Saturday, August 11, 2012


Get ready for it, folks. Laika's newest animated film, ParaNorman, is right around the corner. From the ads and marketing, you know it's going to be about ghouls, zombies and other creepy things. It'll be spooky for the younger set, much like Laika's debut film, Coraline. You know exactly what's going to happen when it hits theaters next weekend. Parents are going to complain...

Just take a look at this review that was recently added to the film's Rotten Tomatoes page:

First of all, I am not a parent. I'm going by my childhood experiences here, and what my parents did about these kinds of situations. So for any of you parents who will see this and say "What are you, a psycho?", hear me out...

Yes, parents will have a field day complaining about this film, no doubt. Again, most of these parents blindly assume that all G and PG-rated animation is suitable for their children. Do they check ratings online anymore? Do they ask anyone else about the films themselves? From what I've seen over the years, no. Anyone remember what happened last year? Parents whined about the myriad violence in Cars 2. Parents freaked out over the edgy humor in Rango, as tons of angry reviews surfaced all over Yahoo and other sites. The Adventures of Tintin got complaints due to Captain Haddock's drunken behavior (the PG rating even states "some drunkenness"). Kung Fu Panda 2 also got some criticism for being too violent.

If their children were upset, that isn't the end of the world. Immediately, you hear idiotic gabbing like "[insert studio here] should be ashamed!" as they go on to complain about how scared their children were. But people get scared, it's part of life. As a young child, there were films that scared me. Films I had on VHS. In fact, a good number of the Disney films frightened me, but did my parents complain? Did they raise hell? No. Even if the Internet was the way it is now back in the mid-1990s, they still would not have complained. Instead, they would either talk to me about what upset me or simply tell me to not watch it. You know, doing what parents should do. As a kid, I normally just said, "I won't watch it." I waited till I was a little older and wallah! I began to like the films.

Sure, some films may have scared me or even given me nightmares, but so what? Other things in life gave me nightmares too! Children have to experience fear and the other harsh realities of the world. That doesn't mean showing them bloody violence, but still. Life isn't candy and rainbows, and children need to know that after growing out of something like Barney. Seeing scary stuff didn't scar me for life. I was able to live, I was able to go outside, I was able to see the world. There's parents who even shelter their children from films that have deaths or even implications of death. When I watched Bambi and The Lion King as a child, I knew early on that death is a real thing. I can only imagine how my life would've been if I hadn't known at a young age. Hide that from your children, you're going to do more harm than good to them.

"They should be ashamed!!!"

Unfortunately, these parents will probably just look at an advertisement for ParaNorman and think, "Oh, a cartoon! I'll take my kids!" and then come out angry. The big problem is, the ratings also fool these parents. The G rating certainly doesn't mean "suitable for all ages", it means "all ages admitted". Think of several G-rated films from the past and even now that have horrified many children: The Disney classics, the Pixar films, Don Bluth's films, The Wizard of Oz and several others. Another big problem is the PG rating.

PG is slapped onto many harmless films these days, whether it's something cutesy like Dr. Seuss' The Lorax, Alvin and the Chipmunks or something kiddie like Judy Moody and the NOT Bummer Summer (like we need to remember that sterling film). They may get that rating because they may have content that some parents may think is a bad influence on children such as childish name-calling, toilet humor, people doing immature things, or the kind of stuff you'd see on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. When you get down to brass tacks, though, these "PG" films are mostly harmless. But parents assume "PG is for kids", and they take them anyways (regardless of whether the film actually deserves that rating or not, and judging by what I've seen, ParaNorman looks like it deserves its rating) without checking any guides on any movie websites. IMDb has one that users can edit, and there are several other ones. It isn't that hard to do.

The MPAA's ratings are taken too lightly, despite the fact that their ratings are bullshit. Some parents don't seem to do their job, whether it's not checking ratings or finding a solution to their child's fears of a certain film. Going on the Internet and complaining? That'll sure solve the problem! Maybe they'll stop making these films all together because your child had a problem with it. Good grief...

The other main problem is the whole "animation is for kids" mindset and how animation is marketed. Brave already caught some hell this year, but of course, these parents probably assumed that because it is a PG-rated "cartoon" that looked cute from the ads, it's automatically a children's movie. I've said it many times and I'll say it again. People need to realize that animation isn't kiddie stuff despite what marketing or kids/family-oriented TV channels tell them. Why let that do your thinking for you? Sure, Disney and Pixar films appeal to lots of children and their families, but that doesn't mean they are aimed directly at children. Most mainstream animated films are aimed at the entire family. Barney the Dinosaur is aimed at children. The Teletubbies are aimed at children. Anything you see on Nick Jr. or PBS Kids is aimed at children. No one else but children. A majority of mainstream animated films? No.

The complaints will come anyways, but will it have an effect on this film's box office performance? Who knows. The angry parents will yell, bitch and moan all they want. It could either affect a film or not. In the long run, it just hurts mainstream animation's chances at aiming higher. Think of how insulting it is to the artists and writers, who make these films possible, yet they have to get the "not good for kids" sticker slapped on their craft. What about general audiences and children who can handle a good scare? Check the damn ratings, and show your child what he or she can handle. That way, you won't waste good money on something that may upset your child.

Mainstream animated family films aren't babysitters and weren't meant to be, and not all children can handle the same things...


  1. Reminds me of what Walt used to say, that censoring things like death make children believe the world is saccharine, when it's not! You know some people even complain about Bambi. Death is apart of life; everyone dies. Do parents expect to shield that from kids even if a family member dies? Great post.

  2. A very good read. It does anger me when parents go to fight the bigger cause when they just need to focus on the child (reminiscent of Mrs Broflovski from South Park Bigger Longer and Uncut?!). And if the bitching continues, then it really frightens me at the thought that these animated films might actually cease to be.

  3. You make some excellent points. I'm currently working on a blog post related to this. Also, people are even saying that Brave was more for kids (which it isn't). Yet, these parents are complaining!!!!! If kids are getting frightened, why the hell are people saying that Brave was more for kids than Pixar's other films?! And another thing, why do these parents feel the need to bitch and complain online?! What would they have to gain?! I understand if Brave scared their kids but they don't need to bitch about it! And one last thing, if animation is for kids, then why does Pixar focus so much on story?! Kids wouldn't notice! I can go on and on but I'm going to stop here save the rest for my blog.

  4. Tell the parents to shut the f$&# up as we anticipate a riot. This cocksucking kind is much too loud. Tell the parents who hate animation as an art form that they're nothing but their kids' bellboys and they're lying! They're pests! They should disperse!