I was a teenager and had just seen “The Blues Brothers” for the first time in more than a decade.
I was obsessed with it as a little kid – I had the soundtrack (on vinyl because, yes, I’m really that old) and incessantly played “Think” in my bedroom while performing Aretha’s dance routine.
That’s what I remembered about “The Blues Brothers” – Cab Calloway singing “Minnie the Moocher.” A whole neighborhood dancing to Ray Charles and “Shake a Tail Feather.”
But Oh. My. God.
As I watched “Princess Leia” unload a hail of bullets and all those car chases, all I could think was, “This is pretty violent for a 4-year-old!”
My mom just laughed at me. “All you cared about was the music. You didn’t notice anything else.”
(She’s right – I had no memory of the car chases in “The Blues Brothers,” and those are probably some of the movie’s most iconic scenes.)
You didn’t even remember the bad stuff!
My mom said the same thing a few years later when I watched “Saturday Night Fever.”
I knew all of the songs by heart – according to family legend, I befuddled my grandma when I asked for the soundtrack for my second birthday.
Once again, I hadn’t seen the movie in years… And I thought “The Blues Brothers” was bad.
It was nothing compared to the John Travolta classic. I think I spent the whole movie with my hand over my mouth in shock.
Yes, “Saturday Night Fever” has the iconic dance scenes I remember.
But it also has sex, drugs and rape.
One character talks about suicide before plummeting off a bridge to his death. And I distinctly remember watching this movie in elementary school. On VHS.
How could my mom let me watch this?
I came to the realization that my brother and I watched a lot of movies like that. “Taxi Driver.” “Rosemary’s Baby.” “Aliens.” “Halloween.”
Even the coming-of-age classic “Where the Boys Are” is all about going to Fort Lauderdale for spring … to lose their virginity.
Sure, the movie has the iconic Connie Francis title song and it was released in 1960, but it also ends with one character getting hit by a car after she is raped – not really appropriate for kids.
Nightmares for days…
My poor brother had nightmares for months about chicken sacrifices after he saw occult film “The Believers” at age 7 with my mom at the movie theater.
And I had nightmares about the twins from “The Shining.” (OK, in my mom’s defense, she didn’t know I was there because I sneaked into our dark living room to watch after I was supposed to have gone to bed.)
No permanent damage
But you know what? My brother and I turned out fine. And, OK, maybe that’s just my Gen X “we didn’t have seatbelts in the backseat and we still lived” attitude talking.
We weren’t scarred for life. (Although I still can’t watch “The Shining.”)
However, it means that I should probably shouldn’t be so critical next month when I see parents taking their kids to see “Deadpool 2.” I’m absolutely the type of judgmental movie-goer who loudly talks about how terrible it is that parents take kids to see inappropriate movies.
But my mom was one of those parents. And I turned out just fine, like those kids probably will.