Several weeks (months) ago, I said that I was going to take my daughter to see “Jurassic Park,” that I thought she was old enough to handle it, that I believed she would have no nightmares, but that I wasn’t quite sure. I promised to report back about this, and then I took her to see the movie.
Well, guess what… she went, she saw, she loved it. There were no nightmares. There were no issues. There was no PTSD. She was shocked, she was awed, and she was amazed, and there was no negative fallout. She hasn’t seen the rest of the “Jurassic Park” movies, but she wants to.
I say there was no negative fallout except…
Well, honestly, except that it has emboldened me. If she can handle “Jurassic Park,” what else can she handle?
Can she handle “Goosebumps?” She definitely reported a few moments of fear during that. Again, nothing that caused sleepless nights, but there was reported fear.
Can she handle “Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Oh, absolutely. She didn’t watch the face melting at the end, but she liked the rest of it.
Can she handle “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom?” That may be the next one we’re going to find out about. “Temple of Doom” definitely ups the ick factor over “Raiders,” but I don’t know that it’s necessarily scarier. Sure, there’s the whole pulling a still beating heart out of a man, but aside from that and some bugs, shouldn’t be a problem, right?
If I continue down this path, eventually, I will go too far. I will find a movie that she can’t deal with and there will be a big problem. It isn’t a certainty, but a likelihood.
I am instantly reminded of last night’s “Simpsons,” this is probably due in no small part to the fact that it aired last night, but I think it’s relevant. Lisa thought she could handle some Halloween chills and once it turned out she couldn’t she was left a quivering mess for days. Nobody wants that.
There is going to be a movie out there, somewhere, that will cause my daughter to have those fears, to sit up in bed all night wondering if the boogeyman is going to get her. That is a moment that we should not come to, but knowing where that border is between okay and not okay isn’t easy.
I talked in a recent “Lass is More” minisode about my dislike of many scarier movies, and certainly I am putting some of my own thoughts and fears onto my daughter here. However, parents use their own experience to help decide what is best for their child, it is natural and necessary and right. The key, I think, is to know just how much to use those experiences.
So, this is where it currently stands — I know that my daughter cannot handle an out-and-out scary movie. She can handle a movie with some chills, provided that they’re light chills. So, “Jurassic Park” is a yes and “Friday the 13th” is a no.
But, there’s a ton of territory between those two movies. “Goosebumps,” as noted, sits on the border as there were moments of fear during it but no lasting effects once the credits rolled. In fact, that probably makes it the exact border, the exact limit.
For a while then, I think that will be our calibration line — is movie “x” more or less scary than the scariest moments of “Goosebumps?” “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is less. “Poltergeist” is more.
I wonder where “Gremlins” sits.
photo credit: Lucasfilm