There are a lot of movies I watched as a kid that I’ve watched again as an adult. What the hell were my parents thinking? They are TOTALLY inappropriate for a kid.
This became especially apparent when I organised a ‘family fun’ movie night to introduce my children to the movie Big. I clearly recall this movie through the eyes of my 9-year-old self – not those of a responsible adult. If I’m honest, all I really remembered about the movie was 12-year-old Tom Hanks turning into a 30-year old man after making a wish at a carnival, then having fun with a massive keyboard in a toy store.
I do not remember all the F-bombs, or the moment Tom Hanks fondles a grown woman’s breasts.
I’m not talking about inappropriate ‘scary movies’ here. I mean, they were designed to scare the shit out of us and if we were watching them, we deserved to reap what we sowed (ie never-ending nightmares of werewolves and men in ski-masks). No, I’m talking about the movies that were considered ‘family friendly’ and came with a rating of PG that allowed us to eagerly devour them as tweens.
Granted, at the time, most of it went over our heads and probably would still fly right past our very modern day children too, but I doubt a lot of these would get past the censors of 2015.
1. Grease (1978)
Why was it inappropriate?
Well for starters, let’s look at Rizzo making fun of Sandy for being a virgin – essentially the worst case of peer pressure and bullying a teenager can receive. Rizzo dances around Sandy singing “Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee, lousy with virginity, won’t go to bed ’til I’m legally wed, I can’t, I’m Sandra Dee.”
Then there were these lovely lyrics:
“Boosters, plates and shocks
I can get off my rocks
You know that I ain’t braggin’, she’s a real pussy wagon“
And who could forget these classy lines:
“You know that ain’t shit
We’ll be getting lots of tit
In Greased Lightning!”
There are also references to ‘gang bangs’ and the infamous broken condom scene: Kenicke and Rizzo were getting into it in the back of his car when he pulled out a condom he called his “25 cent insurance policy”. I literally thought it was an insurance policy. When he said “it broke!”, I thought his policy had expired. It was a confusing time for an 8 year old who, in hindsight, probably had no business watching it anyway.
Oh, and last but not least, that part where Danny forced himself upon Sandy at the drive-in, despite her protests.
2. Ghostbusters (1984)
Who you gunna call?
Remember when a ghost gave one of the Ghostbusters (Dany Ackroyd) a BLOW JOB? No, you probably don't, because like me at 10 years of age, you didn't have a clue what oral sex was, or that it was happening in front of your very eyes. It's no surprise, then, that when a possessed Sigourney Weaver said “I want you inside me", I was clueless it had anything to do with sex. Way to spoil my childhood, Weaver.
It's fair to say a PG rating was a little too relaxed for this movie.
I mean, holy shit man.
3. Flashdance (1983)
For a very long time I thought Jennifer Beals' character was a welder who made up dance routines for fun in her spare time. At no time did it occur to my 9-year-old brain that dancing provocatively to a room full of men, water soaking her body, meant she a STRIPPER. Not that there is anything wrong with that as a profession but perhaps, given I was that young, my mother *might* have considered restricting my viewing habits a little.
Still one of the best movie soundtracks of all time.
4. Breakfast At Tiffany's (1961)
Even though it was much more apparent in the book by Truman Capote, the fact remains that Audrey Hepburn's character, Holly Golightly was a 'lady of the night' or, to use the more politically correct, 2015 term, a sex worker. And there is NOTHING wrong with that but of course, as one friend points out, a kid watching this just thought that "Holly had a lot of male friends". Isn't innocence beautiful?
5. Dirty Dancing (1987)
The most dramatic example of a movie I loved as a kid but didn’t fully appreciate until I was an adult is 1987’s Dirty Dancing. As a romance about the loss of innocence, Dirty Dancing is both sweet and knowing, and parts were definitely more saccharine than controversial.
Through the eyes of an adult 10 or so years later, I realised I was watching a story about an illegal abortion, attempted rape and class divisions. Yet as a kid, all I saw was one extremely hot, high-waisted Patrick Swayze and his subsequent romantic relationship with Baby. Who, let's face it, no one puts in the corner.
6. Annie (1982)
It took me years to figure out that Ms Hannigan was a drunk, which is why she was always slurring her words and stumbling around the orphanage like a man-woman, trying to get Daddy Warbucks to have sex with her. The movie is traumatising, like when Annie climbs up a ladder that seems as tall as the Empire State Building while being chased by a criminal who wants to kill her. And let's not gloss over the abuse these girls were receiving in the "system".
Of course, when you watched as an 8-year-old, this was all just a beautiful story about a girl being rescued from a life of abandonment for a life of opulence.
7. Saturday Night Fever (1977)
Despite the Bee Gees' disco music and bell-bottom trousers, Saturday Night Fever is a tough and serious-minded drama about restless, sometimes violent young men on the sordid side of New York City. There is a hectic gang rape scene at the end which was never okay and should not have been allowed to be part of our young viewing catalogue. Admittedly, I was too young to see this when it was released, but even watching it years later at a pre-teen sleepover, we just made fun of the outfits and danced around to the music with no clue about its serious undertones.
8. Sixteen Candles (1984)
I've always been surprised by Sixteen Candle's PG rating because it is implied, if not established, that a boy has non-consensual sex with a young lady who has passed out drunk. Yes, that's right, he rapes her. Then they "joke" about it together in the morning. I struggle to think that ANY time in teen history this would have been okay as a storyline but apparently not only was it fine, I watched it with my 10-year-old eyes and didn't even blink.
9. Cocktail (1988)
This film was rated 'R' but I remember seeing it at the cinema when I was a 13 year old solidly in love with Tom Cruise (that was before the couch-jumping). In hindsight, that rating is justified. There's a threesome, there's very graphic evidence of the aftermath of a suicide and there's LOADS of drinking and sex.
These are just the tip of the inappropriate iceberg of children's movie viewing. And just like I would dance around the lounge room singing Like a Virgin when I was 9 and my mother didn't stop me, there is an incredible naivety when it comes to films and our parents obviously knew it.
What movies did you only "get" when you became an adult?
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