Sunday, August 01, 2010
I took the kids to the movies last night. I was expecting to only get some popcorn and a crappy feature film out of the bargain, but we were treated to something extra: a short cartoon beforehand and the knowledge that people have really lost their minds.
In good news, they've once again started showing Looney Toons shorts before the real movie. That's cool. But get this: after the trailers, they flashed onscreen that the next feature was rated PG. Okay, I thought. I get that. Cats and Dogs, could be a few mature themes about abandonment and dogs and cats living together that may cause kids to ask questions.
But then what followed was....a Roadrunner cartoon. And not even a particularly violent one. The coyote ran into some rocks, got run over by a few trucks, tried and failed to bungee down to the roadrunner as he ate some birdseed. The content was less offensive than your average Spongebob cartoon by a factor of 10.
Allow me to observe: you have GOT to be fucking kidding me. We are putting parental labels on ROADRUNNER CARTOONS now? Apparently I am supposed to sit down with my children before and after the cartoon and have a serious discussion about how you can't actually be slingshotted into a red rock by a semi-truck while a four-foot purple bird watches. Because you know, kids are MORONS.
When I was a kid, I watched approximately 23 hours of Looney Tunes cartoons a day. Yosemite Sam got his face blown off, Tweety got eaten, and let's not even go into the tragic hunting accidents and the fact that Elmer Fudd really needed to find another way to get food. I don't recall ever feeling the symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder, or the need for grief counseling. And I'd say that despite constant viewing of cartoon violence, I'm only a mild sociopath today.
In contrast, after the movie, I was putting Tea to bed and read her Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Now THAT'S a fucked-up story. Fear of being eaten by a lion, helplessness of being stuck as a rock and the nihilism of sitting motionless and dumb forever, the grief and pain of suddenly losing your only child, talk about mature themes. Yet that was one of my favorite kid books of all time. And one of Tea's too. Maybe she's unfazed because it pales in comparison to Barbie and the 12 Dancing Princesses, where an evil dutchess is slowly poisoning the king while she psychologically abuses Barbie and her 11 sisters. Yeowch. And fairy tales, and mythology, blah blah blah. It's all there. But they're not afraid.
You know what I was afraid of as a kid? Assholes, that's what. And my grandparents' dank dark basement with the creepy jumping bugs. And the idea that someone could push a button and launch missiles and blow us all to smithereens. Real stuff that could actually affect me.
So thanks for the warning, MPAA. If my kids decide to order a rocket pack from Acme and some birdseed and move to Arizona, I'll be sure to have The Talk. But until then I'll give them a little credit that they can distinguish between real life and Looney Tunes.