I suspect that many (many, many, many) of you saw “The Avengers” last weekend. I did. I enjoyed it, by the way, but this is not a movie review.
Did you know that “The Avengers” is rated PG-13? I did. And maybe you did, too. The matinee I saw on Sunday afternoon was sold out and jam packed with families bringing their kids to see some super hero smackdown. Not every kid in the audience was 13+. I know for a fact that one wasn’t, because he was my six-year-old son.
I realize that admitting I brought my halfway-to-thirteen kid to a PG-13 movie will shock and dismay some parents. That’s fine with me – my husband and I discussed this and confidently decided that my son would be able to handle the action sequences in this particular movie. And he did. He laughed appropriately, cheered appropriately, asked appropriate questions, and thoroughly enjoyed himself.
He has a pretty good grip on fantasy and reality and rolled his eyes at me when I told him that Iron Man wasn’t real. And then he shook his head like he couldn’t believe how stupid I was and rolled his eyes again.
There is plenty of research out there pointing to children’s media viewing habits influencing behavior. I don’t think that the research is off mark. But I also know that my husband and his brothers and my brothers were all superhero fans and yet, to this date, none of them has taken up a second career as a masked vigilante. Heck, as soon as my youngest brother could operate the VCR (at the ripe old age of 3) he created a Saturday afternoon ritual of watching “Ghostbusters,” rewinding “Ghostbusters,” and watching “Ghostbusters” again. He wore out the tape from viewing it so many times.
My son’s first-grade classroom was a-buzz on Monday morning, all of the kids were asking each other if they saw “The Avengers” and when and what was their favorite part. Believe it or not, this was a big part of our decision to let him watch the movie. We were pretty certain that he was going to hear all about it on the playground, the classroom, and the bus and we wanted to control the way he saw and heard about what happened in the movie. We didn’t want it to be a big, huge mystical event that he heard about through the filter of the kid who zeroed in on the violence or the one who missed the point of a team working together.
This summer, like all summers, is chock-full of event movies. I am anticipating some (like “Brave” and “Frankenweenie”) more than others (like almost anything else with re-animated corpses). We will be picky and choosy about what we take out children to see.
I suppose I might feel more like a black sheep admitting that we took our son to a movie like this, but when I exited the theatre, I am pretty sure that a full quarter of the packed house was my son’s age or younger. And he did get it – when I asked him what he thought of the movie, he said, “It was pretty violent, mom. But I thought the funny parts were better. ‘Shakespeare in the Park,’ hehehe…”