My teenaged sons and I are getting excited to see the newest Harry Potter film “Order of the Phoenix”. Like many fans of the books and movies, we are predicting (guessing) what we will see. Sadly I fully expect to see a great many young children in the theater on opening day.
In the past several years I have attended several movies with ratings of PG, PG13 and R, and I have always seen young children in the audience. Even more troubling, is that many of these movies have been specifically marketed to elementary school children. Every single boy in my Pre-K class and some of the girls own at least one garment, toy or accessory bearing the image of Spiderman. Batman and The Incredible Hulk are also popular with these youngsters. The movies that have brought these characters into prominence in this decade have all had ratings of PG or PG13, yet all have related merchandise specifically designed to appeal to four to ten year olds.
I promise you there is not a big market for lunchboxes in the 13 to 21 demographic. Most of the parents of the very young consumers probably don’t think there is any problem with their children admiring a superhero. After all they are the “good guys”, right? While most superheroes do indeed weigh in on the side of Truth, Justice and the American Way, many of them do so with fists and feet flying and hormones raging. Children younger than 12 or 13 generally think at more immature levels. Everything is still black and white to them.
If a superhero is a good guy and he kicks and punches, then kicking and punching must be good. The people who assign the ratings know this. That is why the films are rated as they are. If you plan to take your child age 12 or younger to a film rated anything but G, please think carefully. I would never say that no child under 13 should attend any movie except a “G”. I have allowed my own children to see such movies when they were a bit younger.
I do say, most strenuously, to carefully research any movie you are considering for your young child. Find out if the rating is for language, violence, adult content or something else. Think about your child’s maturity and ability to process this type of information. Even if you feel that your child is capable of handling whatever she will see or hear, take the time to discuss it with her after the movie.
If your child is younger than 7, don’t think twice, think ten times before taking him to a PG13 or R movie. Young children who are able to repeat the information “movies are not real, just pretend” have not necessarily internalized that information. While your child may say that he knows there are no such things as witches, he may still become frightened if he sees an older woman riding a bicycle after viewing “The Wizard of Oz”.
Please parents, the movies are rated for a reason. Be very sure before you allow your young child to attend.