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Lakeshore
An author of no particular popularity

Jay Lake
Date: 2007-02-04 09:33
Subject: Star Wars parenting update
Security: Public
Tags:child, culture, movies, personal, politics, videos
the_child and I have watched ep II, Attack of the Clones. Having recently reviewed all three of them, I think this is the most regrettable of the trio. (Though honestly, that's diving pretty deep.) She responded a lot to the young Boba Fett, and had a lot of questions about Anikin's character arc. Me, I'd managed to blot out how fundamentally cheesy the "love" story is, but that's old, old ground for most of you, so I don't need to go there.

However, in reviewing ep III, Revenge of the Sith, I've realized it's much harsher than the other two. There's a lot more very personal violence (as opposed to set piece battles or spaceships dogfighting). There's children being killed, there's graphic (for Star Wars) renditions of severed body parts, the betrayal theme is right out front and being hammered down hard.

I'm going to have a tough time arguing to her that she can't watch ep III, having recently seen eps I and II. Generally, neither her mother nor I parent by fiat, and she's learned to expect both consistency from us, and explanations where warranted.1 At the same time, i think she's going to be distressed and threatened by what she sees when and if she watches ep III.

Given my imminent travel, it's not a problem for today, but I need to come up with a strategy soon.




1. "Because I said so" has never come out of my mouth to her, that I can recall -- I detested the Argument from Authority when I was a child, I detest it even more as an adult [which explains much about my response to contemporary conservative politics and Bush in particular], and I'm not going to inflict such a travesty on the_child.
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cloudlb
User: cloudlb
Date: 2007-02-04 17:47 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
maybe you can just "lose" the video for a while. Or maybe you could tell her the story first through a children's book version of it.

"Revenge" is MEANT to be disturbing, harsh, and violent. It's the only way to bring Darth Vader into existence from Anakin.

I don't know how old your daughter is, so I can't offer an opinion as to whether you should let her see it. But I have to say, "Because I said so" is a perfectly valid parental statement.

why?

Well, "because." of course. :)
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Jay Lake: child-smiling
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-02-04 17:54 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:child-smiling
Well, certainly I have my versions of "because I said so." For example, "Because these are the rules we've made." But that hearkens back to consistency. She lives under quite a bit of structure, as most children do. It's just that she's always understood (or at least had the opportunity to understand) that the structure is purposeful, not arbitrary.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-02-04 19:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Probably so. Right now she's at the age where she's starting to actively try to move the boundaries in specific ways, as opposed to generically rebelling against them. It will be interesting.
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scarlettina
User: scarlettina
Date: 2007-02-04 17:55 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Will she accept "Because I think it's too violent and scary for you" or maybe "Because I think it might give you nightmares"? Those are perfectly valid reasons and they seem to actually be what you think. No reason to change your policy about "Because I said so" when there are concrete, valid reasons for your decision.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
russ
User: goulo
Date: 2007-02-06 16:38 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
"Not as bad as AotC, but, well...what is?" The Phantom Menace, of course! (I go with the theory that "the more speaking lines Jar Jar has, the worse the movie is.")

"HAVE THEY NEVER HEARD OF CONDOMS?" Well, it was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, so probably condoms hadn't been invented yet.
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Laura Anne Gilman
User: suricattus
Date: 2007-02-04 18:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Will she buy "because it's a really stupid movie and there are other ones you'd enjoy more" as a valid argument?

How about "because it emotionally scarred your dad watching it once, and he's not ready to deal with it again, sorry honey."
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Kelly Green
User: saycestsay
Date: 2007-02-04 18:06 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
She's a smart child. Tell her what you've written above: unnecessarily harsh depictions of points.

Then if you agree to watch it with her, do a running dialog. That's how I spoiled horror stories for my kids: eek! he's about to kill them! See how the plot is signalling that? Remember how it was done much better in (any movie out there)?

My kids never let me get away with 'because I said so,' the few times I tried it. Smart kids keep you on your toes.
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K. Feete
User: katfeete
Date: 2007-02-04 18:17 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I admit my parents used the "because I said so" thing on me sometimes. However, it was usually in relation to something self-evident, eg "You do the dishes on your turn because I said so", or due to emergency circumstances. When Dad is yelling at you to go get your mother from the barn over the sound of gleefully rampaging cow-feet, "Why?" is not really a question he's gonna answer. *grin*

The one time I remember a book being taken away from me (Clan of the Cave Bear, as it happened), and I asked why, I was told, "because it has a rape scene in it that we think will upset you. You can read it when you're older." I was pretty willing to accept that. But I was a pretty tractable child as long as I was offered alternative entertainment.
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thecrimsony
User: thecrimsony
Date: 2007-02-04 18:22 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Now I have strange visions of a Bizaro Jay standing there saying "Me am not decider! Me no decide what we not watch! Me am worst dad in world!"



Writing/reading Bizaro dialogue always gives me a headache.

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Janet Chui
User: marrael
Date: 2007-02-04 19:42 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
If you let her watch it, maybe give her control over the DVD player so there's always a way out of it (ie. FF, or "stop", or "mute" and so on). The good thing is she won't be in a cinema environment where the audience participation is passive or nil. I'll bet you'll be giving her plenty of warning anyway, so if it comes to it, you could just arm her and remind her she doesn't have to subject to the terrible film and can actively opt out of it. Bad films do not have to lord over us!
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Jay Lake
User: jaylake
Date: 2007-02-04 19:46 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Yes, we do that now. Scene Skip is our friend, as is the Mute button. And she's not allowed to watch new, difficult movies without parental company. But even so, she's very sensitive to images. She's never been exposed to broadcast or cable television, and her movie watching has been highly managed, so in some ways she's still very naive about film and television. At the same time, we talk a lot about directing, acting, special effects, etc., so she has an external perspective.
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Janet Chui
User: marrael
Date: 2007-02-04 21:45 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Excellent (about the control, not about the sensitivity to images)!

Anyways, this seems to drive the point media literacy could stand to be required in education. Alternately, there are Buddhist books that talk about how to minimize the emotional damage/trauma/upset that can come from movies/TV - if the child is open to learning how, the techniques may be very useful!
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User: ellameena
Date: 2007-02-04 20:10 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Is it possible you're being overprotective with regards to her tv and movie exposure? I'm not saying you are. Every child is different. Maybe you and her mother should reexamine your policies regarding these choices and see if it still makes sense to both of you. Because it's not immediately apparent to me what you're protecting her from. (Most people that I know with these kinds of rules for their children are very conservative Christians, and are worried about their child's Innocence and corrupting young minds and such. I think they accomplish the opposite of their intentions, though, as many a minister's son or daughter can attest.)

I let my son watch all of the Star Wars movies when they came out in the theater (he was, I don't know, maybe four or five for Revenge). It was no problem. He is neither more nor less sensitive to images of violence than average. I will say, though, that it's never what we expect. For example, when we watched Harry Potter 3, he was unbothered by a lot of scary stuff, but the werewolf completely unhinged him. Still and all, the movie ended, we discussed that it wasn't real, and I think an occasional scare is not harmful. Obviously some children are very sensitive. If that's the case, you should be able to explain to her that the movie is scary and she would not like it. (Glen has a classmate who is scared of all movies. All of them. It's a little odd in my opinion, but she's a nice kid and is fine as long as she's not watching movies.)
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houseboatonstyx
User: houseboatonstyx
Date: 2007-02-04 23:30 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
One thing that's being left out of these possible speeches is, "Because it's not like the previous films. It's more like /example/. It's got /and then describe it the way you described it here, a serious review/."

maybe even giving her a date that she can look forward to seeing it - like "When you're ten."

I disagree. Looking forward to seeing it seems an undesirable attitude. That would make her more open to the shock, negating the value of the delay.

Graphic novel might be a good idea, maybe with some talk about how RitS differs from other SW graphic novels, and comparison with non-SW graphic novels. Anything for backing off, getting an objective, critical attitude.

And as for lacking birth control -- that might be a clue right there that the whole movie is going to be stupid. I wonder what Lucas has said about this himself, why he followed an intelligent Leia with a Padme making such a mistake. That might be a good context to bring the movie into: what WAS Lucas thinking of in doing the whole prequel, and this in particular.



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Sarah Avery
User: dr_pretentious
Date: 2007-02-05 04:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
I know this is crediting Lucas with more thought about his characters than he gave them but...

It to me that Padme might have decided she wanted a child and, rather than put Anikin in the position of choosing to violate the Jedi norms even further, simply stopped using birth control. When she first tells Anikin about the pregnancy, she expects him to be happy about it, after all.



When the second film opened, I was nearing the end of a long trip to Berlin. It was exactly the same film there, in exactly the same clunky English, but somehow when I bought the ticket by asking for Angriff der Klonenkrieger, it seemed like a smarter movie than it did a week later back home when it was just Attack of the Clones.

But then, Liebling Ich Habe die Kinder Geschrumpft was also smarter than Honey I Shrunk the Kids.
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S-47/19-J
User: shsilver
Date: 2007-02-04 21:16 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
In our case, after watching TPM, I told Robin that it would be a while before she could see Attack of the Clowns because it is a darker movie (and RotS is darker, still). She hasn't pushed the issue...yet.
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In a heaven of people only some want to fly
User: chipmunk_planet
Date: 2007-02-05 01:28 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
She sounds like an intelligent child. Tell her what you think, something along the lines of, "I didn't think it was a very good movie. It's a lot scarier than the others, a lot of it seemed stupid, and it doesn't have a very good ending."

Or whatever you actually think. But with the tone of voice that you didn't think it was worth seeing, rather than it's something you don't want HER seeing (which of course will have her over at her friend's house begging to see it or some such thing).

Psychology ftw.
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houseboatonstyx
User: houseboatonstyx
Date: 2007-02-05 10:44 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Of course I don't know how Jay and his daughter have discussed previous cases, but if someone were telling me "You would react badly, it would scare you, you couldn't take it till you're older" -- I'd take that as a challenge. After all, it's my reactions being speculated about.

It would be different if the criticisms were focused on the quality of the movie. For one thing, there's objective evidence: reviews, box office results. Samples are available, still shots. Comparisons with other movies, many people making the point that its quality doesn't match the rest of the series. Hm, what about reviews at Amazon or somewhere by other children who didn't like it?

I'd be tempted to give her some kind of research task that would give her space to form an opinion of her own. (You could still override it.) The task might be to find X number of reviews by children her age and count how many were pro and how many were con, and how many of the favorable reviews compared it to other movies she would reject. Or if the DVD player would work this way, show her the movie backwards, skimming and skipping. That would give a sense of having seen it, knowing what was in it, without as much emotional impact. Or possibly the task might be a sort of 'book report' on the graphic novel, comparing the RitS page by page with one of the earlier SW graphic novels: how many frames of violence etc.
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