I’ve shown my son a lot of movies that are probably inappropriate for a kid his age.
This wasn’t always part of the plan.
My wife and I decided when he was born that we were going to ration TV and movies and generally be very careful about what we showed him, aware and concerned about the amount of violence in the media. We are far from prude; we just wanted to make sure he was old enough to understand before we let him watch people shooting at each other.
Thus, despite my eagerness to share them, I initially held off on watching the Star Wars movies with my kid. I figured I’d wait until he was older, you know, like 6. It’s not that the violence in a galaxy far away is super bloody or even particularly realistic, but there’s a lot of it, what with the lightsaber battles, the constant shooting and explosions, and even some poignant deaths (poor Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen!). It just seemed prudent to wait.
At least it did, until he started getting spoiled by kids at school, and on the playground, and at his friends’ houses. I wasn’t going to let some mop-headed punk tell my kid who Luke’s father was before my kid even knew who Luke was! So I decided to break the seal early, and showed him Episode IV at the ripe old age of 4.
When I was growing up, we had plenty of live-action kids’ fare, and most of it was rated PG. Not all PG movies were perfect for kids, depending on their maturity level, but back then, the standards were a bit more lax. Movies like Gremlins and Ghostbusters and E.T. and The Princess Bride and Beetlejuice were all PG (partially because the PG-13 rating didn’t exist when some of them were released), and it was up to parents to decide what was appropriate for their family.
In 2017, PG is essentially the new G, and G-rated movies aren’t cutting it for my 6-year-old. These days, once you exhaust the Disney movies and the Pixar movies and stuff that stars animals and/or Muppets and get into actual live-action stuff, there isn’t a lot out there for the 12-and-under set. Suddenly, we went from having a kid who had seen nothing but Disney to finding ourselves showing him PG-13 flicks, merely because we’d exhausted pretty much every option in his so-called age range.
Once he’d seen A New Hope, it wasn’t long before the rest of the trilogy followed. Once he’d seen a few live-action movies, it wasn’t long before some of the tamer superhero flicks hit the screen. Once he’d seen those, cartoons just didn’t cut it as much anymore, and suddenly we were at a loss.
In a few years, I can show him stuff like The Karate Kid and Back to the Future, movies that don’t necessarily have objectionable content but are too sophisticated for a 6-year-old, or at the very least deal with stuff he can’t exactly relate to just yet (girlfriends, high-school bullies, being forced to do manual labor by an avuncular man, potentially being erased from existence unless you trick your parents into having sex, etc.). Until then, there isn’t much left (which is why my son has already seen more of the Marvel movies than he probably should have, and is also why it’s frustrating when something like Superman v. Batman comes out and reduces brightly colored superheroes to angst-ridden torture mopes).
So now we’re forced to push the envelope even further.
Last night, we watched Basic Instinct! (Just kidding. We watched Taxi Driver.) (Just kidding. We watched Requiem for a Dream.) (Just kidding. We watched Human Centipede.) (I could do this all day.)
Seriously though, I’d never let my son watch any of those movies. I have enough trouble answering questions about Superman, I certainly don’t need to bring Sharon Stone into the equation. But Something’s Gotta Give! (Just kidding. I wouldn’t even watch that crap.)
Either Hollywood starts whipping up some new material for the formerly PG crowd, or he’s going to have to watch movies that are ostensibly too old for him. Otherwise I’m gonna be stuck watching the same movies over and over, and if that keeps up, our house is gonna to turn into the Overlook Hotel. Ooh, there’s an option…