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My daughter is turning 10 soon. She and a friend, born one day apart, want a combined birthday party.  The theme:  a MOVIE PREMIERE party at a private screening room (popcorn and candy included) to see the Opening Night Premiere of…wait for it….Catching Fire.  These very fortunate tween girls will see the movie the same night it opens in theaters.  I know, you kinda wanna barf, it’s so LA.

My friend and I have been having fun with the deets:  red carpet, photog,  apple cider in champagne flutes (plastic, of course), little pizza apps.  Maybe mamma will tap into her inner Mary Hart and “interview” the starlets as they walk the ramp.  Hardly the party planner, I am quite pleased with myself.   A+ for this one, right?

“I don’t think I want my daughter to see this movie”, my friend confides in me as we book the definitive date for our girls’ party. “The IMDB rating says it’s too violent”.


Suddenly, this perfect party isn’t so perfect.  I run back to my daughter and my husband.   “Can’t we screen a Disney film?” I beg.  These cinephiles will have none of it. “It’s PG-13!” they both insist. “And the first one had violence implied but not shown.”

Crap!  Now I have to watch the first installment, The Hunger Games, and assess the situation.  My husband and daughter download it off Netflix and instead of getting deep into my Carole King autobiography, I am deep into the couch watching Jennifer Lawrence’s intense face.

I’m riveted from the first frame.  The story, the cinematography, the “world” of the film is so rich and disturbing. The allusions to Nazi Germany are palpable, as is the disdain for our reality show culture.  And yet, the story follows a 16 year old girl whose courage and bravery saves her tween sister.  This young proletariat has a strong moral compass which offsets her bad-ass prowess.  She’s everything Sarah Palin imagines herself to be.

I try and justify this.  My daughter just read Catching Fire and is doing a book report on it.  She and some of her BFF’s are wildly anticipating the film’s release.  Jennifer Lawrence is their celeb crush.  So, now I’m in a predicament.  Do I change up the party or bid parting birthday-ways with my friend and her daughter?

When is it too early to watch a PG-13 film and is this rating viable or completely subjective based on our individual children?  And why “13?”, I ponder.  In the Jewish religion, our sons and daughters are Bar/Bat Mitzvah’d at the age of 13.  They are officially considered young men and young women. A Quinceanera occurs at 15. Does the ratings board actually have a method to their madness?  But most importantly, is my friend a better mother than me because, despite the social pressure, she’s going to wait those 3 years before she shows the film to her child?  Or are parents justified in allowing their children to pursue interests in art and literature that do not fall squarely within the “age appropriate level”?

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