December 18, 2007

The Cost of Innocence? The Price of a Movie Ticket.

Prepare yourselves for a rant.

Chris and I snuck out last night to catch a late movie. It stared around 9:00 pm. I really wanted to see "Juno", but apparently it isn't playing in this town until January 4th, so we decided to go see "I Am Legend" instead. It's the movie about the virus that pushes the human race to the edge of extinction. The previews I'd seen looked pretty intense, even for a grown-up like myself, so you can imagine my shock and horror when, last night, the seats directly behind me were suddenly occupied by two small children- probably ages 4 and 6.


Their parents brought them to a 9:00 movie that was about everyone on earth dying and, oh! Zombie monsters! 'Dark Seekers' that eat humans and look like terrifying nightmare creatures and huddle together in the dark! Cool! Great parenting!

Prior to the movie starting, there was a preview for a movie about a serial killer. The whole movie was the serial killer running around with a video camera and documenting all that he was doing to people. It was the most sickening, depraved thing I have ever seen in my life (this is just the preview, mind you) and tears were stinging my eyes because I couldn't stop thinking about the two small, precious children sitting behind me watching that filth. Filth that would have given me night terrors for years if I had seen it when I was four.

I asked my brother-in-law to check the ticket to see what "I Am Legend" was rated. It was only PG-13. This was shocking to me, because it was really scary and intense. I thought for sure it would have to be rated R.

If it had been rated R, I would have marched right out into the lobby and gotten a manager and told them that there were little children in the theater- and that if they didn't do something about it, I was going raise hell.

But it was only PG-13. And the children were accompanied by their parents. God, it felt like I was sitting directly in front of some form of child abuse or something- unable to do anything to stop it. It reminded me of that one time, months ago, when I was sitting behind a car at a stop light, and I saw the dad turn around from the front seat and hit his kid multiple times as hard as he could. I wrote down his license plate number and called it in. I have no idea what happened after that. But this time, when I felt that rage well up inside of me again, there was no number to call. Nothing I could do. I felt helpless.

Our kids now-a-days are so frickin' desensitized, it makes me sick with worry. When I was little, I remember seeing one scene from the movie 'Jaws', and feeling traumatized by it for months. These kids had to sit and watch hundreds of people die- getting murdered by screaming monsters and torn from their families, and they didn't even flinch.

There was a scene involving the death of an animal about halfway through the movie, and the little girl behind me started crying. Even then, her parents didn't escort her out of the theater. They sat and watched the whole thing.

How shocking is that? Children crying over the death of an animal, yet not even flinching when human beings are violently murdered in front of their eyes?

I don't even know what to do with all this anger I have inside of me from this experience. I probably would have really enjoyed the movie if I hadn't been so upset for the children behind me. I fear for these kids who are forced to become so hardened at such a young age. We wonder why our kids are so violent these days? Look at the video games they sit in front of for hours on end! Look at the movies they are allowed to watch! How does one stay innocent and carefree when bombarded with vicious, coercive crap like that? They are bombarded long before they have the tools they need to defend themselves from it. If thats not injustice, I don't know what is.

I am so upset. So, what do I do with this anger?

What would you have done in this situation if you were me?

Could I/Should I have done more?


Rebecca said...

I did not know that I Am Legend was a scary movie when Randy and I went to see it Sunday. It totally freaked me out and I began crying with the dog too. Animals totally get me that way. Anyway, I HATE situations like that and let it fester. California (or something) has hardened me to the point of making loud comments during those situations, which probably isn't going to solve anything. I guess we should pray for those kids, during those situations, that they would be protected.

Anonymous said...

reminds me of that time when i went to see pan's labyrinth, thinking it was just a fantasy movie (the preview presented it as such) whose story was set in WWII time

but was a "fantasy" in a little girl's head trying to escape the hellish reality of the war. There were some super crude violent scenes that were totally unecessary (in my opinion)

anyway, the link here is that two kids, with their mom, were sitting right behind us the WHOLE TIME!
i mean.. they were like 7 or 8!

and the movie was 16+ here.

that was a total shocker, i think i reacted the same way you did, PLUS i was shocked at such free undeserved violence the movie portrayed...i just sat there, credits rolling, crying my eyes out after it was done...

partly for the kids who had watched that, partly for the unjustice of children having to live in wartime..

so sad


sufferingsummer said...

I'd like to say I'd have turned around and given my two cents to those parents making sure to use the terms 'abuse' and 'complete and utter disregard for their role as parents' but more than likely I would have done as you did, sit there fuming, probably whispering continually to my husband about what we could do and then leave angry and frustrated.
This is so wrong. It has happened to me once or twice that a child has been in a movie I would never allow my child to see at that age but not in a movie that sounds as terrifying as the one you were in. It makes me hold my girl a little tighter and realize that I not only need to equip her with the tools to handle media saturation of violence, death and anger but also with the tools to communicate thoughtfully with her peers who will no doubt be growing into desensitized young adults who will need more patience from her when she is outraged over issues they will simply not even see as issues.
God help us.
I'm so thankful there are some other Mamas out there who are outraged and choose NOT to force their children into growing up too soon and too confused to make sense of it all.
wish we weren't in different states and Ezra and Indy could be friends...

Anonymous said...

This is not on the topic of rant; although I read it entirely and agree with you ... I Am Legend is a poor remake of Omega Man. The characters infected with the virus are not scary in the original; it is more the "thought" of the "virus" that terrifies in Omega Man. I highly recommend it.

Amy said...

I got sick to my stomach reading this. Your instincts for how wrong and horrible that was are right on target.

I know it ruined the movie for you, as it would have for me.

Kids have to face so much so soon, without irresponsible parents adding to the pile.

I would have probably got up and left, with pointed (and I'm sure pointless and futile) glares at them.

Laura said...

This kind of reminds me why I don't go to movies in the theater that much... I hate that other people's poor choices have the potential to ruin my own experience, much less to wonder about theirs.

My mom does home daycare and one of her toddlers is always talking about guns and "killing". KILLING.

I don't even know what to say, but you've already said it more eloquently.

dawn224 said...

I wish I knew what to tell you ... I am the same way, I carry anger and hurt with me when I feel helpless. I'm so sorry.

Robin Marie said...

This reminds me of a little 5 year old boy I used to work with. Every day he would spend the entire morning plotting ways to "kill" me. I couldn't understand how such a tiny child with such big, beautiful eyes could talk about killing the way he did. Finally, in an attempt to calm him down one day, we practiced writing by writing down our favorite movies. My list? Casablanca, Finding Nemo, Frida, Shrek and Field of Dreams (don't ask). His list? Terminator, Alien Versus Predator and The Exorcist.

It was hard for me because his parents were clients. Were they strangers, I would have given them a piece of my mind. A big piece.

Maggie said...

It's sad because I don't think there's anything you could have done in that situation. Unfortunately, it's not just that situation we have to worry about. Kids who are being raised like that are going to be Ezra and Liam's peers. Possibly even their friends. I think we have to focus our frustrated energy into parenting our kids so they will be prepared to live in a world with all types of people. We will do our best and then hold our breath that they won't be scared or judgemental or rebellious. If that doesn't work, we can always start a commune!

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with everything that is said. Having 5 children has really opened my eyes to the way the world percieves things. Another thing that frustrates me is that parents have no problem letting their children act in such horrible movies, all to "further their career".
My 11yo friends from CHURCH have seen Chuck and Larry and just about every other sexually twisted or violet movie out there. And these are the kids that I thought he might be able to hang with.
Sorry about the long comment, but that aggravates me too!

Not So Perfect said...

Oh Emery this is so sad. Now I am crying too. It sounds like we were very similiar as children. I would have been devastated for days, weeks maybe years if I saw something like that at that age.

I say pray. Pray for those kids, pray for those parents and pray for our society.

I don't think there is anything you could have done. Chances are the parents would not have been receptive to any type of intervention on your behalf.

Cheatwoods said...

all you can do is prey for those poor kids. Pray that God wold change the hearts of the parents for feeling comfprtable bringing there kids to that. However there was nothing you can do, it is there kids and isnt your responsibility to tell someone else how to parent. Wich a lot of people feel it is there responsibility to tell the world how they should raise there kids.
Just pray,what else can ya do?

Cheatwoods said...

i do know how to spell pray, I swear it!

Hadara said...

Wow...I just have to chime in and express my shock and horror too.

I saw "I Am Legend" with my boyfriend on Thursday night, a midnight showing because we'd been super excited to see the film for a long time. And I, as a 25-year old woman who is a fan of scary movies, got up and PHYSICALLY RAN OUT of the theater twice, and screamed outloud three times, and had a pounding heart and was traumatized/having nightmares for days afterwards.

To think that someone would expose a child to that film is horrendous.

There really isn't anything you could have done, though...if it had been R rated, I think you would have been completely in the right to go report it. But if you'd said something, it could have potentially caused some drama that might have added to the distress the kids were feeling.

Those are some selfish parents. I'm so sorry you had to witness it...and I understand your feelings completely!

Emery Jo said...

These comments are all so good and are helping me re-focus my anger.

I have been reminded that I can take that outrage I felt and use it for good... I can let it teach me how to raise Ezra as a strong man in a world so lacking in morality and decency.

I did pray for those children during most of the movie. During the car ride home. And before I drifted off to sleep.

It did help a little, but it is also good to be reminded that prayer really is a powerful thing- something I can tangibly DO.

Sometimes (the other night included) prayer just feels like I'm begging the empty sky to fix things, and I often forget that someone in control is listening.

Thanks for reminding me of that.

skylana said...

weird that people would think that because you go to church you shouldn't watch a movie about two men who love each other and um... aren't even gay... and even if they were, we should be teaching our children to accept them, not judge them... that makes me angry! besides that the whole point of that movie was really amazing..... but about your anger... i think i probably would have said something to them, just something simple like "this is how you are choosing to raise your children? sad." and i would have left.

Katy said...

This story reminds me of the story our pastor told of his son this past Sunday. A little boy came up to his son in the cafeteria at school... he's 7 yrs. old mind you... and took a fork and told my pastors son that He was going to take the fork and stab him in the heart and kill him. This SHOCKED ME! That a 7 yr. old could say something like this... he also told all the children at school that Santa wasn't coming because he didn't exist!!!! I STILL BELIEVE IN SANTA FOR GOODNESS SAKES!! Poor children these days.... our church is getting the family clothes and toys for the children and food for their pantry for Christmas. Killing them with Kindness I suppose... Because these children are being raised in a single mother household and have no father figure and are exposed to things they should not be exposed to at such a young age. It's terrible. I feel your pain Emery!

Anonymous said...

It really is a tragedy that kids are being exposed to stuff like this and becoming desensitized at such a young age. I have to say though, it is also a tragedy that even as adults we too can be desensitized to such garbage. When did it become okay to watch stuff like that? It sounds like a horrible movie, so why didn't you just leave? I think we need to take a good hard look at why we would watch such crap in the name of entertainment. Hollywood isn't worthy of my time, money, or attention.

Angie said...

I don't think I would have done much either, except stare at the parents in horror. I can't imagine taking my child to an adult movie. Of course, I only have a two year old, who finds it scary when Cinderella's stepsisters rip her clothes. But, it isn't really if they would be scared by it, just if it is appropriate for them to see, which obviously the movie you saw was not.

chris said...

I told Em as we were leaving the theater that night, "Ya know, thats the kind of crap that makes me want to boycott Hollywood all together." I was mostly referring to the preview before I am Legend. The one filmed in the serial killers point of view.
The children watching this stuff in the theater was just as horrifying! Anonymous has a very valid point. If we wouldn't want our kids to be subject such imagery, why would we want to subject ourselves to that same imagery?
I will say that when a true story is somewhat accurately portrayed in the theater, especially when it has to do with history, I am all for it. Or when there are redemptive qualities and/or truth and love laced into a good film, cinema imagery becomes another beautiful way to depict creation. This doesn't mean a film needs to be all frou frou for me to see it, just needs to be truthful mostly. Sometimes that means displaying very intense and hard things to watch. As far as our children, we should watch first and use our best judgment as to whether this would contribute to healthy growth in our children, and be prepared to talk with them afterwards. I will never rely on Hollywood's Rating System, to say weather or not my child is old enough to watch a movie. That is Emery and I's job right?

Anyhow, I don't think I will boycott Hollywood. However, I will remember this night in the Theater, and consider it the next time I want to give my money to tinseltown.

some of my favs.

Cinderella Man (or anything having to do with the Great Depression Era)

I am Sam

Walk the Line

Forest Gump!

Anything Wes Anderson

I will admit that I enjoy most "Chick Flicks"

Okay the end.

Cheatwoods said...

i like me a good action movie, i loved the new national treasure! so good and no swearing. I love action movies that dosent have s w earing!

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't know what else you could have done without infringing on the rights of those parents. Just shows you that what is legal isn't always a good thing. Just like that verse that is in Romans that says all things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. I think you saw that verse being displayed right before your eyes!

My suggestion would be that since you were there, then I would assume that God knew that a person with such a heart of conviction would be sitting in front of those precious kids. And you know, He knew your heart would be stirred to pray for them when their parents don't even realize the necessity to do so.

What a wonderful lesson for us all. So take that anger and keep in prayer. It sounds like those kids need someone that is willing to do some knee time for them.

Be blessed!

MtnMommy said...

What a horrifying (and, unfortunately, common) situation in which those parents put their children. I think I would have been comfortable enough to comment to them, "After letting your kids watch stuff like this, don't be surprised when they're violent at home or, God forbid, take a gun to school and take out a few of their classmates."

Idiots. Some people shouldn't be allowed to procreate.

Shawna Herring Photography said...

ugh. I feel sick. and sad. There is so much compromise. All in the name of 'fun'.
We just went through a lesson with Madison today on avoiding things that desensitize our minds to garbage. I had been hearing all about 'guitar hero' this past few weeks...seems like EVERYONE has it. I wasn't impressed after hearing a few songs while cruising in Wal Mart...I wasn't a heavy metal fan in high school and I'm not one now. She was at a friends house today and they had it...I heard all about it. From the devil guitar guy playing a dead body for an instrument... to the half naked chics that somehow add to the musical thrill. Turns out that it is rated T for TEENS. HELLO! This kid was 8! Not that I think it is any more decent to let a 13 year old boy be subject to that but it just goes to show that the standard has been dropped so low in most American homes that anything goes as long as you know someone else who is doing it. Well, I don't care if I have the reputation of being the hard core mom that wont allow that "really cool" game. I'll be strict if it means that my 10 year old daughter stays sensitive to things that are designed to dull her senses. I don't trust anyone rating games or movies or books or tv commercials for that matter. If I would have been sitting in front of those parents, I probably would have been arrested for causing a total scene. I just can't stay quiet about crap like that. All though I wouldn't have been at that movie myself, I get too freaked out.
It's a good thing to stick up for children, even if it feels like a risk.