Last year, my husband and I went to the movies to see an action/thriller flick starring the late James Gandolfini entitled The Drop. I knew it was going to be violent. And I knew that there were going to be moments when I had to close my eyes.
However, before buying a ticket and committing to the movie, I asked the ticket salesman the question I always ask before seeing a movie. “Is there any violence against animals in the film?”
He looked at me with a smug smile. “It’s a violent movie, ma’am.”
First of all, he called me ma’am, which annoyed me since I was wearing my Forever 21 wrap sweater which should have made me look fifteen years younger than I am. (And certainly not old enough to be a ma’am.)
Second, he didn’t understand the question. I took a deep breath. “Yes, I know it is a violent movie, but I would like to know if there is violence against animals.”
“There’s an abused dog who has a happy ending.”
“Do you actually witness the abuse?”
“I don’t really remember, ma’am,” he said, both disinterested and impatient.
At this point, I could sense the folks behind me getting perturbed. My husband stepped up to the counter to appease the situation. He leaned into the ticket salesman. “Listen, I really want to see this movie tonight, but my wife’s not going to be able to handle dog violence. So, if you could just try to remember the scene, you can whisper it to me, and I’ll make sure she takes a bathroom break during that part of the movie.”
The ticket salesman rolled his eyes and spoke in a quick, monotone voice. “You don’t see any on-screen abuse, okay?”
I smiled happily. “Thank you. Two tickets, please.”
I think Television Parental Guidelines should include “F” to stand for “Fido Abuse.” Although there is a rating for violence (V), it doesn’t tell you specifically what type of violence that you might have to endure. While I’m already numb to human-on-human contact on the big screen (which is a WHOLE other sad column in itself), I can’t handle animal cruelty in the movies or television. Even cartoon movies with tragic animal mother deaths (i.e. Bambi and ALL Disney movies) make me weep.
Heck, I don’t even like to see animals die in movies, even when it is a pleasant, end-of life, storyline. (Forget, Marley and Me.) Basically, I can’t handle a movie unless the pet pooch lives a long happy life… full of treats and L.L. Bean flannel, monogrammed, dogbeds.
Come to think if it, there are other ratings I would also like to see in the Television Parental Guidelines.
“W” – excessive Will Ferrell nudity
“C” – Cliffhanger endings beyond frustration
“H” – Health-related outbreaks which will give you hypochondria
“B” – Brooklyn Decker swimsuit cameos which cause guilt about eating Peanut M&Ms with your buttered popcorn.
I’m all for surprises in movies as long as they don’t include animal cruelty, Inception-esque frustration, or excessive supermodels in swimsuits. As far as I’m concerned, warnings about the aforementioned events would help me keep my sanity in the movie theater.
Put as many karate chops as you want on screen. Just keep them away from that Shitzu.