Raising boys sometimes means disappointing them. My boys will not be seeing the new Batman movie. My husband and I reached this decision by seeing the movie ourselves.
For my husband's birthday, he wanted to go out to dinner and a movie. We dined at Coco Bolo's in Manhattan, Kansas, the most enjoyable time of our evening. We then went to see "The Dark Knight". Why not? All of our boys have asked to see it and the movie has grossed a record-breaking $400 million dollars in just 18 days. Clearly masses of people are watching this movie. We also thought "Batman Begins", a prequel, was a compelling story and our boys have watched it.
I became rather uncomfortable early in the movie. I just could not get past the intense scenes of violence. The Joker, played by Heath Ledger, is particularly sinister with depraved, unpredictable cruelty. Also disturbing was the reaction of a young lady in her 20s sitting next to me in the theater. She frequently laughed, particularly at the dialogue and actions of The Joker. At the end, she jumped up and said, "I loved it"!
The movie was rated PG-13, which covers movies appropriate for children ages 13 through 17. At 17, a movie is branded R, which can be the kiss of death for box office revenue. It appears the Motion Picture Academy felt this movie skidded in at 16 years, 11 months and 30 days. Although an R-rating would have made our lives easier, since my 12 and 14 year-olds expected to be able to see this movie, we didn't hesitate to explain to our boys that they would not be seeing it any time soon. We explained that the dark, cruel nature of the movie was disturbing to us and we didn't want to share it with them.
Wrapping my mind around our society's apparent entertainment by senseless violence is very hard for me. One might say at least it's on the big screen and can be explained away as fiction. It seems to me that I have read a number of articles about desensitizing based on viewed images and copycat crimes based on movies. I'm just uneasy with the thought that we may be entering a historical time when the crowning jewel for movie makers, box office cash, is based on the level of creativity in shocking the audience with new forms of contrived violence. Isn't there enough horrible violence in the world already?
It's my sincerest hope that in our sophisticated world, we will transcend the fascination with guns and weaponry, the need to vanquish "the enemy" and the images of one human beating another to a pulp. A naive thought, maybe, but one I just can't give up on.
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