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Opening Up A Can of Worms…

December 27, 2012

Everybody parents differently. Everyone has different standards.

So I posted the question about which movie to go see with my mother and daughters today. Life of Pi, The Hobbit, Les Miserable, or Parental Guidance. I wasn’t personally interested in seeing the first or fourth choice but my mom had mentioned Parental Guidance more than once. I really have to be in the mood to see a comedy. And watching a movie about familial dysfunction however humorous with my mother is not entertaining. My mother is not that into fantasy so I wondered about the Hobbit. When the original LotRs all came out we saw them with my in-laws. The final LotR the Chief and I saw solo because the girls were now of an age where they actually stayed awake for a film. So that left Les Mis … but being a disgrace to all those that call themselves English Majors I have neither read the book nor seen the Broadway play. I have caught snippets of the PBS anniversary special featuring Nick Jonas though. So I know it is about the French Revolution. War. War can be ugly.

My question got lots of votes for the Hobbit and a few cautionary remarks about Les Mis. I looked up reviews on a website that scores movies for sexual content, violence, and other. Remember War can be ugly so there did seem to be some scenes I might find a bit much for the girls.

And beheading a giant goblin isn’t?

So here is the deal: when I posted our choice and why (that Les Mis might have more objectionable material) we went with the Hobbit and my mother loved it, one acquaintance posted that “if the Hobbit was okay for them to see than so was Les Mis and even her 8 year old loved it.” I posted back that the Chief and I are sort of weird parents.

“Fantastical violence with a healthy discussion about reality is preferred over historical violence or violence with more of a chance of happening or something innately evil–for example they have not seen Anakin become Darth Vadar yet … or Raiders of the Lost Ark or Braveheart … but battling orcs and goblins or evil wizards as long as we discuss it … well just makes us weird parents.”

I didn’t want to offend this acquaintance. But I strongly disagree with letting third graders read the Twilight series and taking them to the midnight showings of the movies. The inner monologue of the main character is just too much for any young girl trying to figure herself out. My children have not seen the Half Blood Prince or either part of the Deathly Hallows because we felt the theme was becoming a little too mature for them. They need to finish reading the books and have a discussion with us about them first.

Last year we objected to T1 reading The Hunger Games solely on the idea that it is a possible future on our planet–not some Star Gate–where children are killing children for entertainment. We explained to her that when she reads The Lottery and Lord of the Flies we’d love for her to read it and discuss all of them with us. Lord of the Flies was 9th grade reading material–not 6th grade. Thankfully it was only for a book club and there were other choices and the librarian was totally behind us. As I posted, T1 read it behind our backs but I couldn’t fault her for it as I did the same thing (only it was because of all the hype surrounding North and South and the miniseries).

So is there a difference between flying orc blood and the death of a Nazi by propeller blade? Yeah … yeah there is a difference. We have emphasized fantasy is fantasy. Nazis were real. War is real. Death in war is real. Let’s look at Captain America. Nazis are in that movie. It is about war … but ray guns and genetically enhanced heroes and villains just aren’t real–and I really feel the makers of that movie kept it campy enough to keep it fantasy.

Are we splitting hairs? Are we still desensitizing them toward violence? Maybe. After reading the summary of a scene where soldiers were “enjoying the spoils of war” I just felt that was a little too real to be an enjoyable movie experience just yet. BTW, that ratings website gave Les Mis a score of 6 for violence and the Hobbit a 5 but Les Mis obviously got a higher score for sexual content for the aforementioned scene and nudity. I actually had to laugh about the Hobbit‘s near-naked trolls and ogres being objectionable according the website. Heck, that’s the poster child for exactly why any male not a Olypic diver should NOT be wearing loin cloths and speedos.

But as I said I hope I didn’t offend this acquaintance for her choice of letting her 8 year old see the movie. I didn’t go on a rant about Twilight or midnight premieres. Or what about a show called “Pretty Little Liars” on ABC FAMILY? Oh that’s quality family television. I am exploring what we do let them see–Alphas is a rough show and it does blur the line of fantasy and reality but we are dialoguing about it as we watch it. It has a lot of social issues and morals to discuss. I do wish I had started them off with Heroes. We’re watching Once Upon A Time together but Grimm is all mine for that gritty and blurred line. And one deep social discussion is about all I can juggle right now.

I usually don’t like to post any controversal and I certainly don’t want my opinion and parenting style attacked. I hope it didn’t stir up a debate or offense. We shall see.

I’m happy with my choice. Glad there will be two more movies. We will have a LotR marathon tomorrow. I will get to see Les Mis when the girls are back in school. Maybe I’ll finally see the last Twilight too!

And just when I thought it was safe to go to bed… I remembered that my much touted quality family television Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman had quite a few mature themes in them, least of which as a very brutal scene where Grace has her “hair cut”. Not to mention Myra’s profession. Those made for interesting discussions. But maybe being able to hit pause and to actually discuss gives me more of a sense of control of the flow of information. Yup. It’s splitting hairs. Sorry.

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One comment

  1. I saw Les Mis today (excellent movie) but I wouldn’t recommend it for a younger child at all!



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