Raunchy, sex-filled 'Deadpool' no way to connect with kids, despite some parents' dismissal of pornography affect

by Michael Foust |

HOLLYWOOD (Christian Examiner) — From an early age modern-day children are naturally drawn to superheroes and their colorful costumes, other-worldly powers and awe-inspiring bravery.

It's one reason why Hollywood has churned out so many Spiderman- and Captain America-type movies in recent years, as a decent superhero flick can draw entire families to theaters and deliver studios a $200-million-plus blockbuster hit.

Parents and children alike, it seems, love movies about heroes.

But what if the hero is a foul-mouthed, sex-craved man who, yes, wears a colorful costume, and, yes, has other-worldly powers but who also defies every definition we've known of a superhero?

DEADPOOL is rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, and strong violence and language.

Such is the case with "Deadpool," the "anti-hero" at the center of the surprise blockbuster that is shattering records for an R-rated film. It grossed $132 million on its opening weekend, the highest ever for an R-rated movie, and is now at $236 million in only two weeks. To put the numbers in perspective, the Superman-themed "Man of Steel" – rated PG-13 – grossed $116 million on opening weekend in 2013. The next year, "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (PG-13) made $95 million its first weekend.

It's extremely raunchy, extremely perverse, extremely violent, extremely profane. It has 75 f-bombs, several misuses of 'Jesus.' ... There are all sorts of reasons to forget about this one. It's not only inappropriate, in my opinion, for kids and young teens. This is inappropriate for anybody, including adults. There are some things that are just out of bounds for everybody.
- Bob Waliszewski, Focus on the Family

"There's definitely a lot of kids going to see ['Deadpool'] to make that kind of money," Bob Waliszewski, director of Focus on the Family's Plugged In department, told the Christian Examiner. He is the author of the book, Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, Not War.

To view an R-rated film, children need to be accompanied by a parent or someone who is 21 and over. Young and older teens alike who are crazy about superhero characters are finding ways to view "Deadpool" – many with the consent of their parents. One blogger at the popular website SheKnows.com said she took her sons, ages 11 and 13. A columnist at the Montreal Gazette said she took her 12-year-old son.

Waliszewski was incredulous that anyone would take a child to see "Deadpool," which is rated R for sexual content, graphic nudity, and strong violence and language. Deadpool's girlfriend works as a stripper.

"It's extremely raunchy, extremely perverse, extremely violent, extremely profane. It has 75 f-bombs, several misuses of 'Jesus.' ... There are all sorts of reasons to forget about this one," he said. "It's not only inappropriate, in my opinion, for kids and young teens. This is inappropriate for anybody, including adults. There are some things that are just out of bounds for everybody."

The SheKnows.com blogger, Julie Danielson, listed five reasons why she took her sons. One reason was "I wanted to treat them to something special." Another one was she wanted to do something a "cool mom" would do. She noted that she's never caught them cursing.

"I believe it is up to parents to decide if their children are mature enough to watch Deadpool," Danielson wrote. "I'm sure there are many kids out there who are not numb to the blood, gore, sex ... and profanity that made up a big part of this movie. For me, I knew the boys could take it. Some of the raunchy stuff went right over their head and happened so fast I don't even know if they caught on."

She added, "By sheltering our kids until they are 18, they will not develop their own sense of values and character. I appreciate how Deadpool got my boys to talk to me about topics they generally never in a million years would have talked to me about. Yes, the movie is rude and crude. But my boys and I connected in a way we never have ...."

The Montreal Gazette writer, Julie Anne Pattee, made a similar argument.

"Parents of my generation are often guilty of being overprotective. Film viewing can be a form of safe risk-taking," she wrote. "In my father's era, people worried that movies would destroy children's innocence. But no matter how much we wish it weren't the case, contemporary culture has put this generation of children on fast-forward. Kids whose parents don't take them to Deadpool will find a way to watch it."

Waliszewski worries that the movie could open the door for a struggle with porn.

"We're talking about boys being exposed to some graphic sexuality in this film – very explicit nudity," he said. "And [Danielson is] saying that uptight moms were telling her not to take her kids. But, hey, 'I've never even caught them saying a curse word.' As if that's the true measure of character. What about the fact that they may have some struggles with the pornographic images?"

Waliszewski recommended that parents consider: What is the line that I won't cross if my children want to watch a movie? He also urged parents to protect their child's mind and soul. He said it's as if parents who take their kids to "Deadpool" are saying, "I'll protect them from a bullet ... but I'm not going to protect them from the onslaught from Hollywood."

"That doesn't make sense to me," he said. "If we're going to be the kind of parents who love our kids and we would take a bullet for our kids; let's set some real healthy boundaries in our home regarding the video games we play, the music we listen to, the television shows we watch, and the movies we watch."

Movies should encourage, inspire and uplift, Waliszewski added.

"And if they don't fall into that category, I'm not a big fan," he said. "Deadpool definitely doesn't fall into that category. Not only do we have all the raunch, all the sleaze, all the violence, all the profanity, but we have an anti-hero. What about this man's life and character are we supposed to come away with and say, 'That was uplifting. I would like to be more like that?'"