23 May 2008


Kids differ

I was 11 years old when Raiders of the Lost Ark premiered in 1981. Loved it, including the famous melting face scene near the end. I don't think I had seen Alien yet, but I had a photo book of the movie and knew it nearly by heart, including the infamous chest-burster. In short, to me the gross stuff in those movies, and others, was cool, and didn't freak me out too much.

I also liked watching those '70s-era boogie-man shows like In Search Of, and I still recall waking up late at night during a sleepover in the basement at my friend Sean's house to watch a Ray Harryhausen stop-motion monster wreak havoc on TV. It scared me, and I liked it.

That doesn't seem to be the case for my daughters, aged 8 and 10. They asked me to tell them when to hide their eyes during scary parts of Raiders on DVD the other day, so neither of them actually saw the melting face, or a few other things. Based on that, we skipped Temple of Doom entirely. Tonight we watched Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, which has even fewer freaky bits than Raiders, but the rapid aging and decomposition of the Donovan character when he drinks from the wrong Holy Grail was also more than they wanted to see. Our youngest hid her eyes, while our oldest didn't, but had trouble getting to sleep.

On the other hand, two and a half years ago our oldest was okay with King Kong, especially after a day or two to process it. But I still don't know whether we should take them to see the new Indiana Jones movie. I'm sure their friend Clive will love it as I did (he's 9, and watches action movies all the time), while after two Indy movies at home our daughters might not even want to go.

Fiction has always been a way for children to face scary things, and learn to live with them. That's what most fairy tales are about. So I don't want to shelter our girls too much. We're not going to force them to see Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, but if after a bit of time they want to go, I'm not sure—should we take them or not?

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I guess that as long as you're upfront with them about the scary parts that they *might* see, well... it's their choice, I figure. But you'll be there with them, so I guess it's all good. Just a thought.
This is a tricky one because you won't be able to warn them when the scary parts come - unless the music gives it away, of course.

I agree with h604, warn them up front and let them make the decision for themselves. Their experience with Indy 1 and 3 might be enough for them to decide what they're comfortable with.
Clive did love it. We got a hot tip that the Dolphin was re-opening on Thursday night, and that they were showing the Crystal Skull. He loved it, and we sang the Indie theme the whole way home!

As usual with the Indie movies, there was a memorable gross out scene. I'd take them, and have them cover their eyes. You know their limits better than I do, and I don't have to get them to sleep at night.
Also, will you enjoy the movie more if you're not worrying about them? Maybe you should go see it first, so you can fully enjoy it, and then take them after you've previewed it.
ok, some vague spoilers. please do not read any further if you don't want a couple of practical details, but if you don't have time to see it first, and they really want to go....

there is face melting, but they are not real faces. however, it is still disturbing in it's own way. you'll know when to cover their eyes, if you understand science. :)

also, gratuitous flesh eating bugs. again, you'll know when to cover their eyes, as it starts out with only one giant ant.

on the plus side, there are monkeys!
I was 6 years old when I first saw Wizard of Oz and I still remember how I felt when the wicked witch melted after a bucket of water was thrown at her. I didn't feel happy that the evil witch was killed, I was horrified that a person actually melted!

I think I was around 12 when I first saw a horror movie - Amityville Horror (1979 version). I had nightmares for days. I couldn't close my blinds at night for fear of red eyes floating in the window. To this day, I avoid horror movies and still cover my eyes at the scary parts. Brian doesn't understand my irrational fear. He says, "It's just a movie!".

Having said that, I watched the Indy movies when they first came out and LOVED them (I was 10 in 1981).

So, basically, I don't know what the best thing is to do! I agree with the first couple of comments - to let them know what they might see (i.e. it will likely be alot like the first 3 movies) and let them decide. People filter things out differently and it's all based on choice. As long as they have the choice whether to watch it, they should be able to cope with their decision. Just remember to tell them that if it gets too scary for them, you can't fast forward it or take them out (because you'll be too busy watching it!).

A good trick to try at impending scary parts (when something is about to jump out) is to close your ears. It's usually the music that makes you jump, not the actual person jumping out!
My 7 year old has been watching CSI for 3 or 4 years. She calls it "The Dead People Show." She's always been cool with the explanation that what's on TV is just actors pretending - no-one is actually hurt or dead; or even sad or angry or mean for that matter.

"Gross out" scenes like faces melting seem more of a scientific curiosity to her. She often asks if that could really happen. I always answer honestly, as once (I can't remember the context) when someone's arm was torn off somehow. I explained that it was highly unlikely, but possible.

Don't call child protection on me.

As my title indicates, I think it all depends on what your kids can handle. When ours have caught bits of CSI, even relatively mild parts (such as the end of the season finale this year), it sometimes gives them nightmares. But similar things didn't when I was their age.

And given their reaction to the previous Indy movies, I don't think they'll be going to "Crystal Skull" anytime soon.
I've seen Raiders probably dozens of times (including the original theatrical release back in 1981), and while I have no problems with the face-melting scene, I've never actually watched the Nazi getting the back of his head whacked off by the airplane propeller.
Feel free to watch that scene. You never see anything happen to the guy. He just turns, screams, and then you see blood spray elsewhere. It's way less graphic than a lot of what's on TV these days, from medical shows to CSI to documentaries.
When I was a child, I'd have nightmares each year when I'd watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer on TV because of the abominable snowman. That seems super silly now, but at the time it was really scary stuff for me. Also, I remember being rather traumatized by The Empire Strikes Back because of all the pain Luke was going through, especially when his hand was cut off.
I still have nightmares when I watch scary movies (so I try to avoid them).
I remember my former niece was allowed to watch Jurrasic Park at 3 years old and had scary dino dreams for the next year. (I wanted to smack her mother for all the stuff she was exposed to at that age).