A Hollywood producer and director who makes his home in Portland is outraged about what he saw at a local theater.
Stephen Simon bought a ticket for the R-rated box office hit “End of Watch” at the Bridgeport Village Regal Cinema.
“It was very violent and very profane from frame one,” he said “there were people getting beat up and shot.”
It’s what he expected to see on the screen but it was what he saw in the seats that made him leave.
“A woman walked in with her son who was 4 or 5 and it shocked me. I thought this is child abuse.”
He approached her and told her how he felt, then left the theatre and called Child Protective Services.
“The woman told me on the phone I was absolutely right and this was a dreadful thing to do but then said there’s nothing we can do and suggested I talk to the manager,” Simon remembered.
Child Protective Services told KGW it considers violent movies a “values call” for the parent and said it’s not child endangerment.
“We are very careful about intervening in what are family decisions,” said spokesman Gene Evans.
Licensed Clinical Social Worker Nicole Carroll says research shows exposure to movie violence does long term damage.
“It stimulates a response in the part of the brain which is on alert for trouble and the brain is trying to figure out how to protect,” she explained.
When the violence is viewed alongside a parent, Carroll adds it can make it okay in a child’s mind.
She is searching for solutions and suggests theatre owners offer state licensed child care for select showings of R rated movies.
“It doesn’t help to give angry looks or criticize parents without giving them an alternative.”
Simon plans to lobby theatre owners to have employees speak with parents. “In the box office they should ask if parents are aware the movie has very violent or profane content,” he suggested.
For more on the debate check out Stephen Simon’s blog