Movie Ratings — Watch Out!

I had planned to go see the movie “Valentine’s Day” with my eldest daughter this past week in English, but the few times it was being shown just didn’t work for us. On Friday we finally decided to go to see it in German in the local theater, and because it was “ab 6“, the German equivalent of PG, we thought that it would be okay to take her sister, who is ten. Let me preface this whole thing by saying that I am by no means a prude, and have no real issues with the openness and nudity, etc. that goes on here in Germany every day. But my version of PG and the German version of PG are two very different things.

Now this movie was rated PG-13 on American screens, but I didn’t check that before we went. I should have known. This has happened before. Claire and Emma went to a movie last year called “Sommer”. I think it was also rated “ab 6“, so I figured it was okay. When they came home, Claire said she thought Emma hadn’t understood everything, which in the end was probably better. When I saw the trailer for the movie a couple of weeks later, I was shocked. It was about a couple of teenagers and their “first time”! So much for “ab 6“!

But back to “Valentine’s Day”…The movie was chock full of stars, which is why Claire wanted to see it. Her favorite singer at the moment is Taylor Swift, and both she and Taylor Lautner from Twilight were in it, so that sold the deal for her. For me it was Patrick Dempsey and Eric Dane from Grey’s Anatomy, as well as Queen Latifah. Anyway, Anne Hathaway plays a New York receptionist who is broke due to student loans and works on the side as a “phone sex entertainer”. I’m not sure what it was called in English, but she is constantly answering her phone, at work and elsewhere and talking to clients in various sexy accents. Emma didn’t get it, which I appreciate. She kept asking me if she was talking to her boyfriend and what she was doing. Yippee! I guess it is a good thing that she has no idea what was going on there, but I hate to have to explain that to a 10-year-old before it is absolutely necessary.

Now Claire told me she “got” everything, which kind of scares me as well. Why would a 12-year-old already know about jobs like that? I guess this is partially generational and partly me being American, raised relatively sheltered in an extremely prudish environment. This is the era of Bravo and this is Germany, where a magazine aimed at pre-teens has pictures of nude teenagers in the middle. Claire recently left one laying around and Livi (the 2-year-old) opened it up and said, “I found a Pullermann!”. The au pair thought we had left our nasty magazines laying around. Nope, that one belonged to the 12-year-old. Yep, this is normal! Silly old mom fought the Bravo battle for 2 years and finally gave in when she realized Claire was reading the whole thing at her friend’s house anyway. Of course, she buys it just for the posters!

So the “moral” of the story is, if you are worried about sexual content in movies, don’t trust the German rating system before sending off your seemingly innocent children to the show. One Google search with the name of the movie and “is it appropriate for an x-year old” and you will know what your dealing with, at least if it is an American movie. And I personally have more issues with violence on TV and in films than I do with sexuality when it comes to my kids, but learning about things before they have to is also unnecessary! Happy movie-going, all!