comics

Lego Batman: A Parents’ Guide

I didn’t want to leave my house to go the press screening of Lego Batman that I was invited to. Kitty had spent the previous three days sick, so I hadn’t slept. Nate was at Robotics, so he couldn’t join me, and Rick couldn’t join me because Nate couldn’t babysit.  I was tired, I was cranky, and I was going to have to go alone.  I was really hesitant to go, but I knew that a bunch of you would want to know what ages this is appropriate for, and I didn’t want to let you, dear reader, down (plus it was free).  I’m so glad I went.  I forgot about all of my problems for 90 minutes. Lego Batman is the movie America needs right now.

Most of the time, when I start these movie reviews I consult the good folks at Common Sense Media.  They get to see the movies even sooner than I do, and since they tend to be more conservative on what they consider potentially objectionable, I sometimes reconsider my suggestions based on what they say.  Common Sense Media and I pretty much agreed on this one. It’s very silly, but clever  It manages to be heartwarming with tons of positive messages, and  still be really, really funny.

If your kid is extra sensitive, it might be hard to see the characters constantly in peril – but other than that it’s family-friendly flick. A friend reported that their three year old lost the plot and got bored about half-way through, but getting bored is a pretty common thing for a three year old. There’s no real bad language, though there is mild name calling and teasing (someone gets called a loser). There are a lot of explosions, injuries, and explosions, but since it’s all Lego, it all gets put back together pretty easily.  I really enjoyed that the filmmakers highlighted Batman as a “master builder” who uses his skills and creativity to solve his problems. I also really liked that Batman showed a lot of personal growth over the course of the movie.  Finally, as the sister of adoptees, and as a family that has close friends we call aunts and uncles, I loved the message that families are made of the people who love you.

Want to hear my thoughts on movies as soon as I see them?  Follow me on Twitter!

 

 

 

Living our Values in 2017 – Media Edition

This was originally going to be an article about a bunch of ways you can involve your kids in your politics and beliefs, but I got a little carried away with my media suggestions, so we’re going to start there, and I’ll be back soon with the other things the Parenting Geekly Family is doing to live our values in 2017 – including writing a Family Mission Statement!  I kept these suggestions as mainstream as possible to keep the barrier to entry low. You should be able to borrow or find most of these things on Amazon, streaming, or your local library.  (Note: Post conatians Amazon affiliate links).

Media

It can be intimidating to think about “resisting” or “revolution” or protesting when you have children. The good news is that you can teach your kids about justice, inclusion, diversity, activism and social justice without ever leaving your house. The easiest way to incorporate the ideals of equality, social justice, representation, and action is to make sure the media your family consumes showcases those topics.

Here is a very brief list of some of the media we’ve consumed recently:

Books
Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Kitty received this as a Christmas gift from her Aunt Karen. It features an intersectional (white, black, Asian, trans, cis, young and old are all represented) selection of women who did what they felt was right, all delivered in short one-page stories with beautiful illustrations. This beautiful hardback book is currently on back order until February 2017 – but if you just can’t wait Amazon has a Kindle version.

Kitty’s Rad American Women Lantern

Rad Women series – I was introduced to the Rad American Women and Rad Women Worldwide books by my daughter’s fourth-grade teacher. Every year their school holds a lantern festival before winter break. Each child designs and creates a lantern. Some years the classes make punched-tin lanterns or lanterns from clay or decoupaged milk cartons. This year every fourth grader picked a woman from one of these books and decorated a vellum lantern with her portrait. It was a super cool project, and these are super cool books. Kitty’s Rad Woman was Bessie Coleman, the first African-American Woman and first Native American woman to become a licensed US pilot!

Ms. Marvel – Kamala Khan is a teenage Pakistani-American, and Marvel’s first Muslim superhero. The team of creators is diverse, and according to writer G. Willow Wilson: “A huge aspect of Ms. Marvel is being a ‘second string hero’ in the ‘second string city’ and having to struggle out of the pathos and emotion that can give a person.” It’s appealing to wide range of ages. My husband and I enjoy it as much as 9-year-old Kitty does. This trade paperback collects the first issues into a single volume.

Movies
Star Wars – Not only do the Star Wars movies feature strong women and (at least in the two most recent films) racially diverse casts, they show a group of people fighting against evil. When you watch these beloved classics, make sure you point that out!

Captain America Civil War and Civil War comic books – Marvel showed two sides fighting for their strong opinions about social justice in this comic book series (which you can buy as a collection). The film is a condensed version but shows the same message of friends fighting on opposites sides for what they think is right. This could be a great entry point for conversation if you have close friends or relatives with opposing political opinions.

TV

The cast of Murdoch Mysteries

Murdoch Mysteries – This period police procedural from Canada was my big surprise love this year. Available on Netflix, it premiered in 2008 and take place in the 1890s. While the main cast isn’t diverse, it deals with issues of racism, women’s suffrage, social justice and progressive politics on a regular basis. There’s even an episode about abortion. I watch it with 9-year-old Kitty, but it does have some mild violence, mild gore (realistic dead bodies), and touches on adult themes (murder, sex, religion) – so maybe pre-watch it before you get the under 12s involved.

MUSIC
The Hamilton Soundtrack – If you can’t find something to talk about after listening to this race-bent take on our Founding Fathers you’re not trying. The creators and the racially diverse cast has talked about not feeling ownership of the story of the founding of our nation because it was done by a bunch of white guys. By casting people of color as the Founding Fathers, and using hip-hop in the soundtrack, they hope to make the story of the American Revolution accessible to all.
More easy ways to incorporate inclusive media? Listen to music from genres and cultures you don’t normally include. The recent inclusion of jazz to our repertoire has introduced our kids to Nina Simone, and her “Young, Gifted, Black” performance on Sesame Street. Seek out movies with racially diverse casts, or films that feature minority casts. Watch international films and TV (streaming has made this super easy!) Avoid films and TV that whitewash. Talk to your kids about diversity in their media and why it’s important. Don’t understand why it’s important? Here, let me Google that for you.

An In-Depth Look at Why You Shouldn’t Bring Your Kid to Deadpool

deadpool

Immediately after seeing Deadpool, I tweeted this:

“But my kid is mature” I can hear you say, “My kid has seen Deadpool in the comics and in the ‘Ultimate Spider-Man’ cartoon! We know he’s sassy! My kid can handle it!”

Look, I feel you, really I do. I started Parenting Geekly years ago because I had this exact conversation in a comic book store. I wanted a place where parents like us could go to find out from another geeky parent if the violence and sometimes adult situations in a comic book movie would be okay for kids like ours.  I have reviewed a bunch of superhero movies, and I almost never (possibly ever) have said that you can’t take your kids, as long as you are willing to have honest and sometimes hard conversations afterwards.

THIS TIME I AM TELLING YOU NO.  I don’t care how much mature stuff your kid has seen, if your child is younger than mid-teens, this movie IS NOT APPROPRIATE.  First of all, it’s the first superhero movie in recent memory to be rated R, and it is a hard R.  In some ways, this is really positive. The movie studios are finally figuring out what comic nerds have known for years; that comic books aren’t just for kids. While Blade and The Punisher have had modest R-rated success, Deadpool’s amazing box-office showing has proven that adult comic book movies don’t have be dark and gritty to be successful, they can be funny.

But let’s get back to why you, Geeky Parent, have come here; to learn the nitty gritty of why bringing your Precious Little Snowflake to Deadpool is a bad idea:

I know the F-bomb isn’t going to bother your kid, it’s not going to bother mine either. I know that many of you have allowed your kids to watch movies with more violence than the average parent, I have,too!  (Kitty loves Terminator 2). And don’t even get me started on the average parents’ objection to sex in movies. If two adults are shown having a consensual relationship, sex in a movie is not an automatic deal breaker for me.  I’m actually pretty liberal with what I allow my kids to watch.

That being said, there is no way in hell I will let Kitty see this movie at age nine.

Here are some of the reasons why:

  • Gore: There is nothing “cartoony” about the violence in this movie. This is not stylized, comic-book gore. It’s hyper realistic. We’re talking weird chunks of flesh and brains and guts splooshing out. Viscous body fluids. Mangled, broken bones with gut-wrenching sound effects, graphic decapitations with heads literally rolling. There’s torture, there’s disfigurement, there’s SO MUCH BLOOD.
  • Sex: On the mild end of this spectrum, there is a scene that takes place in a strip club that features full frontal nudity, there’s brief male full-frontal nudity and  there’s a masturbation scene. On the more extreme side, there is a montage that shows Wade and Vanessa’s entire relationship progression through their sexual exploits. It’s graphic. They have sex in multiple positions, they talk crassly about it. He performs oral sex on her (with accessories), she has sex with him using a strap-on. None of this is subtle, it is very clear what particular sex acts they are performing.*
  • Adult jokes: Nothing is off-limits here.  There are dick jokes, rape jokes, child molestation jokes – one character flat out says she was molested by her uncles, there is no double entendre to hide behind, these jokes will not fly over your kid’s head.

If this hasn’t convinced you not to take your kid to this movie, nothing will and good luck to you.

I did take Nate. who is almost 16 and it was fine.  I would say this is a hard, hard R. If your teen hasn’t been sheltered from the internet and is comfortable with very adult themes, ages ~16 and up are fine.

*For young adults and grownups, I actually love that they show such a sex-positive relationship. I just don’t need my little kid to see it.