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Mommas, Don’t Let You Children Go Out To See Watchmen

(With apologies to Willie and Waylon)

If you’re looking for my review of Watchmen, this isn’t it. I’m still working it over in my mind. Instead, I’d like to take this opportunity to address something I saw while sitting in the theater waiting for the movie to start.

I saw two sets of parents who brought their ‘couldn’t be more than six years old’ children into the theater to see Watchmen. I wanted to stand up and yell at them “What the $&**#^ are you thinking?!” Instead, I texted SF Signal’s own Tim about it and got back this reply:

“Some people just need to be slapped.”

Indeed. I can’t even fathom what is going on the heads of those parents (if anything did in fact go on) that led them to conclude that Watchmen would be in any way, shape or form even remotely appropriate for a little kids. The first clue would be the ‘R’ rating. They gave it an ‘R’ for a reason, and in my opinion, anyone who brings young kids into an ‘R’ movie is an idiot. In fact, I don’t think there’s any reason anyone under the age of, say, 15 or 16 has any business being anywhere near Watchmen. No excuses. If you can’t find a babysitter, well then go a different time. By taking your kids to the theater, you’ve just exposed them to:

Extreme violence that crossed over into gratuitousness regularly, what with the repeated cleaver to the head and bodies exploding into bloody mist.

Two sex scenes, one quite explicit and an attempted rape scene with physical harm being perpetrated on the female victim.

And that’s not even mentioning the language (hope you learned something new kids! though you’ve probably already heard these from your parents), or the twisted characters and dark themes, which should go right over their heads, thankfully.

You can’t even use the excuse that you thought the movie was a ‘superhero’ movie and therefor had to be ok for these youngsters. Aside from the ‘R’ rating to the contrary, saying that shows a complete lack of attempting to be a responsible parent. You know, one who tries to find out what a movie is about before subjecting their kids to it. Even a cursory attempt would show that Watchmen is not for kids, or even young teens. If you couldn’t be bothered to find out, or were unable to learn more, then stay the $@%&%^* home until you could see it for yourself first.

Congratulations,you’ve just now stolen some of your child’s innocence and for what? You’re either an idiot or stupid or both for bringing your kids and certainly deserve a slap upside the head. If it were me, kids under 13 wouldn’t even be allowed into ‘R’ movies, so called parents or not. Yes, I’m pissed at these people.

Am I the only one whom this type of thing bothers?

About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

24 Comments on Mommas, Don’t Let You Children Go Out To See Watchmen

  1. I just got back from the late showing of Watchmen and I’m with you on the kids in the theater.  I’ve had the same experience at Sin City.  He look kids, Frodo is eating people!  Very disturbing.

  2. Yeah, this really bothers me too.I feel exactly the same.

    In the UK it used to be more clearcut. There was U, PG, 15 and 18 certificates ie. You had to be 15/18 to get in, PG films were usually kids stuff, U’s were Disney.

    Then for the first Tim Burton Batman film the 12 certificate was invented, a little harder to police but still a hard and fast rule, you had to be 12 years old.

    Now it’s changed to a 12A, which I gather is like an R in the US, kids have to be 12 to go and see it on their own, but can go with an adult at any age. Which results in parents taking kids to all sorts of unsuitable movies.

    What makes it worse is that a lot of the unsuitable films are marketed at kids, take for example all the recent superhero films, I just don’t think younger kids should watch them. I even heard of young kids being taken to Casino Royal (James Bond).

    I’d rather have hard and fast rules, rather than rely on parents being sensible.


  3. Thats ridiculous. I took my 19 year old son to see “Underworld” when it came out and some woman had three 6(ish) year old kids with her! Man, that movie scared ME, those kids must have been stained.

  4. I agree, that kind of behavior is appalling. My two and a half year old daughter was spooked by MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO (which I then promptly shut off) and even one of the Baby Einstein videos. I can’t imagine the anxiety those children must have been experiencing. Goodness knows what else they’ve been exposed to.

  5. Bug Man // March 7, 2009 at 7:45 am //

    Parenting is like any other profession.  Most of your employees are average.  They are not exceptional, but they are not stupid either and they perform their tasks in mundane mediocrity  A small percentage are outstanding individuals who perform above and beyond what is expected and make the rest of us look like dog turds.  The remaining individuals are Morons (capital M fully intentional) who would have  been fired shortly after their child’s birth if parenting were not a tenured position.  

    My point is that you are going to get these types of parents taking children to see innapropriate (sp?  Sorry, on a Mac…I’m very disoriented)  films.  There HAS to be some accountability on the part of the theater.  If movie violence, sex and language are as destructive to a child’s psyche as we have been told for the last thirty whatever years, then theaters have to start taking a page from bar owners… learn to check ID’s.  It’s not that hard.  Full proof? No way!  Better than nothing?  You bet.

    You’re going to get stupid parents, nothing you can do about that.  Most parents (especially these days) are just as childish as their children, who have yet to grow up themselves.

    Bring on theater accountability, let’s keep kids children as long as possible.  Movies like this simply force them to grow up faster, and they are growing up fast enough as it is.  I know, you say they’ll just see it somewhere else, or they’ll get the DVD at a friends house…blah blah blah.  Well, any road block is better than none.  One less avenue of access is…well…one less.  


    -Steven DiStefano

    Parent of 3 children under 4 who are growing up at Ludicrous Speed!!  (Haven’t gone to plaid yet…but will SOOOOON!!

  6. Edward Milewski // March 7, 2009 at 10:54 am //

    I agree with what has been said. I remember going to see Return of the Jedi at the theatre oh so many years ago. Lots of little kids with their parents. The film seemed aimed to a degree, to the young ones. However, when the scene where the first little ewok is blown away, came on,one of the parents had to take their child from the theatre because she was screaming in terror.

    I would like to thank you for your non-review of Watchmen, as I was thinking of going to see it. But it sounds like their is just too much dwelling on the unpleasantness of some aspects of life. There is more than enough of this stuff in the news. Seeing the things happen that you describe take place in Watchmen: I think I just don’t want to do that for entertainment.

  7. I went to see Zack and Miri Make a Porno and some idiot parent brought kids who couldn’t have been more than 6 or 7. I mean, 1) it’s rated R, 2) it’s a Kevin Smith movie, and 3) has the word “Porno” in the damn title! Any one of those should have been enough, but you combine all three and I can absolutely guarantee that the movie is not appropriate for children.


  8. I once saw a parent bring two very young children (couldn’t have been more than 8) to see Clerks II, possible one of the foulest movies ever made, even without factoring in the inter-species erotica subplot. Definitely in the running for worst parents ever.

  9. Andrew House // March 7, 2009 at 1:14 pm //

    I have to offer a (possibly) slightly contrarian point of view.  I’m 30, and have no kids yet, but I do remember being one.  I saw Robocop when I was 10.  I thought it was awesome.  It was bloody, and gorey, and ridiculous, in turn, but I also knew it was fiction.  It didn’t frighten or disturb me, or give me nightmares, or turn me into a violent sociopath, because I knew the difference between fiction and reality.

    Now, not every kid was like me.  I’m sure there are lots of kids — maybe most — that might have been upset by some of that movie.  The same goes for Return of the Jedi, or any number of other movies.  I kind of think the bad parenting comes in when parents let their kids see movies irregardless of whether their own kids can handle them.  Some kids can, some can’t.  But the parents should have a handle on that.  Lots don’t, but that’s a bigger problem than just with movies.

    That said… Zack and Miri and Clerks II?  What the hell were they thinking? 🙂

  10. The funny thing is that it used to be a lot more common. Back when my husband and I were growing up, there was no PG-13 in the States and any movie that wanted to attract adults had to have an R rating, so they’d have some actress flash a gratuitous bare boob at some point to get the rating. Only a handful of movies were G or PG for kids, so if you were a kid, your parents would take you to R rated movies all the time, and if you were a teenager, you could get in on your own as your age was seldom checked. My husband’s first movie at around age 7 was Live and Let Die.  We saw people geting shot, beaten, lots of naked or semi-naked women and simulated sex scenes, including rapes. Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, nobody thought it was weird if an 8-year-old saw those movies. After the PG-13 rating was instituted, the movie theaters got threatened with lawsuits if they didn’t enforce the rating system when it came to kids and things changed. But you can still take a 6-year-old to an R movie if you want to, and some parents still do. I don’t think it horribly traumatizes kids older than 6, but it probably does confuse them. What I also don’t get is the people who bring 2-year-old and babies to movies. The sound levels in theaters can cause hearing damage to a kid that young, and it’s traumatic even if they don’t understand what is on screen. If you can afford the tickets, you should be able to afford a sitter. If you can’t afford or find a sitter, wait for the DVD, because you’ll probably have to leave the theater with a crying baby in the middle of the film anyway.

  11. <i>There HAS to be some accountability on the part of the theater.  </i>

    This will never happen because the ACLU would scream bloody murder.  I mean, you’d actually have people picketing the theatre protesting that their rights were being infringed upon. Common sense has nothing to do with it. And it wouldn’t work anyway. I know people who let their kids watch movies like “Scream” on DVD. Who needs a babysitter when your kids can be scared stiff in your own living room and too terrified to do anything but stare at the screen?

  12. Ultimately, the responsibility resides with the parents.  I don’t need the theater or any other entity enforcing rules for me.  I can do that myself.   Given that, I do question parents who take thier children to movies that are not intended for children.  The Dark Knight and The Watchmen fit in that category for me.  The technology used in making movies today is much more advanced than it was when Robocop was made.  The material is darker and I would also say the violence is closer to realistic.  We can all claim that the material does not really affect the kids (by affect I am not saying it turns them in crazy killers – cuz I don’t buy into that theory either), but there is somethings children should not see until they are mature enough to comprehend it.  If you feel your 8 year old is mature enough, fine – but I don’t buy it.   I know people who grew up in environments with some seriously bad stuff that happened (my wife for one).   They are normal functional folks (and I dare say far more sane than I am), but you can see where they were affected by the events and things they saw.

    Sorry, this mentality that children have the capability to differentiate between fake and real and right and wrong at this age is flawed.  Everytime I see a parent buying an M rated game for a kid younger than my son makes me want to ask them if they really know what is in there.  Ratings serve a purpose, and there will always be folks who choose to ignore them.  I am one who tends to trust what they are implying and I refuse to expose my kid to stuff that I feel he is not ready to watch. 

  13. I completely agree, there was an 8 year old behind me in the theatre, which not only were they seeing a movie that was completely innappropriate, I was at a 10pm show that didn’t get out til 1am.  Put the 10 dollars you spent on their ticket towards a babysitter.

  14. I see kids that are too young in movie theatres all the time.  If the question is why do the theatre owners allow it the answer is – because they paid to get in.  There is no incentive for a movie theatre owner to stop this from happening.  A quick google doesn’t show me any obvious penalties for letting children into these movies.   I am also sure that a kids ticket to the movie plus counseling for trauma may still be cheaper than a babysitter (plus counseling).

    To add to Bug Man’s comment.  If you add in that you will definitley notice kids that are too young at the movies, this selection process means that you will disproportionately notice the below average parents with their kids at the movies.  It hopefully makes it worse than it looks. Then you are left with the age old personal rights vs. public good arguemennts, trying to decide if you want to spend the money to enforce a law and restrict the rights of parents to take their kids to inappropriate movies or ensure that every child is not exposed to something inappropriate (and agree on a standard for that) for the public good of raising untraumitized children.  Good luck with that.

    I myself will endeavor to be an above average parenting employee.  Thinking of parenting as a tenured position really makes it seem fancy, doesn’t it.  Now if I could just get some graduate students to do all of the work…

  15. Yup, there were kids in the theater when I saw Watchmen on Sunday. By the sound of their chatter, I’d say they were all under the age of five. Tsk.

  16. Anyone can reproduce. It’s best not to think about it, except that a few kids turn out OK despite their parents.

  17. Pretty silly to think kids are going to be traumatized by some fantasy they see on a big screen as compared to what kids see kids in darfur or iraq. Ooh ooh let’s protect the lil american babies. I’d say as long as they shut up during the movie, let ’em in. Instead shoot the scum who bring in cell phones or chatter during movies. I’m sure at least one of you fill that category.

  18. I found it so disturbing that kids were at Watchmen when I saw it–a movie I often had to close my own eyes at–that I wrote a letter about it to my local paper. My mother took me to see Last House on the Left when I was a teenager, and I found it deeply disturbing. There were young kids at Watchmen.


    I don’t think theaters should have to parent kids either–but what do we do about parents who don’t do their job? Why should I have to feel horrified by the consequences of these children watching this stuff when their parents don’t? Why can’t adults just enjoy an adult movie? In the case of parents who regularly take their kids to ultra-violent movies with high sexual content, isn’t that a form of emotional abuse?


    I don’t know if legislation is the answer, but maybe if we talk and write about it enough we can shame these clueless people into not bringing their small children to these movies.


    The other question is: just because we can film and create very graphic violent scenes, should we? How graphic do they really need to be to convey the story? Haven’t we gone too far? Should directors practice some self-restraint now? I’m anti-censorship, but I didn’t see how some of the lingering attention to gory detail really served the story. If the point is that it’s a brutal world out there filled with sociopaths, got it, thanks. I don’t need to be (almost literally, it feels like) hit over the head with it.

  19. I went to a morning showing of Watchmen on a Sunday and there was, I am not kidding you, a family was there with three children. One about 7 years old, one about 4, and one (sadly this is true) was about 19 months. I heard toddler babbling during the movie and I thought I was hearing things. Then I looked around and saw a little girl sitting there. I was so shocked that people would bring their children to watch a movie with full blown sex and violence that includes people exploding and getting their arms power sawed off.

    ( I am a fan of the graphic novel and I knew what was going to happen in the movie) But it is rated R for a reason. I feel sorry for the kids.


  20. I have seen small children in Jurassic Park (which scared me and I was in high school – c’mon, it was scary the first time!) and dozens of other child-inappropriate movies like the Passion of the Christ (come ON, Jesus ends up practially FLAYED, your kid does not need to see that, I don’t care how holy you think it is!)

    There were children sitting both in front and behind me when I saw Watchmen. In front of me where three young boys who all looked 10 and under. In back of me were several young girls and their mother. I don’t know what was worse. The boys squirming and bouncing during the gore and the rape scenes… or the constant squealy giggles from behind me every time Dr. Manhattan and his Magic Blue Dong was on screen.

    If not for your kids’ sakes, then for the sake of the other people in the theater – keep your kids at home.


  21. Anonymous // March 16, 2009 at 11:48 am //

    In defense of the parents:

    1. The audience is lured into the theater under the false pretense that this is just another superhero movie. (As Snyder himself said.)

    2. The movie should be rated NC-17.

  22. Anonymous // May 13, 2009 at 8:38 pm //

    i think you guys are all over reacting…instead of living on ur god damn computers and writing blogs about movies. do something with ur lives…

  23. …said the guy who used his computer to comment on a blog post about a movie.  :-@

  24. Sigh. I just saw “FOr Colored Girls”, which was a really good movie…but their were a few moms who went ahead and brought their children with them. There was a rape scene that was carried out. Several sex scenes, lots of cussing, an abortion process, beatings, some guy getting a male prostitute…I mean…the kids in front of us weren’t older than about 5 or 6.

    I don’t get it.

    Why don’t theatres have a rule that children cannot attend R rated films??? WHY!!!???

    And why are some people so amazingly stupid?

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