Trailer Trouble: Can Violent Movie Previews Spoil a Child's Innocence?

If I choose to keep my kids away from films with loads of violence or overt sexuality, there are enough safeguards out there to help me do so. If there’s a movie I feel is inappropriate for my children, I can pretty much just make sure they don’t see it. When it comes to trailers, though… well, that’s a completely different story. They’re everywhere.

My son is a preschool Iron Man fan. His appreciation for the character is based entirely on action figures and mild animated adventures. It will be years before I’ll let him sit down to watch Robert Downey Jr.’s live-action version of his favorite hero. In that admittedly very good film, Iron Man is a war machine that substitutes real bullets for the vague “energy rays” of the cartoons, and his alter ego is a philandering playboy. It’s not little kid stuff, and he won’t watch it. It is difficult, however, to tear him away once he takes a glimpse at his armored idol in the trailer for Iron Man 2 -- a montage of blazing guns, bloody wounds, psychotically creepy villains, scantily clad dancing girls and hordes of exploding who-knows-whats.

It’s bad enough when a trailer for some ghastly horror-torture flick like Saw V comes across your TV screen, but at least your 3-year-olds aren’t likely to want to see it. (We hope.) The situation becomes so much more difficult to handle when the subject matter of the inappropriate trailer has some element of kid appeal. My mythology-loving daughter was keen on the idea of the upcoming Clash of the Titans remake, but the trailer is an orgy of stabbing, slashing swords, nightmare-inducing monsters and a “Damn the gods” tagline. Don’t even think about the trailer for Ridley Scott’s Robin Hood. No merry men there. No merry parents, either. It’s incredibly frustrating when a 60-second clip can thwart all your efforts at monitoring your children’s media intake. It’s probably a lost cause anyway. All it really takes to spoil childhood innocence is one ad for an upcoming episode of Law & Order: SVU.

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