** Editor's note: Mara is away this week, so we're running a"Best-Of" from her archives. Enjoy!**
Two metal armor clad warriors enter the arena, growling and swinging swords. One leaps into the air, his sword raised above his head. Then swoosh! He brings the glistening, razor-sharp blade down with all his might landing it clean atop his opponents cranium, splitting his skull. Blood, (it’s probably colored corn syrup) bright crimson and shiny spurts like a geyser splattering across the face of the sword swinging warrior and staining the dusty arena floor.
That’s my 14-year-old son Jordan’s reaction to the gross violence in one of his favorite television shows, “Spartacus; Blood and Sand,” a Steven DeKnight creation about the leader of the most notable slave uprising against the Roman Republic.
Jordan has an extensive knowledge about the Roman Empire. He’s read a lot about it and is fascinated with the politics, myths and pageantry of the time.
Now this show is probably one of the most violent I’ve ever seen and I have let Jordan watch it, we watch it together. I like it too. I don’t have a problem with the violence, really. Heck, it's obviously fake.
But the sex, well now that’s another matter altogether. There is a lot of explicit sex in this show. I mean it is really bad.
Even when the camera is just panning the arena audience there are bare-breasted women, sometimes being fondled by greasy looking men. And that’s mild compared to the orgies that go on. It’s awful — really bad.
But when those scenes are going on Jordan quickly turns away or covers his eyes with a blanket, or both.
His eyes are wide open on the violent scenes though. He doesn’t miss one sword swipe.
I’ve always been very protective of Jordan and what he’s been allowed to watch on television. No foul-mouth Bart Simpson, no “South Park” or that perverted cartoon, “Cat Dog.” I’ve always monitored his video game selections too, nothing heavier than T for teen.
But we have always watched a lot of movies in our house, everything from "Romeo and Juliet," to "Transformers." (I don’t watch scary though, I hate those.) And I’ve found that even some of the most innocent ones we’ve watched have had an occasional sex scene. Take Joel Schumacher’s “St. Elmos' Fire,” (it’s one of those brat pack movies, Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, Emilio Esteves) for example, we watched that just last night. When one couple was in bed, they didn’t show much just bare shoulder blades, some under-the-covers movement and some French kissing, Jordan turned his head, covered his eyes with a blanket.
He does that because whenever we’d watch a movie and a sex scene popped up on the screen, no matter how innocent, I’d say Jordan, cover your eyes. Now he does it automatically. I’m no prude, really. I explained to both boys when they were toddlers that they had penises and girls had vaginas. I never used baby talk words with them.
But I never told either of them not to watch the violence. Heck if they did that they would have missed nearly all of the “Kill Bill,” trilogy and “Lord of the Rings,” two of our favorites.
But now he’s at that weird, in-between age, he’ll be 15 in four months; still my baby though. I kind like that he still covers his eyes and thinks there is just too much unnecessary sex in movies these days.
Just an aside, Jordan spends most of his television time watching the history, travel and science channels. Oh, and Animal Planet. He also loves Bill Maher.
But the other night we talked about this violence vs. sex thing after watching the new HBO series “Game of Thrones,” a dramatic fantasy full of kings, knights and queens battling for the throne. A lot of violence, and a bit of sex too. It’s based on the best-selling book, “A Song of Ice and Fire,” which Jordan has read. “Why is it that we think it is ok to watch the violence but not the sex?” he asked me.
Hmm, I thought about it. I didn’t have an answer. So I gave the pat parent reply, “I don’t know that’s just the way it is.”
No argument from Jordan. “OK, fine with me,” he said. “Now even if you said I could watch it I’d still probably cover my eyes, I can’t help it,“ he said. “I’m going to end up an A-sexual freak.”
“Whoa!” I said.
Then thought to myself, I’m doing something wrong. I just know it. I’ve made some grave parent mistake.
I monitored my oldest too and made him cover his eyes. But I know when I was away and he was in his teens and hanging with his dad, his dad probably let him watch the love-making scenes. But they would never tell me. And now that Ceaser isn’t here, well what’s a mother to do?
So with Jordan, especially after what he said. The whole thing has been heavy on my mind. I’m trying to let Jordan have a few more liberties as he is growing up and I don’t want to raise a wimpy kid. I don’t really think that’s happening. But I’m not sure when a boy is old enough to stop covering his eyes on the sex scenes. I mean the mild stuff. Not that trashy stuff infused into “Spartacus,” that, we can both do without. We just like the whole Roman Republic period part and the political banter. We love talking about it after each episode.
But now that he’s so used to covering his eyes, I wonder if he’ll just eventually stop on his own. I can’t tell him to watch it now. I don’t want to do that. But I think he’s right. It’s crazy. Bloody violence is ok? But passionate kisses, cover your eyes?
I’m lost here.