When Should I Allow My Son To Watch DIE HARD?
Eighteen months ago, I wrote my very first review for Screen Invasion. I was a cherubic, bright-eyed 26 year old, newly married and enjoying my time in Manhattan. My editor, Kristal Bailey, invited me to write a Retro Review of Die Hard. I accepted, because, why the hell not? It’s Die Hard, after all. Despite the sun, doing its best to burn my skin through the windows, bearing down in the summer months, I wrote about how Die Hard is one of the finest Christmas movies there is. It’s a bit of a sweeping statement to declare such a subjective thing on the Internet, as controversial as that opinion might be. But if it weren’t for A Christmas Story, this declaration would be much easier. It’s a tie.
Enter my son: Bennett.
If I sat him in front of the 24-hour A Christmas Story marathon, I’d be labeled a bad father, but not because of the content (Ralphie only says “fudge” after all). It would be a different story if I made a one month old watch 24 hours of Bruce Willis running barefoot across shards of glass with a submachine gun in his hands screaming, “yippie ki-ya, motherfucker”. Okay, so it’s settled, one month is far too young to watch Die Hard. Let’s clear out the next few years, too. Let’s fill it with Rudolph, Ralphie, Sesame Street and whatever else the kids watch these days. The MPAA declared Die Hard is rated R. But I have some strong disagreements with anything the MPAA says. Go watch This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006), a documentary about the fishy and questionable methods by which the MPAA rates films. However, I don’t think I can disagree that Die Hard is a violent film with harsh language (not to mention Alan Rickman with a regionally confusing accent…”ho…ho…ho”). So, let’s agree that Bennett will not be watching Die Hard by 2019.
Six is too young, right? Ask my wife and she might say that sixty is too young.
I’m not convinced that having your eyes pointed in the direction of simulated violence will turn you into a mindless, psychopath killer. Politicians are not scientists and I’m apprehensive to believe something that has no strong data…correction: zero data, to back it up. But let’s keep this topic for another, much longer, omnibus-length article. For now, let me just say, I don’t believe Bennett would suddenly just be a future school shooter because he celebrated Christmas with his dad and Hans Gruber. So what about the themes? What is Bennett going to learn? He might notice John McClane’s perseverance against insurmountable odds. He might see that terrorists always lose. Maybe he’ll understand that although guns were helpful in this situation, throwing a guy off of a building works too…ok, maybe that’s a bad example.
When I was 9, my buddy came to my house to sleepover. In his duffle bag among his clothes and Alien action figures was a VHS copy of Die Hard. As kids tend to promise themselves, we planned to stay up all night long. First, we’d try to break the single game scoring record on Madden ’94, then finish off the pizza, and then when my parents went off to bed, we’d watch the movie. My mom, with her mystical mom-telepathy, came into the room and told us we’d do no such thing. I never understood how she knew about the plan, but we were left to gorge on pizza and Super Nintendo. I was able to watch Die Hard on TV a couple of years later, probably when my parents realized I was a well-adjusted kid. That or they were out of the house. I had already seen, and likely cried through, A Nightmare on Elm Street, so I was primed for what TV-MA might offer. To this day, I’ve never shot anyone or stabbed anyone or instigated an attack on anyone, ever. In fact, having seen Die Hard, I know exactly what to do if I find myself in a tower, in Los Angeles, during Christmas time, when regionally confusing terrorists take hostages and I’m left without a weapon.
My wife and I agreed that at aged 14 Bennett is allowed to watch Die Hard. Maybe earlier, if it’s on television. However, I will blame my wife if Bennett finds himself, at 13 years old, in a tower, in Los Angeles, during Christmas time, when regionally confusing terrorists take hostages and left without a weapon.