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Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Kids and Horror.

There is an argument I've heard from my early years about children watching horror. It seems the majority of parents in the United Kingdom are against their children watching Horror movies. This has always fascinated me for a number of reasons. I understand that children may very well get scared, but wouldn't it be the job of the parent not to condescend the child and tell them the movie isn't real, but to explain the tropes of the movie, to explain to the child that being frightened is perfectly normal, and maybe to turn it into something fun, making your own horror games, horror shorts or making art that is gory, monstrous and such like.

Here in the UK, we have age ratings on our films, and they are also censored (not always, but sometimes). These ratings go from U, which is Universal (for any age), then to PG (Parental Guidance), then 12A, 15 and finally 18. A child of any age can see any movie at the theater up to the 12A rating (if they are accompnied by an adult), but you do have to be over 15 or 18 to see the films rated as such. When I was little, the age ratings did not matter so much. The only thing my mum really put her foot down with was with supernatural horror. So I was watching slasher films and monster films from a very young age. I was never scared by a movie (not until I was around 11 years old, when I saw the original Halloween). The very fact we are coerced into listening to what we should be allowing our children to watch, and also have scenes taken out of our films that censors (I've asked this question before, but what gives censors the power not to be affected by horror movies, whereas the general public would be deeplly affected by viewing them) deem to be unfit for the general public. I am of the opinion that it should be the parent's decision on what to show their children. No one knows their children better than the parent/s who care for them. Madame Carnage says "As a parent in the USA, it's fucking INFURIATING that the age restrictions are so strict in the United Kingdom. It's complete bullshit. There's no way I would tell my girls 'No, you can't watch that, it's a 15'! Sure, we have age restrictions in the US, but they aren't enforced strictly. I take Tegan to see horror movies and nobody bats an eyelid. If that were to happen in the UK, all Hell would break loose".

Madame Carnage goes on to say "It's an incredibly fun way to bond with my girls over something I love. Now Tegan loves it just as much as I. She's intrigued, and as a Mom, that means the world to me. I love the connection that we have with horror. Not a lot of parents can bond with their kids in such a way". I too bonded with my children with horror, although I would never show them a horror film, but that isn't really a choice I can make, Luckily there are childrens books that feature monsters (even Jason Vorhees appears in one my son has), and even films like Ready Player One have cameos from Chucky and Freddy and Jason. I think children will watch horror films, whether their parents allow it or not, as it's a very adult thing to do. Wouldn't it be better to watch with them, to explain what is happening and to explain the tropes, the goings on and the fantasy and imagination involved?

An argument that pops up now and again for not allowing children to watch horror films is that it will negatively affect them or alter their behaviour. I have a feelng this is due in part to the murder of Jamie Bulger, whose killers were said to have watched Childs Play 3 before killing the youngster, although this was never proven. It didn't stop the British media latching on to the idea that this film had made those children kill another child, and yet again the media gave the government foothold over the general public and what we are allowed to view. There have never been any specific studies that show that horror or any type of violent media shows children how to portray the behaviour shown in the films. The bobo doll study carried out by Bandura in 61 and 63 did manage to show that children do learn behaviour from adults by watching them behave aggressively, but this has never been investigated using cinema instead of a live model. Let's not forget that while a single study may say it proves such a claim, a study would have to be repeated many times with different factors to prove a theory, which is something that hasn't been done at all. It is all theory at this point in time.

I'm aware that many horror movies deal with adult themes such as sexuality, loss, anger, terror, fear, extreme violence and such, but these things happen in real life every day. Hiding them from children is more than likely to negatively affect them more than showing them horror films would.

I ws lucky enough to ask Tegan, who is 9, a few questions about horror movies. Her answers were interesting and well thought-out, and definitely show how intelligent she is.

What do like about scary movies?

Liking the different way people die.The more blood the better. When I know there's going to be a lot of blood, I cover my eyes, and when I open them there's blood everywhere. I don't like watching people get stabbed because I don't like seeing people in pain. But likes the Saw movies (she likes how the people die).

What are your favourite horror movies?

The Meg (I've only seen it once, but I want to watch it a bunch more times). Because Big Ass Sharks.

The Walking Dead because of Zombies.

Ash vs Evil Dead because it's funny.

Stranger things because E11even, Demogorgon, (I like monsters).

I'm not afraid of ghosts, although when I was little (7) I saw a ghost (or my shadow), she was walking out of her room, and it had a pony tail like me, and I saw it on my wall and it scared me.

My favourite is Ash vs Evil Dead or The Meg.

What makes a horror movie Tegan?

Blood and people suffering in a movie makes it a horror movie. Because in every scary movie, there's somebody suffering. So Deadpool is a horror movie.

How do horror films make you feel?

Horror films make me feel good, they make me laugh, but sometimes I know it's fake, but if I see a shark movie, I see someone going to get eaten and it makes me worried for them.When people die in horror movies if they are bad, I'm like 'Yay, they died they deserved it'. A corpse Bride, A Nightmre Before Christmas and Hocus Pocus are not horror films because there's no blood in them. It disappoints me when there's no blood in horror films, because if they don't have blood, they're not horror films.

Tegan thinks that putting age ratings on films (like we do in the UK) is bad, because children should be allowed to watch what they like.

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