My kids have seen explicit, masochistic sex scenes.
They’ve witnessed a horrifying terrorist hijacking, a male strip troupe getting naked and a bunch of bankers having a drug-filled orgy.
My son once saw a man weeping as his best friend was shot in the head at point-blank range.
And my daughter slept right through a battle for the ages between vampires and werewolves.
They saw all this on ordinary Monday mornings circa 2010 and 2012.
Those were my ‘Mums and Bubs’ movie days and I loved every single minute.
This week, parents and babies are watching Fifty Shades Darker at cinemas around the country. And some wowsers are trying to suggest that it’s is not a film for tiny eyes.
Listen: On This Glorious Mess, Holly and Andrew Daddo discuss whether Fifty Shades fans should leave the kids at home.
“I don’t think this is an appropriate movie to take a ‘babe in arms’… Would you take them to Saw or Alien?” Is a typical response from the nay-sayers (and a comment from the Daily Telegraph’s story).
To which I say, they’re babies. Paraphrasing the oracle Miranda from Sex And The City: “They don’t know what they’re looking at. They don’t know where their noses are!”
I understand. Like many of us, I sat through the original Fifty Shades Of Grey and took away only these thoughts – Jamie Dornan is sexier as a serial killer. Did my pre-schooler write this script? And, why is everyone protesting the gender politics of this movie? Haven’t they read the books? Wasn’t their awfulness a warning not to expect an empowering, arthouse masterpiece?
I digress. Back to the babies and their poor innocent minds. You see, for once, this is not about them.
If you have never looked after a baby full-time, you probably can’t imagine why anyone would want to take one to the cinema. Surely they cramp your style, cry in your ear and steal your popcorn?
But if you have, you know that babies cramp your style, cry in your ear and leech all nutrients from your body, always, so you might as well be entertained while they do it.
Mums and Bubs movie sessions divide parents and non-parents alike. Because, make no mistake, these sessions have nothing to do with babies. Prams at the Pix, Reel Babies, Babes in Arms, Bubz Club, whatever you want to call them, are all about the parents. In most cases, the mother.
The idea is that, at 10am on a Monday, you can take your baby to a film and it can cry or gurgle or sleep or feed or need a walk-around and a jiggle and no-one is going to get cranky with you because they spent $45 on a cinema ticket (or whatever exorbitant price they are now) and your kid screamed through their film.
You can push your pram to the end of your aisle and do whatever it takes to shut that kid up for 90 minutes so you can think about something other than nap times, how to puree steak and whatever happened to your pelvic floor.
It’s a safe space for sleep-deprived, culture-hungry new mums. It’s all about selfish pleasure. And that’s why some people do not approve.
“I always feel a bit guilty going to one of those,” a friend used to tell me when I was trying to cajole her into seeing The Love Letter, or Gone In Sixty Seconds #63, or something. “It’s not like the baby enjoys it.”
“Shh darling, mummy’s watching the nice couple.” Image via Universal Pictures.
Daily “outings” are encouraged for new parents. They are good for the self-esteem that’s languishing somewhere down near the crotch of your trackie pants as you wonder why whatever you’re doing isn’t satisfying this tiny, simple, complex, infuriating, adorable dictator.
Improving outings can be the key to staying sane: Mothers’ group, where you can make friends and lie about how much your baby is sleeping. Babies Love Books, where you can all sing along to Wheels On The Bus and wonder what happened to your life. And the really fun monthly check-in at the Early Childhood Centre where the weight and measure session will leave you with enough ‘too big/too small’ anxiety to tide you over ‘til next time.
But Mums and Bubs movie sessions are not improving. They don’t even bother scheduling educational movies in that spot. Fifty Shades, the Twilight franchise and any movie that’s starred Ryan Reynolds, that’s the programming sweet-spot for Mums and Bubs.
It’s not that parents of babies are dumb, or shallow. It’s just hard to follow a subtle and complex plotline while you’re jiggling a baby, unwrapping a NumNum and trying to remember which boob is next.
Which is why the soft-porny slush of Fifty Shades is perfect: What’s happening now? In a lift? With what beads? Excellent.
The tiny minds will be none-the-wiser. And the grown-up ones will be amused for a couple of hours.
It’s a win-win. Pass the banana bread.
To hear Holly’s take on more modern parenting dilemmas, listen to the latest episode of This Glorious Mess:
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