Hop Off.

Hop
Today was a glorious, sunny day and my one day off with Flea before she heads off for a short holiday with relatives for a few days.

I said we could do anything she chose – and being a contrary five-year-old she opted to go to the cinema. She was beyond excited at the prospect of seeing ‘Hop’, having watched the trailer on the Odeon website a few million times.

For the uninitiated, Hop is a new movie about the Easter Bunny, and how he somehow ends up in Hollywood. Crucially, it’s a ‘U’ certificate which according to the BBFC website means that the film should be suitable for audiences aged four years and over. Moreover, ‘U’ films should be “set within a positive moral framework”.

So pretty near the top of a list of conversations I DON'T expect to be having with my five-year-old during a movie classified as a ‘U’ certificate would be:

“Mummy, what’s a Playboy bunny?”

“It’s just a grown-up thing, darling.”

“But why is it funny?”

“I don’t think it is.”

“But why does the bunny want to be sexy?”

Fuming doesn’t even come close to how I felt leaving the cinema today.

I’m an adult, and liberal minded. I’m not going into details on the Internet for all our sakes, but honestly, I am far from being a prude.

But I have a massive problem when a film deemed suitable for four-year-olds not only mentions one of the world’s biggest brands of pornography, but does so in a way that conveys the message that porn is funny, acceptable, normal. As an adult you may believe that, which is fine, but Flea’s five years old. Not okay.

I mentioned this issue on Twitter today (well, okay I ranted) and someone replied that they thought it would just go over most kids’ heads, so why worry?

Well, I don’t know what other kids are like, but very little goes over Flea’s head.

The weird thing about kids is that you never know what they’re absorbing, and storing away for future use. Today we went to a restaurant and when the waiter came to take our order he commented on Flea’s teddy, remarking that it looked like his wife’s favourite bear. “I know, it’s called Sam and he is old so he leaves a trail of stuffing around the house,” said Flea. She’d remembered the waiter telling her that story last time we visited that restaurant – six months ago.

The thing about kids is they often remember stuff that we think is just background noise. And that’s why it’s so important that we can be confident about the media our children are exposed to. I don’t think we can just assume things go ‘over their heads’. Because what about when it doesn’t? 

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She’s also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world’s coolest ten year old.

49 Comments

  1. domestic goddesque
    8th April 2011 / 8:20 pm

    Nothing ever goes over PDs head so I totally get where you are coming from. No-one should assume that kids won’t get it. Particularly people who make kids’ movies.

  2. Sarah Wolf
    8th April 2011 / 8:38 pm

    I’m so with you. I hate with a capital H the playboy bunny on pencil cases. In WHSmith.

  3. Aly
    8th April 2011 / 8:24 pm

    I don’t get why adult references are in kids films.Obviously adults will be watching it but need to ‘dirty’ it just for our sake.Thus why I like the old Disney films because there are no innuendoes.It’s unneceesssary and just cheapens the film.Think I’ll be avoiding the film now

  4. 8th April 2011 / 8:29 pm

    Sally, unbelievable. To think I’d even wondered if it was OK for Esme (not four until end of June). Obviously not. Your anecdote about memory is also spot on, Esme can sometimes be amazingly aware of what is going on around. I was rather alarmed recently when totally unsolicited and out of the blue she told my Dad that she was going to ‘bash David Cameron’ if he tried to close her library. She’d obviously absorbed rather more of us talking about Karen’s local election campaign than we’d realised!

  5. Cherished By Me
    8th April 2011 / 8:35 pm

    This really annoys me so much…… We are constantly desensitising our children and there is surely going to be a huge huge fallout from this. It worries me so much. You shouldn’t have to explain anything uncomfortable or age inappropriate
    after a children’s film and I won’t be going to watch it now. Thanks for the warning.

  6. 8th April 2011 / 8:36 pm

    I absolutely agree. L comes up with stuff I have totally forgotten or not noticed all the time, and she’s even younger than Flea…
    That said, does remind me of a hen night I went to. We’d been told to bring something vaguely rude, as you do, and one of the girls had left it to the last minute and then realised and ended up having to nip into Anne Summers with her daughter, then aged about 3. The thing with Anne Summers of course is that they keep the really rude bits to the back don’t they, and she was only going to buy some willy shaped chocolate or the like so she thought she was ok…
    Except there was a man at the till, discussing the various merits of various, ahem, personal aids:
    “Mummy, that man’s buying a rabbit!”
    Mummy pretends not to hear.
    “Mummy, can I have a rabbit? That man’s getting a rabbit. I want a rabbit…..”

  7. 8th April 2011 / 8:39 pm

    I would be pissed off too, without a doubt.

  8. Suburban Mum
    8th April 2011 / 8:44 pm

    I thought the same thing when I took my six year old to see it yesterday. Very surprising – and disappointing.

  9. 8th April 2011 / 8:51 pm

    I couldn’t agree more, it’s not acceptable and I am surprised it was allowed in a film deemed acceptable for very young children.
    I know it might not seem important to some people but I don’t like having to explain things like that to my two either and I don’t think I should be put in a position where it is necessary to do so.
    I’m in the middle of writing a similar post about condoms, JLS and an unfortunate incident in Tesco yesterday Grrrrrrr

  10. Deb
    8th April 2011 / 9:54 pm

    I’m sure I read somewhere this week that thanks to weak certifiers, or whatever they’re called, our children are now watching films at the cinema that years ago would have been deemed x-rated.
    Sex is everywhere. I got ranty recently about an ad on our local radio station, which my 10-year-old likes to listen to on the school run, that was for a spa. It had a woman simulating an orgasm as she got into the tub. Yeah. Nice. Really what I want my daughter to hear. This was 8.30am. I get so sick of things like that.

  11. 8th April 2011 / 8:58 pm

    I was almost taking my two to see that tomorrow. I’ve changed my mind now though! My eldest (8) came home from school the o0ther month and asked if she could have a rabbit pencil case – turns out half the girls in her class have Playboy bunny stuff. She was told no, in no uncertain terms, I cannot understand why that stuff is marketed at kids! There is a little girl in her class, who was wearing a Playboy bunny t-shirt to the church youth group the other week, what on earth was her mum thinking?

  12. 8th April 2011 / 9:34 pm

    I’m completely with you on this one Sally. The geekdaughter is younger than Flea, and I’m already quite freaked out by the things she picks up on and remembers. I don’t think there’s any need for the Playboy bunny to make an appearance in a “U” certificate film, and I’ve no idea what the BBFC were thinking letting that through. Have you complained to them about it? They really should get this feedback.
    We had no plans to take the geekdaughter to see this, but the geekdaddy and I have agreed we’ll steer well clear of it now. Thanks for the heads up.

  13. 8th April 2011 / 9:41 pm

    Ok, dunno If I should admit this, but I actually went to see Hop and reviewed it. This went totally over my head,I didnt even notice it.
    Although I did think it was quite a poor film overall.
    Must try harder not to be an airhead…. D- 🙂

  14. 8th April 2011 / 9:44 pm

    I totally agree with what Aly said above, nowadays there are a lot of adult innuendos in childrens films, but my favourite films of all time for children are still the Disney films. There are other ways of keeping adults entertained without having to add inappropriate references.

  15. 9th April 2011 / 8:05 am

    I don’t know if you read my rant about porno-Tinkerbell, but you’re probably better off without. Or if you’ve come across the blog Disney Princess Recovery, where an American woman eschews Disney because of the effect it’s having on her child. But I am incredibly alarmed by the films that are being made for children, and their content, and their assumptions about female sexuality.
    Tangled was okay. At a push.

  16. 9th April 2011 / 8:18 am

    I totally agree with Aly. Isn’t it just depressing that the people making Children’s entertainment think that all young children want is to be teenagers and all adults want is weak pop culture parody. Sigh. Great stories, well told, will entertain everybody. The problem is of course that it requires a skill and craft not commonly found in the film industry 🙁

  17. 9th April 2011 / 8:47 am

    AAAHHHH – Absolutely nothing goes over their heads… Whole ‘nother issue I was trying to buy clothes for a wedding for my girls – the little ones (4 and 3) we were lucky enough to find pretty flowery dresses but apparently when you are nine you no longer want to be pretty instead you want teenagers “more than embracing” wrapped around you in a dress… What is this industry saying to our kids- Girls can’t be pretty anymore, or pretty isn’t attractive … well I could suggest a whole lot more messages they may want our kids to pick up but then every search engines would arrive on your sight for all the wrong reasons… it’s not okay for search engines but it is fine for nine year old girls. Just so annoying!!!

  18. 9th April 2011 / 9:12 am

    Shocking! I haven’t seen it yet so thanks for the warning! Children are amazingly perceptive sponges – it’s wrong of film companies to assume anything else.

  19. 9th April 2011 / 10:49 am

    Exactly! Kids’ movies shouldn’t incorporate this stuff. Grr.

  20. 9th April 2011 / 10:50 am

    Thanks Aly, I can see why they add adult content but does that have to be about porn???

  21. 9th April 2011 / 10:50 am

    It’s scary sometimes, isn’t it, what they take in?

  22. 9th April 2011 / 10:51 am

    Thanks, I agree with you completely on desensitising, there is so much of this in films, music and books. Bit depressing, really.

  23. 9th April 2011 / 10:51 am

    Oh, and on kids’ duvets, too. Not AT ALL inappropriate.

  24. 9th April 2011 / 10:52 am

    The Playboy thing is appalling, it absolutely enrages me. (as you can probably tell)

  25. 9th April 2011 / 10:53 am

    Arf – you’re far from an airhead but it’s the kind of movie you zone in and out of!

  26. 9th April 2011 / 10:53 am

    I’m not a huge Disney fan, maybe I should check some out, though.

  27. 9th April 2011 / 10:54 am

    Nice, that’s appropriate for morning radio, then…

  28. 9th April 2011 / 10:54 am

    I love Disney Princess Recovery, hadn’t seen your rant though.

  29. 9th April 2011 / 10:55 am

    This is part of the reason why Flea mostly wears boys’ clothes.

  30. Insomniac Mummy
    9th April 2011 / 11:55 am

    Spent the whole post nodding in agreement. My 4 year old has a memory like an elephant. He remembers things from when he was 2 and is really good at remembering lyrics and lines from films. We definitely sensor what he watches. Especially avoiding stuff like the Simpsons, which looks tame but really isn’t!
    Stuff just doesn’t go over their heads. They’re always learning. Those little minds are in over drive. I might give this film a miss now, which is a shame.

  31. 9th April 2011 / 10:55 am

    Thanks, they really are sponges, I think that’s what film companies are ignoring.

  32. 9th April 2011 / 11:01 am

    I went to see this film with my 4 & 2 year olds. I have to say I didnt find it appropriate for those age groups. Thankfully most of it went over their heads since it wasn’t fully animated & they lost interest. X

  33. 9th April 2011 / 11:40 am

    Haven’t seen Hop (and now won’t bother), but I completely agree with you. I don’t think ‘it’ll go over their heads’ is a good enough excuse – who knows what will and what won’t?
    We went to see Cats & Dogs 2 (I think you did too, right?) and I was annoyed about the sexy girl dogs (yes, bitches, I know) that the boy dogs all stopped to watch wiggle past. Is it really necessary for even animatronic dogs to be overtly sexualised?!

  34. 9th April 2011 / 11:44 am

    I can’t believe this. Really can’t. It’s just so uncalled for! ARGH!

  35. 9th April 2011 / 5:07 pm

    I heard my 11 year old daughter singing along to Rihanna’s song about “Chains and whips” and was horrified when I tuned in to the words. The tune itself is typical pop pulp with a catchy hook that seemed directly targeted at her age group but the words are about S and M. I am constantly dismayed at how pop culture has eroded the perspective of what is right and appropriate to put before children.
    However.
    How we laughed when Miss Slocombe mentioned her “Pussy” and John Inman minced on with “I’m free”. How we encourage our children to join in the spirit of the local panto with it’s innuendo and transgender confusions. How far away is modern culture from the Carry On, seaside post card humour of the past?
    I think it is appalling that we have allowed our children to consume a diet of titilation but the publishers of Chat, OK, Hello and various tabloid newspapers are supplying a demand. And now Disney feels it must do the same.

  36. 9th April 2011 / 8:14 pm

    I’m with you… I’ve been uncomfortable a few times with stuff and it really bothers me – my little 5 year is so precious – I hate her being exposed to stuff. I’m even annoyed at her school – this morning she came into me and asked about Jesus. (after choking on my tea being a nhon-believer) I asked her to tell me about him. She was upset because she’d been told he was a man who Pontious Pilot wanted to kill so they nailed him to a cross. She’s five! I hardly think she needs to be told about torture. As for Playboy – were would you begin!

  37. 9th April 2011 / 8:51 pm

    I keep hearing Hop is crap so I’m not sure we’ll bother going. Many kids films have managed to appeal to adults at the same time and Disney Pixar do it very well. I don’t know if Hop is from the same camp but it sounds like it’s been done rather crassly here. You’re so right, this stuff doesn’t go over their heads and they question and question and question. It’s hard enough trying to explain stuff in life (crucifixion and the Japan tsunami are having to be discussed a lot at the moment) without extra hassle. The whole Playboy empire makes me want to barf, just why mention it in a children’s film? I’m so not going to see it.

  38. 10th April 2011 / 11:22 pm

    It begs the question of what kind of rating WOULD be suitable for a movie with those references (haven’t seen it myself, so taking your word for it). You would want to protect a five year old, but what about an 8 year old, or a 13 year old? It almost becomes more of an issue, not less of one as they grow up.

  39. Lucy
    11th April 2011 / 8:06 pm

    Refreshing as always missus, thank you for this.
    PG “mild rude humor” should mean poo, wee and fart jokes only and NEVER sex related jokes or innuendo.
    I took my niece to see Alpha and Omega last summer which was essentially a cartoon about wolves shagging. Not falling in love. Not finding themselves a la Lion King. Shagging. Mating. Making baby wolves.
    There were so many uncomfortable moments in this film I still get flashbacks; Wolves in Nazi outfits, forced marriages, a mummy wolf saying she would rip out another wolfs stomach and eat his eyes, a girl wolf worrying she was too fat… luckily it was so boring the only part my niece remembered was “the bit with the funny koala” as in the advert for Cushell before the film!!
    I dont love Disney and its sterotypes but I now know its a much safer bet for me to take my younger nieces and nephews to see a Disney film than one by Pixar or the Ice Age people.

  40. 11th April 2011 / 8:01 pm

    We went to our first pantomime this year. I thought we’d picked a decent one, no celebs and a nice local theatre. I’d forgotten about dames though, I felt absolutely sick at every homophobic joke.

  41. 12th April 2011 / 1:21 pm

    What’s wrong with Pixar? I haven’t had any problems like this with Pixar films. Unless I just haven’t noticed…

  42. N.
    24th April 2011 / 9:30 pm

    Try Miyazaki – less marketing in Western countries, and (depending on the film, usually) children behaving and LOOKING like children without the Stockholm Syndrome/women as fainting princesses in towers messages. My 3 year old’s getting My neighbour Totoro for his upcoming birthday. 🙂

  43. Paula
    13th May 2011 / 3:10 pm

    I completely agree, but I have to say I was ready to avoid this film the moment I saw it advertised – Russell Brand and the slogan ‘Candy, chicks & Rock ‘n’ Roll’ raised instant alarm bells for me!

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