Parents, think before you take pre-teens to R-rated movies

Dear Editor,
A few weeks ago, my husband and I had a movie date-night after more than 2 years! We left our son with his grandparents, who loved nothing better, and headed to the Caribbean Cinemas at the Giftland Mall to see a movie we both wanted to see — the then new John Wick: Parabellum. We chose this theatre since proceedings start at an earlier time of 6 pm, as opposed to Movie Towne which starts at 8 pm.
Upon entering the movie theatre, we were surrounded by children, who also made their way into the theatre pointed out to us by the attendant. We were seated amidst rows of children who were excitedly talking. At that stage, my husband had to confirm with two adults seated next to us if they were there also to see John Wick, or if we were in the wrong theatre, because of the strikingly young audience; but, alas, it was the right theatre.
I understand that, ultimately, the choice is up to parents as to what they deem okay for their child; but seriously, I cannot fathom taking little children or pre-teens to R-Rated movies. I’m not suggesting parents should read every review on movies or anything. But sheesh, the ratings system has done an invaluable service! So, for example, if maybe you see a comic book movie is rated R instead of the customary PG-13, you should look into why that is so. And maybe if you poke around a little bit and find that it’s filled with imagery that could make little children horrified, cry or scared, just maybe, parents shouldn’t take them there….
In any event, that evening, as the lights dimmed and the pre-reviews of other equally rated movies started, all with explicit content, I assumed that the parents would have then perhaps realised what type of movie it was and exit with their children, but this was not so. To my horror, everyone remained seated, and the graphic, violent adult movie started. There were many, many times when I myself had to bury my head into my husband’s shoulder until scenes passed because of the brutal violence. The theatre was void of any children’s voices once it started. I am still now, a few weeks later, wondering what nightmares/ trauma that movie caused to the young minds of our country.
I’m not a prude when it comes to rated movies. I recall when I myself was a teenager and in high school, when my parents were with me and my siblings as they introduced us to what was then rated “adult” movies: Back to the Future and ET at the Universal Studios in Orlando. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. But seriously, how young is too young?
Taking a child maybe under 13 to see John Wick is borderline parental malpractice! This is a movie which is a brutally violent, bloody thriller focusing on an assassin. There’s a very high body count: characters are shot, maimed, stabbed, beaten, threatened, killed with firearms at close range, blown to bits in an explosion, strangled with bare hands…. There’s lots of profanity, a fair amount of drinking, pot-smoking and more. And especially because so much of the violence is depicted in this cool, glamourous way…. And to say nothing of what it’s teaching our children about the lengths to avenge a puppy!
I am terribly disappointed in Caribbean cinemas for, in the first place, selling a children’s ticket to such a movie. Even if it were an oversight, the attendants outside the theatre could have also screened and realised it was not appropriate, and advise parents. Something needs to be done concerning the censorship, since it is my view — and shared by many of my friends and colleagues with whom I expressed this concern — that taking children to see a film like this is borderline child abuse.
Children under thirteen should be denied entry to these R-rated movies, even if in the company of an adult. The rating is in place for a reason: violence or sex scenes that are inappropriate for that age group. They do not understand that it is a movie, and may act out inappropriately. These movies are for older age brackets that can better understand the content. These films can even be disturbing at times to certain adults. I hope that Caribbean cinemas can pay attention to this, and address future movies, especially since the school holidays have just started and our Guyanese children will be wanting activities and movies to see.

Mommy V