Why are kids watching this stuff?

Published: August 11, 2012
Email

Should we blame the parents who despite of knowing the rating of a film allow their children to watch it or the Cinema authorities who are selling the tickets to these children?

Recently I went to the theatre to watch the movie Prometheus which has an R rating universally. If you are not familiar with the rating system, let me explain that the rating ‘R’ means that children under 17 must be accompanied by parents as the film contains adult content.

You can, thus, understand my astonishment when I saw children – who were approximately between the ages of 10 and 12 – occupying two front rows of the theatre without any adult supervision! For a minute, I was in a state of shock, because I knew what this movie was all about since I am in a habit of thoroughly reviewing films before watching them. I knew that having children there was totally unacceptable.

For those who haven’t seen this movie, here is a brief description.

Prometheus is about humans who were genetically created by an alien race of super-beings called ‘engineers’. These engineers choose planets that can sustain life and then travelled across the universe to it. From there, one engineer needed to sacrifice himself, by taking a mixture of Alien which essentially broke down the engineer’s DNA. As a result the engineer is destroyed and his DNA is spread to mix with that of the native planet. From there life is created and evolved to what we have become today.

The entire story comes with very profound questions such as, where did we come from? What happens when we die? Why are we here? Who created us? And so on.

Since the film was shown in 3D visuals, all the weird species and their grimy activities were shamefully obvious on screen. I was genuinely embarrassed that children of that age witnessed such scenes, hereby destroying their innocence.

There are few more movies which are currently projected on Pakistani cinemas like Wander lust and Ted. These too are rated R and contain not only violence but crude sexual content, pervasive language, and drug usage. The censor board internationally categorises movies through ratings such as ‘G’ (Global) ‘PG’ (Parental guidance) ‘PG-13’ and ‘R’ (Adult) to classify the movies as appropriate for the relevant and suited audience. But unfortunately, the ratings are over looked by the children and adults here in Pakistan. Whether this is deliberate or stems from ignorance, this should not be done.

The question then arises of who is responsible for this? Should we blame the parents, who despite knowing the film rating allow their children to watch it? Or are the cinema authorities, who are selling the tickets to these children, at fault?

In my opinion, both are to blame.

Have parents become so busy with their lives that they have forgotten their biggest and most important responsibility – their children? Additionally, are the cinema authorities so blind that they sell tickets to movies with offensive content to such young children?

It is the duty of every organisation to demonstrate or do work for the social well being of people. In this case, all owners of multiplexes and movie theatres should be extra vigilant in selling the tickets to its audience according to the movie’s rating. I would like Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) to intervene in this situation and set strict standards regarding the type and kind of movies exhibited in Pakistan. Although this is probably a petty issue for them, I believe that it could have a hugely positive impact upon the youth of Pakistan.

Our children must be treated as what they are – just children. They need to be looked after and cannot be left to run wild and do as they please.

Follow Haseebullah on Twitter @haseebkureshi

Haseebullah.Qureshi

Haseebullah Qureshi

A Media Sciences graduate and critic who isinvolved in film-making. He blogs at haseebkureshi.wordpress.com

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.