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The Kids Are All Right
April 14, 2010
In the new movie Kick-Ass, a young actor named Chloe Moretz, who is 13, dresses up like a superheroine named Hit-Girl and shocks a roomful of adults with her martial-arts chops and, more to the point, by using the last bastion of obscenity, the c-word.
Why that word became the final unutterable profanity is a question for gender-studies classes, if not Sigmund Freud, but the scene has turned Moretz into something of the star of the moment. (For the record, it appears that her mother, who was on the set at the time, suggested she say it.) It has resulted, oddly, in only mild protests, which tells us something about the level of public discourse these days, and lots about the way we have come to view young people.
Of the many changes that have overtaken the movies in the past 100 years - sound, colour, sex, violence, the new 3-D, James Cameron - one of the most dramatic has been the portrayal of children. In the age before Benjamin Spock and professional parenting, children were considered sort of smaller, somewhat dim-witted adults. (Early portraits typically show them as miniatures with heads that are too small, so they look like grown-ups who have been shrunk.) Hundreds, if not thousands, of family films from the 1930s and '40s are barely watchable today, thanks to the distressing appearance of little Todd or lively Mary, popping into the living room to say things like, ``Gosh, Pop, that's a swell idea.'' Read More