**WARNING AVENGERS: ENDGAME SPOILERS AHEAD, READ AT YOUR OWN PERIL**
The internet is a wonderful thing. It brings the population closer together, and it’s done wonderful things for the world of pornography. However, along with the good must come the bad, and among the people populating the email is a subset of entitled, temperamental people, who live their lives to complain.
The thing that sparked this column/rant may seem trivial to most, but it got my dander up, so here we are.
I was browsing Twitter, as I am known to do when bored, and came across a series of tweets. Within this thread was a mother, angry that Disney and Marvel had seen fit to kill off her son’s favourite superhero in Endgame, obviously a very misinformed mother, who should have known better than to take her offspring to such a film if they were mentally unprepared, and following this was a similarly concerned audience member, who had taken it upon themselves to launch a petition, aimed at Disney, to reverse Iron Man’s death as it was ‘damaging to children and long-time adult fans’.
Surely I can’t be the only one to find this worrying? If not just a little enraging. Are we to produce films that tell children that life is sunshine and rainbows, and that death does not exist? Well no, think of the films of Pixar and you’ll see that, for the most part, we trust children to be intelligent enough to understand emotions.
There have been many family movies that deal with death, look at Up, the 2008 Disney-Pixar vehicle, in which the main characters wife kicks the bucket within the first ten minutes, would that film been improved if Carl’s wife magically came back to life at the end? No, of course it wouldn’t, because then the film would be meaningless. The whole narrative was about moving on, and dealing with loss, did it damage children’s minds? Of course not, because children are much more intelligent than we give them credit for, mostly.
Even if you just look at Pixar films, dive deeper and you’ll find all sorts of complex narratives that are aimed at the family market. Inside Out is predominantly about dealing with emotions in a healthy way, and the change in emotions as we grow up. Zooptopia/Zootropilis (which isn’t Pixar, but Disney nonetheless) is about the very complex issue of race and discrimination. Were they handled with kid gloves? No, they were used as an effective tool to educate and prepare children for life.
This is what these films ultimately boil down to, the purpose they serve is not just as entertainment, but as an education tool to teach about subjects that are too abstract and complex for words, they do a much better job of explaining these things than parents ever could.
There are things in this world we should protect children from, absolutely. I’m not advocating we mass-screen the latest horror film at your local nursery, merely that family films do not need to be a consequence-free light and sound show to babysit your children, done effectively, they can convey some really useful life lessons.
Every child is different of course, and their mental maturity changes from child to child, but I’m willing to bet that most children can deal with a lot more than with give them credit for, the ever-changing face of entertainment means that films made for children vary wildly, but at their best they can be an important life tool, and can also be enjoyed equally by adults (ie Pixar, who I’ll stop banging on about now). Not all family films are created equal though, and it often seems the dross outweighs the great, but they can still be found out there, if you look hard enough.
I’m even over-looking another important point here, while I’ve been going on about family films I’ve deliberately left to one side the film I started talking about, Avengers: Endgame. Which is NOT a family/children’s film.
I recently went once again to watch Endgame (for the third time, thanks for asking) and was quite peeved to see that some inconsiderate parents had brought young children to see the film, I would estimate these children to be anywhere in the region of 6 to 8.
The reasons I call them ‘inconsiderate’ are two-fold. 1. It is inconsiderate to the children to bring them to a film whose certificate indicates it is not appropriate for them, and 2. Inappropriate for other patrons when the children inevitably started acting up, talking loudly and even running around the cinema.
I have in the past said that my pet peeve is children in cinemas, and this was a good example of why I hate it so much. I can understand if it is actually a film aimed at the little terrors, even if I’d rather they had their own screenings, but not at a film that clearly isn’t meant for them, it’s just downright stupid.
It’s not as if Endgame is a light and fluffy film either, it’s a three-hour film about loss, grief and trauma, all things that, handled right, could have a place in a film for families, but not here, this is quite clearly labelled a film suitable for ages 12 and up, just because you CAN take children under 12 in with an adult, doesn’t mean you should.
If there is a take-away from this it’s to use your common sense above all else. Films aren’t always made to cater to children, even if they appear to on the surface, and if you decide to expose your child to that film, that’s on you, not on the film. If someone sets fire to a house, they don’t blame they guy who invented matches.