This is going to be a difficult post to write. It's a very sensitive subject. I'm not going to be able to write it without bringing up feelings of anger and guilt in my readers, I'm sure. It is not my intent to make anyone angry or guilty - I'm just really wondering about something.
I was watching the news today and saw an article about how a man's 6-year-old daughter was killed in the shootings in Colorado. And my heart breaks for him. How horrendous to have your 6-year-old taken so violently and suddenly. How horrendous to lose anyone that way. Truly ... it is horrible and I can't imagine going through that. In researching a little more on-line, it turns out that her mother was also seriously injured and suffered a miscarriage as well. What a horrible, horrible situation for all involved.
Now for the politically sensitive subject: and I say this gently and with true concern: why was a 6-year-old girl at a midnight showing of "The Dark Knight Rises"? Why was a 6-year-old up at midnight to see an age-inappropriate movie?
Okay ... there are a lot of parents out there who take their kids to movies that are rated for older kids or adults. I understand that. I think if my son wanted to watch some of these movies, we'd probably let him go now - he's 8 1/2. I'd probably let him see a PG-13 movie. And I probably shouldn't. Because these movies are not intended for such young brains. They are intended for older kids and adults who have enough life experience to process them and understand that they are fiction. Fortunately, I don't need to make these choices. He doesn't like movies that are rated higher than PG. On principal. He doesn't want to go see them because they are for older kids - he checks the ratings and follows those rules. My child is probably more sensible about these things than I am. So I don't have to make these calls.
And let me be very clear - I don't blame the parents for the tragedy that happened. I don't think that their daughter died because she was at an age-inappropriate movie. It just begs the question of why someone would take their kid to that.
I don't have a huge problem with people letting their kids go see movies meant for older audiences - most of us can make that call. Especially if we've seen the movie (since the shooting took place at the first showing of the movie, that wasn't the case here, obviously). Like I said, I probably would, too. But there is a limit. There are a lot of parents who go to the theatre in our small community who bring terribly small children to horribly violent movies. I remember watching Tropic Thunder - a really violent R-rated movie - with little kids in the audience - like 2, 3, 4 years old. WTF?? Is it because Mom and Dad couldn't afford a sitter?? Didn't want to spend the money on a sitter that they could spend on popcorn?? I don't know. They obviously either don't care, haven't considered it or don't understand how this could affect their children. In my opinion, that is neglectful - and the theatre shouldn't allow it.
The Dark Knight situation is different. Not an R-rated movie. Not a 2-year old.
But back to the question - why do parents think it's okay to take a 6-year-old girl to a midnight showing of a PG-13 movie? I guess the ratings are pretty much ignored by a lot of people. They are general guidelines, but they are there for a reason. Why ignore them? (Not to belabour the point, but I'm not being judgmental here - I'd probably ignore them too if my son gave me the choice. Although I'm not sure I'd take a 6-year-old to the Dark Knight Rises).
Is it that we want our children to grow up fast? Get it over with so we can start doing the things we want to do again? There is some of that ... I know there is ... I've felt that. Is it that we think our child is more mature and more able to handle these things than the "average" child?? (truth is our children probably aren't. Every parent thinks their child is advanced or special in some way. Your child probably isn't the special one out there that shines above and beyond the rest ... I know ... because I've felt that, too ... and I was wrong).
Or is it that people are just uneducated, don't pay attention and think the rules shouldn't or don't apply to them? Or the ratings system is seen as a joke - as many other control mechanisms are considered. Is it that the ratings are seen as inappropriate or overly-conservative. Or maybe there are other reasons. Maybe that little girl begged and begged to see the movie. Maybe there was something about it that she really just had to see.
I don't know the reasons - and I don't pretend to. I'm just really trying to understand why this situation occurred when, clearly, it shouldn't have. It's a situation that made me think. And made me terribly grateful that my son doesn't pressure me to make these calls. I love him!