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On Parenting
Posted at 01:14 PM ET, 03/22/2012

‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Bully’ create dilemma for parents

Two movies about to be released have given parents a fresh dilemma: Do they allow their children to watch them?

Hunger Games” opens tomorrow and “Bully” opens in D.C. next month. Both films bring their own sets of baggage and their own strong fan bases. They also beg the question of whether the target audience is ready for what is to be shown on screen.
Jennifer Lawrence portrays Katniss Everdeen in a scene from "The Hunger Games," opening on Friday. (Murray Close - AP)

“Hunger Games” is, of course, the wildly anticipated screen version of the young adult trilogy that is expected to make that teen Vampire series look like “John Carter.”

The film is rated PG-13, but it is a faithful rendition of the blood-soaked trilogy so it contains a tremendous amount of violence. In the books, which take place in a dystopian land where children are pitted against each other in fight-to-the-death “games,” the violence was offset for many parents because the gripping story kept their kids reading. (Plus, many of those parents found themselves borrowing their kid’s copies.)

That same story expressed in a different medium, a big-screen, all- encompassing medium, is another animal altogether. The trailers alone are enough to trigger nightmares.

The second movie raises a different question: Is the value of the message worth what might otherwise be considered too emotionally difficult?

“Bully” is Harvey Weinstein’s cautionary tale about the tragic effects of kids mistreating kids. To be released initially next weekend and in D.C. in mid-April, the movie comes with the noble purpose of exposing the tragic effects of bullying. It follows the travails of five children tormented by their peers and two of them commit suicide.

(It also comes with a controversial R rating because of bad language. The Post’s Donna St George described that controversy in a recent story.)

Here’s a trailer for Bully:

Both movies tackle the troubling subject of the brutality that young adults inflict on one another, one in an unvarnished depiction, the other metaphorical and prettied up. Both will be unsettling to viewers in their own ways.

The ratings system is not providing much guidance in either case, as it is notorious for overlooking violence and nit-picking profane language. It’ll be up to each parent to make the call.

Is a child’s devotion to the story worth the violence, in the case of “Hunger Games”? Is the value of the message worth the trauma, in the case of “Bully”?

How are you making this decision?

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By  |  01:14 PM ET, 03/22/2012

Tags:  Teens

 
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