Parenting worrywart?
May 28, 2011 2:40 AM   Subscribe

I do not want my kids to see this. Am I becoming an old fart?

Our two kids (10 and 8) play like that, and that's all good and well and no ground for concern (well, except sometimes when it seems like it's becoming this persistent undercurrent of play-violence that ends up undermining any other form of play...). So in some sense I could imagine them enjoying this video hugely. I also know they'd be intimately shocked by it - as they were by Persepolis, which left a lasting impression, to the point of them often voicing their opinions against any warfare.
So part of the reason I'd like to avoid them seeing stuff like this is to avoid reinforcing a kind of projection of violence I ultimately do find troubling, and which this video takes to a level beyond what I consider OK viewing for kids their age.
Another part of my censorship instinct is similar to my wanting to avoid them seeing any visualisation of Peter and the Wolf when we were still only listening to it - so as not to spoil the personal visions/imagination they were bringing to it.
As so often happens, our attempts to keep the surrounding world from "locking down" their imagination are quickly frustrated - Peter and the Wolf by a less concerned teacher with the Disney version on her computer; and this video will very likely crop up in their inbox or friend's ipod or youtube screen at someone's home.

Please convince me I/we are just typical parenting worrywarts/old-farts - or not?
posted by progosk to Education (42 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Yeah, you're an old fart, and no, it's not a bad thing.

The way I look at is that some rules are made to be broken. Ban it. They'll get the message that you disapprove/the content is unacceptable, and you'll be giving them a relatively safe boundary to rebel against.
posted by Leon at 3:05 AM on May 28, 2011 [8 favorites]

In the beginning I was prepared to say, 'yeah, you're an old fart, video games have worse than this' but as this clip progressed, the continual blood spurting out after gunshot wounds made me uneasy. Don't even START me on the Arab scene, the throat-cutting, the 'drogue' scenes, or the kid who runs up the stairs and stands over his dead victim while he blasts the victim again.

My 9 year old son plays shooting games with his mates with toy guns, but if one of them stubs his toe it's all weapons down and let's escort John Doe inside so mum can do the nurse act.

That clip is so far beyond normal little kids playing shoot-em-up games... I don't think you're unreasonable at all in not wanting your kids to see it.

If I caught my kids watching this, or worse still laughing at it, I'd ban it. I consider myself to be a fairly open-minded parent, but I think that clip is disgusting.

Please, deity-of-choice, don't let it go viral.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:25 AM on May 28, 2011 [9 favorites]

This is way too violent for 8 to 10 year olds.
posted by caddis at 3:26 AM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

No, thinking this is inappropriate for your kids doesn't make you an old fart. You're the grown-up. You have to set boundaries and guidelines because your kids can't do it for themselves. That said, I think you should think of this as something you want to discourage rather than completely stop. As you already realize, you can't possibly build walls high enough to keep your kids from ever coming into contact with stuff like this.

The bit about wanting to prevent the world from locking down their imaginations does have potential to spiral off into Old Fart territory. Their imaginations are their own, not yours to manipulate. Their innocence is on borrowed time regardless of what they see. Try to let your kids live their own lives instead of the one you've imagined for them. This video is not a contagion, and brief exposure to it won't ruin your kids
posted by jon1270 at 4:12 AM on May 28, 2011 [7 favorites]

It's quite obviously satire. Most pre-teen kids are incapable of making that distinction and appreciating it as a commentary on violence and militarism in society and the effect it has on kids, so they probably shouldn't be watching it.
posted by Happy Dave at 4:18 AM on May 28, 2011 [9 favorites]

What i find interesting is that this video overlays the actual results of doing those things (playing war, etc), and what the kids could be imagining anyway if they knew the truth about it all. This goes over the top a bit, and makes it cartoony. Something to remember, there are places where kids those ages are seeing and doing the real thing. Your kids are already lucky for being able to pretend, and don't forget that kids can always work around parents to see and do what they want.
posted by usagizero at 4:23 AM on May 28, 2011

this video will very likely crop up in their inbox or friend's ipod or youtube screen at someone's home.

Really? Isn't it just a music video made by an obscure indie band? This is not a video made for children, just as the R-rated Kick-Ass, also starring child actors, was not made for children. Is someone really telling you that your kids should watch it?

At the same time, I strongly disagree with your assertion that society wants to "lock down" your children's imaginations. Exposure to more media can only expand the imagination. When I was a child I thought old Disney movies were mind-blowing, which seems like a good thing. Ideally your children should be reading enough books that seeing one movie won't significantly affect their ability to visualize things.
posted by acidic at 4:24 AM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

This video has fairly intense violent imagery, and is therefore not suitable for children.

There are lots of things that aren't suitable for children? I don't think believing that makes you an old fart; I think believing that is a precondition for meaningful parenting.
posted by longtime_lurker at 4:38 AM on May 28, 2011

Not an old fart. I'm 35 and it disturbed me. I can only imagine that a more youthful version of myself seeing that would engage in misbehavior.

The problem is that it looked fun and the violence is cartoony. I would be much less disturbed by more realistic blood and guts, or cartoon children to go along with the cartoon blood and guts.

If kids want to imagine blood gushing from wounds on their own, bully for them. Don't implant the image- emulating what you see on youtube isn't engaging the imagination.

(That said, that was a skillfully done video. The art of it was cool looking. And the mini drug lord getting enraged in French ("ce qua?!?") was somehow hilarious. French just wasn't designed for rage.)
posted by gjc at 4:45 AM on May 28, 2011

Aren't you afraid of creating a forbidden fruit situation? Also, what if you found out that your kids considered this video mild stuff indeed?
posted by telstar at 4:55 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

All I can say is, back when I was kid that age (the 60's) we played "army" constantly. With far more realistic toys than those. And those scenes pretty-well matches what went through our little imaginations when we were shooting at each other.

(Hell, we even re-spawned ourselves after an appropriate count to 20 or so. And allowed absolutely no camping on the re-spawner. In the 60's, gamerz.)
posted by Thorzdad at 5:00 AM on May 28, 2011 [5 favorites]

I found it disturbing but it was intended to disturb me. I'm not sure a young child would see the parts that freak us out in the same way. I think they would be fine. We are hardwired to see violence to children as disturbing in ways they aren't because they are children.
posted by Rubbstone at 5:21 AM on May 28, 2011

Wow, what a graphic video and definitely not appropriate for kids. That said, I watched Robocop at a friend's house when I was 5 and that was definitely not appropriate for 5 year old me.

I would discourage your kids from seeing it, but outright bans and the like would only encourage them to skirt around and watch it where they can.
posted by schyler523 at 5:28 AM on May 28, 2011

I recall playing with equally (or more!) violent fantasies when I was 10. The video might actually serve to remind your kids of what their play symbolizes.
posted by beerbajay at 5:54 AM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've been having discussions about the effect of mass media on child development for many years with my wife, who is an early childhood education consultant. Broader concepts at first, and then we became parents a few years ago and we started to talk about the practical aspects. Here's the position that I've come to:

When children are very young, you have almost total control over what they see and hear and you're right to exercise it. But you can't (and I'm sure you don't want to) prevent them from maturing and part of the nature of development is that children experience more as they mature, using the guidelines and experiences that you laid down for them when they were younger. Basic stuff, but it bears repeating for context.

You're a concerned parent to even ask this question, and it sounds like you've pretty meticulous about guiding your kids' media and art experiences. You've given them a foundation from which to start forming their own judgments and another part of building a healthy kid is allowing them to use these critical appreciation skills for themselves. You let them experience "Peter and the Wolf" without interference from someone else's visuals. Eventually they saw images associated with it. I don't feel that it's the negative experience that you see it as: they experienced it, added their own visual depictions in their heads, and then got to contrast this with someone else's interpretation. That's a good exercise in critical perception-- they saw it one way, here's how someone else saw it, how does it compare and contrast with how you saw it and is there a "right" way to see something? You might discuss it with them and ask what did they like better in their mental version that they were disappointed to find was missing in the video? Or what did the video add to it that they might use the next time they visually plot a story or song in their heads?

You might be more concerned about the eight-year-old, because you're evaluating his milestones based on his older sibling. Unfortunately, his experiences are largely shared with and filtered through his older brother (especially because they're quite close in age), so you're going to have to make mental adjustments and accept that he's going to mentally age a bit quicker. The distinctions and limits that you set for them are necessarily going to have slim distinctions-- like it or not he's not in the same place at 8 that his brother was because he's been vicariously experiencing his close sibling's milestones.

As for the video in question, I wouldn't want my kid exposed to it either. I see a message in it ("ultimately playing soldiers is glamorizing a host of disgusting things"), but even if that's the intended message, it's not likely to be lost on kids (or indeed many adults). Forbidding them from watching it isn't going to work, and how are you even going to tell them meaningfully to avoid it? Any description followed by "don't watch this video" is going to pique their interest. Best just not to mention it.

However, if you feel that it's inevitable or nearly inevitable that they'll see it, you have to take the initiative and watch it with them. I might start with the intro's possible homage to "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (which is at its core an anti-war song) and discuss how violence is glamorized and why it happens (people aren't exposed to the actual repercussions, the cartoon violence of the boys is pointing out what war is REALLY like).

Personally, I'd just hope that in a world full of media to consume something like this will miss your kids. But if it's truly inevitable (you know better than I0 it's better that they have your context to understand it and perhaps learn something from it beyond the base adolescent response of "war and violence are cool." If they were a bit older you could turn it into a discussion of the violence behind drug trafficking and how military action incourages resentment and increases the threat of terrorism, but there's no way they're old enough yet. That video could be turned into an excellent teaching tool for someone a few years older than your oldest.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:01 AM on May 28, 2011 [4 favorites]

"it's not likely to be lost on kids" should read "it's likely to be lost on kids" in the third-to-last paragraph.
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:02 AM on May 28, 2011

Maybe it's because it's my bedtime and I'm a little punchy, but you know what? I kinda dug the song, but I only made it about halfway through that video and am now ashamed that I ever played army or cops and robbers as a child. So I'm going to go with yes, but with good reason. Eight and ten is a little young for that in my book.

That said, I think you've got it right when it comes to playing that way: It's going to happen one way or another. If you don't allow toy guns, the kids will use gun-shaped sticks like my little brother and I did after our mother put her foot down on the toy gun issue. I suppose it's a cultural artifact handed down through the generations, much like I'm Popeye the sailor man, I live in a garbage can. So the best you can hope for is that they grow up understanding that violence begets violence and one mustn't give in to anger or use force lightly. I ask in all seriousness: Have they been introduced to Master Yoda?
posted by ob1quixote at 6:12 AM on May 28, 2011

I don't think the video is inappropriate or disturbing. The "guns" are all obviously toys and the blood, etc. is obviously animated/imaginary. I don't understand the censorship instinct. I think if you don't want your kids to think violence is cool you should teach them that, not censor them from it.
posted by doomtop at 6:32 AM on May 28, 2011 [3 favorites]

This is exactly what we saw in our heads as kids when we played. YMMV.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:43 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Being an old fart is inappropriately discouraged in parents these days. Really, this is mid-range in the "sensible things to keep kids from" category, definitely in the "reasonable people can disagree" category. You have this stranger on the internet's permission to protect your children as you see fit.

(I didn't watch the video. I was also exposed to RoboCop at age 5, and I freaking learned my lesson about seeking out disturbing visual experiences.)
posted by SMPA at 6:51 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best solution in this case - Pretend it doesn't exist.

I won't comment on the rest of the issues others have brought up (except to say that you can see a whole lot worse on primetime TV, or even classic cartoons for that matter), but trying to ban them from watching it guarantees they'll seek out something they might otherwise never even have heard of (I know I wouldn't have stumbled across this if not for your question).

They may or may not still eventually come across it, but anything you actively do to keep them from seeing it will actually increase the chances they do so.
posted by pla at 7:11 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Being a parent is all about using your judgement to make decisions for other people, your kids. Those decisions are going to influence the kind of people they become. Your kids will become the kind of people they are (in part) because of you being the kind of person you are.

It's a huge responsibility, but it's really what being a parent is all about, imo.

The fact that you are concerned about the media environment your kids grow up in, the fact that you question whether your concerns are legitimate, the fact that you ask other people for their perspective...all these are part of the type of parent you are. Don't feel that you need to change your decisions because others might let their kids see this kind of thing. That's them, this is you.

When my kids were little, Men in Black was the big deal movie. My wife and I think it's incredibly violent and wouldn't allow them to watch it - it was shown at their elementary school! At a childcare late night fun sleepeover type thing. We all joke about it now, how humiliating it was for them (the kids are young adults now). But I don't regret my decision a bit. Parents have a hard time these days -we need to be able to stand up for what we believe is right.
posted by jasper411 at 7:29 AM on May 28, 2011

That video is clearly not for children. Why do you think children would even ever see that?
posted by empath at 7:39 AM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Saying "no" doesn't make you an old fart. It's sometimes your duty and responsibility as a parent. Obviously "harm" comes in various forms, physical but also psychological. Trust your instincts and err on the side of caution in protecting them from harm. Specifically, it doesn't matter in the slightest if your kids don't see that video: it's not Shakespeare, it's just pop trash. It doesn't matter in the slightest if you forbid them. More broadly, it's not your job to be friends with your kids, seem cool in their eyes or give them what they want always. It's your job to bring them up to be the people you'd like them to be, and the people they'd like to be, if they knew it yet.
posted by londongeezer at 8:14 AM on May 28, 2011

Why do you think children would even ever see that?

I am also confused. Why do you even think they would see this video? Is it becoming viral or something? Have they asked to see it?

It's not as if there isn't a huge amount of trash already out there. I think far too many music videos are over-sexualised and misogynistic and are therefore unsuitable for children or humans.
posted by Summer at 8:23 AM on May 28, 2011

At the beginning of the video, my thought was "this is just what every kid imagines is happening when they shoot NERF guns at each other.

As it went on, though, and got bloodier and more graphic (throat-cutting, kids dressed as Middle-Eastern extremists, torture), I changed my mind. I wouldn't let my nine-year-old watch this.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:46 AM on May 28, 2011

I'm in the, not only is it too violent for pre-teen kids, but that it's basically crap anyway.
posted by tomswift at 9:00 AM on May 28, 2011

I agree with others that in the beginning it was mild, and I thought "maybe you are over-reacting" and then from the mid-point on, it became obvious that you are not over-reacting at all. I'm not a parent but I would turn that off if 8 year olds were watching it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:40 AM on May 28, 2011

I'm a 27 year old dude who has been completely desensitized to any kind of violence in media.

That clip freaked me out. I had to turn it off once I saw the fake blood splatters. You're not overreacting.
posted by auto-correct at 9:58 AM on May 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

Pretty disgusting video. And I only watched the first half. I would not have let my young children see it.

We are parents. It's our job to set limits for our children. If you think it would not be good for them, then explain why and stick to your guns. No pun intended, but I'm leaving it there. :-)
posted by SLC Mom at 10:18 AM on May 28, 2011

I watched that and thought, "OMG, so much awesome." As it went on, increasingly, though, I also found it a little disturbing -- not a ton, but some.

But I'm in my late 20s and don't have kids. It's okay to view things in respect to your kids as an old fart, i.e., as a parent.
posted by J. Wilson at 10:19 AM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

It's too violent for me, and I'm an adult. There's no way I'd show it to my kids.
posted by The corpse in the library at 10:26 AM on May 28, 2011

It's satirically OTT and I'm sure I'd have thought it was pretty awesome had I seen it as a kid of that age. I was probably smart enough to get the satirical intent, but I'd have enjoyed it mainly because 8 - 10 year old boys tend to love play-violence. I wouldn't really have cared too much about ideas of children being desensitized by video games and violent films. Sad but true. Would I show it to kids that age? That would depend very much on the kids in question. One irony is that the kind of kids I'd think probably shouldn't see it will be the kind of kids who will make sure they get to see it. I think it could actually be a good thought-provoker and discussion-starter for reasonably smart kids, though. Bottom line: it depends on the kids.
posted by Decani at 10:50 AM on May 28, 2011

Thanks all for weighing in, with some fine food for thought. My point in asking was really just to gauge my own feelings.

Just to clarify:
- I certainly wasn't planning on showing it to them myself - it's just because of its high viral potential (my own first thought was to FPP it, since its artistry/poignancy is imho really quite high) that I'm more-than-half expecting it to reach them, as all the pretty base stuff inevitably does.
- I'm altogether "your children are not your children", so checking any latent shaping tendencies has become second nature; the specific mix of content and form of this video just piqued my antennae, and I'm interested to hear what part of the hangwringing spectrum we're currently at
- I find it fascinating to observe how they process stuff, and I'm happy to see the potency of talking/discussion to work through pretty much anything this world is exposing them to. If and when they see this, or any other beyond-the-pale stuff that freaks them out, I'm pretty confident that they'd come and talk to us about it.
posted by progosk at 11:46 AM on May 28, 2011

If and when they see this, or any other beyond-the-pale stuff that freaks them out, I'm pretty confident that they'd come and talk to us about it.

Sorry to say that by ten I had stopped discussing things with my parents.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:14 PM on May 28, 2011

Another data point for the mix, then: my teenager comes and talks to me about media she has consumed that has provoked thought or otherwise disturbed her, whether song lyrics, movie, TV show, internet video, book, Facebook meme. She respects my opinion, knows that I respect her right to have a differing opinion, and knows I don't ever judge what she consumes, so I'm safe to bounce things off and discuss with.

So, obviously one's mileage varies, and I disagree with the previous two posters that you are delusional or misguided about the notion that your children could come talk to you about what they see, if they see the video.
posted by pineapple at 2:05 PM on May 28, 2011

Eventually your kids will encounter something like this. Only it may be the real thing, say the day the next horrific disaster pops up on the news or it may be when they watch someone's older brother or sister run through a first person shooter.

The funny thing is, after a childhood of playing war, what struck me was more the thought "oh how delightful, they take turns dying and the girl is integrated into the group as an equal!" You should hope your children play so well together as good sports like that. If you see a real group of kids doing this, they're not depraved little psychos, they're overly imaginative and have been exposed to adult media. Which is what this video is... So you'd no more give it to your kid than an issue of playboy, but it will be in the background, just like kids may come across nudie mags.

Your job as a parent is to prepare kids to handle this sort of thing when they come across it. Spend less time worrying about video nasties and more time stimulating your kids, so when the prospect of a war game comes up you get more creativity and excitement than aggression. And keep in mind you're living in a culture where a significant quantity of people are playing out war on screens for several hours a day with no rise in nasty behaviour out of the game.

I'm also going to provide a cautionary story. Once upon a time there was a little boy whose mother hated war. No war toys, not even soldier dolls, the closest he got to violence in media was Transformers (GI Joe was considered blasphemy) and the little rifle his playmobil safari jeep came with (a prized possession). At the same time I was growing up with swords and water pistols and a relatively free range of access to media. My mother would have been delighted if I asked for a tank. Now guess which one of us currently works in the defence industry and which one of us is a pacifist weenie.
posted by Phalene at 3:54 PM on May 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

The funny thing is, after a childhood of playing war, what struck me was more the thought "oh how delightful, they take turns dying and the girl is integrated into the group as an equal!" You should hope your children play so well together as good sports like that. If you see a real group of kids doing this, they're not depraved little psychos, they're overly imaginative and have been exposed to adult media. Which is what this video is... So you'd no more give it to your kid than an issue of playboy, but it will be in the background, just like kids may come across nudie mags.

1000 X this.
posted by schyler523 at 7:33 PM on May 28, 2011

The most efficient method of getting kids to watch a movie is to forbid them view it.
posted by flif at 10:12 AM on May 29, 2011

Old fart here. The video depicts children engaged in adult-style violence with stylized but real consequences. It makes me feel squiggy in the same way as those Jon Benet Ramsey beauty pageant things. If kids need an intro to blood n' guts, maybe they'd be better off seeing adults getting their heads blown off by other adults.

No matter what threshold for tolerance of violence you wish for your kids, I think the corollary that Severe Physical Violence is Strictly for "Adults" Only should remain clear.
posted by klarck at 3:29 PM on May 29, 2011

37 yo dad, found it squicky, my kids won't be watching it before they're teenagers. I put it up there with 'YOU HAVE FIFTEEN SECONDS TO COMPLY' from Robocop.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 10:22 PM on May 29, 2011

HCE (QED)...
posted by progosk at 5:50 PM on May 30, 2011

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