Child neglect and abuse is happening every day, right under our nose, and we’re doing nothing to stop it. In fact, we’re bankrolling it. Been doing it for years.
I’m talking about kids appearing in what were once considered X-rated movies, but worse. Kids doing and saying outrageous things, things that would strip the chrome off a bumper. Things that used to make adults blush, when blushing was in style.
It’s child exploitation under the guise of freedom of speech. Hollywood sells and we buy. We Cinemark, we Netflix, we Amazon Prime; we buy, rent and stream. But most of all we silently accept. We may flinch with each new encroachment on the bounds of decency, but we shrug and go on. Every year more graphic, more flagrant. Like frogs in heating water we’ve become desensitized and we stew in the caldron as our soul slowly melts.
I’ve silently vowed to do something for years. But now it’s time to act. The last straw is the new movie, “Fist Fight.” Let me ask you, how many times is it acceptable for a little 10-year-old girl to say the f-word? If you said more than zero you’d be considered a bad parent.
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And that would be in the privacy of your own home. How much worse would it be in public. And how many times worse than that if it were captured on film and repeated on thousands of movie screens across the world, and eventually on millions of pads, tablets, televisions for all time? If one time is too many what about five? What about 10? Try 25!
Twenty-five times this 10-year-old child “actress” raps out the f-word, along with equal numbers of the s- and b-words, in front of a roomful of other young kids during a grade school talent show, with her on-screen dad coaching her and pregnant mom wildly cheering her every evisceration of whatever innocence that we once used to cherish in children.
And her real-life parents? They’ve sold her for big bucks. These parents would be subject to child neglect and/or abuse charges in Kentucky. Minors lack the capacity to make a contract. Children do not have the life experience or wisdom to make decisions for their long- and short-term best interests. That is why parents or legal guardians bear responsibility for them until they turn 18. It is a relationship that demands actions that are always in the child’s best interest.
“Fist Fight” is an R-rated movie. It promotes high-school teachers having sex with students, teacher and student drug use, violence, bad — check — horrible manners and attitudes. Children should never be allowed to even appear in R-rated movies, much less be active participants in the lurid action.
And PG-13 films are just as bad. In fact, this film is just the latest tip of the child-exploitation iceberg Hollywood has built on societal indifference over the decades.
Free speech comes with responsibility. Those who violate this duty must be held to account. We used to have standards and boundaries. But as the line of acceptability has gotten increasingly extreme so have the bad statistics. Higher rates of child abuse and neglect, child sexploitation, marital discord, drug addiction and deaths: it’s all related to the descent of decent society.
I’m no goody two-shoes, and certainly not one to be preaching. But providence has placed me in a position of awareness through my experience as a child advocate in DNA (Dependency, Neglect and Abuse) Court. Beyond that I act as a concerned citizen.
Contact your lawmakers. Write the studios. Boycott all movies by studios that produce such offending movies. Boycott all other movies from the same director, production company and actors.
It has gone too far. It is unacceptable and we must stand for positive change. We can do it. And for the sake of our children, ourselves and our future, we must do it.
Richard Dawahare is an attorney in Lexington.