Media watchdog groups are up in arms again about summer movies being flung at the innocent, ready-to-pester brains of kids.
While we’re firmly in the camp that says parents should take responsibility, here are some cases of complaints (opens in new tab) we think might be hiding a real reason…
The Film: Pirates Of The Caribbean: At World’s End (2007)
The pitch to kids: Adverts that ran on the US Nickelodeon channel in between shows like SpongeBob SquarePants, along with the usual Happy Meal onslaught and, er, skull-shaped cereal bowls.
The complaints: The Children's Advertising Review Unit complained to Buena Vista about a PG-13 movie being pushed to the children at a time when they were most impressionable (i.e. glued to the goggle box).
What we really think they’re worried about: It encourages kids to lust after a life on the high seas, glamorises the pursuit of booty and, given that real-life piracy is on the rise, it’s now an actual alternative career path.
Next: Transformers [Page-Break]
The Film: Transformers (2007)
The pitch to kids: The Cartoon Network this time, plus the fact that the movie’s trailers themselves look like giant toy adverts.
The complaints : “Given the PG-13 rating's strong admonition to parents, the current policy of allowing marketing of PG-13 movies directly to a substantial number of children under the age of 13, without express guidelines or restrictions, could well be inconsistent with the rating,” gruffed Mary Engle of the Federal Trade Commission.
What we really think they’re worried about: Kids might think that all films should be loaded with quick cuts, giant, sense-free action and not much of a story. Ooohhh… rim shot!
Okay, seriously… There’s lots of action in the movie and, while most of it is robot-on-robot metal face punching, there is “intense sequences of sci-fi action violence, brief sexual humour, and language.”
Next: The Incredibles [Page-Break]
The Film: The Incredibles (2004)
The pitch to kids: Disney stores carried Incredibles superhero toys before the film even opened. And it’s Pixar – what could be harmful about that?
The complaints: Er, quite a bit, apparently: "This is a film which clearly needs to be examined or inquired into by parents before they let their children attend,” said then-MPAA chief Jack Valenti at the time.
What we really think they’re worried about: It’s possible some kids might be expecting a fun cartoon about superheroes – and that’s what they’d get. But there’s still planes being shot out of the sky, people being punched and shot.
And you just know every kid wants to copy the power to freeze water and use it to slide between buildings.
Next: Iron Man [Page-Break]
The Film: Iron Man (2008)
The pitch to kids: It was tough to avoid the onslaught of Iron Man-flavoured toys, food tie-ins and adverts.
The complaints: "Parents say, 'I thought, "How bad could [the movie] be because they have all these toys?’'" blabbed Susan Linn of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. "And then they take their 5-year-old to Iron Man, and there are extended scenes of torture."
What we really think they’re worried about : Kids growing up wanting to drink and fly.
Next: Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith [Page-Break]
The Film: Star Wars: Revenge Of The Sith (2005)
The pitch to kids: It’s Star Wars. What didn’t get pitched?
The complaints: “Revenge of the Sith featured toys for young children as well as a Burger King toy giveaway and several other food promotions that clearly appealed to preschool children, despite George Lucas’ public statements that the film’s violence and dark themes were inappropriate for children under six,” announced the Children’s Advertising Review Unit.
What we really think they’re worried about: Kids wanting to take after Anakin Skywalker.
You know- emotional constipation, wooden acting, turning to the dark side. And making lava look like a playground.
Next: Terminator Salvation [Page-Break]
The Film: Terminator Salvation (2009)
The pitch to kids: Pizza Hut joined up with the studio to offer footage, while there was a raft of Hulk Hands, masks and other toys to let kids imagine they are killer robots.
The complaints: “Seriously, is this amount of kid-targeted marketing normal for a movie deemed inappropriate for kids under the age of 17?” screamed website TC Games. Which, to be honest, they had a point about when the film was actually aimed at an R across the pond.
What we really think they’re worried about: That it’s actually Skynet taking over the ankle biters with stealth technology.
But really – would kids being killer robots make them any less annoying?
Next: Batman Returns [Page-Break]
The Film: Batman Returns (1992)
The pitch to kids: One of the historical test cases, in which McDonald’s, eager to jump on the Bathype Bandwagon, blasted the airwaves with ads for their Happy Meals tied to the movie.
The complaints: “'Parents trust McDonald's,'' griped a spokesman for Christian foundation Dove. ''So why is McDonald's promoting a movie to little kids that's filled with gratuitous graphic violence?'”
What we really think they’re worried about: Cross-dressing, whip use, and kids wondering for real, “where does he get those wonderful toys.”
Could have been worse, though – could have been the marketing for Batman & Robin…
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