These go to eleven

The boys are at an age when I'm not quite as worried about what they are seeing in TV and movies. Swearing isn't a big issue because, well, they have heard Lori and I curse enough that it isn't a shock. Just about every superhero movie today is PG-13 and filled with sanitized violence; even the new Star Wars movie got a PG-13 rating. As long as they don't get too dark for Ben, who get scared a little more easily, I don't worry too much about either boy seeing someone get chomped by a dinosaur or thrown around by the Hulk.

And I think we've got it down what they can and cannot handle. The original "Red Dawn?" Mild by today's standards. "Gotham?" Too dark and way too violent; I usually turn it off if Ben is trying to watch. A classic slasher flick like "Nightmare on Elm Street?" Probably not until they are in high school. "The Hunger Games?" That's already technically a kid's book; a little more violent then I would hope but both boys seem to handle it (and they love "The Maze Runner"). "Walking Dead?" No. "Alien?" I think they would get bored -- it's so deliberately paced to ratchet up the tension. "Aliens?" Much more whiz bang -- maybe the precursor to the nonstop action of today's superhero flicks.

But then there's a middle ground of movies, mostly classic comedies, that I am so torn on. "This Is Spinal Tap" has so many hysterical moments (the amp that goes to 11, Stonehenge, getting lost trying to find the stage, and so on) that they would definitely be laughing. However, how do I explain why "Lick My Love Pump"is a funny line in the movie? The multitude of F words that gave it an R rating I can handle. The crudeness might be trickier to ignore.

From there, what about "Sixteen Candles?" I probably saw it not much older than Michael is now. The sexual references aren't too bad, but there's that brief shower scene. Am I a bad parent if my 12-year-old catches a glimpse of boobs in a movie I encourage him to watch? I was caught off guard when we were watching "Starship Troopers" together and there's some brief nudity that I forgot about. The movie is so campy violent that it's fun for a tween to watch, but does it get disqualified for that one scene? Michael loves "Titanic" but hasn't seen the original versions with Kate Winslet's breasts in it. Part of me thinks, better he see a realistically proportioned naked beautiful woman on screen than someone that's fantastically skinny/buxom.

I saw "Grease" when I was 9 years old, and in the decades since, I'm shocked how dirty it actually is. But, most of the sexual references (and holy crap, there are a lot) went far over my head. As a parent today, in what might be a less innocent time, I'm not sure the references won't go over their heads. At the same time, I want to believe my kids, especially Michael, and kids of today in general, are smarter, more savvy. Maybe I should let them stay up to watch "Saturday Night Live," and maybe I shouldn't be worried about the sexual reference that might reach their ears from something as otherwise innocuous as "Modern Family." And honestly, I'd rather them watch something with a brief nudie shot than something extremely violent.

"Best in Show" is on Netflix this month, and I think the boys would find it hysterical. And I'm not going to worry why it got a PG-13 rating and let them just laugh at the funny parts. Maybe on a scale of 1 to 10 they would give it a 10. Or, as Nigel Tufnel would say, an 11.


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