I have a little rant to share with you this evening, so please indulge me for just a few minutes of your time.
This afternoon, Jim and I went to see “The Hangover: Part II” with my sister and my mom. The movie is rated R, and yet there were still two couples there who brought their small children. How small? One of them was four or five, and one of them was a baby, drinking a bottle. The “R” rating given by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) doesn’t prohibit children from attending a movie with an adult, though: the definition of the rating is
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.
That means exactly what it says. Any kid can come to a Rated R movie as long as they are with a parent or other adult. It doesn’t, however, suggest that any kid SHOULD come to a Rated R movie as long as they are with a parent or other adult.
The appearance of small children in the audience of Rated R movies–something that is becoming more frequent as time marches on–annoys me to no end. There are a couple of issues at hand, here. One of them is the behavior of a child who is too young to handle sitting in a civilized manner for the length of the movie. Small children often don’t have the ability to sit for long periods of time, especially during a movie that they can’t understand or possibly enjoy. When they get bored, they start to engage in behavior that keeps themselves entertained. My buddy Madeline wrote a post about this very topic a couple of weeks ago, after she spent the first half of the movie “Thor” being kicked in the back of her seat by a chatty toddler. (Read about that by clicking here.) We have this problem in the salon, too, on occasion. Our clients who come to us and pay good money to get some TLC and quiet, relaxation time aren’t getting their money’s worth if another client brings in a child who is loud, unruly, rude, or just too young to hang out in a salon. The experience is ruined for everybody, and I don’t think that’s right.
The other aspect of this problem that drives me up the wall is that I think it’s a display of poor judgment for parents to bring young kids to Rated R movies. Now, I can’t presume to know what is exactly “age-appropriate” for someone else’s kids, and I do agree that many kids within a couple years of seventeen can mentally process certain things in Rated R movies. (I have, indeed, allowed both of my boys to see Rated R movies at an age a little younger than seventeen.) I’m also not suggesting that the baby that was in the audience today is now well-versed on cocaine, ladyboys, or any of the other elements of the movie. I’m sure that the movie completely flew over that baby’s head. The baby’s four or five (ish) year-old sibling, though, should not have been there. Period.
These days, rated R movies have a listing at the bottom of the title screen in a trailer or on the movie poster which tells why they got that rating. “The Hangover: Part II” was rated R for “pervasive language, strong sexual content including graphic nudity, drug use and brief violent images”. I’m just throwing out a number here, but I think that bringing a kid who is younger than twelve or thirteen to a movie with these elements isn’t responsible. I am well aware that kids these days have already seen, heard, and read about so much more than the kids of twenty (or even ten) years ago, and they have access to so many things that are taboo just by virtue of technology, but I don’t believe that means that it’s right for parents to let them see, hear or read it at such tender ages.
So answer me this: why are so many parents allowing their kids to be exposed to such adult things? Are they just taking the easy way out (by not getting a sitter, or wanting to see the movie so badly that they’re unwilling to wait until they can go alone or rent it on a DVD), or what?