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I’ll Take the Happy Ending, Thanks

I made my family watch An American in Paris tonight. Cody ran off before the first musical number to “do laundry” and Vivi lost her mind moments after realizing Cody was gone. Addie on the other hand stuck with me through the entire thing, making the appropriate eight year old gross out noises when Gene and Leslie kissed and doing her own rendition of the grand finale behind the couch. I grew up watching old musicals with my most treasured aunt; she introduced me to The Music Man, Singing in the Rain and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Two Christmases ago I sobbed my eyes out days before Christmas while watching Meet Me in St. Louis (it *may* have had something to do with me being pregnant) and this last Christmas I finally sat down and watched It’s a Wonderful Life beginning to end, and I totally get what all the hype is about. Part of me is convinced I was born in the wrong era of Hollywood while the other part of me is convinced I was born in this era to teach my girls (and anyone else who will listen) an appreciation of the old Hollywood movie, specifically the musical.

(Image Credit: Warner Bros. Entertainment)

I have to be incredibly careful with what I watch and read. I have a terrible time processing violent or graphic content which is why I stopped watching the news and most prime time television years ago. Cody was watching a show the other night while I worked on my laptop, and even though I had headphones on and my face buried in my screen, I caught a glimpse of a young woman being set on fire in front of her father. Cody is no longer allowed to watch Sons of Anarchy with me in the same room. Old musicals, on the other hand, are my safe place. If it tells you anything about how tender and innocent my brain is, the talk between Gene Kelly and Nina Foch about “paid escorts” in An American in Paris made me a little squirmy.

We watch a “family movie” every Sunday night. We have for years. Sometimes we watch one we already own, sometimes we rent one from Redbox and sometimes we’ll record one during the week to watch together come the weekend. Tonight however, we were out of options. Last week we watched ParaNorman, which had a really relevant message about bullies and being different (not to mention zombies, which Addie loves) but it also had words like suck, f-word, hell, jackass, and boob in it. In the movie a 10 year old girl is sentenced to death then killed, and Norman later talks to the murdered girl.

Y’all, this was in a PG movie I watched with my 8 year old.

I know a lot of it went over her head but it still made me uncomfortable wondering what she did pick up on.

Even tonight when searching for An American in Paris on Amazon (free with Prime!)  I had to wade through American Pie, American Beauty, American Horror Story and An American Werewolf in Paris before finally finding what I was looking for. Have you seen the promo posters for American Horror Story? Are they really something you want your kids looking at, heck, are they even something YOU want to look at? I mean, if black bleeding eyes and latex are your things, go on with your bad self.

(Image Credit: FX Networks)

I realize I am in the minority when it comes to sensitivity to media and content. My husband teases me relentlessly about my prudish nature when it comes to my choices in movies and television, but I know how I feel after I watch scary and disturbing things–terrible. I recognize the same sensitive nature in Addie, and while she is still under my roof and my jurisdiction I will make sure that nothing I watch (or allow her to watch) causes her the same feeling of discomfort. If I can’t process the imagery and emotions that come from such things, how can I expect her to?

We tested the waters with older shows, iCarly, Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place and Victorious and the only thing I noticed was a terrible attitude coming from her. Once we banished the teenager shows her charming and innocent demeanor came back. The kid still loves Sesame Street, has a soft spot for The Fresh Beat Band and would rather watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with her baby sister than a movie by herself. Am I telling you how to parent your children? Absolutely not. I’m just telling you of my experience with both my own emotional reaction to certain media as well as the positive effects we’ve witnessed from controlling what Addie is able to view at home.

Tonight as I tucked Addie in, I thanked her for giving the old kissy movie a chance. She hugged my neck and said “Thank you for showing it to me, can we watch Singing in the Rain next week?”

“Of course kid.” My job here is done.

Do you have a favorite old movie to watch with your kids? I’m thinking of Anne of Green Gables once we run out of musicals to watch.

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