In the summer of 2004, I caught a late show of the Denzel Washington remake of The Manchurian Candidate (pictured). The trailers had begun when a woman and her toddler walked in. The child proceeded to cry intermittently throughout the entire film, which was rated R for violence (I believe Denzel bites a piece out of Liev Schreiber’s back at one point).
That same summer, my father and I were sitting in an Upper West Side theater on a Sunday afternoon, watching the abysmal Exorcist: The Beginning. Several rows in front of us and to the left was an entire family—mother, father, two kids and a baby in a stroller. The baby whined, the kids ran throughout the aisles. At one point, on screen, a child gets ripped apart by hyenas.
I think you see where I’m going with this. This Christian Science Monitor article, about taking children to R-rated movies, makes me wonder: who are these parents? First of all, who knows what permanent damage all that sex and violence is inflicting upon that poor child? (The article focuses on how some proposed changes meant to make theratings system more transparent could help parents who may not realizejust how much inappropriate content a particular movie might display,but really, do you need a more explicitly detailed “R” to know not totake kids to an Exorcist film?) Second, a theater full of grownups just paid ten dollars to see a movie—rent Cars and keep your dang kids at home. Third, if you’re not sure what adult content a movie has in store, check out this site, which minutely details in almost a comic way instances of sex/nudity, violence, profanity, etc. (it also summarizes what a film’s lesson may be, if for some reason you find that important).
What are your experiences with kids in R-rated movies (or even violent PG-13 rated movies)? Do you bring your rugrats if you can’t find a babysitter? Have you ever been shocked at the sight of a young’n at a grown-up movie? Is it the MPAA’s responsibility to be more precise in their ratings? The theater’s responsibility to more effectively manage who is going into R-rated theaters? The parent’s responsibility to be better parents? Your responsibility to say something?
So much to ponder.