A few weeks ago, I let my 7-year-old son see “The Goonies.” I figured that as a boy who likes to get himself into as many life-threatening situations as possible, he’d enjoy it. I had completely forgotten that the first line a child says is “Oh, s—.” And then said word is repeated — a lot — throughout the film. Just send the Mother of the Year Award to my house, thanks.
It won’t happen again with “Pixels,” no matter how much he begs. It’s the PG-13 story of three friends (Adam Sandler, Josh Gad and Kevin James) who use their skills with classic video games to save the planet. (Unfortunately, they are successful and the world does not end, which meant I had to see the entirety of “Pixels.”) It has zero occurrences of what my son now calls “the S-word that means poop,” but its language is so much more harmful.
I don’t know how to explain what a “slut-seeking missile” is, or why the phrase appears twice in the first 20 minutes. I am happy that he thinks “the B-word” is “butt,” not the B-word I can’t print here, which pops up multiple times. I am not prepared to examine with him why, when Gad’s character gives a drill-instructor-style dressing-down to a bunch of Navy SEALS, he feels compelled to switch from calling them “maggots” to calling them “girl maggots.”
Beyond the language, I am in no mood for a conversation about why every woman in the first 18 minutes of the movie (I checked) is either sexualized or ridiculed, a trope that, by the end of the film, extends to Serena Williams and Martha Stewart. Or why Josh Gad ends up married to Lady Lisa, a Kitana-like video game character who is apparently mute and is literally a trophy. Oh, and don’t worry — there’s a good dose of homophobia and a sprinkling of racial fetishization, in case the misogyny doesn’t bother you.
The S-word that means poop is inappropriate for children, even though it won’t really harm them (or anyone else, for that matter). The overarching attitude of “Pixels,” though, will, because it teaches that the gaming world has no space for women unless they are generated by a computer called something like the Boobinator 10000.
So I told my son he won’t be seeing it. Now I have a very mad little boy — but I’m pretty confident it’ll make him a better man in the end.
Read more The Reelist columns: