conversation is had, it is promptly forgotten by everyone, Rev. Owen included. The message preached by every "good" character, including him, from then on, is that Rock and Roll is strictly a tool of Satan and behaving like a self-righteous jackass is a good thing. Or at least it seems to be because that is literally everyone's takeaway, including other Christians.
  • Parental Hypocrisy:
    • Pastor Owen tells Jeff's mother that while she may not approve of his listening to rock music, scripture can be interpreted just as easily against her hobby of watching soap operas. She ignores this. Later, when Jeff angrily calls her on condemning his behavior while watching "sex with commercials", she gets defensive and slaps him. Near the end, a line implies she is re-evaluating her lifestyle in the same way he did, and like him will begin preaching against something she once enjoyed harmlessly.
    • Marty sees his father this way for pressuring him into attending church on Sundays, but being a jerkass and using profanity the rest of the week.
  • Poe's Law: The aesop is so warped by poor delivery that it's indistinguishable from a parody of itself. As noted elsewhere on this page, it comes off as more of a warning of the dangers of Fundamentalism than of rock music, and Jeff comes off as a strawman.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Jeff's final speech against rock music brings up that some popular musicians are gay as a mark against it.
  • Propaganda Piece: Being it's a fundamentalist-driven screed against the supposed "horrors" of rock music.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Pastor Jim Owen. While you may disagree with his views, he at least seems to have given them real thought, is fairly moderate about it and doesn't judge others for their choices, even seeming to understand why kids like said music. Contrast him to Jeff who becomes insufferably self-righteous and refuses to let anyone else enjoy music he deems immoral, even when at their home.
  • Rotten Rock & Roll: According to the film, all "rock music" endorses evil, even fairly moderate stuff like The Eagles.
  • Satanic Panic: Throughout the film, Jeff gradually learns the supposed horrors of rock-and-roll and begins to perceive all of it as Satanic.
  • Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll: Rock music's association with this trope doesn't do it any favors with Jeff and his church.
  • Sex Is Evil: By the end of the film, Jeff has adopted this mentality. He tells his mother that soap operas are nothing but "sex with commercials" and attacks songs for having the slightest of suggestive titles and/or lyrics, such as "Tonight's the Night" and "You Need a Woman Tonight".
  • Straw Character: Marty (and Melissa to a degree) is "wrong" by virtue of not really being into all that church stuff. Marty even openly states that he only goes to church because his dad makes him, so we're supposed to discount everything he says as the ramblings of a "lost" person.
  • Strawman Religious: Marty (and Melissa to a degree) is "wrong" by virtue of not really being into all that church stuff. Marty even openly states that he only goes to church because his dad makes him, so we're supposed to discount everything he says as the ramblings of a "lost" person. The truth is, Marty is the only character in the film to remain true to his principles throughout (not counting a look near the end that may indicate a change of heart) and the only one who offers reasonable retorts to Jeff's uninformed ramblings. Literally the only thing Jeff can say about Marty's sensible replies that not everyone who listens to rock listens to the darker Satanic stuff is "I think you're wrong". Of course we later learn Jeff thinks all non-Christian music, even "mild" pop, is dark and Satanic.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Jeff starts the film as a fairly normal, decent kid who just happens to like rock and metal music. Upon his conversion, he becomes abrasive, controlling, incredibly and proudly ignorant, insufferably self-righteous and even a bit bigoted to his friends, family, Pastor Owen, and even complete strangers. And yet the film bizarrely expects us to see his arc as a positive one.
  • Two Decades Behind: This came out in 1982, long after the Christian backlash against rock music had become a joke in all but the most fundamentalist circles (which Jeff's church clearly isn't). Almost all of the songs Jeff cites are from the '70s as well, though album rock remained popular well into the 1980s.
  • Vinyl Shatters: At the end of his sermon, Jeff smashes a rock record against a pew.


Video Example(s):


Rock: It's Your Decision

The point of Rock: It's Your Decision, was to steer children away from the "evils" of rock music, but instead shows what happens when the youth gets radicalized.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (28 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheFundamentalist

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