Nothing Up My Sleeve

Jon Gallagher

There Ought to be a License for Parenting




I’m guilty of eavesdropping. 

The discussion was about the movie Final Destination.  It’s one of those gory movies that has someone dying a violent death about every ten minutes or so, the next death just a little more gory and intense than the last.  I know this because the two people discussing it were giving explicit details which included descriptions peppered with the “f” word whenever an adjective was needed.

The two entered into the discussion were 9 and 10.  I know.  I asked them.

They were sitting atop a playset at the local playground while my daughter, age four, was trying to slide down the attached curvy slide.  There were several other children that were her age also climbing and sliding on the set.

Being old, big, and ugly has its moments.  I approached the two young pottymouths, and said, “I appreciate your ability to pronounce all those grown up words.  That takes a lot of skill.  But I’d appreciate it if you didn’t use that kind of language around all these young kids.”  Then, I smiled.

Both of the boys looked at each other and you could tell that lumps were forming in their little throats.  I can be pretty scary at times.

I found myself wondering what kind of parents would let their nine and ten year old kids watch that kind of movie.  When I got home, I checked it out and it’s rated “R” because of “strong horror violence/gore, language, and some nudity.”  That pretty well covers the spectrum.

Upon some further research, I found that the movie has the “F” word used 34 times (someone sits around and counts this stuff???), which is about once every three minutes.  If you thought I was kidding about someone dying every ten minutes, you’re wrong.  At least twenty gory deaths are detailed which is roughly one every four and a half minutes.

Some parent is letting their kid watch this crap (readers: please feel free to insert any profanity you wish for the word “crap”)???

I guess it shouldn’t surprise me.  During the time I worked at Circuit City, I spent quite a bit of it as a cashier, ringing up purchases for people.  Almost daily, a kid under the age of 17 would come in and try to buy an R rated movie or game.  Any time I got one of them, I refused to sell it to them unless they could produce a driver’s license to prove their age.  I can’t tell you how many ten year old kids had the guts to tell me that they left it in the car.

In many cases, the kid would come back into the store with a parent in tow, demanding to purchase the movie.  I’d always explain our policy on selling mature movies and software to minors, and more times than not, I’d get told off by the parents.

When I was growing up, I was subjected to some violence on TV, and I don’t think it made me a bad person.  I only remember one time when I tried to copy what I’d seen.

I walked up to my older sister, took my fist, and pounded it off her stomach like I’d seen on TV.  I knew I was in trouble when A) there was no sound of a tympani drum being hit like when Moe did it to Curly, and B) the fire shot from her eyes. 

Seems like I also remember rolling across the room and only being stopped by the opposite wall.  I was probably only about four or five at the time, but I don’t think I ever tried that again.  On anyone, let alone my sister.

There are groups that claim that violence displayed by Moe, Larry and Curly is bad for children to watch.  There are probably groups that warn about the dangers of watching the Road Runner and his battles with that Coyote fella too.  Personally, I think most kids can tell the difference between comic violence and real violence, and if they can’t, then there’s probably someone around to teach them the difference, much like my dear sister taught me.

I also sat through my share of TV shows like Gunsmoke, Bonanza, the Lone Ranger, and Have Gun Will Travel.  There was violence there as well, but when someone got shot on one of those shows, there was never gore involved – just a lot of overacting by some bad actors.

These type of movies that show realistic violence (though I’m not sure how realistic it is for someone to get shot through the head with a nail gun or be dissected by falling construction equipment) may not encourage youngsters to go out and try and duplicate the action involved, but I’m sure that they’ve been responsible for at least a couple of nightmares somewhere along the line. 

These movies are done for shock value and nothing more.  There’s no plot of any redeeming value, no characterization, and no suspense.  You know everyone’s going to die and that the next one is going to be a little worse than the last.  There’s no reason for kids to be watching this.

I guess I got my answer to my rhetorical question, “What kind of parents would let their kids watch this stuff?”  The answer:  not very good ones.

I asked the two boys how old they were.   They told me, and then the nine year old was quick to add, “But my parents don’t care.”

Yeah, that was pretty obvious.

And sad too.