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DARK KNIGHT Amps Up Parental Anxieties

By Jackie Burrell
Monday, July 21st, 2008 at 10:30 am in Movies.

Heath Ledger in "Dark Knight" (Courtesy Warner Brothers Pictures/MCT) The Dark Knight,” the latest, hottest entry in the Batman franchise, hit the cineplex this weekend, raking in $155 million and garnering considerable controversy for its PG-13 rating. In this morning’s USA Today, Scott Bowles describes parents aghast over the movie’s violence, which includes, among other things, torture and an impalement. Some parents who brought their 11- and 12-year-olds to see the Batman flick, starring Christian Bale and Heath Ledger, questioned why a movie this dark and this violent would be rated PG-13, instead of R. Others said blaming Hollywood was no excuse for not vetting what their kids see in the first place. “You have to do your homework,” parent Larry Olmstead told Bowles. “Did anyone not know this was a violent movie about a homicidal maniac in makeup?”

Click “comments” and tell us, what are your thoughts on the PG-13 debate? Is “Dark Knight” too dark for kids? How do you decide what is and is not appropriate?

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No Responses to “DARK KNIGHT Amps Up Parental Anxieties”

  1. Hillari Says:

    The rating was just considering what you see on tv these days. Parents are too quick to place blame. You can tell from the trailers how tho movie was going to be – not your typical “Bang-Zow” Batman movie!

  2. Katy Says:

    Perhaps these parents will now think twice about dropping their children off and allowing them to see any movie they want. And while a PG-13 movie is bad, I have seen parents bring YOUNG children (under 8) to R-Rated movies, which is highly inappropriate.

  3. Jill B Says:

    I dont think Dark Knight should be rated “R”. The scenes arent bloody, theres not enough swearing. Most acts of violence and out rage are pretty casual these days, and even for casual, this film does not display enough of this to be an “R” rated film. Joker may be considered frightening, but its truley not that bad. Its an action packed film with alot going on. Its amazing, and the rating is in good reguards to what the film exemplifies.

  4. PG-13 Says:

    I thought that PG-13 means that children between 13-17 should be accompanied by an adult. If so, children under 13 shouldn’t be going whether a parent brings them or not.

  5. Michele Says:

    This movie should have been rated R.

    Yes, parents do have to do their homework, but the whole reason for rating is so that people have an idea of how explicit the movie is going to be.

    Although everyone knew what the movie was going to be about….it is Batman….so you expect it to be more for kids than adults!

  6. DValdez Says:

    Every parent knows his or her child and if there child doesn’t know the difference between fantacy and reality.

  7. joanna Says:

    To Michele, it’s batman so you think it’s automatically for kids?

    Parents should read the reviews of the movie before bringing kids. I mean, I am an adult but one look at how the Joker looked and I knew that the theater would be packed at adults. The way Joker looked and acted in the trailer, I wouldn’t bring someone under the age of 15. Batman was never marketed at being a kids movie. It was being marketed as being a very dark movie. I thought it was obvious that the movie was aimed at adults.

    I mean the Sixth Sense is rated PG-13. Would you bring your kid to see the Sixth Sense?

  8. D Says:

    This should be rated “R.”


  9. Jacob Says:

    I don’t think there was a single cuss word in this movie. Kids should not see it, but I think it is fine at PG-13

  10. Jasmine Says:

    “Yes, parents do have to do their homework, but the whole reason for rating is so that people have an idea of how explicit the movie is going to be.”

    Actually, it’s not. That’s a partial reason, yes, but the primary is the separation of G/PG/PG-13 and R: essentially, a way to keep younger viewers from seeing supposedly inappropriate movies. However, if parents are going to be taking them either way, it’s a tad moot.

  11. your mom Says:

    wow, talk about some stuck up parents. I completely agree w/Joanna & PG-13!!!

  12. Jeff Says:

    I haven’t seen this yet, but I AM a parent, and Superman Returns was PG-13. I think most parents who have seen that movie, (plus the Spiderman trilogy) would put them all in the same category.

    I have heard though, that this is NOT like the others I’ve just mentioned. If this is the case than the blame falls on the studio.

    I agree with the other posters here: Isn’t that what the ratings system is all about anyway?

  13. comic book reader/mom Says:

    Most comic book characters ESPECIALLY Batman are twisted if not a little dark? Just because it’s about a Superhero does no way insure my kids are going to see any film. The trailer was dark, the film was dark and the joker was scary as all get out. I told my kids after seeing the trailer in another movie that I would see the film and decide if it was going to be OK for them, it’s not. I think ratings are not enough, I read the parent reviews on opening day and the consensus was this is not a “kids film” Parents should do more than just check out a film’s rating if there is ANY question of whether the film in question is solid entertainment…

  14. patrick Says:

    kudos to the makers Dark Knight for their record breaking opening weekend… it’s no wonder there’s talk of another one coming out ASAP

  15. darrel e Says:

    to tell you the truth i always thought it was rated R from commercials and previous hearings, never paid attention to the rating.
    i went and enjoyed the movie at an imax theater and did not see any children at all in all the seats. they dont show any gore, blood, and low amount of cursing, no sexual images at all, it was pure violence, drama, suspense, and mystery. i say it should stay pg-13 and it will be not appropiate once they exceed things they dont show on prime time tv shows,

  16. Jackie Burrell Says:

    Paul Asay at raises an interesting point in the PG-13/R debate. (Here’s a link to his “Dark Knight” review – – if you want to read more.) The ratings may reflect violent acts, but the intensity of the violence doesn’t come from just blood and gore, although “Dark Knight” certainly has both. It’s the effect on the spectator’s imagination. “The carnage here is felt, not seen – but oh, how we feel it,” he writes. “The Joker is as horrific a villain as I’ve ever seen onscreen — an embodiment of nihilism, a manifestation of pure, unapologetic evil. The camera may blink, but your mind’s eye doesn’t. The Joker forces us to imagine every cut and tear. He makes Jigsaw from the torture-porn ‘Saw’ flicks look positively ethical, and frankly, I think I squirmed more through ‘Knight’ than through the splatter-happy ‘Saw IV.’ Why? The violence here feels more real, visceral …”

    Did it seem that way to you? More real?

  17. Josh Richman Says:

    I saw the movie Saturday night and thought it was fantastic; I believe the PG-13 rating is appropriate. From the MPAA’s Web site:

    “A PG-13 rating is a sterner warning by the Rating Board to parents to determine whether their children under age 13 should view the motion picture, as some material might not be suited for them. A PG-13 motion picture may go beyond the PG rating in theme, violence, nudity, sensuality, language, adult activities or other elements, but does not reach the restricted R category. The theme of the motion picture by itself will not result in a rating greater than PG-13, although depictions of activities related to a mature theme may result in a restricted rating for the motion picture. Any drug use will initially require at least a PG-13 rating. More than brief nudity will require at least a PG-13 rating, but such nudity in a PG-13 rated motion picture generally will not be sexually oriented. There may be depictions of violence in a PG-13 movie, but generally not both realistic and extreme or persistent violence. A motion picture’s single use of one of the harsher sexually-derived words, though only as an expletive, initially requires at least a PG-13 rating. More than one such expletive requires an R rating, as must even one of those words used in a sexual context. The Rating Board nevertheless may rate such a motion picture PG-13 if, based on a special vote by a two-thirds majority, the Raters feel that most American parents would believe that a PG-13 rating is appropriate because of the context or manner in which the words are used or because the use of those words in the motion picture is inconspicuous.

    “An R-rated motion picture, in the view of the Rating Board, contains some adult material. An R-rated motion picture may include adult themes, adult activity, hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements, so that parents are counseled to take this rating very seriously. Children under 17 are not allowed to attend R-rated motion pictures unaccompanied by a parent or adult guardian. Parents are strongly urged to find out more about R-rated motion pictures in determining their suitability for their children. Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children.”

  18. Don of the Dead Says:

    Parent your own kids, its not Hollywoods job.

    I am a huge horror fan and it disgusts me the amount of morons who bring small children to R rated horror films these people are not only screwing up their kids, but now I have to listen to your brat cry while I try to watch a movie that I paid $10 to see.

  19. Mr. Right Says:

    This is a PG-13 movie, NOT R! It has no graphic violence, gore, blood. It may be implied, but not shown. There is no nudity or even any sexual content, and no swearing. This movie was not marketed to young kids, never was. Parents should not be so foolish as to trust what everyone else writes. As parents, it is our responsibility to make a decision. We need to raise our children, not other people. That being said, one needs to look use the rating system as a guide, and review further the movie to see if it is appropriate. For many kids (under 13) they should not see this movie, while other kids could be just fine.

  20. darkknight01 Says:

    Wow! Are some of you in here really whining and crying about the film having a VERY appropriate PG-13 rating? The movie is a classic. It’s doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out your semi dilemma as a parent. You watch the film without your kids and then, heres a concept….YOU as a parent decide whether or not your kid under 13 should be watching this film or not. This film does not have much blood and gore and has very minimal cursing if any. If you want a kiddie friendly Batman interpretation, then have your kids watch the cartoons or go rent that crappy campy Batman and Robin movie with your favorite overexposed actor Clooney. Your lucky this film isn’t an R rated film with more blood, then it would have been that much better. The Dark Knight is the best film of 2008 so far and congratulations to Chris Nolan, the crew and actors for making this his masterpiece to date. Bravo!

  21. darkknight01 Says:


    Trust me I wish the film was an R rated film…that means we would have seen more blood and realism. Nolan wouldn’t have held back. This movie was a classic whether or not it has a PG-13 rating or and R rating.

    Trust me…this film should NOT have an R rating…not even close. Your wrong….PERIOD…get over it. Go see the movie and see the greatest comic book based film of all time and try and enjoy it.

  22. Sloanish Says:

    It’s about as inappropriate as the evening news.

  23. Ed Chainey Says:

    Perhaps we need to reinstitute the NC-17 rating for a movie such as this, which truly appears to fall between the PG-13 & R ratings?

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