Friday, March 06, 2009

The Kid Is Alright (I Hope)

There's something oddly impressive about the qualities of focus and commitment displayed by Geeks when they're on a mission. How else can one explain Cosplay, the pagentry of the sci-fi convention floor, or days-long line-ups for the newest installment of Star Wars? And so it has been for my only son, JediBoy - a nascent Geek with a major jones for the Watchmen film.

Rewind to last Summer. As I left him behind for a week-long stay with my in-laws at the family cottage, I made a point of pressing a copy of Watchmen into his young hands. I wasn't sure he'd get into the story - its complexities and decidely mature subject matter. He skimmed a few pages before the boat ferried his Mom and Dad back to the promise of indoor plumbing. His verdict: it wasn't grabbing his attention. "Fair enough", I thought - but I left the book with him anyways.

After a few rainy cottage days with little to do but re-read the same comics and perhaps push Link across a 3-inch screen in search of treasure, JediBoy telephoned to let me know he'd picked up the book again.

"Dad, I've been reading the Watchmen", he said.

"Great!", I answered. "How far have you gotten? Further than before?"

"Ummm.... I finished it. All of it.". His voice trailed off. "Ummm...Dad?"

"Yes?". I sounded tentative.

"It's.... There's some inappropriate stuff in there. I'm only 12 you know.".

This was classic JediBoy - straighter than I was at his age and incapable of dishonesty.

"I know.", I said. "I thought you could handle it. Should we talk about it?".

I could feel his whole body relax - even on the phone. "It was awesome! I really liked it!".

"Great!", I said. "You know they're making a movie."

I could feel the hook plunge deep inside his brain. I knew that feeling. It was that frantic sense of 'must have now' I can remember feeling in 1976 when I first encountered the promise of Star Wars.

Since that exchange we've both been tracking the progress of Synder's film version - checking out trailers and bits of news here and there. It's been a sort of mental Advent Calendar exercise leading up to March 6. All the while I've been secretly dreading the possibility that the film might slavishly translate the book - mature themes and all.

And by all accounts the film has done just that. The first inklings of issues were the American TV commercials that confirmed an R-rating. JediBoy has been on tenterhooks worrying about the possibility he might not be able to see Watchmen in Ontario theaters. Much to his relief, of course, the film has earned an 18A rating allowing him the possibility of seeing Rorschach & Friends on the big screen.

Every good story needs conflict, so here's mine: after all of the anticipation (his and mine), would I be a responsible parent by taking him to see this movie? Would I be an uptight dickwad for not taking him to see this movie?

I've been purusing the Innertubes for a few hours, trying to see if others adults have asked the same questions of themselves. After weeding out the idiotic debates about whether drinking and smoking should drive an R-rating, I found a pretty even split between the No and Yes camps. In other words, there were no clear answers.

So here's my feeling on the matter: JediBoy is 13. He's a good kid that knows what's real and what's not, what's right and what's wrong. We sometimes watch other 'mature stuff' together (such as South Park) - even if some storylines mean we'll be changing the channel. In the end, I trusted him enough to read the book.

There's a collection of Usual Suspects with whom I've spent the past 30 years making pilgrimages to darkened theaters to take in the latest cinematic Geek treasures. From the highs (Indiana Jones, Batman, Star Wars) to the lows (Doom, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman), we've seen them all. Naturally, we plan to numb our butts for Watchmen sometime during March Break.

And JediBoy will be there, too - medium popcorn and a root beer at the ready. I'll let you know how it goes.


Sonny Drysdale said...

I'm in the same conundominium, C.L.

My young lad is 14 and also read the book in record time when I passed it on to him - altho during a pop-quiz he admitted to skimming the pirate ship stuff that started each new installment.

I figure if he's old (note that I didn't use the word 'mature') enough to read the book, he's mature enough to see the movie.

If the reports are true about full-frontal male nudity are true, I thought that after the show we could go for pizza and beer and use that opportunity to finally have The Talk and explain to him why us Drysdales have blue ones.

So please post a follow-up when your Event happens.

Crazylegs said...

I don't have any concerns about Big Blue Ones (floppy or otherwise). I don't have any concerns about language, either. I think it's appropriate to scream 'Oh molasses!' when taking a fist to the goolies. I don't even have an issue with latex (or a lack of it) hugging an exquisite form (unless it's my night to play Superhero Pizza Delivery Person). Graphic violence can be okay, too, if there's some context for cause-and-effect.

With all of these things, I think The Boy and I can deal with them together (and he's been known to hide his eyes when the spirit moves him).

The part I'm actually concerned about is sexual violence. Jediboy has an academic understanding of that sort of thing, but he's short on details. And I kinda want to keep it that way. I suppose it's the line we walk where we want our kids to stay kids - all the while wanting them to understand the world isn't always as nice as DisneyWorld.

I'll let you know how the Event goes.

Sonny Drysdale said...

As Barney Fife once said, "Daddy, you are soooo right!"

David said...

I think it's best to take a pass on this one, at least until you see it. The rape scene, while not explicit in terms of skin, is explicit and disturbing in terms of sexual violence.

The rest is a Sopranos level of violence. With less nudity.

Still awesome though.

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