Comics Creators

TV & Movies: What is Age Appropriate for Children and Influences on Them/You?


In the Box Office Brouhaha thread, a discussion began about taking children to see certain movies and which ones are appropriate for them. I thought the topic could be expanded to include TV and what limits were set for you when you were young.

I was born in 1968 and the 70s were the early days of cable television. Thinking back, my parents never put any limits or restrictions on what I could watch. Some things I watched with them because only one TV had cable and that was what was being watched. I would also watch stuff on my own.

I must have been 7 or 8 when I first watched Phantom of the Paradise (1974). One scene that always stuck with me was when Winslow Leach gets his head crushed in a record press. I was never horrified or upset by the movie. I knew then it wasn’t real. It was only a movie. Paul Bartel’s Cannonball (1976) and Death Race 2000 (1975) where a couple of childhood favorites. Movies of the 1970s had an unapologetic rawness that that fascinated me as a small child.

I never cared for Disney except for Winnie the Pooh. My father and sister Sally encouraged me to watch the classic Warner Brothers cartoons which I loved. I also grew up on Benny Hill and Monty Python. Mind you, I am pretty much in single digits seeing all of this.

I was almost 14 when I saw my first R-rated movie in a theater. It was The Sword and the Sorcerer (1982).

As a small child, I grew up watching TV and movies with nudity, violence and profanity. Noe of that phased me. The only thing that ever got in my head was Salem’s Lot (1979). Since then, no horror movie has ever scared me. (I actually find the horror genre quite boring unless it’s done as comedy/satire.)

Children of my own are not in the cards but I think I would let them watch what they wanted.

I think where my family did try to influence me was successful because where they were directing me was toward my sensibilities.

Entertainment-wise, I had a great childhood.


No limits really.
I saw The Thing and Evil Dead when I was 8 and 10 respectively and a whole slew of stuff in between.
Honestly, not what I would do if I had kids. It was mainly the result of everyone being too busy, and rightly so.


Just curious… what do you think is required of a film to be appropriate for kids?


Incredibles and Big Hero 6 are the best superhero flicks for kids.


What are the standards you judge by?


The Incredibles is the best superhero flick for anybody.


It’s the Tim Story Fantastic Four that’s on constant rotation in our house at the moment. Personally I love Incredibles, but didn’t get on with Big Hero 6. It took too long to really get going (although I do love that very first scene with the robot fight club).


For me I think a good all-ages superhero film has to capture the wonder and glee of superheroes and their powers, be relatively light on violence and not have any bad language, and be funny, colourful, easy-to-understand and positive.


I guess I’ll always find notions of age-appropriateness interesting. I mean, the only thing that makes bad language bad is its stigmatization, no? Plenty of truly awful things are said with nary a swear word around. As for boobies, hoo-has and ding-dongs, we’re all born with them, it’s the adults who decide they’re off-limits. And as for violence, even children with no history of watching film or seeing war or battles still fight with each other in both forms of play and struggle.


It’s not a blanket ban on any violence or mean things being said, just a judgement on the extent to which I would be happy to expose kids to movies with those things in them. These things are never absolute, it’s always a sliding scale.

For example, I think the FF movie has a bit of ‘realistic’ violence, but nothing distressing - and an occasional bit of mild bad language (asshole, or something similar), but nothing my kids wouldn’t be likely to hear on daytime TV or on the street.

On the other hand, the main reason I don’t show them the first Raimi Spider-Man is the brutality of the fights with the Green Goblin. And as far as language goes, I think I can probably live without seeing another X-Men movie that feels like it has to include the word “fuck” as a badge of maturity.


I totally understand what you’re staying, but I still think it’s a fascinating topic. I grew up on Die Hard, Terminator 2, the original Jurassic Park, Stephen King films etc., and I don’t think it really rattled me all that much, but hell, what do I know.

Especially in the age of the internet, once a kid is using the internet actively, it seems like any Hollywood film will automatically realstically be PG compared to what they can find at their fingertips


My kids are still pretty young but I’ll be getting them onto stuff soon enough.

It’s not a worry about them being ‘damaged’ so much, it’s more just a question of showing them stuff that wouldn’t upset them at this point - or lead them to start teaching their classmates some interesting new words.


I’m always amazed at what people who were young in 80s consider age appropriate these days since the kids’ films they grew up on tended to be far more violent and mature than most movies these days.


Sure, totally understandable. I wouldn’t ever come anywhere close to telling someone they’re wrong for what films they’re willing to let their kids see, because I myself don’t know what I’d consider wrong. A bit like the US Supreme Court stance on porn - “I know it when I see it”.

But isn’t that weird?


You’re right, after all they did say ‘shit’ in Flight of the Navigator. Our generation was robbed of its childhood.


Isn’t what weird?


Putting aside DC which is self-evident, for me, it is not totally about the violence or swearing, although a lot of Marvel films have too much violence that resembles real-life violence for my tastes—gunplay and car crashes, stuff like that.

It is really about the general tone. These Marvel movies are crude, cynical, and dispiriting. Everyone treats each other like shit, the heroes are flawed, the plots often too “dark.” Every movie is some dickhead bro who learns to be 10% less of a dickhead by the end, and then forgets it by the sequel because Marvel only basically has one plot. Plus there are too many politicians and too much military in these things—get that shit out of my Marvel.


Yes! I thought Tony Stark was absolved of being a dickhead by the end of the first Avengers movie but then he was back to his usual ways in Iron Man 3.
Character development seems as lose and lacking as, well … Marvel Comics.


The traditional sequel problem is that they have to take a perfectly good ending and then break it in order to have another story to tell.

Marvel should do better with their experience of the comics but, as you say, they’re not noted for getting these things right there either.


I think Iron Man’s hubris is getting particularly repetitive. Which is a shame, because I had hoped that the ending of Iron Man 3 was going to mark a real evolution for the character: that they had somewhere interesting to take him that would genuinely move him on to a new stage. But by the start of Age Of Ultron, it was back to the same old Stark, like IM3 never happened.