Last Sunday afternoon, I went to see "World War Z," the new Brad Pitt film everyone's been talking about. I got there early so I could get a good seat--and bingo--I found a great seat right in the middle of the theater! And just in time, because the room became filled to near capacity well before the seemingly endless stream of commercials and trailers had finished.
Just before the film started, I noticed some-thing very unnerving.
In almost every row there were several small children. This particular mov-ie is rated PG-13, which means that it is not suitable for keiki. (There was a great kids' movie playing next door called "Monsters University," so I wondered what these kids with their tiny, innocent, impressionable brains were doing in this clearly-labeled PG-13 arena.)
The film began, and in less than 15 minutes, it erupted into everything you would never want a child to see: Extreme violence, panicky people running in the streets, total mayhem and gore, screaming children up on the big screen, high-decibel roaring sound effects of crashing cars, planes, helicopters; lots of humans being maimed, the crunching sounds of splitting heads and thousands of humans suffering graphically realistic and horrific deaths.
I looked to my right and saw this little girl--she couldn't have been more than 4 years old--staring in awe, her eyes wide and unblinking, fixed on the screen. What was going on in that tiny, developing brain as she sat there snuggled close to Daddy?
I looked around the semi-dark theater and couldn't help but notice all these young kids sitting mesmerized, their eyes glued to the as-real-as-Hollywood-technology-can-make-it movie experience. The kids were all very silent for the two hours--eyes transfixed--not unlike the zombies running amok on the big screen in front of them. They were no longer chattering and giggling the way kids normally behave during movies--and it was plain to see why. I sat back and thought that none of this is my business anyway.
But days later, the look in that little girl's eyes stayed with me. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to some other logic that I might be missing. What is it that possesses really kind, caring and wonderful moms and dads to expose their precious kids to this horrific assault on their developing senses?
I understand that babysitters can be an expense these days and that taking a child to a movie is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. But there are certainly other alternatives, options and choices that might better serve the family bonding experience.
I'm not a psychiatrist, so I can't say for sure this is a bad thing--maybe it's the modern way to desensitize our children so that they are better prepared for the harsh world they will have to survive in.
By the way, in case you're wondering, "World War Z" is a great movie--for adult people.
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