Chud.com, an irreverent site that tackles all manner of movie and television news for genre fans, movie buffs, fan boys and the like, recently posted an editorial called “When Bad Parents Go to the Movies.”
The article is a tad inflammatory and harsh, making gross (literally) assumptions about parents who take their children to movies and thereby ruin the experience for others, but it’s also pretty dead-on. Taking your kids to movies that aren’t appropriate isn’t the best way to win Parent of the Year. But taking young kids to any movie is a dicey proposition.
When you become a parent, going to the movies stops being easy. But that’s the parents’ problem. Let’s not make it everyone else’s.
Having a kid changes your life. This blog began as a place for me to vent about my struggle to avoid letting my son’s existence change my life, but today it’s also about accepting that some things need to change. You don’t have to change everything, but you’re gonna have to change some things. Part of being a good parent is making sacrifices for your kids.
There are a million of them: you have to stop swearing so much (at least, you probably should); you have to stop sleeping through the night (it’s no longer possible); you have to stop not cleaning someone else’s feces; you have to stop caring only about yourself (if you didn’t when you met your partner), you have to stop watching porn when your kid’s in the room, etc. And you’ll probably have to stop going to so many movies.
I love going to the movies. There’s nothing like it. For someone who’s not a professional film critic, I used to see movies like they were my job. Nothing could stop me from seeing the latest buzzed-about indie flick, the newest summer blockbuster, the hard-to-find foreign film. I went by myself; I dragged willing and unwilling participants; I stood in line for hours to get into special screenings. It was rare for me to let two weeks go by without visiting a movie theater. I’ve even collected my stubs ever since I bought a ticket to Addams Family Values but snuck into Basic Instinct instead.
And then I had my son. My stub collection has dwindled considerably.
I can still go to the movies, sure. I could get a babysitter and Mom and Buried and I could go see Zero Dark Thirty (I did see ZDT, actually, and it’s fantastic). But babysitters are expensive and when we shell out for one we usually don’t want to spend three hours in a dark theater not talking to each other. We’d rather spend three hours in a dark bar, drinking and not talking to each other. (Just kidding, honey!) The point is, if we’re paying to finally get out of the house without the kid, odds are we want to spend that precious free time doing something a little more extravagant than just going to the movies. Especially when we can likely rent/stream/buy the same title in a few short months.
Don’t get me wrong; I still love going to the movies; I always will. And whenever we visit my parents or my in-laws – i.e. free babysitters – we always make sure to catch a flick. But I have come to terms with the fact that taking fewer trips to the multiplex is one of the many sacrifices I have to make as a father. And no matter how badly I want to see a movie, whether it’s PG or something by Vincent Gallo, there’s no chance in hell I’d ever bring my son. That’s like bringing a boombox into a library. Not only is the boombox is loud and disruptive, it can’t even read.
People attend movies for many things: to see something fast, first and unspoiled; to see something on a screen bigger, louder, and better than even the best HDTV they can afford; and to see something with a group of other people. The unspoken camaraderie between moviegoers is one of the subtle joys of the experience. An audience watching a great movie forms a kind of collective: they laugh together, gasp together, cry together (the women, at least) and leave with the same glow Tom Cruise has after every e-reading. You know what eliminates that glow? An errant cellphone ring; an obnoxious seat-kicker or constant talker; a crying baby or a bored toddler. And only one of those carries the weight of criticizing someone’s parenting methods, and provokes the backlash that often comes with it.
I do my best not to judge other parents. As the song says, what might be right for me may not be right for some. And I understand as well as anyone how hard it is for parents to get out and have fun when you have kids. But that doesn’t give you the right to rob everyone else of that enjoyment, whether they have kids or not, and it certainly doesn’t make it appropriate to take a kid with no attention span to a place where he needs to sit still and shut up and watch something that he likely doesn’t understand, probably doesn’t care about, and may scar him for life.
In the Chud piece, the offending parents took their kids to a showing of Warm Bodies, a movie that seems to be positioning zombies as the new monster heartthrobs, a la vampires and Twilight. I haven’t seen it, so I can’t be sure about that. But the previews alone indicate that it’s violent and at least a little gory. So yeah, it’s probably not appropriate for children. But while taking your kids to movies that are too mature may be questionable parenting, taking your kids to movies because you have nowhere else to drop them is just plain poor citizenship.
I can’t wait to show my son the movies I loved as a kid and the newer ones I love as an adult. And I can’t wait to take him to see his first flick in the theater. But I can wait until he’s old enough to sit through 90 to 240 minutes, and I can wait until that is appropriate for him and that he wants to see. And I probably don’t want to be in the same room with him when he sees Basic Instinct.
Have some respect for the movie-going experience, the other audience members, and your own kids. Parenting isn’t just about what you tell them to do, it’s also about what you show them, and I don’t want my kid going to Die Hard to Get an Erection in 2028 and have to sit in front of a bunch of screaming toddlers who don’t even know what Yippie Ki-yay MEANS.
Besides, judging by the way pop culture seems to be going, if you scare the youngsters off zombies now, they’re going to miss out on a ton of undead material in the years to come.
10 thoughts on “Parental Sacrifice is Required”
Movie? What’s a movie?
You and mom and buried should find an AMC Dine in Theatre! Drinks, dinner, movie and OVER 21 only!!! That’s how I saw Zero Dark Thirty. May never go to a regular theather again!
Sounds a lot like my views. I saw 2 movies in theaters last year, and those were major feats to get accomplished. My wife enjoys movies enough, but doesn’t like the hassle of going out. And we just can’t seem to find a babysitter we like. Our parents are not watching the kids, so we’re stuck.
This is part of why I started reviewing movies on DVD/Blu-ray a while ago. So I could catch up on some of the films I miss.
And I agree, let the kids watch kids movies, don’t take them to see … whatever. We as a society are beginning to have our kids grow up too fast with media. They have their whole lives ahead of them to watch the good stuff since it isn’t going away. I won’t let my 9 year old watch Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises because they aren’t appropriate. For his age. I’m not a fucking prude (see use of emphasis) but we have a rating system for television and movies for a reason. Sure they are suggestions, and often they are wrong, but they are a guide to appropriateness.
If I ran a movie theater I’d have a sign that says “We reserve the right to reserve service to any parent being a dipshit.”
As one of the offending parents, I completely agree with anything to do with noisy, loud children. If you’re children can’t sit through the movie without disrupting the theater, then you shouldn’t be there. But if anyone questions my parenting because I choose to take my son to a movie they deem inappropriate, I have a big stick and won’t be afraid of telling them where they can put it.
My son’s been going to the theater with me since he was three weeks old. When he was really little, we used to hit mom’s matinees (where they allow the kids to run around free), but he would always sit next to me and has never acted out.
I grew up seeing R-rated movies and PG movies were a whole lot harder at the time (yes, I’m old – I predate PG-13). One of my earliest movie memories is a drive-in double feature of “The Town That Dreaded Sundown” and “Walking Tall Part 3”. I don’t see that they’ve had an ill effect on me, and I don’t believe they will have one on my son.
I now have a movie review blog, and my son and I hit the theater pretty much every Friday. This past year, I lifted my ban on R-rated movies for him; he’s ten. I won’t let him watch anything that is overtly sexual and I wouldn’t let him (and he wouldn’t want to) see the latest slasher film), but some action or an overuse of the “F” word just doesn’t bother me. We have a running joke about looking for the one “F” word allowed to still keep a PG-13 rating.
My son guest blogs on my website, and he recently picked his top 12 movies of 2012. Three of them were R-rated.
I’m not saying every kid should be allowed in to see anything they want, and I don’t think we should do away with the ratings system. However, it’s up to a parent who knows their child, and they should be allowed to make those choice without being judged.
I agree 100%. My parents never arbitrarily kept me from R-rated movies. I saw Aliens in the theater when I was 10. It’s up to the parent to know if the kid can handle it.
But if you take your kid to something REGARDLESS of whether he can handle it or not, just because you want to go and couldn’t/didn’t get a babysitter, and then the kid is acting out during the show, that’s bush league parenting and rude to the other patrons. Knowing your kid goes both ways.
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