After it was revealed that last week's tragic shooting in an Aurora, CO movie theater left a six-year-old little girl dead and a three-month-old infant injured, it was open fire on the parents. People publicly questioned why children so young would be brought to a midnight screening of a violent, PG-13 movie, with many implying that mothers and fathers who would do such a thing are clearly bad parents. But bringing a baby to a movie isn't a failure of parenting—it's just inconsiderate as hell.
It could be argued that The Dark Knight Rises was age inappropriate for kids that are a little older, like the six-year-old that was killed or the four-year-old that survived. I know that there are parents who police what their children watch or ban juice from the household or keep a Purrell dispenser nearby at all times. I'm simply not one of them. I wasn't raised that way either. Some of my fonder childhood memories involved watching slasher horror movies as a family, or going to see Aliens with my dad in the theater when I was just seven. I don't believe that children should be shielded from fictional violent imagery. (But it's not like I believe in propping kids' eyes open, Clockwork Orange style, and forcing them to watch things they doesn't want to see.)
So it goes without saying that I see no problem with an infant being exposed to a violent movie. Babies are stupid and don't know anything. They're lucky if they can comprehend the existence of their own feet at three months old, so it's doubtful that they'd be mentally or emotionally affected by the content of a film. And I can understand why a parent would take a baby to the movies. When you add up the price of two adult tickets, some snacks, and a babysitter fee, you're looking at about a $100 date night—just to go to the movies for a couple of hours. A lot of people can't afford that. So they bring the baby along to cut that cost in half.
Bringing infants to the movies is nothing new. I will frequently see several strollers at midnight screenings of horror movies. I used to think that was so outrageous. Now that I have a child, I know that it is. I don't believe that any of these people who bring babies to the movies are bad parents who don't care about their children. I think they are inconsiderate assholes who don't care about other people in the theater. They take up limited wheelchair parking spots with their strollers. They will often make others suffer through their baby's stinky, shitty diaper for fear of missing out on some of the plot. They have no control over when their baby will get fussy or act up. Maybe it will happen during a quiet scene! Maybe it will ruin an emotional cinematic moment!
And that is why movie theaters make certain provisions for parents with small children. AMC theaters have Bring Your Baby Matinees, about which its site boasts:
See the movies you want to see in a baby-friendly zone. That means the lights are brighter, the volume is lowered, and poopy diapers are not frowned upon.
In NYC alone, there are three different theaters—that run the gamut of blockbusters to indie movies—that provide baby-friendly environments. Granted it's New York — I know we've got a lot of stuff that's not available elsewhere — but the principle still stands: Bringing a baby to a general audience showing of a movie isn't fair to everyone else in the theater.
Look, having babies can be an expensive, exhausting, fun-sucking experience. And while parents should still be able to have some enjoyment, they shouldn't do so at the cost of others. The movie theater is not your living room. You can wait until the DVD release.
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