Have you seen “Precious” yet? It’s everything the buzz says it’s going to be: Gabby Sidibe plays Precious, who has been raped by her father and had two children by him, and Mo’Nique plays the abusive mother who calls Precious the most vile names and throws a TV set at her head. Incest, physical violence, verbal abuse … it’s a heavy one.
So I’ve been asking myself why I watched the movie in a Jersey City (New Jersey) theater, sitting next to a woman who held her toddler son in her lap the whole time. Just how recently out-of-the-womb was this little chubster? Young and socially unaware enough that when the movie was over, he walked straight over to my Diet Coke and touched it, putting his germy little hands all over my straw. Maybe 3 years old? Possibly only 2?The little boy sitting next to me wasn’t the only toddler watching an R-rated movie about incest and abuse on Friday night; throughout the film, I could hear small children and babies in other parts of the theater talking, and one mommy even carried her small child out of the theater when he/she started to cry. When the lights came on, my boyfriend said he counted at least six preschool age children or babies who’d been watching “Precious.”
Really, people? You (couples, single parents, whoever these people were) just had to see this movie so badly that you brought someone in diapers along with you? Even if references to incest would go over little kids’ heads, there’s so much physical violence and verbal abuse in “Precious.” Do some parents really think their small children just don’t notice it, or aren’t going to be affected by it? When Amelia saw “Precious,” she said there were a handful of elementary schoolers in the theater — 7- to 10-year olds! They actually are old enough to grasp what’s going on in the film, but definitely not mature enough to process it. How do you explain incest and rape to a 3rd grader?
And that wasn’t an isolated flick, apparently! Our roommate recalled that when we all saw “The Hangover”—a PG-13 comedy about three men who get completely wasted and do all kinds of crazy things during a Vegas bachelor party—there were toddlers in the theater then, too. Inappropriate.
My first instinct is to suggest movie theaters ban babies or toddlers from rated-R movies. I know that’s unlikely, though, because some parents would just stay home instead and companies would never want to potentially lose a ticket sale. But, really, movie theaters shouldn’t actually have to force parents to use common sense.
Mom, dad, either get a babysitter to watch “Barney & Friends” with your toddler at home or wait until the movie comes out on DVD. Sorry to sound like a cranky old lady here, but age-appropriate activities are Good Parenting 101.