Thursday, September 17, 2009

Things I've Noticed #5: Age Appropriate Materials

Whenever you look up a top ten list of horror movies, you are bound to come across The Exorcist, it's the horror equivalent of Madonna on a top ten pop music list of the '80s. It joins Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre as horror movies everyone has to see, like Star Wars and 2001 are to SF fans.

So as a die-hard horror fan I have seen this movie a lot, and let me tell you, the first time I saw it (age 12) my opinion was this:

BORING! By the time I got to the end I was definitely checking out a book instead of watching the film. (Picutred above - and yes I was reading a Grover book at age 12 - that book is AWESOME! and for the record, more suspenseful to my 12-year-old self than The Exorcist anyday) I mean, you spend most of the movie watching a mom wander around Washington D.C. talking to people, you don't even get to the devil stuff practically until the end and it's over pretty fast.

At age 16 I saw it again, and my opinion changed - the girl is pretty scary and I was beginning to be able to appreciate camera angles and the strange imagery throughout the film.

As a parent of 2 at age 20, I watched the movie again and you know what (pictured left) This is one of the scariest movies ever. The stuff with the mom finally clicked with me - to have a child so sick that you end up going back and forth between doctors and therapists, who give you no hope, and end up going to priest for help (the mom is a capital-A Atheist) suddenly became very relatable to me.

Here's my theory, certain books and movies work best at a certain age. The Exorcist doesn't work for kids, because the scary stuff is aimed at parents. You get more out of it when you can relate with the main character (the mom). This happens with books too, I first read Lord of the Rings when I was in grade 5 - but to be honest, I mean I first read Fellowship in Grade 5 and then all the Sam and Frodo bits of the next two books. I simply didn't have the patience to wade through all the rest of the book at that age.

Now, does this mean I think kids shouldn't even give The Exorcist a try? Of course not, but what I do think is that certain books and movies benefit from being revisited. Earlier this week I talked about my first impression of The Terminator (at age 10), At first it was scary, when I re-watched it in Junior High it was awesome, and only last year (age 32) did I see the Christ story parallels and the fact that every machine in 1984 is also trying to stop Sarah Conner.

So we can view it one of two ways - either certain books are aimed at certain audiences, and therefore resonate better with them. or (and my personal favourite) I may be getting smarter...

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