Charlie Sykes and James T. Harris, via Hot Air, draw our attention to a trailer featuring a character named "Hit Girl," an eleven year old girl trained by her father to be a foul mouthed vigilante. The character is apparently one of several in a soon to be released film called "Kick Ass," based on a Marvel comic book of the same name.
In the trailer, the kid, dressed in a brightly colored wig and a bubblegum outfit that is a cross between a ninja's shinobi shozoko and a Catholic school girl's uniform, drops "f" and "c" bombs and blows away bad guys with a very big gun. All of this takes place to the tune of the theme song from the old Banana Splits cartoon as reprised by the late seventies punk band, the Dickies.
So who cares? The malt shoppe scene where she tells her father that "I am just f****** with you" is kind of funny, isn't it? I am not one to be much bothered by profanity, although there is no excuse - none - for using the "c" word.
Charlie refers to the thing as having the character of child porn and I think that's right. Nothing in the trailer is sexual, but one of the reasons that we hate child porn or the sexual abuse of children is that it constitutes the exploitation of persons who are not yet ready to consent to that type of activity and it robs them of the period of innocence that we believe is necessary to become a well formed adult.
And doesn't that apply to turning your child into a vigilante? In fact, doesn't the use of the Banana Splits song ("tra la la, tra la la la") and the cute little costume (sure to be a Halloween favorite)take that very pathology and turn it into a joke?
The move is R rated, so presumably most kids won't see it in the theater but that's not only - maybe not even principally - where most movies are seen these days. While it is certainly right to say that parents ought not to let their kids see it, that's easier said than done when the culture is replete with references to these "forbidden' films and every kid's house has become a multiplex.
Of course, I don't think that a kid will see "Kick Ass" and turn into a violent thug. It is common for libertines to characterize objections to the coarsening of the culture in this way. The argument is lazy.
Modern society has created a bit of a problem for itself. Technological advances and the need for a much longer period of education has created a lengthy adolescence or period of time in which young men and women cannot assume the responsibilities of adulthood. This is a difficult period and it is not helped by a culture that bombards them with images of the temptations and potential vices of adulthood - things that are best handled with the maturity that is tempered by responsibility.
I don't know many parents of pre-pubescent and adolescent children who don't wish Hollywood would shut up. "Kick Ass" might be a decent movie (although it doesn't look like it) and I get the sense that the comic book has a darker and more tragic sensibility, but does it really have to be marketed like a frothy celebration of "Girl Power?"