Saturday, July 19, 2008

Red Alert: Should Your Kids see Batman?

So Jeff came back from his business trip last night. And then he had to spend most of the day rigging up more shade for our sunburned cows. I spent the day with Ellie. We had some shopping to do as she leaves for camp tomorrow. We made her pay for her new clothes by babysitting tonight while Jeff and I went to the movies. I thrilled Jeff by agreeing to see the Batman movie. The boys were anxious for us to see it so we could determine whether or not they will be able to see it.

Joel and Ellie weren't allowed to see PG13 movies until they were 12. Jules was allowed to see the last Indiana Jones movie, even though he is only 10. Ellie is still upset about that. But she is working on letting go of grudges so so as not to create imbalance in her karmic footprint :).

Anyway, back to Batman. Wow. Tons of special effects, of course. Great acting. Heath Ledger was amazing as The Joker - so sad - he had such talent. And of course, Christian Bale was, as were all of the Batmans (Batmen???) who came before him, totally hot (Michael Keeton was my personal favorite; humor turns me on). BUT. The movie was unbelievably violent. I have to wonder how the industry can justify giving Indiana Jones and Batman the same rating of PG13. Batman should be rated R. No way Jules is going to see it - I'll have to think about Joel - I'm undecided. As for me, I am questioning more and more my own ability to be entertained by violence. I am finding that my tolerance for it is becoming weaker, and I think that is a good thing.

What was upsetting about the violence wasn't so much the weapons and explosions. My boys see that stuff on their video games. It was the intensity of the cruelty and rage. Heath Ledger was truly phenomenal in his role as The Joker, and there is even talk of an Academy Award for him, posthumously. But something in the character of The Joker has changed. I think that we, as a society, have changed. The Joker was so mean, so demented, and so evil. And everything was so personal. The ending was dark and depressing. Human nature was shown at its worst, and love was exploited and turned into a catalyst for hate and suffering. I suggest that impressionable children (and adults) avoid the movie. If you can sit through a scene where a mother has a gun held to her head as she clutches her crying children in her arms while her husband pleads for her life, only to have one of the children yanked from the mother's arms and a gun held to his head, then you have a stronger constitution than I do. All of the explosions and shooting and chasing didn't hold a candle to the quiet violence of that moment. It was truly unbearable for me, and I almost walked out at that point. But of course I didn't. But to think of Jules seeing it...

Anyway, the theater was full of kids of all ages, most of whom were with their parents who were cheering and enjoying the excitement. Children take their cues from their parents. Even if it is about something like violence, from which all children naturally recoil.

Times like this cause me to question human nature. It makes me wonder about my own nature. You know, I was reading a history book to the boys and we were learning about gladiators. Of course, the information was very violent. I was uncomfortable reading it to them. And the author ended the description of the violence by explaining that the Romans were different from "us". They enjoyed watching violence. I was like WHAT???? How are they different from us? Look at what we watch on television! Look at the games our kids play! I truly hate it when people try to pretend we have become so much better, so much more evolved, than our ancestors. Why must the people of the present work so hard to separate themselves from those of the past? How can we hope to avoid the same mistakes? Of course, the boys and I talked about all of this at great length.

Man, I am so heavy tonight. On a lighter note, we are sitting here in bed watching Saturday Night Live. A commercial just came on for Pizza Hut, advertising their new pasta dishes that are "restaurant quality". Am I the only person who thinks it is strange for a restaurant to advertise that it is now serving restaurant-quality food? As in, "hey! this is something new for us! our other food was just crap!" What marketing genius is behind this and what are the odds that he/she is getting paid oodles and oodles more than me to come up with this stuff? That is like saying that hospitals are now going to provide some services that are "hospital quality" as opposed to their other services, which are not. Dumb.

OK. It is late and I am reduced to blogging about Pizza Hut. Oh God. Saturday Night Live is over and Jeff is now enthusiastically turning up the volume for an episode of Star Trek. What did I do to deserve this? And why is Mr. Spock a "Mr." instead of a Lieutenant or something? Why is he called mister? Isn't that weird? Why are their pants so short? And have you ever noticed that the planets they visit are all the size of small towns? The entire planet is always a town. There is like 1 guy in charge, and a few people running around. The women are all scantily clad, of course, with beehive hairdos. And what is up with the mini-skirts and go-go boots worn by the females of the crew? Why does Captain Kirk wear eye liner? Why do they lean into the tilt when the ship experiences turbulence, instead of against it? Why is this show still on and why does my husband watch it every Saturday night?

I'm going to roll over and try to sleep through it. Although, strangely enough, I do not remember this is called "Spectre of the Gun" and looks entirely insane, of course. Now I must admit (quietly) to being a fan of The Next Generation. I have a thing for old bald gentlemen with Shakespearean accents and French names like Jean-Luke. Or, luckily for Jeff, just old bald guys, in general. Oh! The crew has just landed on the planet. I have seen this one. The planet (which is, of course, the size of a small town) is a replica Tombstone, Arizona and they are going to reenact the shootout at the OK Corral. They are going to examine the violence of their heritage. Oh how convenient! What synchronicity! See how it matches the theme of my post? Perfect. Jeff is watching it like he hasn't seen it a million times. He's so cute.

I had a great time at bunco last night. Karen served up a scrumptious meal and ended it with a delicious peach cheesecake. I didn't win anything, though. And on top of that, my publicist smacked me on the forehead at one point. She does that occasionally. She wants me to open up a "real" writer's blog - not just one where I babble about my life and post pics of my kids. Like I have time for stuff like that! When would I have time to post pictures of bullfrogs and cow dogs if I were to waste all of my time writing witty opinions and observations? It is bad enough that she expects me to write a BOOK and get out a weekly column every single week! Every day she's like, "What have you done? Have you written any pages? What are you doing with your time?" And I'm like, "Hey! If I had time to get a real job, don't you think I'd get one?" Gosh. The next thing she's going to do is ask me to actually pay her. Ha! I'm already giving her a cut of everything I've never written....some folks are just greedy, unhappy little people. And she's still mad over a fight we had when we were in the 3rd grade. Note to self: "Get a new publicist with whom I have no rocky history..."

OK - the little Russian guy (Checkhov or something?) just got to make out with a saloon girl. Jeff is grinning. Gotta go throw up now.
Sardine Mama


  1. about the joker, i heard a very disturbing thing on NPR this past week that made me almost get ill & definitely gave me goose bumps in the bad way. (i'm also surprised it isn't talked about more.)

    they were giving a history of the joker & his profile in the past & when they got to jack nick. they explained how playing this character made it difficult to sleep at nite & was just disturbing overall. then they said that when jack was told about heath's death, his FIRST WORDS were... "i told him" like saying i warned him... OH MY GOD!!!! heath was having a hard time sleeping & then the drugs... i can't believe it. how errie! playing certain characters can be hazardous for your health!

  2. OK- at first I had a hard time understanding your post - but i think what you're saying is that the character is so dark and demented that it affects the actors. I would say this is poo-poo but let me tell you, Ledger did a GOOD JOB with that character. And the directing was good. And a lot of the scenes have The Joker up close and personal in the camera - just demented as hell. I imagine it isn't easy to express the usual emotions when you're wearing make-up that covers your face and the expressions of your mouth are indistiguishable. It was the eyes, the mannerisms, the quivering and intensity of his voice...he was literally a raving lunatic in the way that Charles Manson is a raving lunatic. And the character's profile is quite disturbing....As far as Heath's death - I was under the impression it was an accidental overdose. But I can certainly see how playing that dark of a role could change one's behavior, which it did seem to be what people were saying. Of course, I get my info from "The Star" so what do I know?? I just want to know how it got by with a PG13 rating. I was so aware of all of the children in the theater.

  3. i guess this kills bobs hope of watching it

  4. regarding the pizza hut commercial, I think their restaurant-quality pasta looks like vomit.

  5. the Batman movie does look pretty gruesome, but the fact the Heath Ledger is playing such a bizarre and crazy character probably makes it more appealing to audiences. i don't know.

    i alos think that tose pizza hut commercilas are stupid. and the food looks so disgusting! eeewww!
    and miss carol i think you mean the marketing person erans "noodles and noodles" of money. haha (because they're serving that slimy looking stuff they call pasta).

  6. from what I understand from a comic book guru/college math professor guy I know, Heath Ledger's portrayal is close to the original concept of The Joker. He saw it opening night and was horrified at the number of children, even small children (like 6 and 7) that were there. People have never been smart about what they take their children too. When I saw I am Legend there were kids under 10. It is a sad commentary that theaters have signs saying no children under 9 in rated R movies even with parents.
    Jack wants to see Dark Knight, he isn't, and he's peeved about it. Oh well. He thinks it will be like Spiderman and we are depriving him of some great cinematic experience.

    P.S. The kids enjoyed Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser.

  7. I love bunco, too. Check out my website devoted to bunco. It has lots of free stuff and party ideas. Suggestions for improvement welcome.:) Thanks!