What is wrong with our society (overheard at the movie lobby)

Earlier today I went to see the movie Old School (not as funny as I hoped, but still not a disappointment…but this thread isn’t about that.) When I was waiting in line in the lobby to buy a ticket, I overheard a conversation between a mother who had 6 children, who looked to be around 12, with her, a mixture of boys and girls. They were all going to see Gods & Generals…why any 12 year old would want to see that at all is beyond me…anyway, this is the conversation that took place

Mom: before I buy these tickets, I need to know if there is any sex or nudity in this movie.

Cashier: This movie is very bloody, and probably doesn’t deserve the PG-13 rating it had, and is probably not appropiate for children of that age.

Mom: I’m not asking about the violence, I want to know if there is any sex or nudity in the movie.

Cashier: It’s a war movie, it’s full of violent war scenes

Mom: I don’t care how much violence is in this movie. Seeing blood will never harm anyone. I want to know how much sex is in it. If there are breasts then I do not want them seeing it.

Cashier: there aren’t any breasts

Mom: ok, good. One adult and 6 children.

now, the thing that bothered me the most about this conversation is that a mother thinks that seeing a breast is more harmful to children than seeing a bunch of people blow each other’s heads off. I haven’t seen Gods & Generals so I can’t really comment on the content of the movie, but I can’t help but be bothered by what her morals seem to be. I don’t see how showing a pair of breasts in a movie would be harmful to ANYONE, whilst seeing blood might be (I don’t think it’s that big of deal either, but certainly more harmful to children than any PG-13-level sex would ever be). I’m sure this topic has been debated to death in the past, but are there any parents on this thread who can defend the mother’s point of view here, especially on the “I don’t care how bloody it is as long as there isn’t any skin” line?

I am reminded of Lenny Bruce’s comment on the same subject. A close paraphrase follows:

“It’s all right for kids to see killing in the movies. Killing, yes, but fcking, no–because if they see fcking, they might do it someday!”

Hmm, if I were the cashier, I might lie anyway and say there’s T&A. And then I’d probably have to update my resume, but still…

Not a parent, but I think this phenomenon is symptomatic of the prevailing ideology today, especially in America, that sexual content is more likely to “infect” a kid and turn him into a pervert than, say, gunshots and gore- that there is a definite and clear dividing line between seeing someone die and seeing someone naked as far as whether or not a child will “resist” the effects of the stimulation… I agree completely that it’s difficult to argue in favor of this logic, but it’s been around for years… everywhere you look, be it on TV, movies, or just life in general, there’s this idea that kids will be able to see the “fantasy” in fantasy violence but not in fantasy sex, and somehow be corrupted in the latter case.

I’m reminded of CleanFlicks, an outfit that will edit the sex and/or violence, &c., out of videos or DVDs for you. They got some national attention for their work on Titanic from which they cut Kate Winslet’s nude scene, in which she exposes her wonderful, ripe, mouthwatering breasts and full, luscious figure while reclining luxuriantly in a diaphanous…

Ahem. Sorry.

They edited out Kate’s nude scene and the (utterly nongraphic) sex scene and sold the video that way.

The message being that apparently kids are fine with seeing hundreds of frozen, blue bodies bobbing in the water, but Kate Winslet’s nipples will turn them to The Dark Side. As they did with me.

For more on this, you can Google Titanic edited Utah and learn more than you want to know.

It goes back a bit. Unless my memory’s awfully spotty, I’d say this has been the prevailing attitude, in the US, at least, for a long, long time.

How many parents in 50s television shows slept in the same bed? We’re not talking gratuitous frontal nudity, mind, or even frank discussion of sex, just the idea that a married couple might actually sleep in the same bed, was verboten. In mainstream entertainment, anyway.

How many Saturday afternoon serials (Flash Gordon, The Rocketeer, Tarzan, that kinda stuff) featured a weekly fistfight or shootout, and how many of 'em depicted characters that weren’t almost totally asexual?

One, it seems, has always been preferable to the other, for reasons I can’t quite grasp, either.

There’s a theory (and I don’t know how much credence I place in it, but here it is) that the U.S. is a deeply Puritanical country that has always restricted expressions of sexual activity, starting from our Age of Reason origins right up to our pioneering efforts in television. It’s such a firm prohibition, they say, that we don’t even question it. Dunno.

Here’s my take on the matter, from an essay on my website:

“Violence is another topic popular entertainment and FanFic writers have in common. It has always puzzled thoughtful critics of television entertainment that violence is acceptable, where sex is verboten. Wouldn’t we rather present images of people kissing than people hitting one another? I’ve cogitated on this myself till my brain emits steam (being one who prefers kissing to hitting), and I think it might be this: although most adults live a life that includes sex, few of us deal with physical violence on a day-to-day basis. It might well be that a full acknowledgment of our violent natures is like an admission that our sexual selves exist: we speak of it rarely, and then with a sense of embarrassment, justification, and preservation of privacy. For the overwhelming majority of us, though, cinematic violence is an enjoyable, escapist fantasy, since we’ve never had some boozed-up dude facing us over a broken beer bottle. What touches us most deeply is just the thing we don’t want to see anyone else enact in an unrealistic manner.”

I agree that here in America, most of us live a life that includes sex, but no violence on a day-to-day basis…watching violence in a movie allows for some kind of escapist acknowledgment of the baser aspects of our nature.
I will never forget asking my-then 10 year old son’s friend’s parents permission to see Shakespeare in Love. They balked, and suggested another movie: The Matrix, which their son had already seen 3 times.
It just seems so hypocritical, and such an ugly message. However, while I’ve tried to raise my kids with a more balanced view, I can only go so far.
When sunning ourselves on an island in Greece, we watched a well-preserved Italian mom my age (mid-40’s) casually chatting with her teenybopper sons while her bikini top lay next to her.
I thought it was so cool that nudity was not such a big deal for them, but knew that this kind of thing was pretty much unthinkable for us.

When I saw “The Mummy” I was in front of a woman with two boys who were around 8 or so. Although there were plenty of scary scenes, violence, and such, she made them cover their eyes when there were breasts on the screen.

My god but this country is messed up.

I have a six year old girl and would probably be labeled a terrible parent by the majority of the country. I’ll let her watch pretty much anything. I don’t want her to grow up with a lot of hang-ups about her sexuality (god, did I just write that…even though I still have a few). I don’t make her cover her eyes at the sight of a mans butt or a pair of breasts. What would I be teaching her if i did? That naked bodies are bad and that your father thinks sex is icky and you should never talk about sex with him when you get older. That’s not what I want our relationship to be like.

I have a good friend that told me when his daughter (who was 18 at the time btw) lost her virginity, he was the one she called, not Mom. He’s divorced and lives several states away but because they have such an open relationship, she felt comfortable talking with him about it. I admire that a great deal and hope my daughter and I can remain that close.

As parents, the best we can hope to do is raise our children with a sense of right and wrong and have an open an honest relationship where they feel safe to talk about all aspects of their lives with us.

My wife was raised in a Catholic household and is slowly coming around to my way of thinking. Those teachings sure did give her a truckload of baggage to work through. I suspect that the root cause of any parent wanting to shield their child from those horrible boobies and such are the hang ups they have about their own sexuality, and not the reaction or damage they believe will happen to their child.

I don’t really understand the urge to censor sex from children. Kids aren’t going to be interested until they’re old enough to be interested. And that’s going to be determined by nature, not by arbitrary social conventions. At which point, of course, there will be no power on Earth sufficient to prevent a determined adolescent from finding a picture of boobies.

I don’t recall there being any bare breasts in that film. So when did they cover their eyes?

Huh. I watched plenty of violent movies on TV when I was a kid…it never turned me into a desensitized monster. Most of my contemporaries were the same way. I don’t know about watching sexual scenes having any negative effect, but I don’t think seeing some violence hurts kids as much as the hand-wringers would have you think.

Maybe in the ancient Egypt scenes with Nemotep (sp?) girlfriend, the Pharoh’s wife.

I believe the Pharoh’s Wife(Daughter?) during the Ancient Eygpt sequence was wearing nothing but stategicly placed makeup at one point.

meh, this is one of the things people talk about being wrong with america… when its not really exclusive to america

It might have been Shelley Winters who said, “[In movies] If a man cuts off a woman’s breast, it’s rated R. If he kisses it, it’s an X.”
(from Roger Ebert’s Questions for the Movie Answer Man.

Ain’t that the truth?

You’ll notice that Legomancer said nothing about the breasts being bare. :dubious:

Thought I replied earlier. hmm

Roger Ebert pointed out the same thing with Starship Troopers. Noting parenetls let kids see all the blood and gore* but hid thier kid’s eyes from the (non sexual) shower scene.

*ok, so some of the gore was bug gore, but still

Brian

This has disturbed me more than I thought it would because, upon reading the OP, I thought ’ OMG, I do this! I’m warping my children!’…Then I did some deconstructing of my motives. I hope you can follow this.

 I have no problem with nudity, but nudity in movies seems to go hand in hand with strong sexual content.  This sexual content is often warped and perverse. Not ALL the time, though.  Bare breasts in Titanic - I will let my children see that.  Bare breasts in Shakespeare in Love- I will let my children see that.  Bare men's bottoms in Braveheart- Yep, they can watch that, too.  Sadly, though, my children don't want to see those films.  They want to see stuff like Austin Powers: Goldmember or Orgazmo.  I tell them no.  It's not the nudity (although, I don't think either one of these movies had nudity in them).  It's the overwhelming 'disgusting' factor.  The STRONG sexual content.

 I cannot, however, offer any kind of excuse for letting them watch the violent stuff.  I feel terrible about it now, because obviously I'm letting a kinder, more open America fall by the wayside. 

 I do know that my children don't have a problem with seeing breasts, as I nursed all three of them. :D

 Oh, and I don't let them watch slash and gore horror movies.