Not all PG-13 movies are the same

Maya was invited to go and see the film “Crazy Stupid Love” this evening with a friend, but Joshua and I decided not to let her go.  We saw it last Saturday and loved it, but after thinking it over, we decided there were some things inappropriate for our 11 year old daughter.

When I told her she couldn’t go, she said, “But it’s rated PG-13.”   Which is true, but not all PG-13 movies are the same.   The final Harry Potter film was also rated PG-13 and both Maya and Ben, who is 7, saw that one with my full approval (and participation).   The difference is that “Deathly Hallows” received the rating for violence and scary situations, whereas “Crazy Stupid Love” received it for language, sexual innuendo and sexual situations.    Language is no big deal for my kids, who hear cursing all the time when we are out and about in the city.   Sexual innuendo and situations?   Well I would say that they are not always an issue – for instance in the TV show “Friends” which we all watched together, there was innuendo and talk about sex, but that wasn’t the point of the whole show, and since we watched it together I could always explain things afterward.

I’ve thought a lot about this, because my kids have no problem watching shows or films some people would deem too violent or scary for 11 and 7 year olds.   This is partly due to their personalities, but also because it has been easy for me to explain how in movies and TV they make it look like something scary is happening when in reality it’s all fake.   Before Ben saw the “Thriller” video, which was pretty scary for a 4 year old (or maybe he was even 3) , we watched The Making of Thriller video, which showed how they applied the make-up and filmed the effects to make it look like there were zombies coming out of graves and such.    When we saw “Raiders of the Lost Ark” we talked about how they use fake blood and make-up and also dummies to make it appear that someone had been shot or had a spear coming out of his neck.    We talked at length and watched videos on special effects, like at the end of Raiders when the skin melts off the guy’s face after he looks into the Ark of the Covenant.   When Voldemort showed up in the Harry Potter movies with no nose, we found out how they used computers to remove it digitally after the film was done.    At this point, I am more suggestible when it comes to scary movies than my kids are.  (Because in this regard they are both very much like Joshua.)

But sex?   Well, that’s a little more difficult.   Of course Maya and Ben both know that almost everything in movies is pretend, but sexual innuendo, if not understood, can be interpreted in different ways.   There’s pretty much only one way to interpret a spear through the neck.   You’re dead.     And since talk of sexual situations is still a cause for giggles and exclamations of “Eew, gross!” in our house, I’m not sure that the stuff shown in  “Crazy Stupid Love” would be understood the way the filmmakers intended.  (The entire movie revolves around infidelity, womanizing and what constitutes real love.   It’s handled well, but is complex for someone who is 11.)

So “Crazy Stupid Love” will have to wait, but in the meantime I am thinking of watching “Footloose” here at home with the kids.   Yes, there’s mature stuff in that film as well, but not as much, it’s secondary to the main storyline and watching at home gives me the luxury of hitting ‘Pause’ on the remote to make sure we’re all on the same page.

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