Two years ago, I accepted the invite of a former coworker to go see the movie “IT.” We went the Saturday night of opening weekend and the theater was packed. Right away we noticed there were a lot of children, some as young as 3 or 4 in attendance. “IT” is an R-rated horror movie full of blood, gore and other spooky stuff. As soon as Pennywise unhinged his jaw and devoured some children, many of the kids began crying, screaming and running out.
We felt bad for the kids — the movie is designed to scare adults, so I can’t imagine what it is like to watch it as a kid. This past weekend, we went and saw “IT: Chapter Two,” and once again there were a lot of kids in the theater with their parents. And once again a lot of the kids panicked.
Bringing kids to an R-rated movie is not a new trend in Sedalia. In 2009, “The Watchmen” came out. Even though “The Watchmen” is a gritty, ultra-violent story with a male character who wears nothing from the waist down for most of the movie and most certainly earned its R rating, the movie was marketed as a normal superhero movie. The Galaxy did everything they could to warn parents this was not a safe film for kids. They had signs posted and Seth (Wagenknecht) himself told every parent at the theater entrance it was not kid-friendly and no they would not refund tickets once they went in the auditorium. Some parents heeded the warnings, others did not. And after the six straight minutes of violence that opens “The Watchmen,” the second Dr. Manhattan swayed on to the screen, parents grabbed their kids and fled. Then complained that they did not get refunds.
When it comes to mature content, I know all kids react differently. Some kids know from the start that things on the screen aren’t real and can sit through things that make me squirm as an adult. However, my heart goes out to the kids who panic and have to sit through it for whatever reason.
I see so many people lamenting that children, in general, are losing their innocence earlier and earlier but then I see so many kids at places that aren’t appropriate for kids. Or I see parents complaining there are places that restrict kid’s entries. A friend who worked at an adult store dealt with at least one parent a week who was upset they could not bring their kids into a store that exclusively sold sexually explicit items. I am no child psychiatry expert, but I feel like exposing kids to mature content at a younger and younger age does kids no good overall.
I know not all parents are like this, but it worries me that it seems like this trend is growing year after year.
I appreciate that The Galaxy cinema has, for as long as I can remember, done everything in its power to educate, inform and prevent teenagers from sneaking into R-rated movies (even though this meant I could not see “Jackass: The Movie” as a teen). But at the end of the day, there is only so much businesses can do. It is up to the people raising the kids to put boundaries on content that is consumed.
I know that can be difficult because kids see ads for things or they hear their friends talking about it and they just will not stop asking about it. But, it is probably worth it in the long run.