Moving targets 

Much as I love a good gore or skin flick -- where someone's either losing a head or getting it -- I think it's time Hollywood did something about kids and violence. Hollywood does everything better than regular America, which is why we give it our attention. When was the last time someone paid $7.50 to listen to anything you had to say? Exactly.;;

So it's fitting that Hollywood be asked to take more responsibility for kids, as it has been with the new Federal Trade Commission study and recent Senate hearings concerning the marketing of adult media to children. The entertainment industry is supposed to be self-regulating, with parental advisory labels and film ratings to help keep things with adult content out of little hands. But apparently someone isn't doing this job as well as the 7-Eleven clerks who still card me, at 35, for cigarettes.;;

I remember all kinds of crap being directly marketed to kids in the '70s -- toys full of chemicals, heating elements and dangerous parts, cereals that put us in sugar comas if we so much as dug out the prize, whose every part was probably a choking hazard. They were pitched at us with gale force, and when we whined for them our mom said, "I don't care if you have a seizure, I'm not buying that crap." It was a lesson in holding your ground (which my mom did like a building) and in how you don't have to be the spineless victim of marketing. You don't have to buy into that crap.;;

Influential ideas;;;

Things have definitely changed since then, and maybe now it's just too much to ask of parents to watch what their kids are ingesting. I have my moments where I'd like to be a parent, but I'm not equipped to give some adorable little ego extension a watchful eye. So I don't have one. It's that simple. I don't expect the rest of the world to behave as responsibly as me. I expect them to keep having kids and then bitching about how other people aren't being responsible for them.;;

At any rate, the FTC doesn't want to censor violent content, but rather wants Hollywood to keep an eye on who it's being marketed to -- for instance, to do away with focus groups of 11-year-olds helping to figure out how to sell an R-rated movie (as reported on;;

Whoever is responsible, it's hard to disagree that there are some things little kids might not need to see: the "Scream" movies, "Father of the Bride II" (keep them out of smarm's way). Rap seems to get the brunt of "mature content" criticism, but I suspect congressional types just cite it because their tirades give them a chance to say "motherfucker" in mixed company.;;

Kids will get hold of adult media no matter who's guarding the gate -- I read a swiped copy of "The Exorcist" when I was 11 and thought I was demonically possessed for weeks; some think I still am -- but it can never hurt to keep apprised of what they're looking at.;;

It's safe to say;;

Here are my suggestions for mature, creepy materials kids might thank us for protecting them from:;;

"In order to delay her father's pursuit, Medea did not hesitate to scatter the route with the dismembered body of her own brother, whose throat she had cut."Mythology is chock full of violence like this, not to mention women having willing sex with bulls. Not only is it sick, it's full of names that are hard to spell and is hard to write term papers about. I'm sure plenty of kids would want to be kept away from it.;;

"She... found in it a very small cake on which the words ‘Eat Me' were beautifully marked in currents." The drug trip that is "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" is even more exaggerated when the cake is changed into a mushroom in the Disney animated version. I adore Alice, but kids don't need a primer on hallucinogens. They'll find out fast enough in high school.;;

"I extricated myself with great difficulty from the piled heap of all these blood-soaked corpses. I felt myself being pressed down on by something squirming on my body. I opened my eyes and saw a white man with a friendly face sighing and muttering between his teeth, ‘Oh, what a misfortune to be without balls!'" "Candide" is a classic, but it's loaded with violence and social ills amidst which the main character is constantly told what a great place this is. So it's a lot like watching the news, then the commercials. A brilliant satire, but do kids really need to be this culturally educated in this best of all possible worlds?;;

Mature content is everywhere in life and art. Some of it's great, some of it's awful, some kids can handle it, some kids can't. But the best lesson they'll get from being target-marketed is learning to judge for themselves. They don't have to buy into that crap.

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