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Written by Matthew Pejkovic

This past weekend I attended a showing of Watchmen, the latest comic book to be adapted to the big screen. It was the second time I viewed the film, and it still remained as uncompromising, engrossing and visually absorbing as the first time round. A big problem I had, though, was not so much with what was on the screen, but as to who it was that shared the cinema with me: kids.

And by kids, I don’t mean adolescence taking advantage of a lax rating in order to get their weekly fix of sex and violence. I mean kids: 12, 10, 8 years of age. There were even few I spotted who could be no more than 5 years old!

Which brings me to the point: exactly what was the thought process of the parents of these children, who thought that the MA rated Watchmen would be suitable weekend fodder for their kids to consume?

Perhaps the notion of a superhero movie appealed as an antidote to shut up little Johnny for a couple of hours; maybe they wanted to watch the film, couldn’t find a sitter, and thought “hell with it”.

Whatever the case, it proved to be a clear demonstration of moronic and lazy parenting, and an example of Australia’s poor ratings system.

Watchmen is rated MA15+, not exactly an inviting proposition for kid friendly entertainment. But even the rating itself was too lenient, especially for a film with this much gratuitous violence –which includes an attempted rape, multiple strikes into a man’s skull with a meat clever, and another man’s arms cut in half by a power saw - and strong sexuality. Hell, one of the films main protagonists walks around with his schlong out for show!

According to Australia’s governing ratings board, the Office of Film and Literature Classification, kids under 15 years of age can watch Carla Gugino get the shit kicked out of her by an attempted rapist, while munching on popcorn alongside mum and dad. As long as parents are by their kid’s side, all is fair.

This is total BS. How can the OFLC justify such a compromise while trying to stand their ground as an embodiment of authority to be respected and adhered to?

While our ratings system might never be fixed, parental responsibility is another thing entirely. So to all parents out there who have toyed with the idea of taking their kids to see Watchmen, I appeal to you: please think beforehand. Take a bit of time, read a few reviews, research what type of content you might subject your kids to. The characters may seem enticing, and I am sure your kids loved Iron Man. But perhaps it is best we leave this comic book film for us adults.   



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