Thursday, June 7, 2007

R rated movies: Really R not for kids ... REALLY!

The other day a librarian friend of mine confided to me about her worry. A few of her adult patrons no longer took out children's videos for their children. Their excuse was their kids loved horror better than the typical G rated movie. As many of you know, I'm a children's librarian, and so is my friend. Most of my patrons are wonderful, conscientious people who know R rated movies are not suitable for small children. But ... the exceptions are out there.

The other day an advanced third grader came to the library with her daddy. She wanted to read an adult nonfiction book called "A Child Called It," by Dave Pelzer. Please don't misunderstand me, I'm all for educating children, and Mr. Pelzer's book is an important book on the subject of child abuse. But a third grader, no matter how advanced her reading, isn't ready for this descriptive book. Dad of course informed me his daughter could handle the adult words. I tried to explain it wasn't so much the words, but how the words were put together - the content of the book. After considerable discussion he finally got it - the book was not a suitable choice for his daughter, at least not at her current age. Of course the child's response was, "but Daddy, I really want to read that book." To his credit, he said no.

I wish more parents were like him. He wanted to do the right thing for his child. He wanted her to read, but he also put limitations in place once he realized the book she wanted could do more harm than good. I bet he's one of those parents who says no as well to horror movies rated R. And I that makes me shout for joy!

The library is not the only place where I see this inappropriateness taking place. A few months back the movie about the Spartans, 300 , was all the hype. I love history and looked forward to seeing the movie. My husband and I went to the nearest I-Max theatre to see it. For once we were early for the show and got to people watch. What I saw confused me at first. Adults poured in, but besided their popcorn and soda, they had their children. My husband and I looked at each other wondering if we had wandered into the wrong theater. I counted over fifty children under the age of seven - believe me I know kids! There were several babies!!

Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds this absurd! I still don't know if I was old enough for all that blood and gore. People tell me it's no big deal, that kids come to R rated movies with their parents all the time. And that it's not my business to mother the world.

But it is my business. Kids are my business. Books are my business. Movies are rated for a reason, basically to inform the public on the contents. I wish books had a rating sytem too. It would serve as a guideline for many parents. Books like "A Child Called It," could be rated D for disturbing, or perhaps PB - (not peanut butter) but Parents Beware!

The written word is a powerful tool, and so are movies. Everything we do or see leaves an impression. So, my advice - to whoever might be willing to listen from one who's been around the block numerous times ...

Don't be so willing to give into your children's whims. They are young and don't always see the consequences of their requests. Saying no is not a punishment. Saying no is a safety measure. Being responsible is tough, I know, I raised three children. But ... being responsible sometimes means saying no to yourself. No, I can't go to that movie tonight because my child doesn't need to see this at his/her young age.

Go ahead, call me old fashioned! I can take it! But if this got your dander up ... then you got my message. The question now, is what will you do next time ~

DL Larson


mueja said...


Beena said...

new to your blog. i agree with your view on what childern should see and shoud not.
In India we feel, its much better coz we dont get to sent the children for any of that kinda movie.. and forget abt the books.
but with time, Inidan Parents too are going to have the same tension.
Good Post

Reel Fanatic said...

You are dead on right about this ... The most insane example of this I've seen was when I went to see "Hustle & Flow" .. Now, I love that movie, but it clearly isn't for kids ... However, at the 9 p.m. screening I attended, there were at least five families that brought their very young children along (cheaper than a babysitter, I guess)

Pamela K. Kinney said...

I agree, and I always made sure my son saw things age appropriate to his age at the time. Unfortunately when I said no to the slasher films a friend of his' mother rented them when he was visiting over there so they coud see. She knew what I felt too. This is sorta the backlash to the child abuse issue that my genreation was owrried about. I see parents who kids scream so instead of saying no to the ice cream or candy or toy in the store they buy it for them, for someone says, "Oh, she/he's abusing the child, right?" I checked out a Y.A. novel by Holly Black--now I loved it, but there was a b lue color word I used in my erotic romances but wouldn't put in a YA novle. It was in the YA section too of the library. Shocked me as my YA fantasies as a child wpuldn't have them. of course, I read adult novels young as I was advanced in my reading. But novels weren't bad back then, not as much as could be today. But shocked me about the YA novel using a word using in sex that never seen in a YA novel before.


Deb Larson said...

As a children's librarian that concerns me too. We have yet to make a YA section in our library for that very reason. The kind of book you are referring to usually ends up in our adult section. But we also have a grant that may change all that. If we get this grant we will be making a YA place in our library. Then the question will be what do we put in there that is not offensive, yet challenging?
Thanks for your thoughts.
DL Larson