You know, that put me in mind of this experience:
When I was a kid, I saw Bad News Bears – the one with Walter Matthau and that hottie Jackie Earle Haley (and Tatum O’Neal IIRC). Of course, a few years ago there was a Billy Bob Thornton version. (Tangent: How cool would the remake have been if Jackie Earl Haley had played the part of Mr. Buttermaker?) Anyway, naturally, I thought I should watch the remake for comparison. I had to go back and watch the Matthau version again shortly after that.
For the most part, the movies were the same. Same exact plot, only the 2005 version was softened up quite a bit. For example, there was far less bullying of the fat kid and girls being on the team was so not a big deal. In the 1976 version, everyone including the adults, were horribly cruel to the fat kid and there was this big gasp reveal when it turned out that Tatum O’Neal’s character was gasp a girl. Who could play ball. gasp
The part that made me gasp was near the end. Mr. Buttermaker, in both movies, had been in his grumpy way coaching without giving much of a shit and had sort of mentally turned the corner where he started actually caring if the kids won the game. One of the dorky kids made some error and, in the 2005 version, Buttermaker just yelled at him and the parents on the sidelines were quick to rush in and set his ass back a step. In the 1976 version, Buttermaker actually hit the kid, knocked him on his ass and the parents on the sidelines just stood there. They made it clear the 1976 Buttermaker had crossed the line by hitting the kid, but nobody said or did anything. There was another gasp silence, dirty looks were shot at Mr. Buttermaker and cut to the next scene. In the 1976 version, Buttermaker talks with the team later and sort of comes close to hinting at an apology for his behavior, but he doesn’t, really. In the 2005 version, Buttermaker makes a point of giving a nice, flowery apology and they all kiss and make up and go play their big championship game.
To me, the contrast between the two different versions of the same movie illustrate what you’re talking about. Because, while I was watching the 1976 version, I related to being a kid that age in that era (because I was a kid that age in that era). And I really enjoyed the trip down Memory Lane and just as I was getting all nostalgic for the “good old days,” I was sharply reminded how, in the 1970s, hitting kids was not the big deal it is today. In 2012, Buttermaker would have gone to jail and the parents of all the kids would have personally sued him for emotional distress and og knows what else, while they hustled their precious snowflakes into therapy for the PTSD (and everyone on the losing team gets consolation trophies). In 1976, Buttermaker got a couple dirty looks, everyone shrugged and moved on. Even though I am not a fan the nanny state helicopter-parent world we live in now, having grown up in an era where nobody batted an eye at child abuse, I have to call this progress. It is better for kids now than it was for kids in the 70s. At least when it comes to taking a beat down at Little League.