Monday, February 9, 2009

But It Doesn't Look That Scary

So, I'm walking the seven year old I babysit home from a playdate at Barnes and Noble where I refused to purchase for her a Teen Beat magazine spattered with the shining, nauseating faces of such artistic talents as Miley Cyrus and The Jonas Brothers, when a bus rolls on by down W. 86th with an ad for WATCHMEN on the side.

My seven year old informs me, "I saw an add for Watchmen."

"Oh? Where?"

"On my tv."


"Um, and I think- even though it showed all the scary parts I didn't think it was that scary!" Oh dear.

"Yeah, I think you're gonna have to wait a few years to see that one, kiddo." I, the uber proponent of comic books-over-whatever crap they're showing on the Disney channel. But I mean, dude, she's seven.

"But I watch 24!"

"Yeah, this is a little more violent and mature than that."

So as we're ascending the stairs to her apartment and I'm absently turning over the little Riddler lego keychain ornament attached to the ring with her apartment's keys on it, it occurs to me: Must tell kiddo's parent's not to let kiddo's older brother, recently turned twelve, to see Watchmen.

Now, twelve year old brother is a smart, mature kid who listens to real music and is a respectful and funny person. He watches 24 as well. He's seen the Daniel Craig Bond films and enjoyed them fully. But Watchmen is different. And even though it seems sort of exploitative, I'm now wondering if the rather intense nature of the film's violence, particularly the graphic nature of the rape scene, shouldn't be getting a little more publicity.

Seven and Twelve's parents are awesome people with their fingers on the pulse, but comic movies are probably not something they follow closely. Now, I'll tell them, and possibly if they bothered to google search it, some of those Gugino/GDM interviews would come up, but how many dads who took their tween sons to Dark Knight or the Bond flicks are going to think oh, Watchmen, yeah, that's dark and mature comic stuff like those new Batman movies, and take them to the show without realizing?

The opening sequence alone is graphic and mature beyond anything I've seen in a theater, lately. It's not just the violence on display, it's the fact that what's being shown are some of the darkest pieces of the American consciousness, reflections of our country's deepest and oldest hatreds. It's not cartoon violence, it's not even 'comic book' violence. It's hate crime and sexual violence, and from what we can see in those first eighteen minutes, Snyder's handling it with artistry and care, but also unflinchingly. As someone who's usually a big fan of 'show 'em early and talk about it and make them better people', with Watchmen?

I'm thinking the rating is something parents should actually adhere to. I mean, I can't think of a single person under the age of sixteen I think should be shown this movie. Thoughts?


Unknown said...

Yeeeeaaah, enforce that age limit. Because... let's not make the youth of today terrified of costumed superheroes. That seems like a sound plan, to me.

LoquaciousMuse said...

I think I was mature enough at 12 (then I am a crazy person) but I for sure would not have gotten the movie. I would have been like, what? Haha is it weird that I think kids can watch all the violence they want and have more of a problem with them not getting it? My kids are gonna be fucked up.

EruditeChick said...

See, at age twelve I had probably watched enough mature cinema to have amassed a viewing of the total sort of violence and sexual content of Watchmen, but honestly?

I wouldn't show a twelve year old me that movie. The rape scene in particular, I think, is going to be just too graphic for people with no concept of sexual maturity to be exposed to. That shit's going to be hard core.

Teddy Diefenbach said...

Beyond just the "are they old enough to be exposed?" question is that of proper comprehension. Spectre 1's relationship with the Comedian is complicated, so it goes beyond just seeing the rape scene. They kinda have to be old enough to understand how she can be raped by him and not just 100% hate him forever...

...then again, what the hell do I know about that?

EruditeChick said...

No, Teddy, exactly. As adults, and people who have been in sexual situations and have a lot of reading of the subject under our belts (I speak at least for the NYU kids, I'm sure), we can read/watch that scene, understand the motivations and awfulness and then at least begin to try to understand the relationship that exists after it.

As smart as this twelve year old is, I know for a fact he cannot do that. He cannot comprehend or approach the content the same way, and since he can't, it'll end up just being some kind of trauma. I'm not saying he'll start crying or will become a rapist, but I can guarantee the images and the sounds will sit with him for a long time without necessarily bringing any kind of understanding to the experience.

I'm normally all about 'case by case basis', 'know your kid', blah blah, but no way no way no WAY should anyone under 16 be seeing this movie.