Okay, you got me, I confess–I once took an infant to the movies. It was Clint Eastwood’s Pale Rider, we were so desperate to get out of the house, and at 3 weeks old, she slept through the whole thing like an angel.
And I have also done my share of jiggling a bored toddler out in the hallway while the rest of my party watches the movie (something with Richard Dreyfuss in it)–sometimes you just balk at the prospect of paying a babysitter, and you tell yourself, “Maybe she’ll sleep through this one, too.”
And I have also sat there in horror, watching other people’s young children be terrified by a movie that their idiot parents brought them to see. The most notable one, for me, was Gremlins, way back when. Here’s this audience full of schoolchildren watching a kitten being put in the microwave.
I was also personally acquainted with someone who allowed their 9 and 11-year-old kids to see Alien. I thought, “Geez.”
Steven Spielberg was quoted as saying that he wouldn’t allow his own kids to see Jurassic Park. He was absolutely right. Bonzo was 6 when it came out at the theaters, and we told him, “We don’t care how many of your buddies have already seen it, we don’t think you can handle it.” We went around and around, but we held the line. So then, after it came out on video, I rented it, watched it, and had to tell him, “Nope, sorry, it’s still too scary for you.” I mean, the scene with the kids trapped in the car had ME pausing it and taking a few deep breaths before proceeding (“it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie…”)
So, after all that, I went in to his 2nd grade classroom one day to do a Parent Helper thing, and there was a substitute teacher getting ready to let them watch it as an afternoon activity. I expressed my extreme doubts, and she said vaguely, shrugging, “Well, I haven’t seen it myself, but my son said it was good, and he thought it would be OK for them to watch it.”
I said, “How old is your son?”
She said, “Sixteen.”
Two minutes later I was down in the office, protesting, and they ended up watching The Love Bug instead.
It wasn’t until he was in the 4th grade that he was allowed to watch it, at home (not in a darkened theater), on video (on a small screen, that tends to minimize the emotional impact), with me sitting there next to him holding the remote, my finger on the Pause button.
And to this day, La Principessa has never been allowed to watch it, not even with me sitting there holding the remote.
Bonzo is sitting here playing Playstation, and when he saw what we were talking about here just now (“little kids going to see X-Men”) he noted, “Oh, yeah, it was definitely too scary for little kids, Wolverine stabbed like 80 people, man.”