Moral Responsibility

Posted on 12 March 2010

This is another piece for the “Historical Perspective” section (from March 11th, 2003) which I wasn’t originally planning on re-running until I came across this post on the Consumerist about an AMC theater banning children under 6 from attending R-rated movies after 6pm.

Last night, Curtiss gave David and I a free movie pass to go see a screening of Willard. CAUTION: spoilers follow! As a general rule of thumb here, I have learned that, when a movie has a pre-screening, you can pretty much bet that it’s not Oscar material. That’s not to say that Willard was a downright terrible movie (like Ghostship, which Curtiss and I went to see for free as well, and which was so overly predictable as to actually make some of the “scary” scenes more humorous than shocking) but I wouldn’t pay more than we did to go see it in the theaters or to rent the DVD. It was one of those movies that I would probably watch on Sci-fi channel or TNT when it comes on some rainy, dreary Sunday. Crispin Glover did a good job, and I’m never disappointed with R. Lee Ermey, but the plot was a little flimsy — of course, what can I really expect from a movie that combines the storylines of Flowers for Algernon, The Pied Piper of Hamlin, and The Birds? OK, so maybe the only thing that Willard has in common with The Pied Piper of Hamlin is the rats but I’m trying to give the movie some benefit of the doubt.

Willard starts with an ominous, almost Psycho-like scene where we find Willard speaking to his sickly, bed-ridden mother. I was half expecting Glover to even dress up as his mother at points but that, fortunately, didn’t happen. What did happen is, about half way through the movie, I heard a child’s voice. Huh? I scan the screen and don’t see a child anywhere. Maybe it was a figment of my imagination, but then I hear it again. Obviously, some parent who cares nothing for the mental health of their child has brought them to see this movie. Folks, this movie may have mice and rats in it, but we are not talking Disney here. There may be a reference to Disney as R. Lee Ermey pounds a mouse to death and blood splatters across the actors, but that’s it.

Look folks, when a ticket stub says “No children under 6 admitted” leave the little ankle-biters at home. If you can’t find a babysitter, please act like a responsible adult and stay home for the sake of that child’s sanity. You really don’t need to bring a child to see a movie where rats are devouring furniture, cats, and people. Granted, I can’t lay all of the blame on the parent here, the women collecting the tickets should have said something to the parent but it shouldn’t have to come to that. It also shouldn’t have to come to a near shouting match when other patrons chastise you for your lack of morals and parenting skills. Listen to Hillary Clinton here, it does take a community and we’re trying to save your child from you since you obviously lack judgment skills. I do thank you for keeping your child (relatively) quiet, but I’m sure part of that was due to the fact that they were in terror. I mean, I was shocked by what I saw at certain points (not the least of which was the realism of a house strewn with rat droppings, gratuitous scenes of blood and carnage, or a psychotic Crispin Glover) so what would a 5 year old be thinking? What were you thinking, if anything at all, when you brought that child with you? This movie isn’t something educational or child-oriented — you should have known that from the Tool/NIN video-like credits that preceded the film. Maybe you sit your child in front of Marilyn Manson instead of Mr. Rogers and that’s your prerogative but I’d really like to know why.

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