The generation in which I grew up in didn’t have the internet, the CD was only introduce once I was in my teens and my parents where the gatekeepers who attempted to keep from both from harm, and the bad influence of swear words. They didn’t always succeed.
Movies back then, that contained bad language, or swear words, or fingers crossed, nudity, were all rated something other than PG. You knew by looking at the rating what you were getting. My parents, who loved movies as much as I do, once wanted me to watch the end of the Blues Brothers, you know, the insane car chase and crashes. They were concerned that my virgin ears might hear a word or too that was too blue for me, so when they remembered a word was coming up, they turned the volume down on the television, by hand, not remote.
My parents did try have but as anyone who has met me knows, I kinda failed as I do let the occasional non swear word escape.
I am now in the position of gate keeper for my sons, who at time of writing are 6 & 7. They are going up in a world with instant access to many bad things. The internet is probably ground zero for bad things in general (how I met my wife) but the odd swear word does appear in YouTube videos, especially the channels for monster movies such as Godzilla. Added commentary sometimes uses unfortunate words and phrases and my two children soak everything up faster than Sponge Bob Square Pants does at a car wash under the sea while it is raining.
Touch wood, my children have not used ‘official’ swear words in front of either myself or my wife, yet. It is going to happen, we accept it, but we stress that certain words should not be used in front of teachers and grandparents especially. If we can’t stop them using it altogether, why not just pick those moments when they use the words.
A few years ago, I think it was when the Saints were in the SuperBowl, there was a huge hit and I blurted out ‘Holy Crap‘ and sure enough a few weeks later, Rhys used the same phrase. It was hard to have a go at him as he used it in a totally appropriate way. Sometimes he is way too clever for us!
My dilemma is that I want to share my love of movies with my kids. Rhys, who is 7, loves cars. When I say loves, I think it an understatement. He adores them, he worships Top Gear, he wants to make a limousine, he wants to drive a Porsche. It is only natural that I want to show him movies that contain car chases, even just the car chases themselves but as I mentioned earlier, some have language that I don’t want him to hear on a regular basis.
Off the top of my head, I want to show my boys The Blues Brothers (swearing), Italian Job (original with implied sex and nudity), Italian Job (remake with swearing), Ronin (violence and swearing), Bullett (too slow for him to watch until the end). I am sure I am missing some but you see what I mean. There are very few kid friendly movies that have incredible chase scenes. James Bond movies do but they aren’t usually as spectacular as the ones mentioned above.
Do I admit to myself that my kids already know these words and they call ‘sexy woman’ when the Stella Artois commercial is on the TV (my fault I am sure). They seem to be more worldly than I was at that age. Maybe I was a little slow but how can children today not grow up quicker. I grew up in Wales with only four, FOUR, television channels. My children have lots of channels offered by Rogers, including on demand, plus Netflix, plus anything they can find on the internet, plus a stupidly large collection of DVD’s that were bought cheap on Boxing Day from Walmart.
I am not planning on showing them a George Carling concert anytime soon but I find it hard to resist sharing things that are maybe a little above their pay grade if you know what I mean. I don’t know if I am the only one who feels like this, we recently went to see Paul, a movie about a rude, foul mouthed alien trying to get back home and we watched parents bring young (less than 5 yrs old) into the theater.
I don’t remember the first time I watched a movie with swearing in it. I am sure it was a gradual build up from harmless movies such as The Jungle Book all the way up the scale to Beverly Hills Cop. Nowadays, a lot of movies use swearing simply for effect, or to look cool, rather than used in a clever and useful way. Think back to Beverly Hills Cop. Axel’s catch phrase of ‘How much? Get the (BEEP) out of here’ was not only funny, but it setup a response from Serge that was priceless. That was a clever use.
I digress as I usually do. Swearing in movies in general is probably another post just waiting to be written. Right now, I have to decide if I dare risk letting my kids watch something that might scar them for life, or wrap them in cotton wool and pretend that my darling little snowflakes will never ever tell someone to (BEEP) off. What to do, what to do.