Monday, October 3, 2011

Generations in the Movie Theater

My wife & I recently saw the Lion King in 3D at the movie theaters. We saw the matinee show on a weekday thinking it wouldn't be too busy but would have at least a few families in attendance. Originally, we wanted to see a late night screening of the movie as it would have fewer kids and hence be quieter. However, due to her work schedule we were forced into choosing the matinee.

When attending a family-friendly movie during a matinee time, one should expect children to be also be in attendance. One should also expect child-like behavior. What one should not expect is child-like behavior coming from the parents.

Children can be little shits at times, but it is the role of the parent to teach their child what acceptable social behavior is. My stance here means that I do not blame a child for being a shit but I also do not condone a child being a shit. A child needs to be educated on how not to be a shit. That education comes principally from the parent. If the parent is not providing this education, then I blame them when their kid is acting like a little shit.

Bad parenting comes in many forms.
While watching Lion King, two families with kids in tow sat behind us. There were many families throughout the theater. For the majority of the film the children were very respectful. The children were quiet and still. When the children broke the social rules, such as talking loudly, their parent quietly corrected them. Sometimes a child could be heard loudly asking a question, which often times were pretty damn funny because it was an innocent kid kind of question. This is actually one of the fun aspects to seeing a kid's movie with kids: they ask funny questions that somehow make the movie that much more enjoyable. However, there is a limit to these questions and the way in which they are asked and handled.

The families behind us allowed their kids to do whatever they wanted. The children flailed and carried on as if they were watching a movie at home. But this is not their home! Again, I do not blame the kids for how they were acting, I blame the parents. The father constantly laughed whenever his child did something socially inappropriate and when speaking to the child did so in a loud voice. Often I could hear the father telling his wife how funny the kids were being, in which she also responded in a similarly loud voice.

Are we producing a generation of Lohans?
I won't go so far as to say these families ruined the movie for me, but  obviously it ticked me off. It costs a lot of money to see a movie and it pisses me off to have it soiled by ignorant people who obviously have more money than I do as they don't care about spending x amount of dollars at a theater, only to sit through the movie talking and laughing. The financial aspect is definitely one reason why this upset me, but a second is that I worry for the kids. Yeah, here's my sensitive side dammit. I worry how those kids are going to grow up without a social education. Their parents have failed to teach them social etiquette. This is more worrisome because if the parents couldn't teach etiquette in a movie theater then what about more important social arenas such as classrooms and workplaces? The lack of education in the theater is just the tip of the proverbial ice-berg.

An additional thought gives me a glimmer of hope: much of human behavior is cyclical. Music for instance runs in cycles with rock music being predominant for about 13-16 years and is then replaced by pop music for an equivalent amount of time. This makes me wonder if parenting styles also run in cycles, with one generation being firm and the next loose? If this is so, then we are in a loose style of parenting. However, I have also sensed a level of apathy and 'don't give a shit' mentality that I am unaware of from previous generations of parents. It would seem all too often that current parents, particularly older parents with very young children don't give a shit about actually raising the kids. It would seem they only want the ability to say they have kids and to spend marginal amounts of time with their kids. In these cases I suggest the parents purchase a chia pet as it would be safer for everyone involved; I would have suggested a dog but I wouldn't wish that kind of life upon such a noble creature.

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