Last week I spent some time wondering whether my son was old enough to go watch “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial” in a movie theater. I pointed out that my son exhibits a lot of empathy, a lack of knowledge of how stories are constructed, and is easily scared. Those were all in the “against” column for going to see it, with “it’s ‘E.T.'” being on the big one in the “for” column.
The latter column won, we went, and I’m happy to report it was an unqualified success. No less than half of the film saw my son sitting at the edge of his seat, staring at the screen in wonder. He loved it. In fact, at the end of the film he reported the he “liked the whole thing” and that’s rather new for him as most of the other films he’s seen have had moments where he has definitely wanted to leave early.
So, the question becomes why. Why did this work for him when other movies haven’t worked as well. Is it the movie? Is it that he’s older? Is it that in order to make sure he didn’t have a complete breakdown during the film he was extensively prepped about what was going to happen?
The smart money would be on all of these things. Right movie at the right time for which he was prepared in the right way and the end result of that is perfection.
The truth though is that just because it worked here and now that doesn’t mean that it can work always and I’m struggling still with “Jurassic Park” and whether that’s appropriate for my daughter. She is going, but I still don’t know if that’s right.
It isn’t just that one movie either, it’s the next one after that and the next one after that. There is a constantly progressing set of decisions and no sooner do I make one – yes to “Jurassic Park” than another comes up, how about “The Martian?”
Not only that, but there’s a question of order of operations on making the decision. Should I struggle with it if my child isn’t even going to want to see the movie anyway and therefore first ascertain whether they’re interested? Or, should I not broach the subject with the child if they’re not going to be allowed to go anyway?
“The Martian” brings up another complete set of issues as there aren’t a ton of reviews out for it and I haven’t seen it. If I took my daughter, it would be to a press screening and that means that I probably won’t have more information before I go (I did ask Twitter, but my following isn’t great enough to necessarily get a response).
See? There is a constantly progressing set of decisions, and our media choices are expanding which means that the number of decisions required is also expanding.
Well, I say that, but eventually there aren’t a set of decisions. Eventually I lose all power to make those decisions and that only means that the responsibility now is greater, formative years and all that.
But, like one of my children’s favorite character says, with great power comes great responsibility.
photo credit: 20th Century FOX