How to strike back against the petty harassment of kids trying to see movies like "South Park?, " and the usurping of decisions that should be theirs and their parents?
- Hit them in their pocketbooks. " If movie chains are going to refuse admission to movies that contain explicit sexual imagery or profanity, MP3 them. Download the movies on ICQ or Hotline, or other sites where they are becoming readily available, just as many kids did with the postponed "Buffy" finale. Watch how quickly they'll lighten up on ticket-booth vigilanteism. Harmless, funny, or overtly rebellious and political movies - "South Park," "American Pie," " Something About Mary" - are not in any sense dangerous to kids over the age of nine, or probably, even under. They are bristling with outsider geek humor and nerd sensibility.
- Squawk. Complain to theater managers; call and write movie chains. Tell them we don't want them making moral judments about what kids should see, that adults ought not be forced to intrude on their children's privacy or buy tickets to movies they don't want to see because theater chains and film studios are too dumb or cowardly to stand behind the things they make and sell.
- Improvise. Remember that the restrictions on young moviegoers are usually led by teenagers themselves, the employees of the movie chains. No studio CEO would be caught dead near an actual ticket booth talking to kids who see movies. These adolescent guardians and the movie theaters they work at can be hacked. Tell them you're a priest or minister demonstrating the pervasive reach of evil. Tell them you have a stomach disorder and have to leave the theater frequently. Tell them you're a Balkan refugee who speaks no English and doesn't dare leave the theater alone.
Also remember that, being teenagers, they are easily distracted. The kids stationed outside theaters to keep children out invariably drift off, get a snack, yak with their friends. They don't really care about the dumb rules they're enforcing.
- Kids: Be patient. Hang near the video game and wait for your chance. Ask adults leaving the theater if you can borrow the ticket stub for the movie you want to see, so that once inside, you can show it if an usher demands it. If they notice it's for the wrong time, burst into tears, whine, howl. Demand that they stop picking on you. Businesses hate scenes, especially with kids. Or buy tickets for "Tarzan," then, when the ushers stop paying attention, dart into the verboten movie. If you get caught or expelled, tell them you made a mistake, go back into "Tarzan" and try it again.
- Or get a few of your friends together and demonstrate against especially rigid theaters. Write nasty letters about them to the local paper. The very idea of protesting these silly restrictions would make news. There is no publicity a movie chain wants less than to have local kids picketing them, charging violations of their freedom.
-- Adults: Fight Ticket Booth Tyranny. Observe Take A Geek Kid To A Restricted Movie Day this Labor Day. Find a smart 13-year-old who wants to see something off-limits and take him to a movie, or, once during that long weekend, go to a nearby movie theater and help kids trying to get in. Even better, volunteer to take kids you know, too. Buy a ticket to "South Park," walk them in, then watch for a half-hour. It's a funny, biting movie, and the ushers have usually wandered off by the time you want to leave. If they haven't, tell them you're a physician, you got paged and you have an emergency appendectomy to perform. Big corporations like movie chains and video stories (studios, too) hate trouble. They're restricting access to movies because they think it will shut block-headed politicians up. If movie-goers make more noise than the politicians, they'll fold, and quickly. If all else fails, then the Web will become the world's biggest movie chain, a process already underway. Note to entrepeneurs: Time to sell popcorn and Twizzlers online.