This summer marks the 30th anniversary of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This film was the second, and darkest, of the trilogy that changed Hollywood, and me, forever. The film initially received backlash due to the fact its PG rating allowed children to watch human sacrifices, eating monkey brains, black magic, and child slavery. Director, Steven Spielberg, suggested the idea of a new rating score to the MPAA, setting the minimum age of consent for a film like Temple of Doom at 13 years old. Voila, the PG-13 rating was born, going on to protect millions of children's minds and becoming the most profitable MPAA rating by a large margin.
In Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones is asked by a village to retrieve a sacred Sivalinga stone stolen from their shrine, as well as the community's children who have been conscripted to labor in a mine. He agrees, and non-stop adventure ensues. I was recently reminded of Indy's adventure, and the MPAA rating system, while showing my five-year-old son some footage I had just filmed in India. Much like Temple of Doom, our setting was in rural India in the remote state of Jharkhand. There were no wild rides in mining carts or fight scenes, but there were precious stones, evil masters, broken villages, and children laborers.
The precious stone in our story is a mineral called mica. It's precious because mica is in products practically everyone in the developed world uses daily. One of its most prevalent uses is in our cosmetics. That sparkle in your eye shadow and that shimmer in your blush is mica. Sixty percent of the world's mica comes from India, and much of it is mined by children. Child mining is illegal in India, but mafias and contractors operate mines that lead straight to our medicine cabinets.
I could see my son's eyes widening as he watched footage of kids his age working deep inside dangerous rat-hole mines prone to collapse. He watched young girls in multicolor saris descend into filthy pits with axes as tall as him. I realized that my first understanding of child slavery involved a whip and a sidekick named Short Round. My son's first exposure is something completely different, but equally adventurous.
It's mildly ironic that my son is too young to watch Indiana Jones, but can comprehend actual footage of child mining without any difficulty. Regardless of age restrictions, he is learning that life's true adventures are non-fiction, and saving the day is something we can do everyday.
My son loves adventure. It possesses his thoughts day and night. Coming to the rescue is an innate theme. I was able to show him footage of the third act of our story where children were in school, riding bikes, and being kids. Children were carrying books instead of pick axes. This is the part where children are safe and the bad guys lose just like in Temple of Doom. Isn't it interesting that a fictional film about precious stones and child miners was the catalyst for an effort to protect children from scary content? Isn't it also interesting that when we insert protections for children like the PG-13 rating, profits go up? We might be onto something here. What if 30 years later the grownup kids who were scared watching Temple of Doom, could help insert protections for actual Indian child miners today? Protecting kids who make our products might actually be good for business. In Hollywood, and around the world, that's called a win-win situation.
Check out madeinafreeworld.com/india to join the adventure.