I was having a text conversation with a good girlfriend over the weekend about the movies we saw at ages that shock us today. Kramer vs. Kramer or The Jazz Singer, for example. Anyone remember a little movie called The Blue Lagoon? Know what I remember from it? Naked Christopher Atkins. Probably because I saw it around the time I was seven. Did your parents let you watch movies that you would never let your kids watch today? Share some examples in the comments
I have been thinking about the movie choices that my parents made for me and my sister, when we were children, and how totally inappropriate so many of them were. And these were smart, educated people, so what could they have been thinking?
Was it that the movie studios had not yet expanded to a PG-13 rating system, therefore slapping a PG rating on things that, today, would never merit such a lightweight label; or was it that they just didn’t think about how lasting the images of Jennifer Beals taking her clothes off for money would be on my eight-year-old brain?
These lasting images, by the way, occurred in the movie, Flashdance – a film my mother took both me and my sister to see when it came out in 1984. When I brought it up to Laura recently, how the main character in the movie was a welder by day and a stripper by night, she said, “Really? Yeah, that totally went over my head; I was just in it for the dancing.” And she was, to the point that for months afterward, she would put on leg warmers and apply masking tape to her little preschooler feet and dance the afternoon away in our foyer. I, on the other hand, was totally, completely aware of what I had seen and still to this day can vividly recall certain scenes that I am probably still not old enough to watch.
Let’s jump forward a year to a sweet, innocent kid friendly movie called, Jagged Edge, which quite frankly, by the title alone, should have let my parents know that it would not be an appropriate choice for me at age NINE; but there I was in the theater, with them, watching it as the film opened with a brutal murder.
My mother always used to brag about how I was mature for my age, but I will tell you that I didn’t feel very mature when I spent the next 3 months sleeping on a pallet on the floor, next to their bed. Because of the nightmares that someone was going to stab me to death, thank you (Mom and Dad) very much.
There seemed to be no thought process as to whether inappropriate language, sex or violence might be a good idea for us to be exposed to, at what anyone in their right mind would realize would be very impressionable young ages.
Laura recounted for me how she vividly remembers going to see Lethal Weapon 2 at age nine (What was it with age nine and movies with violence spelled out right in the title??) and how my mom attempted to cover her eyes during the totally naked sex scene with Mel Gibson and Patsy Kensit. Seriously, y’all, that is like me taking Emma to see something like The Fast and the Furious (or worse, like Monster’s Ball) next year. I am not even kidding when I say that I debated, for weeks, about allowing her to see the Disney movie, Prom, because I thought it might be too grown-up for her.
Here is the hypocritical part though, when my mother went totally double standard on HERSELF. When Top Gun came out in 1986, I was ten years old. Now Top Gun had all the makings of awesome for me; because, by that age, I loved action movies, obviously, since I had been watching them for years. So, I was ALL about seeing me some Top Gun.
And then my mother pulled the ‘no’ card on me. Say WHAT? She told me that after having seen the film (I am guessing this was an evening when they had managed to procure a babysitter?) with my dad, they decided that it was too adult for me to see, because – and hold on to your popcorn here, people – there was a KISSING scene between Tom Cruise and Kelly McGillis that was too graphic.
I am not even lying at all. This was her line in the sand. This, really? Kissing, with tongue? To Berlin’s Take My Breath Away? So, Jagged Edge, with murder AND sex was okay; but once the camera guy applied the soft lens and started the love-making music, the brakes went on. I am not exactly sure when I was able to convince her to change her mind, but I am pretty sure it was not while Top Gun was still available on the big screen.
I think it stands to reason that my mother would have argued that she was not doing anything that her own mother would not do, because, as it turns out, my grandmother took my sister to see Thelma & Louise when she was ten; and then, she promptly fell asleep, missing any chance to cover her innocent granddaughter’s eyes during the less than appropriate scenes that were coming her way.
And I guess it never crossed anyone’s mind that while covering our eyes may have shielded us from seeing the worst moments in these films our ears were still picking up plenty of future knowledge.