4/21/13

No More Spoilers . . .

The MPAA recently announced it has a plan to curb how kids are exposed to violence and other "adult" themes in movies. You ready? Here it comes. It is super, super smart . . . they are going to PROMOTE the content that might be objectionable so parents, too busy with the rest of their lives to actually research the movies their kids might see, will KNOW what's awaiting them. Based on the words and lettering in those boxes during trailers, on posters, etc.

I'll wait a minute for your eyes to roll back to the front of your heads. We ready? Sure? Good.

Here's my position on this . . . and it is simple. Does anyone really think the movie big screen, at $10/ticket and with the logistics and challenges of getting to/from the theater for a lot of kids, is really where our kids are getting their little eyes peeled open with things like violence, nudity, sex, murder, blood, drugs, and sexuality?

Kids today (who won't even stay off my lawn) are increasingly subjected to these themes - and more - in the world in general and for free. Did you log on to Facebook in the last week? See any blood, damage, destruction, or negativity? Ever Google ANY WORD in the English Language and click on the "images" tab? Ever see what your kids follow/RT/share on Twitter? Have you seen the way news outlets have become the hack spoilers of the world with sharing of bold/shocking images as a way to compete? Ever notice how often "shocking" is put in a headline for stories that, a decade ago, would have been bland and ignored? Ever clicked on any of the above just because you were bored?

I've said it before - I'll say it again - if the Internet was available to me in 1992 the way it is to 16 year olds in 2013, I'd have failed out of high school, never even considered college, had no idea how to have any "nomal" social relationships, and I'd be the most well read conspiracy theorist and un-practiced sexual protege of my generation. Easily. I'd have NO clue (versus the vague one that currently governs me) how to navigate the real world and I would not pretend to care.

Of course NONE of that is true because my parents would have never allowed such lunacy. My parents, I think, struck the right blend of "We'll buy you a keg of beer, teenaged son, if you promise to only drink it here at the house and if your friends will surrender their car keys in exchange for a Solo cup." and "You will never see a set of boobs and you will never know what a "joint" is so long as you live under my roof." . . . and by that I mean they never bought me a drop of beer (I didn't want it - late bloomer) and they never actually brought me boobs or drugs. But they put themselves in the conversation around these subjects and more. They initiated. They asked questions. They answered questions. They would overhear us talking or see us watching and they would weigh in. There were no taboos in the house. There were no boundaries or topics off-limits.

Most importantly, they did not need the boxes and content disclaimers on movie marketing to help them decide what movies we could and could not see . . . they were just sort of aware, they asked and considered, they trusted.

None of their sons have ever hurt or harmed anyone, including ourselves, beyond repair. There have never been moments of introspection where my parents had to acknowledge they failed. We have never had a family hug in a moment of crisis and wondered how we got "there."

I wish groups like the MPAA . . . and all these other groups desperate to presume (or, in fear of lawsuits and liabilities presume) that THEY have to do the work of parents. No movie ever consummated a child (okay - MAYBE a few carrying the fictitious XXX rating). No movie has ever handed anyone a means to a violent end. But plenty of parents have been lazy and absent and head-in-the-sand enough that, over time, our society has decided that the MOVIES have to tell THE PARENTS what MOVIES the CHILDREN can see. Can we, as parents, do better? I bet we can.