Ever since the world realized that Deadpool was definitely getting an R rating, people have been talking about whether they should take their kids to see the film. Thanks to the behemoth that is the comic book film in the last few years and the superb marketing of the film, there probably isn’t a kid out there who hasn’t heard of this movie and hasn’t enjoyed some of the crazy and hilarious trailers. That means there are a lot of parents who have spent the last six months listening to how badly their kids want to go. I know. I have kids of my own and we’ve already got our tickets to the opening night screening.
There are a variety of reasons why some parents would want to know if the film is appropriate for their kids. Not every parent is plugged into pop culture, comic books or the latest movies. There are plenty of things my kids talk about that I have no idea of. I stare blankly at them as they rattle off a bunch of character names and the strange things they say before they burst into laughter. If they made a film of Undertale, a game that my kids can’t stop talking about, I would have no idea if it was something that would be appropriate. That’s when you have to start doing some research.
Once you know what’s going to happen in a film like Deadpool, you can make a better decision on whether or not you think the kids should go. The problem isn’t really if it’s appropriate for the kids or whether you think they can handle it. I think the problem is that parents aren’t ready to handle the discussions that could come from watching the film. To me, this is where the argument begins.
I have a 14-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son. I have always spoken to them like I would speak to any other human being on the planet regardless of their age. It made for some awkward conversations when they were just learning to talk because most kids don’t respond well to questions like “Hey buddy. How’s the day going? You working hard or hardly working?” Eventually the conversations made more sense but I continued to talk to them like the tiny drunk versions of adults that kids really are. From a young age, sex wasn’t something to be whispered about and when they reached the age where drugs and alcohol could start to become an issue, we talked about that as well.
I don’t mean that we discussed things like ‘drugs are bad’ and ‘don’t let anybody touch you where and when you don’t want to be touched.’ Sure, that was all a part of the conversation, but another part of it was letting the kids know that not only was I aware of the things that kids can get up to, I had participated in many of those activities myself. I’m not perfect and I have wisdom that I can share with my kids and I make sure to let them know and answer all their questions. This is why I have no problem with taking the kids to see Deadpool.
While scrolling through Facebook today, I came across an article on BleedingCool.com titled “Should I Take My Kid to See Deadpool” by Rich Johnston. His response of no followed by pointing out that it’s really up to the parents to decide is the most common and appropriate response. He then listed a number of the things you would wind up seeing in the film to help you decide. That’s fantastic, although it was without any context for some points that needed it. It’s a lot like when a show says it contains adult language, but all the swear words are bleeped out. Did someone say fuck in the show? Sure they did, but all you hear was a loud beep. In my mind, that’s not adult language. Swing by my place for a few beers and a burger in the summer and we’ll show you some adult language.
Johnston’s list is great, but when it says there are sex scenes involving “cunnilingus and the use of strap ons,” I kind of want to know in what way. I can only assume that we’re not going to see any sort of X-rated stuff so a person wearing a strap-on is one thing, but actually seeing them using it would be another. Again, chances are Deadpool would be sitting with an X if the sex in the film was explicit, but I won’t be totally sure until I see the film. Explicit sex isn’t something I want to sit down and watch with my kids, but I won’t be ignorant and think that they haven’t probably stumbled upon it in the last few years. I remember what we were doing when we were 14. That doesn’t mean I think it’s a great bonding experience. There are some things even I’m not comfortable with.
I happened to be reading Johnston’s article as my daughter was leaving for school and I repeated to her that there was cunnilingus and the use of strap-ons in the film. She didn’t really say much and to be honest, I’m not totally sure she knows what cunnilingus means, but if she didn’t, she would ask me and I would tell her. It might take me a moment to find the right words to explain that, but I would do it. Another example of why I have no problems taking my kids to see Deadpool tonight.
I recently had a conversation with Chris and Ben Blaine, directors of Nina Forever, and we spoke about censorship and they made some excellent points. When you talk about something that is taboo, it suddenly doesn’t become so taboo any longer. It loses the appeal it had when it was a mystery. Personally, I think this is why kids start having sex at such a young age or begin experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Nobody really talked about it openly and often, so it still has a mystery to it. I know my kids are going to get into things that I may not want them to, but at least I know that we’ve discussed it, joked about it, randomly spoken about it and basically gone over it so many times that they hopefully won’t feel like they have to hide it from me. I also hope they remember that I’ve done plenty of things myself, so hiding it probably wouldn’t work anyway.
Again, the question isn’t whether your kids are ready to watch Deadpool. The question is whether you can be open enough to discuss everything that happens in the movie with them afterwards. I’m not saying to drop your 5-year-old into the stroller and take them for their first R-rated movie. Even I think that would be a bad idea. But if your kids are old enough to start doing some of the things that are happening in Deadpool (and if they’re in at least grade 6, I can assure you that plenty of kids are already doing some of those things) then why not take them to see it if they want to. Just be sure that you’re willing to explain why shooting people in the head is a bad idea (that should be the easy one) and just what that man was doing to that lady. Or that lady was doing to that man. Or what that lady was doing to that man, that man, that other lady, and that other man. Actually, if you haven’t talked about sex with your kids, maybe you should skip this one entirely.
UPDATE: Now that I’ve actually been to the film with my kids, I thought it was important to update this article. As I usually find with things of this nature, the problem sounds much bigger than it is. Deadpool has swearing. Not the kind of never ending stream of obscenities people are making it out to be, but the word fuck gets used a lot. I’ll bet most 13-year-olds sound like pirates when they’re not around their parents. Even my kids who still avoid singing swear words in songs have admitted to be foul-mouthed maniacs once I’m not around. (Just a little bit of proof that the kids are doing things we think they wouldn’t be.)
As for the sex, here’s where I figured the major differences would be. Rich Johnston’s article mentioned above said things about cunnilingus and strap-ons, but it’s a case of the bleeped out swear words again. You don’t see a strap-on. You see Reynolds face looking a little uncomfortable. You then see him and Morena Baccarin from behind. She’s obviously wearing a strap-on and she pulls the straps on the sides of her hips to tighten it, like a belt. We’re back to Reynolds face after that. You don’t actually see a strap-on swinging around. You know that there’s one there and how it’s being used, but you don’t see it, and that’s a huge different to me personally. Same goes for the oral sex. You don’t see anything except for Reynolds’ head pop up with a sheet over it. We know what he’s doing, but that’s not the same as seeing what he’s doing.
When my kids are making a bunch of crinkling noise in the kitchen, I know they’re taking cookies, but I don’t yell at them “I can see you taking the cookies!” because I can’t. Just because I know what is happening doesn’t mean I can actually see what’s happening. If you could see those things in Deadpool, it would be a very different rating than R. The sex scene doesn’t really show much. It’s not until a later scene in a strip club where you see more nudity, but besides some obvious breasts, it was too dark for me to notice anything else. There’s also the chance that you see Reynolds’ penis, but I didn’t. My daughter claims it was in there. If it is, you’re going to have to really pay attention to see it.
Finally we come to the violence, and even this has been blown out of proportion. Plenty of people die, but it’s generally quick. It’s still violent, but people make it sound like it will be worse than most of the horror films I watch. My kids are not good with violence. I know this. They had no problem with Deadpool though.
So there’s the full update. There’s a lot of ‘fuck’ heard in the film, a little bit of nudity that isn’t uncommon now and something that people need to get over (they’re just breasts,) and there are plenty of guys dying and blood sprays. If you don’t think your kids are ready for this, don’t take them. I’m still standing by what I said before. If your kids are in, or are just about to hit highschool, they’ve probably seen plenty of things worse than Deadpool. If you have an open and honest relationship with them, I see no reason why you and your kids couldn’t enjoy this film together. We had a blast.