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Not for Tot

Not for Tot

In my young twenties I had a fun task; I was the movie critic for my university newspaper. I was a huge movie buff, so this was a dream job.

A job that required I watch all the mainline movies in the theaters had its lows and highs. Just as one strolling through an art museum has the potential of exposure to breath-taking masterpieces, there is also the prospect of being left scratching their head trying to determine how anyone could determine a piece was worth the cost of the picture frame.

I recall one such low-brow movie.

It was extremely violent with over-the-top tawdry action and it was just plain dumb. The body count was close to a death a minute for all ninety-seven minutes. I knew the genre, based on its rating and trailers but it dwindled below my low expectations. It was depressing and emotionally sickening.

Over the years I have learned to avoid these types of movie—garbage in, garbage out.  But at the time I was watching anything that hit the screens. “After-all it’s my job,” I’d say using my self-designated “spiritual gift” of rationalization.

But even at that age, I knew this type of movie was not acceptable for young eyes.  And yet, a few rows behind me sat a father with his young son. I would estimate the boy’s age to be approximately five.

It wasn’t long into the movie when I heard it.

“Please, Daddy, this is scaring me! Please, Daddy, I want to go.”

“Quiet, I can’t hear the movie.”

“Please, Daddy!”

“Just close your eyes and cover your ears.”

I wish I’d had more fortitude and could have defended this young boy. I wish I’d had the moxie to seek a manager and insist they enforce their rulings in regard to restricted viewing. I didn’t—a regret I live with.

Years ago in children’s church there was a song that warned us to take care about what our eyes see and what our ears hear. It’s a children’s song that should not just be left in children’s church, it’s good advice for all of us.

As a father, I’m the gate-keeper. When my children are young, I make many of their decisions. It’s important I remember my role as protector—not just from a busy intersection or dangerous activities—but from dangerous media and ideologies as well.

I wish I hadn’t seen that movie as a young man. It haunts me to this day that young boy did and that his father didn’t protect his young mind.

By: Dave Trouten is the married father of two teenage boys and a Division Chair & Professor of Communication at Kingswood University.

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